For my previous posts on this trip:
On Day 5, we went back to Kiu to visit the mums and bubs.
Remember that extremely bumpy road which we had to drive through for 40 minutes in order to get to the project on Day 3? Yes, we had to go on that road again.
I was so afraid that I would get motion sickness again, so this time I was well-prepared. While holding a plastic bag in my hand just in case, I tried not to move around too much, tried not to talk too much, and I even tried not to think too much. It’s hard not to think, but at least that’s my strategy to avoid getting motion sickness. I simply emptied my mind and just sat there on my “African massage chair” as our van driving up the hill.
At one point, the van was so unstable and we were afraid that it would bounce off the road and fall into the deep hole on the side of road. Fortunately, it didn’t happen.
Another 40 minutes had passed, we finally arrived at the Project Centre.
The mothers were already standing at the entrance holding their babies while waiting for our arrival.
Infant mortality is very high in developing countries, Kenya is no exception. To me, what is so ingenious about Compassion is the programs they deliver.
The Child Survival Program they run in Kiu is a very good example. The mothers in rural areas spend most of their time at home looking after their young children and many of them do not have any support from their husbands. They have no income, no skills and they struggle to provide for their young children.
This is when the project intervenes. Once the mothers are introduced to the program, their lives are then looked after by the project. Not only do the social workers travel to their homes on a regular basis to follow up on their welfare, in order to enable the mothers to live independently, they also teach the mothers some useful skills to help them find employment or to make products they can sell, so that they can generate their own income for living, and more importantly, to build up their confidence and guide them to live a positive life.
During our visit, the mothers showed us the skills they had learnt from the program, for example, making soap for sale, sewing and tailoring, etc.
As we all know, medical access is limited in the countryside, many women do not have the luxury to delivery their babies in the hospital. In the case of Kiu, some women from the region would go to the Project Centre and have their babies delivered in the “delivery room” with the assistance of a midwife.
Though the room is called “the delivery room”, it in fact is simply an ordinary room. There is no on-site medical staff or any sophisticated medical equipment. However, the services and the assistance the Centre provides is crucial to the health care of these mothers and their children.
These families may struggle to pay for their child’s health care, but with the help from the Centre, their child’s health and development is being well taken care of. The Centre would make sure that the children are getting the vaccinations and medication they need, making sure that these children are not at risk of any preventable illnesses.
Margaret, the social worker who works at the Centre, told us that they originally had a scheduled delivery in the afternoon on the day of our visit and it would have been nice for us to meet the mother and her newborn, but unfortunately the baby came a little early and they had already delivered the baby in the morning before we arrived.
“We can still meet them. Where are they now? Are they here?” asked Andrew, our group leader.
“No, they went home already. The mother came up here this morning on a motorcycle, delivered the baby, and then left straight away,” said Margaret.
On a motorbike?!?
That road where we drove up here?!!
A pregnant woman drove herself up here via that extremely bumpy road?! And carried her newborn baby home ON A MOTORBIKE soon after just giving birth?!?
“No way! Are you joking?” asked Andrew.
“No.” said Margaret.
After visiting the facilities at the Centre , we then divided into groups for home visits.
The 1st photo from the right: a toilet – it’s simply a deep hole in the ground.
We visited the home of this lady whose name is Faith.
The story of Faith reminds me of the story of Job in the Bible.
Life has not been easy for Faith. Rather, it’s been very harsh and difficult for her in any way you can possibly think of.
Faith came from another region. She got married when she was a teenager. She left her parents and moved to Kiu to live with her husband and her mother-in-law.
Faith had no source of income.
She did not receive any education in her life. She had no skills and she could not earn her living from anywhere. She does not receive any financial support from anyone. Not her parents, nor even her husband.
She has to raise her two sons all by herself because her husband is hardly home. But he did not run away and disappeared, he does come back every 3 month and stays for about 2 weeks, and then he will go away again.
We asked Faith whether her husband goes away to find work.
“Even if he was working, he had never brought back any money for the family,” said Faith.
Faith had no friends.
All she had was her two little sons, her mother-in-law, and a husband who is never there.
We were told that when Margaret, the social worker, first saw Faith wandering outside the Project Centre, Faith seemed frightened and withdrawn, she would not talk to or even look at anyone in the eyes. She seemed to have a fear of interacting with people.
Margaret was very concerned about Faith, so she decided to find out more about her background and her current situation. With Margaret’s persistent kindness, Faith eventually agreed to join the program.
There are two tiny houses on the property they live in. The one we visited is the one where Faith lives in with her two young sons. The other one about 10 metres away is where her mother-in-law lives.
One day, Faith’s son found a box of match at home and started to play with it.
I suppose you can probably guess what happened next.
Their home was engulfed in fire. Faith’s entire house was burnt down.
As soon as the Centre heard about the fire, they immediately sent over some people to help put it out. Luckily, Faith’s two sons escaped with no injuries.
This family does not have much in their life. They struggle to survive every day. All they had was that little house they call “home”. But that’s all gone, including the Bible that was given to Faith by the Centre.
For Faith, she saw no hope in the future. She’s not living her life. She simply survived.
Later on, the Centre helped rebuild a new home for Faith and her family.
As for Faith, she continues to join the mothers’ group at the Centre. She learnt how to make ropes from sisal, which is a type of plant that grows in the region. She cuts the natural sisal fibre from the plant, makes it into ropes, and then tries to sell them at the marketplace. Nowadays, she earns her own living. Though the amount she earns is still insufficient, the confidence she gained is abundant.
Our visit was about a year or so after she joined the program. As we were talking to her, she still seemed a bit withdrawn, she couldn’t look straight at us, but we noticed that occasionally she did glance at us as we talked.
Grace, the social worker and translator, who came with us for this home visit, told us that Faith had made a huge progress in the past year. The fact that she’s now feeling comfortable talking with people is a very good piece of evidence.
“With the support from the project, Faith gradually regained her confidence and she’s opened up much more now than when we first met her.” said Grace.
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
***End of Day 5***