Today was tough. We visited the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp where the So They Can journey started in 2009. Despite huge improvements in the camp over the past 7 years, it was still an extremely confronting experience. I have spoken many times in recent months about So They Can’s core purpose – to empower women and children through education so that they can escape the poverty cycle. Today I witnessed the poverty this community is trying to escape. And I was able to finally comprehend just how significant the projects So They Can is setting up and supporting are to this community.
Our first stop was a visit to the community health clinic, run by 3 nurses who on average see 70 patients a day from the camp and surrounding communities. They provide this service from 3 rooms. For 20 Kenyan Shillings (about 20 cents US – which contributes to the running costs of the clinic), patients can access most medical services and medications. For more serious ailments, they need to be referred to the local hospitals where they will be expected to pay significantly more for their care. Before So They Can became involved, the clinic was only open 2 days a week – now it is open 5 days, and the nurses have seen a significant reduction in illness and disease in the community as a result. One of the nurses told us of his dream that the clinic will get funding to enable them to expand, build more treatment rooms, and get more medical staff on site to attend to the needs of the community. Having seen the queues outside the health clinic while I was there, I can understand why they want more staff – but until they have the treatments rooms to work from, it simply isn’t possible.
The micro finance business school is another critical project being undertaken by So They Can. The aim of the business school is to teach business management to the poorest women in the community, empowering them to take out micro finance loans to start their own businesses, generate income and improve the standard of living for them and their families. Whilst we were at the IDP camp we visited several of these women and heard from them the difference the business school has made to their lives.
The entire time we were at the IDP camp we were surrounded by the children that live there. Their clothes were tattered and worn, many didn’t have shoes, or the ones they had were falling apart. They were dirty. They had no toys to play with. But they were full of smiles and love for one another and for their families. They clung to our hands – the young ones unable to communicate with us, but wanting to stay close. I finally understood why the kids at school on Monday had such huge appetites – having 2nd and 3rd helpings of rice and beans: most don’t get dinner when they get home. I also saw how school uniform is an equaliser – many of these kids go home to very little, but in their school uniform, everyone is equal.
I can see how So They Can is making a significant difference to this community. I can also now understand why it is so necessary to invest in this generation of children and to enable them to live a different life – one of opportunity rather than poverty.
The children I met today will occupy my thoughts. It astounds me that we can live a life of such excess when there are so many with so little. I don’t want to imagine how life would be for these children if So They Can wasn’t here.
I am so glad that Wotton + Kearney made the decision to support So They Can and that so many have got behind the cause and enabled us to raise $95,000. I thought that almost doubling our fundraising target was enough, but after today, I want us to raise more. So, if you’re reading this and I have at least conveyed some of what I witnessed today, please make a donation. Let’s exceed $100k in our fundraising and help empower this community.
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