Thursday, 27 February 2020

Kenya, 2020: The Last Bedkits Delivered

We competed the delivery of the last 105 bedkits to reach our allotted 5000 bedkits for distribution in Kenya 2020. This took place at a school for disabled children. There were children in wheelchairs barely pushable by teachers, walkers on their last legs, and parents carrying children on their backs. Many parents, guardians, and siblings, as well as teachers and support personnel, aided the children to have their pictures taken for our donors and to receive their most needed bedkit.

One young boy, spying the mattress laid out for the pictures ran over and threw himself down on the comfortable mattress causing everyone to laugh. He had the right idea.

This school is lacking the programme supports our public schools have in Canada. While this distribution moved us to tears, we applaud the parents, their children, teachers and support staff who provide a safe and caring school setting for their special children.

Tom Jacques
Team Kenya, 2020

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Kenya, 2020: Day 5, Masai Mara Distribution

For the 5th day distribution we went to the Sekenani Boarding Primary School, Masai Mara. Six other primary schools joined hands together for a total of 1400 children to receive the bedkits. These schools are: Sekenani 556 children, Emarti 168 children, Ilturisho 60, Oloolaimutia 300, Oloolchurra 140, Olekene 130, and Manyata school 46 children. 

For this distribution, SCAW Team went to Masai Mara Sunday to select the distribution site and meet some local Masai families in their homes. It was an amazing experience to see how the Masais live in communal harmony. There are 40 houses having 8 members in each households for a total of 320 members who live like one big family. They are very poor and most of the children attend one of these schools. 

It was one of the most organized distributions, well-supported by all the participating school Head Masters, local Chamber of Commerce, Community Chief and other key stakeholders and the dedicated members of Rotary Club of Nairobi.  Special thanks to Rotarian Salim and Rotarian Ann who have been instrumental in making this happen. 

It was quite humbling to see how the older students, teachers, Rotaractors and community volunteers helped the young children to carry their bedkits, offering water when thirsty and some sweet treats to keep them smiling all the time during the distribution. 

The weather was fantastic and the sun was not that scorching which made it more pleasant for the children who walked from quite a distance to come to the school very early in the morning to receive their bedkits. The distribution was done before noon. 

After the distribution SCAW celebrated its 50th anniversary by sharing a cake with the children and everyone present. The SCAW Team was then honoured with a heart-touching poem and a wonderful performance by the students wearing beautiful Masai costumes and ornaments. It was unexpectedly surprising and humbling to receive such a generous gesture from the entire community. 

Afroza Akhter
Team Kenya, 2020

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Kenya, 2020: Distribution in Masai Mara

Our day started very early. We began our drive to Masai Mara at 7 a.m. This was a 5 hour drive but in Canada it might take 2 hours! Once we arrived we had the pleasure of meeting the Masai tribe. They took us into their village and performed a traditional tribal dance. First the young men danced and then the women. We where then welcomed into their homes which are mud huts with a dirt floor and one room for sleeping. Everything else is done in one common room.

In this tribe the men can have up to 5 wives and there is a real sense of love and community here. They where very proud to show us where they live. For me this was one of the most humbling parts of the trip.

At the distribution there where 1400 children who received bedkits. They where so well-behaved and polite! I have never experienced such politeness and good behaviour from children in my life.

If you ever have a chance to come to Kenya, don’t miss this. You will meet the kindest most welcoming people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting in your lifetime.

Tom Jacques
Team Kenya, 2020

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Kenya, 2020: Day 3: Another Wonderful Day

Today was another amazing day in Kenya. We visited a school and gave out 600 plus bedkits. 

We had the help of teachers and the local Rotary Club which made everything run so well. 

Looking forward to tomorrow and another 1000 bedkits.

I personally have been doing charity work for years and this is the one that has given me the most joy by far.

Shane Reeleder
Team Kenya, 2020

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Kenya, 2020: Day 2: Beautiful Smiles

What a day! We had a one hour drive through traffic (thank you Charles!) to Jamhuri Primary School for our second distribution of 1000 bed kits. What beautiful children and beautiful weather! 

