Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Kenya: Mission Accomplished

The Final Distribution

The last day of the Kenya distribution occurred at St. Benedict’s Primary School in Nairobi where a total of 779 bedkits pushed us to the 6,500 total for Kenya.

When you consider that the decision to return to Kenya was only made near the end of March, this was a huge commitment by both the Rotary Club of Nairobi and by our Sleeping Children team.

By working together, the job got done and there was tremendous joy from 6,500 Kenyan children and their parents and relief that the distribution was complete with no major issues. Keep in mind that the March distribution was set up for 5,000 bedkits. When it was postponed and increased to 6,500 bedkits, it meant that Rotary members were taking on the task of of increasing the number from 4,000 in 2007 to a whopping 6,500 in 2008.

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Nairobi and to our donors who gave the wonderful gift of sleep to 6,500 needy Kenyan children.

Duncan Macgregor
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Kenya: Second last day

Day 8

Today, a total of 429 bedkits were distributed in a town called Kijabe, a missionary town.

The children receiving bedkits included some children from a Displaced Persons camp. One of the children from this camp made a verbal presentation to us and her story of how her family was displaced after the December elections and subsequent rioting left us all in tears. However, "Jennifer" was showing her leadership qualities at the Kijabe Primary School and there was a joyous event at the school as SCAW bedkits were distributed to needy children in the Kijabe area.

This is the first time that Sleeping Children has distributed in Kijabe, a town about an hour outside of Nairobi but 7,000 feet above sea level. The SCAW team also had the opportunity of visiting the Bethany Kids Hospital in Kijabe run by Canadians.

We have one more distribution to go to reach 6,500 bedkits!

Duncan Macgregor
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

Kenya: Africa Inland Church, Nakura

Day 7

The Day 7 distribution took place at the Africa Inland Church in Nakura. Nakura sits on the edge of Lake Nakura National Park, one of the most popular parks in Kenya for viewing wildlife. It is unlikely that many of the tourists are aware of the poverty and illness in the town that they pass to reach the park.

This was the first sunny day of the Kenyan distribution but fortunately the overseas volunteers for the day, the Rotary Clubs of Nairobi and Nakura had arranged for tents to be put up with chairs for each of the children. The children were occupied throughout with the leadership of Girl Guides and teachers who led them in several hours of dancing and singing. The majority of the children today were either orphans or children with HIV/Aids.

At the conclusion of the day, the team started surveys of the parents as to the contents of the bedkits, letting them view the bedkit and then answering questions on how the bedkits can be improved, what is most useful, least useful, etc.

For this group of parents, grandparents and guardians, there appeared to be satisfaction in all of the contents!

Alan Ingram
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Saturday, 21 June 2008

Kenya: 800 Children at a time

Day 5

Today we returned to the desperate slum area of Mathare, located north of Nairobi.

At the Kiboro Primary School we experienced many heart stopping moments as we photographed and distributed your 800 bedkits to the beautiful children who were brought from many schools in the area.

The SCAW team, accompanied by our local OVO representatives, then walked from the school to the humble home of Boniface, a recipient of a bedkit in 2007. He is a grade seven student who was proud to have us come to meet his mother and sister in the Mathare slums. There, in his 8 X 10 foot tin-walled home without water, he showed us his mattress and mosquito net that are used regularly.

We had to pinch back tears and show Boniface our joy to feel so welcomed in his home.

Day 6

On Saturday, June 21, we were at Grissa Primary School, in the rural town of Thika located one hour north of Nairobi. Slums are in many areas of the country and this industrial town was home to the second biggest slum in Kenya.

Despite a slight mist of rain, 800 bouncing, dancing, smiling, and joyful children from the streets, handicapped homes, and nearby schools totaling 11 different districts arrived all at once for their gift from Canada.

This was a well-organized distribution, where all children were given a hot lunch, with music and activities: just a big party in the school yard. Even the goats showed up nibbling the grass.

What a joy it is to have our team leader, Duncan, playing the cazoo and the rest of us singing "When You’re Happy and You Know It," with 800 children all holding hands in a circle: a true circle of friends of all ages. What a party we had!

Hats off to the volunteer Rotaractors who showed up and led the kids through the process with a smile, holding their hands and hoisting the bag onto the wee childrens heads to be carried off.

During the distribution inside, parents and the curious were held outside the gate. We lined up all the recipients with their bedkits to release them all at once. The line appeared to be the tail of a colourful kite -- oranges, blues, yellow and greens -– a rainbow of love, safely escorted by Security into the slum area where their parents were waiting.

