Saturday 30th. January 2009
Let's start with praise, because that in itself is a powerful weapon in our armoury against Satan. We have completed the purchase of the small building and plot in Kianda where we are planning to start the second Kibera project. We have renovated the building and fenced the plot to provide some security, though some local youths did come and break the fence down immediately after it had been constructed. Just desperation really, and the thought that they may have the chance to make some money off TP by threats. So we rebuilt the fence, and asked the local chief to intervene on our behalf to ensure it didn't happen again. The chief wasn't happy to do this without some incentive, but eventually realised he wouldn't get one from us and has told the youths to leave us alone. All in all it looks like being an interesting area of Kibera to work in, with some different challenges to those we have faced in Mashimoni, so it should be an eventful and exciting next few months. We shall start with a plant from Pastor Shadrack's church, and then probably in May will open a basic feeding programme for kids not in school, and go from there.
Up at the farm seven of the nine mums are continuing to do very well, and their acres are producing some good crops. Two other mums have been given until the end of February to show they can work hard and demonstrate their desire to stay there or they will have to return to Kibera. They tell us they don't want to come back, but so far they have proved to be quite lazy, and we felt we had no option but to give an ultimatum, especially as the other mums have strong suspicions that Fatuma and Mary are stealing crops from them at night. I've spoken to Peter, the farm manager, today, who informs me that they have started to try to work, but they are still slow – it may be too little too late, we shall see.
The Mashimoni project has started the year well, taking in some more young children, and already this year we've had a few older ones come to us from the streets who we have been able to take into our Transition class. At the moment all the teachers in the Government primary schools are on strike over pay, so the 100 or so children TP support at primary are at the compound each day – it's crowded! The Finance Programme continues to grow, with another 20 people currently being trained by Moses in running a small business, with a view to getting their loans in February. I had the privilege of going round visiting many of these parents at their businesses the other day, and to hear them express what a difference the small loans are making to their lives is very humbling. So far everyone is still continuing to make repayments, though January is quite a hard month in Kenya as everyone is broke after travelling to their up-country homes to see family at Christmas, so several are finding it a challenge. But Moses continues to encourage them all, and to offer support where he can.
Some friends of ours, Jason & Jenny, have recently completed the fundraising to set up a secondary boarding school, initially for girls, in an area north of Nairobi. And they have accepted to take two girls from TP this year. Benedictor, who scored 265 out of 500, and Lelina, who scored 180. Strictly speaking, Lelina didn't get enough marks for TP to support her at secondary, we ask for 50%, but she's been with us since day 1 of the project, we know her home life very well, her older sister has already dropped out of school and got married, and without secondary Lelina would probably do the same. We were able to say that it's an exception this year because Jason & Jenny's school has just opened, so they are able to be a bit more relaxed. And ordinarily Lelina is a bright girl, and we think there was some tough stuff going on for her at home around the exams which affected her ability to do well. So they are getting ready to go, together with Syombua, a girl in one of the families up at the farm.
Also going to secondary is Hussein who is an orphan we had looked after in Joy House, and who now lives up at the farm. His life so far has been so hard, full of rejection by many of his family, and it is great to see that he does now have a hope for a future – it's Jeremiah 29:11 playing out before our eyes, and we feel privileged to be witnessing what God is doing through TP for him, and for many others.
Friday 5th May 2009
Hi everyone, Time for a general update on all things Turning Point.
Firstly, let me start with Kianda, the new project. Now at the end of its first week of operations, it has been great to see Mary in action - she is full of so much love for children, and found the waiting for the project to start very hard. But now it has, and she really is in her element. We are seeing between 30 and 40 children there each day, some a little too young really, and we are addressing that, but most within the target group of children who are eligible for school, but who are unable to go. In time we shall start finding out their stories, and seeing how TP can best support them, but for now and the immediate future we're just welcoming those who come and providing them with a good breakfast. We have Ben providing Bible teaching, Jane cooking, and Obat as a caretaker/ watchman. Although it's early days it seems as if they will form the basis of a strong team. Thanks for all your prayers in the lead up to this project starting, and thanks for your messages of support to Mary which we have passed onto her.
