All in all it has been a busy, exciting and challenging year for us at Friends Vision as we slowly move through some changes that have taken place within our organisation. Throughout the year we have welcomed new staff, gained our Kenyan NGO status, began our farming project and started to move towards a more sustainable future.
For the last 5 years Friends Vision has been running their Annual Christmas Appeal which raises funds to bring Christmas to over 200 children living in rescue centres around Kenya. Last year we were able to raise over $1,100 from both international and national supporters which allowed us to put on a Christmas party at Machakos Girls Rescue Center. For the day we organised a bus to transport the boys and staff from Thika Children's Rescue Center to come to Machakos to have a combined party together as there are many siblings who reside in the two centers but do not get to see each other. The day was filled with laughter and fun and games as our team supplied yummy food, music, entertainment and gifts for the children. One of our volunteers gifted Machakos with lots of new cooking equipment that will assist in preparing and cooking food for the 90 girls who live there. It was a fun filled day and couldn't have been done without everyone’s support. We would like to send an extra big thank you to everyone who donated to the appeal and helped to share the updates on Facebook as well. I have a few photos attached from the day but you can see all of them via our Facebook page by clicking here.
Over the last year we have welcomed new staff members to our team in Kenya. In late 2013 Pauline Njoroge joined our team as our new Project Manager to oversee and manage all Friends Vision’s programs and activities on the ground in Kenya. Pauline has an extensive background and knowledge in running organisations and has been a wonderful addition to our team. She has over 13 years’ experience working in community development projects and has assisted us in implementing solid foundations to ensure the long term success of Friends Vision. In August 2014, Pauline attended a Global Women's Leadership Network Conference in Uganda to further her skills and network with other organisations to spread the word on Friends Vision. She has been a very valuable addition to our team and we look forward to our future together. In March 2014 Eunice Kimeu joined our team as our new Sponsorship Coordinator to manage and run our Child Sponsorship Program in Kenya. Eunice has a Diploma in Social Sciences and Certificate in Counselling and has vast experience working with vulnerable children in different programs in Naivasha. She has been an excellent addition to our team to help us support and care for our children as well as developing and managing our Child Sponsorship Program.
Friends Vision’s Child Sponsorship Program has been running for 5 years and at present gives 38 children (hopefully more in 2015) the opportunity to go to school to gain an education and a chance to break the cycle of poverty by creating a more sustainable future for themselves.
The children in our program come from children's rescue centers and would not have had the opportunity to gain a good education without our program. The last year has brought us lots of new experiences in our program. We have new schools, four more children joining High School and we have been adapting to the ever changing environment we work in as some of our children have been re-integrated back into homes with family members.
This year our team in Kenya has begun developing a mentorship program for our children covering important issues such as: self-awareness, resisting peer pressure, understanding values and self-worth, self-esteem, sexual education, female reproductive system and special talks from our first girls who started High School this year to help prepare our younger girls. Our first program was run in May 2015 with 10 girls attending over a weekend. A lot of fun was had as well as learning some valuable life skills. Our team in Kenya did an amazing job to begin this program off their own initiative which we hope to continue to support through our sponsorship program with more funding and more sponsors.
As I mentioned earlier there has been a few of the children we sponsor having been re-integrated with family members or even the mother and father themselves. Many of these children come from extremely poor families who cannot afford schooling for the kids. Friends Vision has agreed to continue supporting the educational needs of children who have returned home bringing a new dimension to our program as we work together with the families to show how important an education can be for people to break free of the cycle of poverty. We are very happy some of the children in our program have been able to be reunited with family members building family connections and a sense of belonging for themselves. We also understand the stigma which unfortunately comes with being sponsored from outside of Kenya and are working hard to ensure the families and caregivers still uphold their responsibilities of caring for their children’s needs while we assist with educational needs, through home visits and collaborative engagement with families.
We would love the opportunity to expand on this program and allow for more vulnerable children to have a chance in life but to do this we need support from monthly sponsors. If you are interested in joining our program for as little as $25 per month, please contact me directly or visit our website to find out more information.