With much help from the Nairobi Rotary Club and some young Rotarians our bed kits were given out to many smiling Kenyan children. The distribution was completed before noon which left us with enough time to join the Rotary Club back in Nairobi for a wonderful meal. 

Team leader Tom Jacques spoke at the luncheon and the Rotary Club presented our SCAW group with a home-made chocolate cake (it was delicious!) commemorating the 50 year anniversary of our organization and 20 years working in Kenya. 

Add all this to an amazing dinner last evening at one of the Rotarians‘ homes and I’d say the past 24 hours would garner a 10 out of 10 ranking!!!

Looking forward to tomorrow!!

Ed Jacques
Team Kenya, 2020

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Belgaum 2020: Final day of distributions

We distributed 500 bedkits in Karwar today, meeting our total of 8,000. The site used was a community centre and as on previous days, many of the children travelled up to 25 km to reach the site. The children were excited with our arrival and more so when they received the items in the bedkit. Our team enjoyed the interaction with the children and seeing the smile on their faces was worth the trip.

Following the distribution, we travelled 4.5 hours back to Belgaum. Part of the drive was though the National Forest, where we saw a number of monkeys. That evening we attended a meeting with the Belgaum Rotarians to review each distribution to see if improvements can be made. We all concluded that the distribution was a success, bringing joy to 8,000 children.

Early morning walk on beach at Karwar before our distribution:

Waiting to have their picture taken:

Children receiving bedkit items:

Enjoying an orange:

Lou Vavougios
Team Belgaum 2020

Kenya, 2020: Day 1 in Kenya: Meeting our partners

Hello from Nairobi, Kenya. Our Canadian travel team met part of the Nairobi Kenyan Rotary Club today to review the agenda for the next week and see our 2020 bedkits. 

We will be delivering 5,000 of these bedkits to needy children who were selected months ago by the Nairobi Rotary Club with help from the local schools. 

Tomorrow starts with 1,000 bedkits at Jamhuri Primary School starting at 8am.  More news to follow. 

Tom Jacques
Team Kenya, 2020

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Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Belgaum 2020: Another fulfilling day of distributions and seeing the sights of India

Today we have completed our eleventh day of distribution in the village of Mundgod. We distributed another 400 bedkits, and are now 500 bedkits away from completing our distribution of 8,000 bedkits by Team Belgaum 2020. 

Once again, it was a delight to see the smiling and sometimes curious faces of the beautiful children, and also to experience the expressions of deep gratitude from their parents. 

During our travels in the area, we were able to see the effects of the devastating floods which occurred in August 2019. 

Thank you to all the generous donors, our overseas partners and SCAW volunteers for making such a significant impact in improving the lives of vulnerable children and families.

After we completed our distribution, we visited a Tibetan Monastery in Mundgod.

L-R: Ralf Soeder, Faith Clark, Julie Carney,
ndy Riches, Marcelle Laverrière and Lou Vavougios. 

Marcelle Laverrière
Team Belgaum 2020

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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Kenya, 2020: Day 1 - Safe Arrival

We all made it here safely including Shane. 

11:53pm here. 

Team off to bed. 

Tom Jacques
Team Kenya, 2020

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Kenya 2020: Please Post Your Comments Here

As a courtesy to our overseas team, please add your name to the end of your comments.

Belgaum 2020: Warm welcomes and smiles

Today we travelled to Hubli and Kundagol for two distributions of 400 bedkits each. It was a busy day made possible by the cooperation and hard work of all the team and volunteers. The children continue to amaze me with their calm demeanor and wonderful smiles. Between sites we briefly visited an 11th-century temple and received a warm welcome.

As of today, we have given 7,100 bedkits! We have two sites remaining and 900 more bedkits.  Amazing how quickly the time has gone!

Everyone enjoys a photo!

Waiting for the others to join in the picture

A group of fabulous volunteers in Hubli

Temple in Kundagol

Beautiful carvings made hundreds of years ago

We received a warm welcome and blessing

For the Children

Sandy Riches
Team Belgaum 2020

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Belgaum 2020: The Best Valentine's Day!

