Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The price of poverty

For so many families in Kenya, the high price of poverty is the inability to educate their children.
In free Government schools parents are expected to pay towards the cost of paying additional teachers employed by schools to cater for the huge number of pupils, exam costs etc.
No money, no school. It is as brutal as that.
In the last two days, I have sat alongside Mama and deputy head Isaac as they have interviewed kids for free places at Happy House school.
Parents or guardians arrive with their kids first thing, prepared to wait all day if that is what it takes.Mama and Isaac have three requirements of those who move on to the next step on the road to a scholarship – genuine need, good marks and real desire to learn.
They interview the child first and then their parent or guardian.  Sometimes their stories are wildly different. The child tells Mama what job their father or mother has, while the parent says they are unemployed. Some kids are in fee paying schools, paid for by a parent, so they are eliminated at the first post.
If a person will lie, and worst still coach their child to lie, to get a free place – at the expense of others for whom Happy House is their only hope – this is no place for them.
The genuine cases have poverty etched on their faces. Men and women, old before their time, are worn down by trying to eek out a living to feed their kids. 
 Again and again we hear of women who have been deserted by their husbands who have moved on to another wife.
The women are left to raise the children alone.  They go round house to house to do washing for others, sell mndazi or chapati by the roadside or labour on building sites or farms.
There is the man who goes from bin to bin collecting used plastic bottles to sell for recycling at 3KES a kilo - 1kg of maize flour, which mixed with salt and water makes the staple food ugali, is 100 KES a kilo.
In Kenya, if you don’t have work your family doesn’t eat.
Education is the only way their children will break out of the soul-destroying cycle they are caught in.
Mama and Isaac listen patiently to every story. The  genuine cases are invited to take an exam. Those from Monday, were back yesterday for the exam and they are joined by more as they are selected.
By lunchtime,  17 kids are half way through and they join the Happy House kids to eat. Plates of rice and beans are wolfed down like there is no tomorrow.  It is, most likely, their first meal of the day and there may not be another when they get home. 
Those who pass the exam will get free places on our Dr Danwata Scholarship Scheme which not only assures their education but also books, shoes, uniform and PE kit.
We desperately need money to give these kids, and others a chance. £20 a month will sponsor a scholarship child.
There is no gift greater than an education – wherever they go in life no one will ever be able to take it away
These kids goal is to be educated, it is also Mama's dream. 
YOU can make dreams possible by sponsoring a child or making a one off donation. Please help if you can.
*For details of how to sponsor email:  to make a donation go to