Dear Friends of Nyumbani,

Greetings to each one from all of us in the four Nyumbani Programs.

September brought all our children and young people back to school/college. For our Class 8, end-of-Primary School, and Form 4, end-of-Secondary School this term is very demanding as they will sit very significant examinations in November. Most of our 2017 Secondary School finalists are now placed in University/College with 20 from Nyumbani Village starting their courses during this week.

Nyumbani Home welcomed more children bringing the total of new admissions now to eight. We had a very moving graduation celebration on 18th August for eight of our young adults as they made the transition back to family and the wider community. It has been our great joy that over the years we have been able to link many of our children with extended family. It was lovely to be able to hand over each of the eight to a family member.

Nyumbani Village has welcomed 66 new children and 6 grand parents into the Village recently, bringing the total number of children to 987 and grandparents to 100. The youngest is 2 years and 7 others at pre-primary level. This intake brings a great challenge to Hotcourses Primary as almost all of the children are at primary level. We had a great Education Day in Hotcourses Primary School on 20th July with the new Curriculum Support Officer, Kivelete Adallah being Guest of Honour and the theme: Education, the Empowering Tool. The day started with Eucharistic Celebration at 8.15 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. we gathered again in the Community Hall to be entertained with all the various items that participated in the recent Kenya Music Festival, one being the band which came No. 10 out of 26 at National level. Speeches by staff and Sr. Lilian, Head Teacher brought us up to date with all that had taken place since late 2017, while the awards highlighted achievements by the pupils. We thank God that we are able to have these 699 orphans enjoy their right to education.

Another great event was a visit to Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory by a group of Rotarians from Rotary Club, Karen led by the new District Governor, Jeff Bamford. The purpose of their visit was to view the recent laboratory equipment, which had been donated through the Rotary Global Grant facilitated by Rotarian Alison Stedman, Rotary Clubs Scotland. We are extremely grateful for this large donation, which enabled us to purchase a new deep freezer -80%, Micro Centrifuge and other equipment.

On 25th August, our 16 secondary school students in Nyumbani Home had a youth training workshop both to help them with the challenge of our competitive education system as well as to prepare them for life after Nyumbani. We had a very powerful Nyumbani Home Alumni meeting on 19th August facilitated by Waithaka Member of the County Assembly (MCA), Anthony Karanja, assisted by the MCA Chairman Stephen Kamau and two staff from Waumini Radio. 35 Alumni were able to be present at this meeting and staff were also invited. Through sharing their own life experience, starting from looking for a job after school, our guests reached down to where our Alumni are at present and, I believe, our Alumni left more empowered and hopeful that they too can achieve their dreams. A special event at the end of the vacation program was our Nyumbani Home children showcasing their now being able to do computer programming!

I was delighted to attend the launch of the new ART guidelines in Machakos People’s Park on 22nd August. It gave me great joy to hear that access to the child-friendly LPR/r pellets for infants and children will now be guaranteed as we were having the challenge of ensuring continuity of this component for our children. One of the speakers referred to Nyumbani Home 3 times, so we are known in the ART world! The other great news was that access to dolutegravir, DTG for girls and women aged 15-49 years has been eased. I still wait, however, to hear the true situation regarding the Botswana research to which I referred in my last newsletter.

I was also invited to the National Learning Workshop on Child Protection Systems in the East African Community for Kenyan members, 23rd -24th August. This invitation highlighted Nyumbani being known as I was the only representative of a Children’s Care and Protection Program. The purpose of the workshop was to harmonize Child Protection Systems in the 6 countries in the East African Community. I valued this exposure to what the EAC Affairs Secretariat has developed as a common framework for strengthening child protection, and our being trained in its application.

We continue to implement the Business Plan for our Village farm developed by CRS Farmer to Farmer Consultant, Daniel Dunn. Six new greenhouses designed especially for a semi-arid region have now been installed and planting is starting. The water pan project continues with 4 water pans already constructed and a fifth in progress. Two of the water pans continue to hold water from the earlier heavy rains and a third is being filled by a fortuitous stream discovered during construction. To help with the development of the Karen Farm we have started catfish farming.

Visitors we welcomed in the past weeks included Michael, our former Nyumbani Home child now living in Italy with his family, Tata Mbugua with her daughter, from Scranton University, USA, and our annual group from Italy, started by Don Donato in 2005, who brought gifts for the families in 10 Nyumbani Village houses built by Don Donato friends over the years.

We were very sad to bid farewell to Nicholas Makau, Program Manager, Lea Toto after 20 years dedicated service, starting in Nyumbani Home in 1998, then in 2004 Program Manager, Lea Toto, including, in 2007-2008, adding to his responsibility Program Manager in Nyumbani Village. We wish him God’s blessing in his next assignment.

We are delighted that our USA Board, COGRF wish to acknowledge the services to Nyumbani of the late Professor Dominic Makawiti. He will receive the Nyumbani Award posthumously at the Gala on 21st September. His wife, Beatrice will accept the award on his behalf. One of our Alumni, Ignatius Mohamed will also be present at the Gala this year.

I leave for my annual fundraising/PR visits on the 9th September, starting in USA; then, from 26th – 29th September in UK; followed by 12 days in Ireland. I return on 12th October. I look forward as always meeting up with friends of Nyumbani in the three countries. Please keep me in your prayers.

God bless each one
Sister Mary Owens IBVM

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