Janice Gillespie
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Kenya: Our many helpers

Day 4

Today’s distribution was in a school of over 2,000 students in Mathare, one of the largest slums in Nairobi.

The work that we do could not be done as smoothly without the many volunteers who help us daily: including Rotoractors (Junior Rotarians), volunteers from various service organizations, school–based volunteers, and several excited senior students.

They assist as needed with preparing students for the photos, arranging the bedkits for distribution, entertaining the students as they wait patiently in line, escorting the little ones to their awaiting parents, and helping us with our attempts to speak Swahili.

What a joy to wish 800 happy Kenyan students “la la viema” – "sleep well."

Janice Gillespie
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Kenya: Day of the "Singing Rainbow"

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Day 3

We arrived at Kayole Primary School to be welcomed by a wonderful, excited gathering of 800 children –- already dressed in their SCAW outfits of orange, green, yellow, blue, red -- and standing in class lines.

As we entered the school court this rainbow of children broke into cheers and waves, followed by songs sung by all.


The school has over 2,000 students, and all of them were excited by the day's events.

We met some children attending Kayole school who have AIDS but who were part of the classes and enjoying the experience just like all the others. We watched the boys playing soccer in a red clay field which resulted in some really dirty knees in some of our photos.

These deserving children live in the Kawangware slum. They come to school either by walking or “transport” which is the local bus service. Some are picked up at 6:00 am and stay at school til 5:30 pm each day. We were surprised to discover that these children are at school all day without a mid day meal.

A rewarding day and one that we will all remember as the day of the "Singing Rainbow."

Megan Johnson, first time SCAW volunteer
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Kenya: Another 796 bedkits distributed

Date & Time in Kenya:
Day 2

Today, we were in two locations in Nairobi: ACK Church in the Westlands area, and Dagoretti Muslim School, in the Kawangware slum area. Most of the children were either orphans or had one single parent who was not working.

The team has come together very well in only our second day and we have certainly distributed on behalf of our donors to very needy Kenyan children.

This brings our total to 1594 bedkits in our first two days and we take our hats off to our Overseas Volunteer Organization, the Rotary Club of Nairobi, for their wonderful efforts on behalf of SCAW.

George Foster
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Kenya: The team has arrived

The SCAW team arrived safely Saturday night and had a wonderful sleep at our lodgings.

Sunday began with our first breakfast together, followed by an interesting short tour of Nairobi City Centre. We met the Rotary Club key contacts for lunch at the local Sports Club, and enjoyed a meal and meeting together.

The Rotary Club members are ready for us and we are ready to begin the distribution tomorrow morning!

We enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal at a Rotarians restaurant this evening, celebrating Father's Day with our dads in the group: Alan, George and Duncan.

It is the start of an exciting stay in Kenya!

Duncan Macgregor
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Saturday, 14 June 2008

Kenya: Team in Amsterdam

We received the following email from Sleeping Children's 2008 team to Kenya. More messages will be posted as we receive them.

Team Kenya is safely on the ground in Amsterdam and getting ready for our flight to Nairobi.

Duncan Macgregor
for the 2008 SCAW Kenya team.

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Kenya: Leave your comments here

You may have to scroll down to find the link to "Post a comment."

After you click on the word "comments" or the link "Post a comment" you will be sent to a page that includes a graphic like the one at right.
  1. Type your comments in the box.
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Friday, 13 June 2008

Uganda: Distribution Complete

Thank you, donors, for allowing us to distribute successfully 6,000 bedkits to the children of Uganda.

It was bittersweet when we handed out your last bedkit. We knew that 6,000 children and their families were happy with their bedkit, yet it meant for our team that our journey had drawn to a close.

It feels so good to be here in Uganda and we hope that our blogs have been able to convey some of the joy of our experiences. Thank you for reading our updates and joining us on our journey.

The photos are from our last two distributions: One day we gave out 1,000 kits without a hitch. The last day we saw the smiles of 500 children. The last group of photos are of our trip to the Nile. The photo of the rippling water is actually the source of the Nile!

We are packing our bags and saying our goodbyes. We have all said it feels like leaving summer camp: sad to go, but full of good memories.

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

Leave a comment here. | Link to Uganda 2008 Photo Album

Monday, 9 June 2008

Uganda: In the foothills of Mount Elgin

We had a wonderful day today, working and playing and meeting children and adults.

