Thursday, 28 February 2019

Kenya: A Day of Mixed Emotions

Today was a day of extreme mixed emotions for all who assisted with this 1000 bedkit distribution at the Reuben Centre.

Many helping hands!

On route we were reminded by a group of giraffes that we were indeed in Kenya.

Prior to the distribution of the bedkits at the elementary school within the Centre and were welcomed by a song specifically scripted to say their appreciation of the bedkit.

Welcoming Song

The children were thrilled with the content of the bedkit which included the brightly coloured outfits they wore for picture taking.

Time for some fun!

Handing out the bedkits

The need here was great as was illustrated by their well worn shoes and the uniforms. The mandatory school uniforms are produced on site.

Their interests were common to all children skipping , football etc and of course even selfies.

Taking a Selfie

After a generously supplied lunch by a Rotarian we toured the centre which was focused to meet all needs including health, education, care, and skill building not to mention self improvement and sustainability. There was a day care centre, workshops, a library, special needs children’s centre, gardens, chickens to look after and catfish ponds.

One of the gardens

Skills Training

Skills Training

Sustainability was a focus. Usable wastes within the centre were used to made charcoal for the Centre’s kitchen. Plastics were used to make baskets. Compositing was practiced.

Making Charcoal

The illustrated caring and partnership of many offers hope for these endearing children.

Day Care

Place for children with special needs to be cared for.

A sincere thanks to the many donors and volunteers of SCAW .
The SCAW partner the Rotarians.
The remarkable teachers and overseers.
And most critically the striving and zest for life of the children.

Nancy for
Team Kenya 2019
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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Kenya: Kibera

Today, the Kenya SCAW team distributed 1000 bedkits at a school in Africa's largest slum called Kibera. No doubt it could be considered a real eye opener and reality check for those in first world countries. It's one thing to show a picture to family and friends, but it's a whole different thing to experience it first hand. I don't think anyone realizes how materialistic we really are until we see these little children in such poor countries. 

The kids were so happy despite having very little, where we have everything at our fingertips for the most part. With smiles from ear to ear, the kids were so excited and grateful for the bedkits people had donated to them - many "thank you's," along the way as the kits were given to them. The Rotarians that helped us out today were phenomenal, as were the school staff and students. Our team couldn't have run such a smooth distribution if it wasn't for them. 

Today was remarkable and touching.

Willow Jacques for
Team Kenya 2019
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Monday, 25 February 2019

Kenya: We Have Arrived & 1000 Bedkits Distributed!!

Under the sunny Kenyan sky we laughed and danced and played with a 1000 terrific kids, all who will be sleeping more soundly tonight with their new bedkit items. The bedkit distribution took place at a school with approximately 2500 students, classrooms packed with upwards of 100 students per teacher.  The day went smoothly, with our Canadian team working alongside our Kenyan partners, plus the teachers and student supporters- everyone pitched in to help the kids! A great start to our working adventure and we look forward to spending more time with the kids tomorrow!

Team Kenya 2019:
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Thursday, 21 February 2019

Belgaum: Over 3000 KM Travelled + 7000 Bedkits Distributed = Mission Accomplished!!

Our team awoke to another sun filled day in the tropics, in the town of Karwar, on the Arabian Sea. Following an early breakfast enjoyed on the outdoor terrace with the gentle breezes cooling us, we walked approximately two blocks to the waterfront. Here we leisurely strolled along the beach, with the mountains surrounding us. Of great interest were the old mahogany fishing boats pulled up on the shore with nets and ropes neatly coiled, waiting for the owner to begin the day's work.

We also watched about twenty young men playing what appeared to be an Indian version of rugby without the ball. When taken down, they certainly didn't mind being covered in sand and came up smiling!!

This distribution of 400 bedkits was held in a special event hall, with many overhead fans keeping the children and volunteers cool! Much appreciated by all! The small club of Rotarians were extremely well organized, with many happy and enthusiastic helpers that resulted in completing the distribution in two hours.

Today all the children came from the outlying villages, the farthest being 75 kilometres away. Buses had been organized by the Rotarians according school to transport the children and their families. It was my privilege to hand out the bedkits today to the smiling, overjoyed children and I know they will all enjoy a good night's sleep tonight.