Mary really wants to help as many children as she can, and her previous project was working with around 150 children, offering them varying levels of support. With us we're telling her we need to start slowly and small, and get to know the children God brings to us, and what each child's circumstances are. Already in the first few days, we have seen the importance of this philosophy. Daisy, a girl of about 7, has come since Monday. On Wednesday she arrived and was quieter than usual. We noticed bruising around her left eye, and also that her right hand had been burnt. Mary was able to sit and talk with her, and Daisy told us that her Aunt was beating her, and had poured boiling water on her hand that morning. She is an orphan, and the Aunt is her mum's sister, who has taken on the care of Daisy, along with children of her own. Mary went to see the Aunt after the project closed, and talked with her about the injuries Daisy has. The Aunt denied any responsibility, telling us that the injuries were caused when Daisy tripped and fell in the house. We have no way of knowing the truth, but if there was abuse going on, at least now the Aunt knows that we know, and we can monitor Daisy closely and make sure it doesn't continue. I'm happy to say that today at the project, Daisy is having fun, joining in with the games being played there.
On to the Mashimoni project. It pretty much runs like clockwork now, which is a great testament to the staff running it. Let me tell you about Wilson and Charles. They are brothers, 11 & 13 years old, and became orphans about 2 months ago when their father died. He was old, and had not been able to look after the boys very well. A kind neighbour, Mary, had been helping out, and when the boys' father died she tried to take on the responsibility of care. We made enquiries about relatives to see if Wilson and Charles could stay with anyone else, and established that the only surviving family they have is one grandfather who is blind, and their father's step-sister who is married to a man from a different tribe, and he refuses to take the boys. So we left the boys with Mary, the kind neighbour. Earlier this week she came to us asking for help, as she has been finding it hard to support them. It is inappropriate culturally for boys of this age to live in a one-roomed house with someone who is not a relative, and Mary had been trying to pay rent for the boys to have their own room, as well as paying rent for her own room. This is beyond her means though, so TP have stepped in to say they will pay the rent, and provide some additional food for the boys on the weekdays. Mary is happy to provide for them at weekends and in the school holidays. It is heartening to find people like Mary, who are prepared to show love and care, despite the personal cost, to those who are not their own.
The Finance Programme continues well. We had a review a few weeks ago and made some minor changes to operating policy, and Moses is currently identifying another 20 people to benefit through the scheme. These will undergo three weeks of training, then receive their loans. We still haven't had any loans defaulted, and the scheme continues to be very popular within the community. Up at the farm eight of the nine mums have returned from Kibera. Rose is still in Kibera, and is in some kind of difficulty, but refuses to share with us what it is. We are encouraging her to return, and she ensures us that she will, but at the moment there is something preventing that.
Up at the farm there has been a lot of rain over this past week, thank the Lord! And thank you all for praying! It has lifted the spirits of the mums, though we need it to continue for many more weeks for a good harvest. We have recognised that we were pushing the mums towards independence too fast, and have assured them of our continued support, especially at this time whilst they are waiting for their crops to grow. When Emily and I were there last week, we did a prayer walk around the perimeter, and we plan to do this each time we go up.
In the office, Emily has been working very hard on new literature, and is very glad that we are nearly ready to send files to the printers to get some proofs produced. It has been a bit of a long slog, but she's nearly done now. It will mean that when Jo and I are in the UK during July and August, we shall have up to date literature to promote the work of TP in the form of Kibera, Farm & Finance Programme leaflets.
The response to the appeal for funds for sending children to camps has been fairly good, though it is likely that it will be about £2,500 short of the actual figure required. Maybe there are people out there who haven't yet responded, or who have forgotten to do so. If there are we need them to send in those slips a.s.a.p. as we'll be purchasing what we need earlier this year than previous years because of us not being in Kenya from the end of June - I don't want to leave everything to Emily!
I think you're now up to date, and hopefully able to pray more effectively for TP.
Thanks again for standing with us in prayer. God bless, Jon & Jo
Turning Point celebrated its 7th anniversary last
week with a BIG celebration of what God had done and is continuing to do
through the work of this project. Over 200 children and many parents marked
the event with dancing, singing, poetry, drama and celebration food. Up at the
farm there has been plenty of rain and the Mums are very busy planning crops.
Plans are underway for the annual summer camp; a better site has been found and
the sponsorship amount will be reduced to £50. See their web site for more details
and please continue to support Jon and Jo and the team in your prayers.
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