Collins is a 15 year old boy who is now finishing up 7th grade and looking forward to starting his final year of primary school in July. He was once sponsored individually and lived at the Care Centre because conditions at his home were so difficult. He had lost his father, the family’s breadwinner, before joining our program and moving to the Care Centre six years ago. At the time his mother Flora was really struggling and she was pleased that Collins could have everything he needed living and studying from the Care Centre. But Collins was not the only child, and Flora still had immense stress trying to support the many other children in her household.
Today Collins lives at home with his six older siblings, his younger brother, his mother, and his two young nieces. Life for all of them is much better than it was, and the power of our Family Care approach is well demonstrated through their story.
As we moved to a new Family Care model in 2019, the first step for Collins’ case was reintegrating him with his family. One of the family’s greatest challenges was a dilapidated latrine and nothing but maize stalks to serve as a bathing area. Hygiene was not good. Food security was also a challenge as the family only grew maize and beans on depleted soil, getting small yields due to lack of fertilizer.
However, through our Healthy Homes program the family received iron sheets, cement, and other materials to build their own brand new latrine and washroom. They also received fertilizer and higher-yielding seed for farming, significantly increasing their harvest. At this point we were able to begin planning for Collins to move back in with his family, and he joined them at the end of 2019 after completing sixth grade from the Care Centre.
The family’s farm has really picked up. With guidance from our agriculture team, the mother Flora is maximizing her maize and beans yield while also growing soy, lentils, and a large variety of vegetables. Nutrition has improved.
Last October, while visiting Collins and his family at home, our field staff learned that Collins’ mom Flora was making bricks for sale but lacked the firewood to cure them. She wanted to use the proceeds from selling bricks for her children’s school fees. She had 3,000 bricks but wanted to make more so the large expense on firewood – for curing the bricks – would be used more efficiently. She didn’t have money for the firewood, but she knew that curing only 3,000 bricks would not be a good use of the firewood she hoped to one day buy.
Meanwhile, during this visit, our field staff also observed that Collins’ brother Eugine and sister Centrine were not in school as they should be. With coronavirus somewhat under control in Kenya, their class was the first to be called back to school as part of a phased re-opening of learning. The family was broke and mother Flora didn’t have fees for them to return to their final year of high school.
Flora knew that if she did manage to cure her bricks, after paying school fees for all her children she’d once again be broke and her lucrative business would collapse for lack of capital. But it seemed like her only choice.
Our Family Care approach helped this family rise to a much better position. We provided one-time funding of around $225 to help Flora make an additional 7,000 bricks, adding up to 10,000 in total, and to acquire firewood for curing them. This was a huge boost for the family, and it really changed their lives.
Our staff knew that Flora planned to use the proceeds from selling her bricks for school fees, but they worried her business would end after paying those fees. And they also worried that the two high school seniors would not return to class for a month or more as their mother worked to cure and sell her bricks.
With this in mind, we also provided around $90 in one-off funding for fee arrears, allowing Eugine and Centrine to return to class right away and work toward finishing their last two terms of high school. We did this to ensure Flora’s brick-making business could continue instead of all capital being diverted toward school fees. There were only two terms left in their high school careers, after all, and had the students dropped out we couldn’t be sure if they’d ever go back.
Eugine and Centrine have now graduated and are proud holders of high school diplomas. Flora, meanwhile, had time to go from 3,000 bricks to 10,000 bricks and cure them efficiently with the same quantity of firewood. The larger quantity of bricks was worth around $600, and after selling them she was able to do a lot. She cleared PTA and other outstanding levies for Eugine and Centrine, ensuring they would be allowed to graduate high school. As schools reopened for all learners in January, Flora was also able to pay high school fees for her other children Branice and Dennis so they could complete their sophomore and junior years. She was able to make sure Collins and his younger brother Wesley had complete uniforms and everything else they needed to complete seventh and sixth grade, respectively. She even bought 400 pounds of wholesale maize that she now sells to neighbors in small quantities. And she bought a cow that now provides 8 litres of milk each day, providing nutrition for her growing children and also income for daily necessities.
With our agriculture team, Flora recently volunteered to host a fruit orchard micro-demonstration for other guardians in our program. She has now planted ten seedlings each of passionfruit, bananas, oranges, lemons, avocados, mangoes, and papayas. Those that survive and mature will eventually bring her very good income while allowing her to give back to our program by hosting other guardians for learning visits.
Collins, Dennis, and Branice continue to proceed in school and have everything they need to study and learn. Their older siblings Eugine and Centrine are now done with high school, joining the eldest siblings, twins Brian and Sectone who finished high school two years back. Young Bianca, Collins’ niece, will join first grade in July, and baby Immaculate is growing up healthy and strong. Flora feels confident she will now be able to pay school fees for all her children and grandchildren with income from her brick, maize, and milk businesses.
Today the family is able to provide much more for themselves, and in fact they’ve risen out of the extreme poverty where they once were. Even more wonderful, the future looks better than the present. We will still be helping them finish up a few more things like getting Collins started with high school, but there is an end to our assistance in sight. The family is slowly being phased-out of our support program, yet the future looks promising for them because the burden of school fees is less and they’re now able to earn more for themselves.
With gratitude to our dedicated staff, the family’s sponsor, and our other generous donors, we wish to offer heartfelt congratulations to Flora, Collins, Secotne, Brain, Dennis, Eugine, Centrine, Branice, Bianca, and Immaculate. When the family “graduates” from our program, not so long from now, they will be a shining example of how our new Family Care model works together with families as they rise out of poverty and have means to support themselves to stay out of poverty.