After eating a good breakfast (and many Valentine’s chocolates), our team was very energized for what we knew would be a very busy and exciting day. With full hearts, we teamed up with the local Rotarians and distributed 1,100 bedkits to the beautiful children of Belgaum.

We love meeting the children, and on occasion we get to meet some of their parents and caregivers. They remind us of our families back home that love us and support us as we travel with our team for this amazing organization. 

Sending a very blessed valentine to all...

The Rotary of Belgaum also hosted our team to an evening Valentine celebration. Many Rotarians and their spouses attended. We made new friendships, ate great food, and listened to great music!  We also brought a cake to celebrate SCAW’s 50th year!

Julie Carney
Team Belgaum 2020

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Saturday, 15 February 2020

Belgaum 2020: Joy in numbers

1,100 children today! 
1,100 bedkits to distribute, 1,100 families to share the child’s joy. 

Marcelle and I shared the task of handing a bedkit to each child, making eye contact and offering a handshake. The rewards are great: a shy smile, thank you, namaste and sometimes a bow and a hand touching our feet. 

This year’s bedkit is comprehensive, including two colourful and well-made outfits, flip flops and school supplies, and other items, including a mosquito net to ensure a healthy and comfortable sleep for the whole family.

The final photo today was of 45 children who waited patiently and cooperatively while the volunteers worked to make sure that each little face would be captured for the donor’s enjoyment. 

Faith Clark
Team Belgaum 2020

Friday, 14 February 2020

Belgaum 2020: For the Children, Behind the Scenes

From a bedkit distribution standpoint, today was a “day off”.

However, the day was filled with visits to various sites that exemplify the phenomenal efforts behind the scenes to make a positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged children living in the Belgaum area.

Our second visit of the day was to a small workshop that manufactures sweaters for school uniforms. They are also the supplier of the sweaters in each bedkit. They produce 200 sweaters by hand each day, from yarn to finished product, for various school districts.

The firm provides the sweaters for SCAW at below their actual cost of $3 per sweater because the owner understands the desperate need of the children receiving bedkits. That’s 8,000 sweaters!

Our last visit of the day was to the Rotary Swimming Pool. Each February they invite 200 disabled children for a 3-week free swimming camp to introduce the children to swimming and to minimize their fear of water. The theme of the camp is “Yes We Can”

It was very powerful to see dozens of blind children entering the pool, while able-bodied children sat on the side of the pool kicking in the water so the blind students gained confidence and knew the parameters of the water.

Instructors assisted mentally challenged students in the pool utilizing flotation devices, as the children kicked their feet with glee.

Many parents sat on the side watching their children intently, so very proud of their child’s achievements.

An amazing commitment of the leader, Umesh Kalghatgi, the many coaches, and the Rotary Club of Belgaum for funding the camp and the initial capital cost of the two pools in 1974.

“What a Way to Inspire Others”

Ralf Soeder
Team Belgaum 2020

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Thursday, 13 February 2020

Belgaum 2020: The smiles say it all

Today we travelled 90 minutes to the small village of Alnavar, where our team distributed 700 bedkits, bringing our total so far to 4,700. This was the second day working with our local partner the “Ekal” group. They are a group of volunteers who work with the people in rural areas to meet their greatest challenges.

The children gave us a warm welcome on our arrival. They feel very lucky to have been selected to be a recipient of a bedkit. The smiles on their faces say it all. Following the distribution, we were invited to visit the home of one of the recipients of this year’s bedkit. The family (grandmother, parents, two children) live in a very modest home comprised of two rooms -- kitchen and bedroom -- with no furniture or plumbing. The contents of the bedkit were valued by the entire family.

A warm welcome on our arrival:

Our host family:

Happy recipients of a bedkit:

The villagers join the photo:

A visit with the family reinforces to us how beneficial the bedkit is.

Lou Vavougios
Team Belgaum 2020