We were about 1 1/2 hours outside of Mbale, in the foothills of Mount Elgin, high up above the plains of eastern Uganda. Many of the people in this community had been displaced because of tribal conflict on the plains and had settled in the hills for safety. We also were very upset and saddened to hear that this region practices female circumcision although there is an education program in place to help eradicate this ritual.

On our way home we stopped at Sipi falls and a hospital which treats children with hydrocephalis. We learned that Uganda has one of the highest rates of hydrocephalis and this hospital alone treats 2,000 cases a year. Although heartbreaking to see these sick children, it seemed like an excellent facility where they were being treated.

Tomorrow is our long day - 1,000 children will receive bedkits at two sites.

We are looking forward to it!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

Leave a comment here. | Link to Uganda 2008 Photo Album

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Uganda: 500 More Children

From Uganda 2008 Photo Album
We were greeted today with 500 children singing their thanks to us, complete with rhythmic clapping. One of the songs they sang had the refrain "We are the future of Uganda," which made us all reflect on the possibilities for this beautiful country.

One of the pictures today shows us in our banana leaf skirts and necklaces which were bestowed upon us as we arrived at the distribution site. The community members then had us up dancing in them in celebration of the day.

Click to enlarge
and browse
Uganda Photo Album
We took the photos of the children under some huge trees with the mountains in the background — as well as a few goats and cows — it was beautiful.

After the distribution was complete we convinced the Inner Wheel to join us for a hike up the mountain. Our guide led us through small paths to a stunning waterfall. All along the way the hillside was cultivated with corn, cabbage, avocados, tomatoes — all on tiny plots of land with the occasional mud hut.

Another great day!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

Leave a comment here. | Link to Uganda 2008 Photo Album

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Uganda: Travelling Upcountry

We had fun travelling upcountry.

There was lots of music — with thumb instruments, drums, and throat singing — and many, many happy smiles of children and caregivers.

We wish you all could join us in the celebrations of the children receiving their gift from you!

Hope you enjoy the photos of our days upcountry!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

Leave a comment here. | Link to Uganda 2008 Photo Album

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Uganda: Day Four

Today, we were greeted with beautiful sunshine for our 4th day of SCAW distributions in Uganda.

The SCAW team travelled approximately 50 km outside of Kampala to conduct a distribution at a Catholic church yard.

The children were so happy to receive their bedkits from the donors in Canada and we were fortunate to complete the distribution before a shower arrived.

On behalf of the children of Uganda, "Webele" or "Thank You," for your wonderful donations; it is greatly appreciated.

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

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Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Uganda: Day Three

Flat Stanley in Uganda, from Uganda 2008 Photo Album
We awoke to the rumbling of thunder but had a day of sunshine!

After an 80 km ride to Kayunga we arrived at our site — a muslim school. Nobody was at school today as it was a Ugandan national holiday.

Our 500 bedkit children were so very happy with their gift from our donors.

Sue Small interviewed a number of the recipients to find out how we could improve the bedkit items and was touched at how grateful the recipients and their caregivers (most of the children had been orphaned by AIDS) were.

Flat Stanley from St. Theresa School in Sherwood Park, Alberta joined us today. He found out that the children here wish they could afford to continue going to school and that they love to eat matoke at each meal!

The children at our distribution had fun playing with Stanley!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Uganda: A Muddy Day

Click to see more photos in
Uganda 2008 Photo Album
Today's distribution went great, despite rain all day.

We got off to a slow start as our van got stuck in the mud on our way to the distribution site. Luckily, we were only 2 km from the site, so the Canadian team and the Inner Wheel team hiked and slipped our way through the red Ugandan mud. What a great team!

The children were so happy to see us and we were so happy to see them!

Our hike back to the bus was a journey we took with children, bedkits, caregivers and heavy mucky shoes. All in all, certainly a day to remember!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

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Sunday, 1 June 2008

Uganda: Bedkits in Mpigi

Hello from the Uganda team!

The slideshow shows photos from our first distribution in Mpigi. Despite a deluge of rain, the children's smiles tell the story of our day!

The last two photos show one of the places where the bedkit clothing is sewn and Daisy, a member of the Inner Wheel, in front of the storage room for part of the bedkit.

Debbie Will-Dryden
for the SCAW 2008 Uganda travelling team

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You can also browse the Uganda Photo Album if you would like to see larger versions of the photos.