Since the implementation of the epilepsy program in 2011, Why Not Foundation has grown significantly. It now provides daily epileptic medication for more than 34 children. This is in order to get the condition under control. This is due to the cooperation of the Why Not Foundation and Doctor Muema Mwambu Musyoka, who has a clinic in the Kisauni area in the province of Mombasa. He is a pediatrician and specializes in the management of epilepsy.
Through his help, Why Not Foundation has been organizing an epilepsy clinic once a month for over 8 years, where all parents meet once a month and receive support by:
Regular health education sessions on common diseases associated with epilepsy
One-on-one counseling sessions to better understand their children's condition;
Collecting the appropriate monthly epilepsy medication;
Free additional personal explanation/information in case of poor health of their (grand)child;
The story of Dama Kahindi we would like to highlight in particular this time.
Dama is a young lady of 22 years old and has to deal with both epilepsy and a mental handicap. She completed elementary school in Utange last year. She is a cool, active and ambitious lady.
She comes from a large family of 8 children and the whole family depends on their elderly mother for their daily needs. Her father died in 2013 after a short illness. She has a twin sister whose name is Bendera, which means flag in Swahili, which she loves!
Dama was one of the first girls to join the epilepsy project in 2011. By now, Dama no longer needs to be accompanied by her mother because she can express herself and communicate with the doctor about her progress. She likes to ask questions when the doctor in the epilepsy clinic gives health education, because she wants to understand her condition better. She is very punctual and always the first person to arrive at the office when Why Not Foundation is providing an epilepsy clinic.
Last year, Dama completed her elementary education with 164 out of 500 points. The score was below average, which prevented her from enrolling in a high school. After several good conversations and explanations with Dama and her mother about the challenges she may face in high school, they both agreed to enroll in Sacred Heart Tailoring College.
Matilda (field manager of Why Not Foundation) took Dama to the tailoring school run by Catholic nuns. When they arrived there, Matilda told the nun about Dama's condition and surprisingly, the nun reacted anxiously to this news and asked for more time to think and pray about the issue. "It is by the grace of God" that the nun called Matilda and said she was open to educating Dama.
As of March 2019, she is attending this school and she is showing some progress. She can thread and run the machine. Her teacher says Dama works hard and is ready to learn. She asks questions when she doesn't understand and if she continues with this mindset, she is able to learn enough skills to work independently and become a good tailor in the long run.
This will ensure that she can generate her own income and be self-sufficient in society!
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered virus. Most people who become ill experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment. Coronavirus affects many people in different ways. When the first case of covid-19 was reported in Kenya, all educational institutions were closed, private and public companies were advised to close and their employees to work at home. Only business establishments providing essential services, e.g., supermarkets, hospitals, drugstores, and food-producing establishments were allowed to continue operating with minimum staffing to ensure distance. As a result, workers went on unpaid leave, some businesses were forced to close completely, while others lost their jobs.
Most of the children that Why Not Foundation supports come from poor families. The families of these children struggle to meet their needs. As a result, most of them live from day to day, as they depend on temporary jobs. When the first case of corona was reported in March 2020, it brought much suffering. Parents were forced to stop working and stay home to avoid infection. For these families, this meant eating only once a day or even sleeping hungry due to lack of food. The little support that the government offered to its citizens was not enough and was only provided to a few.
Therefore, we decided to start a food package campaign to help the families of sponsored children. The government had imposed restrictions such as; a lockdown from 7pm to 5am in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale in the coastal region due to the high rate of infection and the advice to stay home.
With the financial resources of donors from the Netherlands, food could be distributed to the families. The food was distributed at two strategic food distribution points, one at Bamburi managed by Catherine and Connie and another at Majaoni managed by Matilda and one of the parents (father of Samson Karanja Mwachingi). In this way, families did not have to travel far or incur expenses to pick up their food packages. We were eventually able to hold five rounds of distribution of packages due to additional donations.
Below are photos and explanations of how we distributed food packages to families from April to August 2020:
We received 164200 ksh from the Netherlands to distribute food packages to 104 families. In the month of April, each family received 24 kg of maize flour. The packages were distributed from two points from 9 to 13 April 2020, so that the beneficiaries could easily reach them. Catherine and Connie distributed food packets from a store in Bamburi, while Matilda, with the help of one of our parents, distributed food packets from a store in the Majaoni area. Each parent had to sign a form to receive the package. Photos were taken during the distribution. The photos were shared on the organization's facebook page to thank donors and showcase the results. Below are some of these photos:
The parents were very happy with their packages. Their faces were filled with joy after receiving food assistance from the Why Not Foundation during this extra difficult time.