We travelled four hours back to Belgaum and tonight the post distribution meeting will be held with our hosts, the Rotary Club of Belgaum. And tomorrow our Canadian team members will say goodbye, some returning home and others extending their travels in India.

Accolades are in order to all the Rotarians who hosted the 13 distributions, their hundreds of volunteers, our Team Leader Sandra Riches, and my colleagues on the Canadian Team, our superb driver Shekher who skillfully provided our transportation over approximately 3000 kilometres.

Most importantly, we appreciate the thousands of donors who made Murray's Dream of providing a good night's sleep for children possible.

The final distribution at Karwar completes our commitment to deliver 7,000 bedkits to those children that need them the most.

For the Children,
Carol Rolph for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Belgaum: Mundgod & Sirsi

Today was another busy, long, and fruitful day with several hours spent driving in our vehicle. We left Hubli and traveled south to our two distribution sites of Mundgod (300 bedkits) and Sirsi (400 bedkits), and then proceeded to the site of our final distribution tomorrow.

During the distribution at Sirsi, the Rotary Club of Belgaum reached the 50,000th bedkit milestone, made possible through their hard work and passion to help the children.

Since the 14-member Mundgod Rotary Club was hosting their very first distribution, members of the Belgaum Trust assisted with the set up and smooth operation.

In both sites, the children from rural villages were very excited and happy

and the parents, who waited patiently outside, were so thankful.

Our driver, Shekher, deserves special mention, as he has been extremely dedicated and helpful assisting with several tasks at each distribution and always with a positive, pleasant manner.

As we descended from Sirsi, he skillfully guided us, in the dark, along the curvy roads and construction areas against steady ongoing traffic. He is definitely a valuable member of our team. Thanks to Shekher we reached our destination safely, and look forward to our final distribution tomorrow.

With today’s distributions completed, we have now given 6,600 bedkits to the children. They all left happy and smiling with the generosity of donors very much appreciated by the parents.

For the Children,
Ann MacDonald for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Monday, 18 February 2019

Belgaum: Hubli and Kundgol

Today we travelled to two different distribution sites: the first was in the city of Hubli and the second was in the village of Kundgol where we distributed 400 bedkits at each site for a total of 800 bedkits today.

So, the question that came up is how the children are selected as the need is great wherever you go in this region. This came up in the discussion with the Rotary Club of Hubli, a club that has been active since 1947, has consistently had a membership of over 100 Rotarians and has been involved with SCAW bedkits since 1975. In this time interval they have distributed about 30,000 bedkits!

Preparation by the Rotarians to go into the government schools consists of organizing meetings, school selection and administrative support which all together take about 100 man hours.

To find the children who would benefit most from a bedkit and following guidelines set out by SCAW, the club organizes 10 teams of four Rotarians who visit 40 schools in the surrounding villages, directly interview prospective bedkit recipients through the use of a questionnaire, determine those children eligible and then select five girls and five boys from each school to come up with the 400 children who would get the bedkits this year. This takes about 400 man hours of work by the Rotarians.

On the day before the distribution takes place, the bedkit contents are assembled by a large number of people consisting of Rotarians, Interact/Rotaract members, families, friends and consume about 200 man hours to ensure that the bedkits are available to be given to the selected children the next day.

Finally, it is distribution day and the Rotarians come out in force as well as other volunteers such as local police, family and friends to ensure that the distribution process goes smoothly.

Before too long, the 400 selected children arrive with an adult family member and we all closely cooperate to ensure that the children get the bedkit they so deserve in as error-free process as possible. For the Rotarians and all those who helped them get this all done, it took about 300 man hours.

Total man hours associated with the Hubli bedkit distribution this year is estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 1,000 man hours, an effort that is probably representative of the 11 Rotary Clubs involved with our team at each of their sites as well as the charitable organization Ekal, an amazing commitment by these clubs and organizations…all for the children so that they can have a good night’s sleep.

As you can see, to be an overseas volunteer partner, such as Rotary, takes considerable time, effort and resources to make the distribution of the donor funded bedkits possible.

For all involved, it is a labour of love because we all care for children and know that if they can have a good night sleep, life is so much more positive for them all and their families.