Friends Vision Volunteer Program offers grassroots experiences for people wanting to give something back in this world. We work together with other organisations to give our volunteers a chance to really experience Kenya. We have opportunities for volunteers to use their skills in: community development, health and medical clinics, orphanages, teaching and farming. We strongly believe that ‘voluntourism’ can do more harm than good in developing countries leaving negative impacts and a sense of reliance on Western countries. As such our volunteer program works together with local experts to share knowledge and limit this occurring and has a focus on sustainability within organisations we work with. We are always looking for volunteers to join our program and experience the real Kenya. If you are interested in our programs please visit our website for more information.
Self-Sustainability Farming Project
In February 2015 we completed our second harvest on our land and filled 57 bags of potatoes to sell. Unfortunately some of our potatoes were stolen from the land as we are yet to build our farmers house to have someone permanently there to care for our produce. The fruit trees are growing strong and looking great. In October 2014 we built a wooden structure for the orchard to help support the trees as they grow. We hope to finish the ground work for our farming project this year including building a small house for a farmer, purchasing animals and building stables for them to live in and complete planting our fence hedging. We have unfortunately been held up in this project to unforeseeable circumstances which we hope to get finalised this year so we can move forward to a more sustainable future to support our children.
In December 2014 we were extremely privileged to be the recipients of an Amiran Farmers Kit from Naivasha Horticultural Fair (NHFAIR). The self-sustainable kit comes complete with a greenhouse, tomato seeds for four seasons, a water tank, fertilizer, drip lines, knapsacks and technical support by an agronomist. This has made a huge impact for Friends Vision as move our focus onto self-sustainability to ensure we are able to continue the work we are doing for years to come. We began our first harvest in April which should continue until June which has helped us supplement our potato farming as well. Once we are able to complete our farming project we hope to be able to generate a sustainable income to cover our ongoing costs of house rent, bills, water, local staff and general admin costs. We are always accepting donations for this project through our website where people can personally purchase animals, crops or fruit trees for us to grow on our land.
No more People & Planet Diaries and Calendars
In 2014 we said a sad goodbye to People & Planet who have helped us raise around $3000 every year in selling their beautiful Diaries and Calendars. They have stopped producing these products for now and do not know if it will continue in the future. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in helping Friends Vision selling these products over the last four years and to People & Planet who have assisted us in generating an income to begin our farming project in 2014. They will be missed!
As we move forward in 2015 we continue to aim towards a more self-sustainable future through more sponsors in our Child Sponsorship Program and building on our farming projects to gain an income for our ongoing costs. We will be building on our Volunteer Program, opening up more opportunities for people to experience Kenya and assist our partner organisations in providing the services they undertake around Kenya. Our team in Kenya are working on a new transitioning program, which will cover a variety of topics, to support our teenage children as they transition into adulthood.
Our long term goal of building homes for the children we work with is always on top of our agenda though there have been a few setbacks in this area. We are hoping to move past these setbacks this year and continue with our plans to provide a safe and loving home for the children we work with and most importantly continue to give vulnerable children in Kenya the opportunity to create a brighter tomorrow through education.
|December 2018 Update|
|We have had another big year here at Friends Vision and although we’ve had some setbacks, we’ve also had many reasons to celebrate. In particular, we are always inspired by the many achievements of the children and young people we support. With increasing costs and floods wiping out most of our crops, we also need to continue to fundraise so read on to see what we have planned.|
|March 2018 Update|
|It continues to be an interesting, challenging, rewarding and evolving journey for us as we move into our eighth year. While it’s been around two years since my last update (so sorry), the wheels have still been turning over as we venture into new territory this year. Our focus on sustainability is in full force with some exciting new partnerships; we have gained tax deductibility status in Australia; welcomed new staff members and new children and had the first of our young adults finishing High School and beginning our transition program.|
|2015 News Update|
|All in all it has been a busy, exciting and challenging year for us at Friends Vision as we slowly move through some changes that have taken place within our organisation. Throughout the year we have welcomed new staff, gained our Kenyan NGO status, began our farming project and started to move towards a more sustainable future.|
|Our Directors Interview|
|Read Director Jannah Curries interview with magazine Essential Child to find out more on the journey of Friends Vision.|