Challenges during the distribution of food packages include:
5 of the sponsored children did not have access to Mombasa province to pick up their food packages due to lockdown.
More parents of children with special needs who are not sponsored by Why Not and some who are no longer in the program also came for help because they heard about it. Because of limited funding, it was difficult to send them away.
We forgot some children in the first list, but did include them in the second round.
Sometimes it rained too hard or was too sunny to distribute food packages, as there was not enough room in the stores to wait for parents to come and pick up the food packages.
2 Fourth round
The second round of handing out packages was from May 6 to 8. We were able to distribute food packages to 125 families. The parents were so happy with the food packages and appreciated it a lot. Most of the families have no or little income.
Also during this round there was inconvenience from heavy rains. People in Matilda's neighborhood followed her home to ask for food. She had to say no, because the food was reserved for 120 families. Matilda needed 4 days to distribute her food packages. After discussion with Wendy, it was agreed that the fieldworkers can include new cases of persons with special needs in the 3rd phase of food distribution.
Wendy indicated that there was money left for one and a half rounds of food parcels. She asked us to discuss whether we would do a large distribution in June or distribute it between June and July.
Catherine received a donation of ksh.10,000 from Dhanani Moonaver. She is Alia's sister who supports us from time to time. The money was deposited into the organization's account.
3 Fourth round
We received 167,000 ksh. On June 10 and 11, food packages were once again distributed to 132 families. Each family received 12 kg of wheat and 12 kg of cornmeal. Photos and some videos were made during this round as well.
4 Fourth round
We received 132,000 ksh from ABSA KENYA PLC (the bank where we manage our money) and 12,000 ksh from two donors to buy food and distribute it again to the families we support. We did this on July 11 at Bamburi and Majaoni. We succeeded in distributing packages to 148 families.
Two hours before the start we have to move the distribution from our office instead of the store. Absa Kenya PLC staff arrived late at the distribution point, which meant that many parents were already there at the same time, making it difficult to maintain distance. It was difficult to keep parents and onlookers calm. Street families made it difficult to distribute food because they stormed the distribution point. They were demanding food. We had to give them some of the flour to make them leave so we could move on. We left the distribution point around 7 am because we had to wait for Absa Kenya PLC to send the remaining balance of ksh.50,000 through M-pesa. The delay was caused by a flat tire. Fifth round
Catherine received 135,330 ksh from Marloes through M-pesa to purchase food parcels. On August 13, food was distributed to 162 families. The distribution was peaceful. The parents were told that this distribution would be the last. We also had parents who were not on the list, but still came to ask for food that day. We did our best to help everyone. The parents appreciated the support the organization had provided for the past 5 months. Pictures and video were taken during the distribution exercise to show the sponsors.
Parents benefited from awareness about covid-19
Many people have been informed about what Why Not Foundation does
More parents approached Why Not for help
Families of children with special needs received food aid
Improved interaction between the organization and parents in collecting updates
With food assistance, it is easy to see how donors' gifts directly reach families.
Encourage more parents to join the ´support groups´ for economic and psychological help.
Encourage parents to save so they have something to fall back on in difficult times
Use Home Program to activate parents / children to engage in income generating activities to overcome the effects of covid-19.
"I have been in Kenya for almost a month now staying at Why Not. First impressions are very positive. I have been very well received by the fieldworkers. It is so cool to see that the fieldworkers have such a big heart for the foundation and the children. Every day they work with love, either in the office or outside during home and school visits. In these first weeks I often went along on home visits. During these home visits you visit several houses to see how the children are doing. We ask the parents or the child itself what keeps them busy when they are at home, how the environment accepts the child and if there are issues they are facing and where we can possibly support them. Finally, we make some pictures of the children to keep track of their development and to send the pictures to sponsor parents in the Netherlands. Besides the home visits, there is a therapy day on Tuesday. This is also very special to see. Children with physical disabilities such as CP are brought to the office by their parents and here the children receive therapy from a specialized therapist. It can sometimes be a bit chaotic because of the crowds and crying children but we see much improvement in the children who get therapy.
I came here from school in the Netherlands to graduate from the ALO. To make sure that my internship matches my studies as well as possible, we go to the elementary school on Thursdays to play sports with the children. We play soccer, tennis, sprint competitions and we practice throwing and catching a ball. When the schools open again we will go to the schools to teach them different sports and at the end of my internship there will be a tournament where the schools will compete against each other for a nice prize.