Team Belgaum 2019 has now distributed 5,900 bedkits with three distributions remaining. What a positive experience for all!!

For the Children,
Joep Diening for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Belgaum: Home Visits

After today’s distribution of 500 bed kits under yet another sunny sky, the Rotary brought us to visit a village called Bailhongal where we visited two homes after completing the distribution.

Home 1

A family of three lived in the corrugated tin home located along a narrow road in a village where cattle, when not used in the field, are tightly roped to stakes outside the home.

This home was equipped with government supplied electricity and gas. There were no windows, no furniture and the home was very small.  The corrugated tin roof was curiously decorated with plants stuck in ‘clay pots’.

The inside area was divided into two. At night the family’s two cattle occupied half the space and the family slept in the other half (including the kitchen) on a mat placed on the ground.  A wall mounted clock was the only decoration.  In the corner by the door was a two-foot square cement bathing area.

Home 2

A family of three lived in this newly constructed tin home located in the middle of a field. It was not yet equipped with electricity or gas. It also had no windows nor furniture.

Neatly aligned and polished metal pots were proudly lined up on a shelf.
The family cooked with wood inside the one room house which had a front and back door.

A raised clay platform covered in tarp in the back of the room is where the family of three slept and where water jugs were stored.

A wooden peg was used to secure the cattle in the home at night.

Both homes receiving the bedkits were looking forward to sleeping under the SCAW provided mosquito nets as they had none.

As of end of day in Bailhongal, we distributed 5,100 bedkits with five more distributions to go to reach the 7,000 total.

For the Children,
Line Forestier for
Team Belgaum 2019
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Saturday, 16 February 2019

Belgaum: A 50,000 Milestone!!

Today’s distribution in Belgaum, under a very sunny sky, was mammoth and marked an admirable milestone for the Rotary Club who began working with SCAW in 1996.

Many hands make light work. This was our team’s biggest single distribution - 1000 bed kits were given to children some of whom had travelled up to 70 kilometres early this morning with their parent.

A number of players were instrumental to today’s smooth operation.

No small details were overlooked by Dilip Chitnis and his team of rotary’s colleagues, Rotaracts, their families and friends.

Generous school teachers, whose math skills far surpassed ours, easily counted and organized the children for the large group photographs. Determined family members managed to make children not only smile but laugh out loud while having their picture taken. Donors will enjoy seeing these pictures.

As for the special milestone reached today for the Belgaum Rotary... drum roll please..... they have now distributed over 50,000 bed kits in the area. Congratulations !!!

We look forward to working with you for the next 50,000 !

For the children,
Sandra Riches - Team Leader for
Team Belgaum 2018
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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Belgaum: Factory Visit

Today was a non-distribution day which allowed us to do a factory visit as part of our audit function for Sleeping Children Around the World. When a team does a distribution in a country, there is a requirement that manufacturers and suppliers are compliant to SCAW guidelines for local procurement.

We made a visit to a tailor shop where all the clothing for the 7,000 bedkits were made for this distribution. This is all accomplished in an extremely small space of two rooms in which five employees using very old Singer sewing machines work very hard for four months to produce the beautiful dresses, shirts and shorts given to the children.

The tailor and his assistant come to each distribution site to ensure that each child is fitted properly for their new clothing. It is amazing how he can take one look at a child and chose the proper size.

For the children and their family, this is a very special day. The children’s hair is done in braids and decorated with flowers and barrettes. They look their Sunday best!

The evening was spent with our Belgaum Rotary hosts visiting a swimming pool which they financed, built and operate.

This pool is open to all the children from the variously handicapped to high-level athletes. We heard amazing stories about the children’s accomplishments. One young man who did his training at the pool swam the English Channel with just one arm. Neither deafness, blindness, delayed development or physical impairment can hold any of these children from enjoying the water or earning medals for India in international competitions. The head coach in charge of the pool, is extremely energetic and passionate about his work.

This concludes another busy, wonderful and inspiring day. Going on a SCAW distribution is truly an ongoing adventure, full of long days, lots of fun,  with the reward of smiling children happily going home for a good night’s sleep!

Carol Diening for
Team Belgaum 2019
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