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Amy and Mark's Visit to DGS February 2011

“THIS IS NOT A DROP IN THE OCEAN
IT IS A PEBBLE IN A BUCKET
SO A BIG THANK YOU”
Words spoken directly from the Governing Commissionaire

Destiny Garden School

Where do we start with writing about an unforgettable trip to an amazing charity and cause. We met some fantastic people and unbelievably brave and wonderful children. We personally would also like to say, ‘Thank you’.

All of you who contributed put smiles on so many faces, 240 young ones to be exact. I hope that you will read this report and see the difference we made and will continue to make and hope that you will support us and take part in their future too.

We do not think we can fully write everything down because how can we truly describe the way it made us feel on paper, but please take the time to read this, we hope our words convey our experience during our time in Kenya.

Take Comic Relief remove the comedy, remove the celebrities and remove the hours of the fun filled TV and take the raw footage, which is the best way we can describe our trip into the suburbs of Mombasa. It is just like you’ve recently seen on TV it really is scary to see the way they live but we must say that the people we met along the way were truly amazing, respectful and above all happy, they have so little, we have everything.

      

 

       

Before we went to the school to meet the children we went for a walk around one of the villages and it took our breath away. The village was positioned in between 3-4* hotels, you would not even know it existed. The houses, their homes are one room with mats on the floor for bedding, are built with whatever they can get there hands on, basically corrugated tin, wood, and rocks. The seating in the communal areas are made from old tyres sunken into the ground, they have no electricity and no running water, water is sent to a main reserve where they have to take 20 litre drums to fill to take home. When the water company does not pay the electricity company the whole village goes without. Kenya has not had the short rains this year and they are constantly praying that the long rains will come to flourish the crops and make life a lot easier. Something we cannot imagine.

We visited a school within this village that receives no help, no charity and no government funding, it was within a church, it was one room for 4 classes separated by black boards. At this school there were about 20 orphans, these orphans sleep at the school on the floor, when it did rain for one afternoon the rain came through and flooded the floor ruining all the mats the children slept on. We could not resist but to go and buy these children a bed, the single bed we bought would sleep 10 children and keep them from getting wet. We’ve received word that the children love their new bed and are very thankful, the children all sang for us when we were there, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” It made me cry, but I had to be strong they were so happy and it made us question, what do we have to moan about?

That night back at the hotel, we felt so guilty walking into the all inclusive restaurant with an abundance of food. We tried the food at this particular school, it was basically boiled rice, with a few tinned new potatoes and tinned tomatoes stirred in.
 
The orphans live with extended family but they are not treated like their own, they have to survive on scraps and left overs, the matter of survival is so true to life in Kenya. Some parents and guardians cannot afford to send the children to school and make them work, begging working as beach boys and more shockingly, prostitutes. The Kenyan children here very rarely have a childhood.

In one area of the district the struggle to survive is so great that the adults are selling their daughters aged 12 and 13, for marriage. The dowry is still in Kenya and some will sell their children for as little as it would be to eat for 2 weeks.


Amy with DGS Children

With our help changes are happening. Our visit to Destiny Garden School to see what charity fundraising and volunteer work actually does is outstanding. The school is far from what we are used to here in the UK.

 

The school is basic but it has walls, a roof and now desks, the £500 we raised bought 17 desks, each desk seats 3 children. That’s a quarter of the children at the school they are still in large class age groups the oldest class has children between 10-15 years.

 

 

 

      
Before                                     At the Carpenters                                After

We managed to get an increase to our baggage allowance and took the donations of clothes and stationery, you all so kindly donated. We sacrificed most of our luggage to take so many gifts, if they could live without, so could we. The children were so excited but we had so much to sort to ensure they all received something, it could only be described as Christmas eve with anxiousness and excitement. Every single child at the school received something, whether it was clothes, shoes, underwear or stationery. A couple of the Caterpillar Logistics rulers were given to the teachers, we couldn’t believe that they do not even have the basics. The children put on their new items and strutted their stuff, something so small goes such a long way. Shoes are in such great need and we wish we could have taken 240 pairs, one little boy had one blue shoe and one yellow shoe both were right feet, Mark grabbed a pair of plimsolls we took and they fitted perfectly. Mark now had a new best friend, he wouldn’t leave Mark’s side for the days we were there.

    

What the Destiny Garden School offers is a safe haven, a good education and regular meals. The school day starts at 7.30am and finishes at 5.00pm. The baby class do have to get sleep times, which we did disturb to say goodbye on our last visit there, they didn’t mind though, adorable babies.

Some of the children have to walk up to 4 miles to get to school. Children as young as 2 have to walk this distance. The school runs entirely through sponsorship of the children, currently there are 240 children at Destiny Garden, only half of them are sponsored. A quarter of the children are orphaned to malaria and HIV and a third of the children are already HIV positive, they are not segregated they are all classed as equal at Destiny Garden and Jacob, the Director and founder (a truly amazing gentleman) looks at the bigger picture, he can not save one life but he will try to better hundreds.

The children with HIV do not know they have it. Jacob and colleagues are currently working on an educational programme where they will teach about HIV, the causes, the caring and understanding the drugs that they will need for both children, their parents and other willing adults.