All in all, I'm having a great time here at Why Not and I can see with my own eyes what this foundation means to the children and parents, super cool."
This year the Kenyan team said goodbye to Mr. Peter. Although by Dutch standards he could have retired a long time ago, he has been part of the fieldworkers since the start of Why Not.
In 2010 we got to know Mr. Peter Kimani as "the man with the crutches". You could hear him coming from afar, by the clicking of his crutches. Mr. Peter is a village elder and Why Not's eyes and ears in the villages. He keeps Why Not informed of what is going on in the villages and arranges home visits and activity days. He is a jack-of-all-trades, but also a very important and respected man, who keeps in touch with the chief. This kind, caring and humorous man is the key between the community and Why Not. Because he himself has a physical disability (he walks with crutches), he is very involved in the mission of Why Not. And thus he is also the example of how someone with a disability can indeed fulfill an important task. To Mr. Peter we owe the good connection and communication with the community! We are forever grateful to him.
As of this year he will be enjoying his well-earned retirement. We, Why Not, are pleased to be able to contribute to his retirement and hope that we will hear him from time to time, to visit Why Not and the children who have become so dear to him.
As sponsor parent and treasurer of Why Not Foundation, I cherished the desire to visit our fieldworkers in Kenya. To get to know each other better and to see in person how Why Not Kenya operates. On January 15 I left for Mombasa with my wife Netty. We spent a week in a hotel on the coast about six 6 kilometers from the office in Utange, so easily accessible by tuktuk. We had intensive contact with the team that week. We visited our three sponsor children and their parents. We also saw the physiotherapy that is given every Tuesday morning by Zaineb in the central room of the office. The mothers have the opportunity to share experiences with each other. Zaineb receives compensation from Why Not for her efforts. In addition, I have attended several meetings. These discussions have created more mutual understanding and cleared up ambiguities. I met Mr. Paul, who is in addition to being a doctor also a board member of Why Not Kenya.
With short reports of our visits to the parents and the children Christopher, Moses and Omar I think I can best illustrate the functioning of Why Not. The children are very different in the extent of their disabilities. The team therefore provides different support for each child.
Christopher We were warmly welcomed by Christopher's parents in their modest home. The gratitude of both parents for Why Not's help was obvious. The father proudly tells us that his son is learning to make jewelry which offers possibilities for the future. Christopher we visited at Sahajanand Special School in Mtwape. He was indeed making jewelry. He is staying there permanently and is having a good time. During the vacations he goes home. There are about 450 students at Sahajanand Special School. It is supported by various aid organizations and the Kenyan government and is one of the schools with which Why Not cooperates. We pay Christopher's school fees, school clothes and necessary medication so that he has a chance in society with his limitations.
Omar Omar is a bit older and has severe disabilities. He therefore lives at home in a small community. His father passed away some time ago. His mother is the middle of three women. It is a conservative family that hardly speaks English. Our visit was therefore a bit distant. What was nice was that there were many small children from the community walking around. Omer could hardly stand up and was completely mesmerized by the Tuk-Tuk in which we had arrived. He sat next to it the whole time. Meanwhile, coconuts were being collected, which we were allowed to drink and then scoop out. A very special encounter! Why Not provides diapers and medicine for Omar. The expectation is that if the help from Why Not stops, Omar's chances of survival will be minimal.
Moses Moses' mother was extremely happy about our visit. She could hardly believe that we were with her all the way from the Netherlands. Here too there is great gratitude because Why Not's help to Moses ensures that she and her husband can rent a better house with a small courtyard and their own banana tree. Moses can stay there undisturbed when he is home during the vacations. Moses also attends the Sahajanand Special School. He is permanently cared for and well looked after there. He receives physiotherapy there. Moses is a cheerful boy despite his fairly severe disabilities. He cannot walk well and is in a wheelchair. Why Not pays for Moses' school fees, diapers, special food and medication when needed.
Experience The way our team in Kenya functions commands respect. It is not always easy to offer children with disabilities in Kenya a pleasant and safe living environment. Personalized help is offered not only for the child but also for the family. This should not stop! We in the Netherlands must ensure that our team in Kenya continues to receive the resources to be able to continue their important work there.
As treasurer of the Why Not Foundation I will therefore remain fully committed to this together with my fellow board members and all the volunteers, whom we sorely need. And of course this is not possible without the financial support of all the sponsor parents and donors. I hope to be able to continue to count on everyone.