Belated Happy New Year to All!

Watoto Kicheko starts 2017 with a lot fewer children than this time last year. In January 2016 we had 11 girls and 11 boys, having dropped from a peak of 26 in 2015. Now, we only have 5 girls and 4 boys. A few children were adopted but most were reunited with their families and communities. Indeed, there may be several more going home over the coming year.

In the next few months we will be welcoming some more children who are referred by social welfare. They will be children deemed to have no alternative but to live in a place like Watoto Kicheko, at least temporarily. While they are here we will continuously monitor and assess their needs, relating to healthcare, education and anything else that needs to be addressed.

Visitors often ask where the children staying here come from, how they end up here and why they are not with their families. Occasionally children are said to be abandoned but it is more common for them to be looked after by an orphanage because their parents are somehow unable to look after them.

For example, some parents are sick, some have mental health problems and some may have died in childbirth. It took a long time to find out why some children were at Watoto Kicheko last year, so we need to know more about children who come here in the future. Then, when the children are ready to be reunited with their families, they can be returned home. Just as social welfare need to oversee their admission, they also need to oversee their discharge.

Watoto Kicheko will shortly move to their own center, which will be developed into a safe and nurturing environment for the children. Five of them are already at school and the education of the other four will be considered once they have reached certain milestones, once they are ready!

We look forward to welcoming visitors to our new center. The location will be announced as soon as we have moved. Meantime, we wish all our visitors, neighbours, donors, sponsors and other associates a very happy new year!

Amani with certificate

Tanganyika School Fees, Terms 1 and 2

Tanganyika School Fees for the first and second terms

Tanganyika School, Amani

Tanganyika School, Amani

Tanganyika School, Jackline

Tanganyika School, Jackline

Tanganyika School has introduced Amani, Jackline, Maggie and Bariki to the joys of singing, painting, drawing, letters, numbers and sport in their first term. They will take a few weeks break and then start their second term, for a bit more of the same.

We have still not found sponsors for these four children to cover their school fees. We have received about 3,500,000 shillings (about $1600) out of the 7,000,000 shillings we need for the first two terms, so we are appealing for another 3,500,000 shillings to make up the shortfall.

Mobile money details are below and details on how to send money by bank transfer are on our Donations Page. Otherwise, you can use the ‘Donate’ button at the top of this page to send money through PayPal.

Tanganyika School fees by Mpesa and TigoPesa for East Africans:

Account name: Watoto Kicheko
TigoPesa: +255 676 074 793
Mpesa: +255 764 074 793

Tanganyika School, Maggie

Tanganyika School, Maggie

Tanganyika School, Jackline

Tanganyika School, Jackline

Thank you in anticipation for your generosity.

If anyone is interested in sponsoring a child to go to school, you will find some of the details on our Sponsorship Page. We need people willing to sponsor children from baby class, all the way up to university or third level education.

There will be more children going to pre-school in the coming year, so we will be looking for sponsorship to cover four for the moment, with a possible two more before the end of 2016.

Watch out for photos of these children on our Facebook page!

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Adoption and Returns Home

Adoption: Neema is adopted and Eligiva returns home

Adoption: Neema is adopted and Eligiva returns home

Adoption: Neema, who just turned one some time last month, has been adopted by a family from her own district. Neema has been extra happy since learning to walk, only a few weeks before turning one. She was interacting more with all the other kids and staff, and even becoming a bit mischievous, which she never showed any sign of before!

 

Adoption for Neema; Home for Eligiva

Eligiva, who arrived here very sick in June of last year, returned home yesterday. She is not only healthy and animated, she is also tall, good at walking, and about to turn two years old in a few weeks.

Adoption: Eligiva returns home and Neema is adopted

Adoption: Eligiva returns home and Neema is adopted

Although we won’t celebrate Eligiva’s birthday with her, the other kids will celebrate the birthdays of Maggie, who will be three, and Brighton, who will be two, both on the 15th of March. The kids love a celebration!

Watoto Kicheko now has 20 children, and there will be more returns home soon. Our numbers will go down, and we will be able to give far more individual attention to the kids who will stay here.

All the children are healthy and happy at the moment. Even Rose, who was sick last week, is well now; no high temperatures, and even putting on weight. But we would love to see her break the cycle of sickness and recovery, with only short periods of stability. Maybe some day!

The eight school going kids are, mainly, happy to be going to school. Four are very young and only get homework once a week. But the other four are doing homework every day. A tutor comes to help them, and they are all now doing well, keeping up with their work, catching up with others in their class.

