Gesrebke Primary School started in January 2015 and registered by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in November 2015. By the end of 2015, the school had only one classroom which provided space for class one and class two pupils. At the same time this classroom was used by teachers as a staff room. The early childhood development (ECD) pupils conducted their learning under a tree. The school had 80 pupils of which 20 pupils were girls. In April 2016, the number of children had increased to 155 and out of the total, 30 were girls. This increase in number of children is attributed to two interventions by Islamic Relief Kenya.
Under the school development project, Gesrebke primary school was selected as one of the needy schools to benefit from infrastructural development. Islamic Relief Kenya constructed a 30m3 water tank and two modern classrooms to serve the children of Gesrebke village. According to Mr. Ali Maalim Yussuf, the school head teacher, majority of the children in this village spend much of their time herding livestock as it is the practice with many children in the County of Mandera.At Gesrebke primary school, children attending school were learning in one mud walled classroom which was in very poor condition.
The old classroom that was used by both pupils and teachers at Gesrebke primary school
As a result of this intervention, children are learning in a better environment as the new classrooms are well ventilated, cool and are able to shield children from the rain during the rainy season. Additionally, both classrooms are installed with solar panels and pupils are able to spend more time learning in school.
Abdi Hassan, a class two pupil said, “We are happy because we have never thought of having solar lighting and new classrooms in our school.”
Another important reason why the school is able to retain children throughout the term is availability of water within the compound. Islamic Relief constructed a 30m3 water tank that is able to serve the school throughout the term and this gives children an opportunity to spend more time learning as opposed to walking longer distances searching for drinking water. The rain water harvesting system fixed on the roof of the classroom will enable the school save the funds allocated for purchase of water during rainy seasons and this money will be used to meet the costs of other essential needs of the pupils.
“Children are happy and upon completion of the two classrooms and availability of water, they prefer to continue learning because the environment is child friendly” Said Mr. Ali Yussuf, School Head Teacher.
To avoid conflicts between the school administration and community, the school board of management has held meetings with community leadership to sensitize community members on the need to protect the new structures in the school. It was made clear that the water belonged to the pupils and not the community that the community is to continue drawing water from the community earth pan which is located about a kilometer away. According to Mr. Ali Yussuf, the County government of Mandera is planning to construct one more classroom and an early childhood development (ECD), supported by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
By Caroline SANG
Since 2011 Islamic Relief has implemented a programme to empower the orphaned and vulnerable groups of society in Mandera County, Kenya. This support has seen orphans in the region reigniting their dreams. The vulnerable orphaned families have come up with viable ventures to lead a decent life while contributing meaningfully to the society. The programme Orphan Micro Enterprise Programme (OMEP) has seen the widows establish shops, trade in animals and their products and save funds well enough to take their children to school. The project has so far nurtured the spirit of entrepreneurship among the community members who would have otherwise wasted away.
There is a glimmer of hope for the financially challenged and the bright needy children from deprived homes. The generous contributions to Islamic Relief have brought life to these vulnerable groups in the society. These groups have been integrated into the program through foolproof criteria that ensures that they are needy orphans.
Enterprise development harnesses existing skills, empowers ideas and even create more opportunities for people to buy into. The business training and loans that Islamic Relief provides to the women headed households go a long way in helping them provide for their families and take the first steps towards self-reliance. Halima Sheikh Ibrahim availed her first loan of Ksh 30,000 in 2009 after she lost her husband who was the sole breadwinner for her family. She invested it in setting up a small business of selling cereals. She then further acquired a second loan of ksh 30,000 which she used to restock her business. She currently sells her cereal in bulk to retailers. The loans have enabled her to earn an income to support her family giving them a new lease of life. She takes pride as she explains how gratified she is to be able to contribute so significantly to her family.