Unfortunately one young girl, after nursing and losing her mother, her only parent, to HIV she wanted to know about the medication she was also taking. Unfortunately this was prior to these programmes taking place and when she was informed about HIV it was not done in a sensitive manner we would have expected, She took her own life as she could not deal with her situation. A tragic story of a young life lost.

      

We had chance to spend a few hours with the Education Officer for the district, “A woman with a mission” this lady, herself, has homed 8 children as well as her own to give them a better life. She has implemented a girls’ open door chat, a scheme where young girls talk to her about sexual abuse as well as other well needed discussion topics. She started the scheme only 6 weeks before we travelled and during this time she has dealt with 5 cases of child abuse. That is nearly one a week. The boarding houses are full and she is trying to open another for abused girls where they can go and talk and BE SAFE from the predators.

After leaving this meeting and gathering ourselves together after hearing these horrific stories, we were taken to meet the Governing Commissionaire, a very strong and determined lady. She wanted to thank us in person for what we are doing and the help we are providing, without people like us there would be no schools like Destiny Garden. She also emphasised about the need for survival and food and that in one of the remote villages they have been cut off from civilisation, the children there are not getting any food, the neighbouring areas are trying to help but must help themselves too. In this village the young girls are getting married off for food and not returning to school, the government used to help with providing some food for public schools but have stopped this. Imagine the one thing that motivated you to go to school was that one guaranteed meal you received a day, because you knew it was the only one you were going to get and now this has been taken away. Although Commissionaire works for the Government she does not believe in what they have done and has been fighting the cause. Rumour has it that the Government is hearing the cries and due to the lack of rains and no harvest is considering putting school dinners back on for the next 3 months until the rains will hopefully come. We are waiting to hear if this happened.

On our last trip to Destiny we went back to the nursery class and spent time learning the basics, Children in schools are taught in English and it was a real treat to spend time helping these children learn our language. They cannot even get a basic job without speaking English and it is so important for them.

We had school dinners’ cooked in the school kitchen (opposite) these were nutritional and filling, consisted of tomatoes with eggs, ugali (a stiff cornmeal porridge) and cabbage. 250 meals cooked on open coals, remarkable.

Jacob is so remarkable we did name him “The busiest man in Mombasa”, he is constantly working to give more to these children and the future of Kenya, because children are the future. Jacobs motto “Education is the way out of poverty” fits here perfectly.

They are hoping to get land to start a farm so the children are not only educated but can be self sufficient as well. They are in the middle of building 2 new classrooms and are desperately trying to raise enough money for a baby block as well as dorms, so the orphans have somewhere to stay.

We have been touched so much by our time here in Mombasa, Kenya. That we will be doing more and we will certainly be returning there and we look forward to seeing the progress the school, children and people are making. So we ask you also for your continued support.

Please if you can sponsor a child it’s only £10 per month, you really will be making a difference to lives. What we class as small makes a huge difference to the children of Mombasa. More information about sponsoring, see sponsor a child.

 
Thank you again

Mark, Amy
and all at Destiny Garden School.

Amy and Mark with DGS STaff
Amy and Mark with DGS Staff and Jacob, the School Director

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Amy's Report on Raising Funds for DGS

January 2011
Amy and Mark

My fiance and I had booked a trip to Kenya for some winter sun and decided that we wanted to see if there was anything we could do to help the people of Kenya, Charity wise with clothes, giving some of our time etc and to the internet we went. We came across Destiny Garden School and after our heart strings were pulled and seeing what Jacob, the School Director, has achieved so far, we decided that DGS was our aim and so we got in touch, firstly direct with Jacob and then the UK side of the Charity, Judy. Our heads got to work, with not much time and not being able to train for a marathon (or being remotely fit enough especially just after Christmas) we opted with some fundraising games instead.


I started at Xmas running a guess how many sweets in the Jar and choose the Name of the Dog, Xmas was a great time to get family and friends feeling generous :-). Then in the New Year, with the dog and sweeties routed to my desk at work where no one got by without knowing about DGS, the names and amounts came flooding in along with generous colleagues making donations of money, clothes, shoes, colouring books note pads etc. Our depot in Manchester also recycle their plastic cups into Rulers and Pencils and have donated these to the children at DGS.

Amy's Fund Raising Games

On Friday 21st January at work we held a bake sale and raffle, where being the proud sponsors of the Leicester Tigers Rugby Team, Caterpillar donated the star prize of a signed 2010/2011 season picture of the Team. With this as the star prize it wasn't long before we had filled the raffle book and had to find another one. The bake sale was a tremendous success; staff members bought in pies, cupcakes, scones and cheese straws, we opened in the department I work in at 10.00 and by 11.15 we were completely sold out! That afternoon the Dogs Name was drawn, the sweets (won at first by Mum then donated back in and then won by one of our senior managers who donated them back to the team and we’ve all been eating them for days!) 279 sweets finally gone! The raffle prizes won and everyone full of cake. I was really happy to announce the final figure of £500.00 at our communications meeting that Friday afternoon.
We now are really looking forward to getting out to Kenya and spending time with Jacob, Brenda, the teachers and children. 3 weeks to go and counting. Amy and Mark


Please watch this space for our trip update!

 

 


 

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