Dear Friends of Ngong Road,
We would like to extend our appreciation to our sponsors, donors, volunteers and well-wishers for their great support in 2017. The year ended well and we are glad to report that we have started 2018 on a high note. However, while every day is becoming better and better at NRCA (Ngong Road Children Association), we have a significant and growing need for sponsors. Currently we have a list of over 200 children that are waiting to be sponsored. It breaks our hearts when needy parents and guardians come to our office every day asking whether their child has been successful in getting a sponsor yet.
My Personal Experience
I was brought up in a family where my Dad was a firm believer in education. His philosophy of life was, “Instead of giving my children the fish to eat, I want to empower them to learn how to fish themselves”. He was a crusader for education for all, especially for girls, so he sent us all to school. In my rural community, most families did not educate girls because they believed that the girls would get married and any investment made in their education would benefit the marital family, not the parental family. My Dad supported the education of many children (both relatives and non-relatives) and from an early age instilled in us the virtue of helping others. This involved sharing our home to accommodate the needy and even sharing our parents with the many children who referred to them as Dad and Mum for the support they received. From the lessons I learned from my Dad, I currently support the education of five children (both relatives and non-relatives) from my home town in Malava, Kakamega County. They are at different levels of school ranging from university, middle level colleges, high schools and primary schools.
Typical African Philosophy
In Africa, the extended family benefits from the affluence of their kinsmen. One African proverb summarizes this: “Shorter trees in a forest climb on taller ones in order to survive”. Among the groups who benefit are the sick, the poor, the disabled, women and children. For a long time Africans have shouldered problems afflicting their parents, siblings, friends, relatives and even neighbors. This included bringing them up. The better off provided food, shelter, clothes, education, medical care and a supportive community. Providing such support is a common practice for most Kenyans.
The Kenyan Rural vs Urban Divide
However, the situation in urban centers is different. Many urban Kenyans already support family members so it is difficult for them to support needy children in the city who may have lost their entire family to HIV/AIDS. For the few local Kenyans who do provide support to city children, they cannot commit for long, because they may have other responsibilities like family members or elderly parents in the village who are depending on them for their livelihood.
Most families of our sponsored children left their rural areas with the hope of finding greener pastures in the city but most of them find themselves scratching out an existence in slums. Slums are usually characterized by high rates of poverty and unemployment. They are commonly seen as breeding grounds for social problems such as crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, high incidence of mental illness and suicide. Slum dwellers also exhibit high incidence of disease due to unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of basic health care.
Why we continue to need overseas sponsors
Most of our children at NRCA reside in this kind of environment. They do not have economically stable relatives who can support them. Their parents or guardians work in casual manual jobs that pay a dollar or less a day. With the little money they have, most of them prioritize providing a single meal daily for the family over education for their children. Even with the Kenyan government’s introduction of subsidized education, other requirements such as books, uniforms or transit force children from poor backgrounds to drop out of school.
With the unstable political environment in Kenya during the last six months, the economy is not doing well. The burden is on the taxpayer who has also to overcome the rising cost of living to survive. Typically, available funds after meeting existing responsibilities towards the extended family are even lower than before.
As part of the NRCA family, we want to make the world a better place than we found it by touching the souls of those who are disadvantaged by fate. By doing so, their lives can be transformed. In return, they may touch other souls when they succeed in life. We therefore appeal to potential sponsors to join our NRCA family to assist these deserving cases. Giving is not because someone has excess wealth but rather because of the heart of giving.
Once more, my gratitude goes to the sponsors, donors, volunteers and stakeholders of the NRCA programme for their endless efforts and sacrifice.
Ngong Road Children Association