Visit from Officials!

November 09, 2013
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Visit from Officials!

Wednesday, we had a very good meeting with two officials from the public health and hygiene government department, to check on our children’s home and facilities. Although sometimes challenging, these meetings can be good to help direct us in areas of improvement. Since their last visit, we have improved on our hand washing facilities, clean water, level of personal hygiene exhibited by girls, and the bedrooms where the girls sleep!!! Based on these improvements, the department will recommend us for a renewal in licensure, a success! Additionally, the officials also gave us some suggestions on areas to work on, mainly that of a dining facility, better ventilation in our kitchen, and to add hanging partitions to the school building, to divide our classes a bit more! To show our appreciation, we were able to give the officials some local vegetables from our farm! Asante sana officials!

The Pickings in our Patch!!

October 30, 2013
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The Pickings in our Patch!!

Look at the beautiful eggplants that are almost ready to be harvested! They serve both as nutritional variety for our girls, and as a good selling crop for the surrounding community!

Part of the Vumilia organization is a sustainable farm! The farm production is very important for Vumilia, as it helps to provide nutritional variety for the orphaned girls, as well as providing items to sell at market, allowing for Vumilia to have some form of income to help offset the cost of all the other programs. Additionally, the farm provides the girls with necessary instruction and experience in growing their own food, an integral part of Kenyan life. This picture is of eggplant that are almost ready to harvest!

What can you do with $3?

October 24, 2013
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What can you do with $3?

Suzy gives 5 year old HIV-positive Wilson some porridge to add needed calories and nutrition to his daily intake.

The palliative care program that Vumilia offers is very important for many families in the surrounding area. Several of our staff go out daily to bring very sick HIV-positive children extra nutrition that their families are not able to provide. In doing this, Vumilia is not only improving the nutrition of very sick children, but is also helping to educate parents on how to offer more care for their offspring. The porridge we provide is a mixture of locally found ground grains, such as millet. Some families find that once shown how our porridge mixture is created, they can provide such sustenance to their sick children. The daily cost per child for 3 servings of porridge and an egg? $3.

Welcome to our new calf!!!

October 23, 2013
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Welcome to our new calf!!!

Another Wonderful Visit to Vumilia

August 20, 2013
Another Wonderful Visit to Vumilia

It was my great good fortune to be able to spend a week-and-a-half at Vumilia again this year. Luckily for me my nephew Matt was able to make the trip with me, and among many other benefits, not least his photography and horticulture skills, it afforded me the opportunity to discuss and really reflect on my history with Vumilia, and with Rose.

I first “encountered” Rose having heard her on Chicago Public Radio in November of 2006 with her friend (and now mine) Mary McVay. The interviewer, Jerome McDonnell, announced that interested listeners could meet her that evening. One of my daughters, Jessy, and I drove to the meeting place, and I finagled myself an invitation to visit Vumilia the next time I was in Kenya.

The girls playing jacks

The girls playing jacks

Well, that next time came in July 2007. A friend, Magdaline Wangeci, and I taught a lesson on sex edto one of Vumilia’s HIV+ support groups. A couple of days later Rose was calling me to ask if I would come back another time and train some of her staff and community members to teach HIV prevention and sex education, adding prevention to her HIV project in a more concrete way.
I came back for two weeks in November 2007 to meet with staff and locals and find out more specifically what the local area might need from me. Rose’s staff had set up meetings for me with boda boda drivers (bike taxi), unemployed youth, high school girls, women’s groups, several pastors, and her staff. When I came back in 2008 I was ready to run my first training.

I was back again twice in 2009, once in 2010, in 2011, in 2012, and now in 2013, spending from 10 days to 6 weeks in Kakamega District each time. Last year the girls had been moved to their beautiful new dormitory on their own spacious land and out of the rental property without room to roam and play. This year the girls have moved into clean, organized and roomy quarters in the gorgeous administration block, and their dormitory has been turned into their classroom.
The sustainable, integrated farm feeds the girls – body and soul. They eat densely nutritious food grown with their help, surrounded by chickens, a fish pond, rolling hills, a creek, and the Kakamega Rainforest. The farm looks terrific, the vegetables are lush, and there’s a hefty dose of demonstration and education farm to the whole piece, benefitting the girls and the broader community.

New books for the library, courtesy of my friend Toni Gilpin and her daughters

New books for the library, courtesy of my friend Toni Gilpin and her daughters

My main goal in my time at Vumilia this year was to meet with the two HIV prevention and sex education teams that are under Vumilia’s care – the Kakamega group and the Luanda group, which is a couple of hours travel time away. Each group has four dedicated volunteers, who go out and educate in the community in teams of two. Each team goes out an average of three times a week, and touches about 1000 individuals a month. They teach in schools, churches, women’s groups, support groups, chief’s barazas. . .They report great success, particularly with increased HIV testing, increased condom distribution and sales in the area, and decreased early pregnancy among high school girls.

We spent hours refining draft reporting forms and evaluations, and hope by the end of September to have our first output and outcome measurements formally collected.

As always – I can’t wait to go back!

Welcome to our new website.

August 17, 2013
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Welcome to our new website.

Today we launched our new website. We’ve used a simple template to keep costs to a minimum  while still providing a great platform for promoting our work. Let us know what you think!

We will be keeping this section up to date with all our day to day news and the stories of our struggles and successes.

We are also starting a mailing list so that we can publicize website updates and news stories from Vumilia. Please sign up for this now using the email collector on the right side of this page.

We are also on Facebook: we have 130 fans and counting – please join this amazing group and ‘like’ our page!

Finally A Big Thank You to all our supporters in the UK who made this new site possible, and to our friends internationally who make our daily work possible.

August 2013…

August 15, 2013
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August 2013…

We have had an eventful couple of months at Vumilia…

♦ The girls have all been moved into the brand new building, and their former dormitory has now been converted into a schoolhouse. The new building is structurally complete – but we still need to furnish and equip it, and there are some improvements we have to make to the plumbing and drainage systems. But the girls did not want to wait!
♦ There was a national teachers strike last month and our secondary school girls all came home as the situation is resolved. Its over now so they will be going back to school in September. The younger children were unaffected, thanks to our in-house home schooling program
♦ Volunteer Sex Ed teacher Kathy visited us and carried out a series of training workshops in the local area –  these are always popular and cause quite a stir!
♦ Sad that we have had to suspend the VCT and Clinic services for the time being – but we will resume them as soon as we can.
♦ We are making changes on the farm. We moved the cowshed –  away from the perimeter fence and public footpath where local people herd their animals to water –  so as to reduce the risk of tick infestation and other communicable diseases. We lost a milk cow to East Coast Fever recently which was a huge blow. We also moved and rebuilt the chicken house
Joanna Stutchbury, a permaculture expert, visited us and has helped us draw up new plans for the farm. We are very keen to fully adopt sustainable agriculture practices built on better natural resource management and minimize or eradicate use of any chemical/synthetic inputs
And we have taken two more young girls into the home, rescued from very sad conditions. More about them soon!
♦ The girls are all looking forward to a day trip to Kisumu this month – a big excitement for them – to visit Lake Victoria, the Impala Sanctuary, the Heritage Museum and other sights and experiences. Many thanks to Kathy for sponsoring this excursion.