“We cannot compare our lives to how we were living before the grant. Our situation has greatly improved. Now I can afford to take my children to school and even be able to seek medical attention when need be. ”
Halima’s family is indebted for the contribution that Islamic Relief has provided them. Through the programme her children have been able to acquire education. It is worth noting that recently after the release of the results of the national Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams; Halima was beyond herself as she made a courtesy call to Islamic Relief office to share the success of her son Abdirahman Mohamed who made history by attaining a mean grade of an A; which is a first in the county, despite the numerous challenges.
A closer peek at the changed lives, beckons a stable and productive tomorrow. Going by the brimming ambitions harbored by the orphans, the next generation will undoubtedly plough back to the society.
By Caroline SANG
Amidst the poverty and despair, women in some remote villages of Mandera County in Kenya have been empowered into carving healthier, wealthier futures for them and their children through a unique microfinance programme dubbed Orphan Microcredit Enterprise Programme (OMEP) implemented by Islamic Relief. The biggest beneficiaries of the project are orphans who have lost their fathers and are languishing in abject poverty for deprivation of the bread winner in the family. The orphaned families starring at a bleak future without sufficient education, relevant life skills, stress coping mechanisms, and lack of healthy attitude to withstand the shocks brought about by the cares of the world, have found solace in the project that has turned their lives around by giving them a new lease of life through education, food and small scale business ventures.
Microfinance is seen as a means to help in attaining some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly the goal on eradicating extreme poverty. The widows are capacitated with skills and equipment to provide the day to day needs of their dependants. With such an opportunity to earn income on their own, these women have been able to steadily gain some level of independence and are well on the way to increasing the financial sustainability of their families. When women received the profits from these businesses, they spent it back on their families – sending their children to school, seeking medical attention as well as improving their home. The goal is not just to help create businesses, but to improve the welfare of the family as a whole.
The OMEP project proved popular among the locals and scored high being interest free and Sharia compliant. With the often conscripting taxes scrapped, it recorded incredible success when the locals upon identifying viable ventures, came in their hundreds to register and sought vital knowledge on how to invest the funds.
Since the project’s inception back in 2009, 828 families have benefitted from this initiative. Islamic Relief has empowered these women-headed households to engage in different income generating activities through a grant of free interest loans of ksh.35, 000 as start-up capital. Forty two year old Haretha Abdi is now a kiosk owner and one of the many beneficiaries who have had their lives changed for the better through the microcredit loans. She says,
“The loans we have received from Islamic Relief are interest free loans. I initially borrowed ksh.35, 000 and repaid the same amount of ksh.35, 000.The microcredit has really changed our lives. I took my first loan back in 2009 and they have really boosted my business venture. I have seen my business growing steadily. I am able to re-stock my kiosk before selling out everything therefore keeping my business growing day by day. My children have been able to go school and further their education; I have 2 children in university and one in secondary school, this makes me very proud; and I have this business to thank.”
Determined, resourceful and backed by the knowledge she acquired in her 10 weeks of training, Haretha Abdi now understands that she can buy her stock direct from the warehouse and benefit from the economies of scale.
“I believe that this microcredit project has changed the lives of many people enormously. People here were living in extreme poverty, and were solely dependent on humanitarian aid. Now, there is already a huge difference – how much of that difference we can claim to be our responsibility, I don’t know, but we have played a role for sure,” she said.
The biggest ground is yet to be covered, and the biggest room is for improvement. In the next phase, it is envisioned that the funds will be cascaded down to the far flung areas and remotest villages to empower communities there. So far thousands of funds that have been disbursed have sustained and cushioned the locals from the harsh realities of the high cost of living and poverty.
With brimming ideas, drive and ambition displayed by the beneficiaries, it is possible to touch more lives and reach more needy population through
By Caroline SANG
Empowering Community Health Workers in Bur Abor, Mandera
Islamic Relief is a humanitarian and developmental organization whose mission is to alleviate poverty and suffering of the world’s poorest, vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the Greater North Eastern Region. As part of the Programmes, Islamic Relief has been supporting the Ministry of Health (MOH) since 2010 to Scale up Nutrition through the implementation of High Impact Nutrition Interventions (HINI) in Mandera County. This has been done through on job training to all health care providers as well as the community health workers. These health workers are responsible for counselling families to take advantage of government health services, and to adopt healthier behaviors.
Community health workers and especially women, despite the challenges faced in the community are in fact in fulfilling a socially valued role. One such community health worker who has benefited from these on job training sessions is Dakane Osman. She is a community health worker attached to Bur-Abor dispensary in Mandera East sub-county. She has been in service since 2004 serving the communities of Bur-Abor and Fikow villages.
“I have always wanted to help my people get health-care, growing up and watching children succumb to complications related to malnutrition motivated me to do more in order to reduce that, I am forever grateful to Islamic Relief for mentoring and empowering me to be able to serve my people” says Dakane
Dakane has been empowered through various trainings supported by Islamic Relief such as Essential Nutrition package training, frequent trainings on IMAM, MIYCN and MNP among others. She is now able to triage a malnourished child, manage, do home visits until the child attains full recovery. She plays the lead role of giving health talks on various issues pertaining health through mother support groups that she initiated with the help of the Ministry of Health and Islamic Relief.
Making A difference
Dakane reports to the facility daily where she goes about her daily chores as the community health worker. She assists the Health facility in-charge in dispensing drugs, growth monitoring, triaging and managing all the nutrition beneficiaries admitted to different nutrition programs within the facility. She is involved in active case findings in the community so as to ensure the coverage of the program. She is enthusiastically involved in defaulter tracing, this translates to low defaulter rates and higher recovery rates.
Being a mother herself, she serves as a role model to the community by implementing proper infant and young child nutrition. She influences the community with the same knowledge by giving regular trainings to the other mothers in the mother support group. Some of the topics discussed during such trainings are exclusive breastfeeding, timely complementary feeding and importance of immunizations, growth monitoring and proper hygiene.
“I have noticed a great behavior change among the women in my
community and I am positive that with this practice no child in Bur Abor and Fikow villages will succumb to preventable child illnesses” a happy Dakane concludes.
By Caroline SANG
A greenhouse is a building where plants are grown under controlled micro environment. Because this environment is controlled, it is not subject to the vagaries of weather patterns. It is for this reason that, greenhouses provide a balanced diet for plants at all times, thus granting them an optimal environment to flourish.
With integration of the Nutrition and Livelihood departments, Islamic Relief has engaged the intervention of greenhouse farming in North Eastern Kenya; an initiative that has seen dry arid lands being transformed into productive land, which are providing families with an income generating activity (through the sales of the produce) as well as a diversified food source, thereby improving the communities’ health status.
The initiative was formed through a network of mother support groups’ need for building livelihood strategies as a way of building resilience to food insecurity and improving dietary diversity for children and women. The group members have regular meetings within the week and they are also trained on topical issues such as: pregnancy, lactation, advantages of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, breastfeeding difficulties, infant feeding practices, hygiene, immunization as well as complementary feeding.
At Wagalla village in Wajir County in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, the Wagalla Mother Support group members are harvesting their tomatoes thanks to the greenhouse technology– and microcredit. Islamic Relief provided the group with seedlings, chemicals, spraying gear as well as training on crop planting, harvesting and management. Once the crops are ready for harvesting, it will help to market their produce.
“A bundle of ten tomatoes which would cost Sh40 three months ago is now going for double the price. But we have no choice,” said Mama Saadia, one of the group members of the Wagalla Mother Support Group.”
A spot check in the country shows that prices of horticultural produce have shot up in the past three months following the failure of short rains. However, farmers who use the greenhouse technology do not need rainfall for their crops to grow.
“I have discovered that greenhouse farming and general farming through irrigation is the way to go because rain-fed agriculture has failed especially living in a drought prone region; the rains are no longer reliable. “In my entire life, I was not able to raise the amount of money that could be used to put up such a project. But thanks to microcredit programme from Islamic Relief which have the interests of women at heart, I have become an independent entrepreneur in my old age.” Said Mama Saadia.