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Fire Extinguishers and Fire Training

Fire extinguisher campaign with Colin demonstrating his technique

Fire extinguisher campaign with Colin demonstrating his technique

Fire extinguishers and other fire fighting equipment and training is something Watoto Kicheko desperately needs. We have ordered supplies and training from the Arusha fire service and the process will be completed later this month. All 25 staff will be trained, along with the two directors. We can’t take any chances!

The cost of four powder fire extinguishers, one CO2 fire extinguisher, training for the group and a small amount of money to compensate staff for coming to work on their day off comes to about $400, with most of that money being for the fire extinguishers. We also have smoke alarms and a fire blanket, which were donated a few months ago, just waiting for the training!

Fire Extinguishers Via PayPal

We need to raise $400 dollars as soon as possible; we already purchased the fire extinguishers and booked the training. If you would like to contribute you could either send money to our PayPal account, using the ‘Donate’ icon below…

 

PayPal Donate Button

 

Fire Extinguishers Via Mpesa and TigoPesa

…or, if you are in Tanzania or Kenya, you could send money by

  • TigoPesa (0676 074 793) or by
  • Mpesa (0764 074 793), even just a few shillings!

Address for letters, gifts and other donations

Watoto Kicheko
PO Box 14311
Arusha Tanzania

Account Details for Donations via Checks, ACH or Wire Transfers:

Account Name:                 Laughter of a Child Foundation
Address:                              1805 N. Carson Street, Suite, Carson City, NV 89701
Beneficiary’s Bank:        Wells Fargo Bank, Las Vegas, Nevada
Account No.:                      7608540196
Routing number:             321270742
Swift:                                     WFBIUS6S

For US citizens and US corporate citizens:

The “Laughter of a child foundation” is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). Please note our federal tax number: EIN 46-4875575, in your records. From the state of Nevada, the “Laughter of a child foundation”, a nonprofit corporation, has received a “Charitable-Solicitation Registration Statement” For further information, see:
http://taxes.about.com/od/deductionscredits/a/CharityDonation.htm.

Sponsored by:

LCF banner

Bariki

Appeal: School-Uniforms for Pre-School

Pre-School Uniforms!

Happy New Year to all our donors, sponsors, followers, friends and associates

Bariki ready for pre-school

Bariki ready for pre-school

Amani ready for pre-school

Amani ready for pre-school

Pre-school beckons! Watoto Kicheko started the new year by trying to identify a pre-school for some of our children who will be three later in the year, and even one who will be four. Tomorrow, Amani, Maggie, Bariki and Jackline will start at The Tanganyika School, along with our own son, Quinn.

We need to find sponsors for each child to pay the school fees, which come to approximately $900 for each child. But first, we would like to raise $400 for school uniforms for the four. Mobile money details are below and details on how to send money by bank transfer are on our Donations Page. Otherwise, you can use the ‘Donate’ button at the top of this page to send money through PayPal.

Uniforms by Mpesa and TigoPesa for East Africans:

Account name: Watoto Kicheko
TigoPesa: +255 676 074 793
Mpesa: +255 764 074 793

Maggie ready for pre-school

Maggie ready for pre-school

Jackline ready for pre-school

Jackline ready for pre-school

Thank you in anticipation for your generosity. The children will start at The Tanganyika School next week and will be measured up for their uniforms tomorrow!
If you are interested in sponsoring a child to go to school, you will find some of the details on our Sponsorship Page. We need people willing to sponsor children from baby class, all the way up to university or third level education.

There will be more children going to pre-school in the coming year, so we will be looking for sponsorship to cover four for the moment, with a possible two more before the end of 2016.

Watch out for photos of these four going to school, and in their uniforms. I can’t wait!

Presents for All!

Presents for Bariki and his friends

Presents for Bariki and his friends

Presents have been bought for all our children. We have also bought a Christmas tree, decorations, wrapper, cards and other paraphernalia; we have ordered a cake, chickens, meat, etc. But we have spent a lot more on presents than we expected! So we are asking people if they can contribute to the extra costs, which come to about $250.

Presents around the Christmas tree

The kids will open their presents around the Christmas tree when they get up in the morning. The pile of presents will be a lot bigger than the tree, but I’m sure the pile will go down quickly!

In addition to 22 children, our family and about 8 staff, there will be other visitors, staff who are not able to travel home and several waifs and strays to feed. So we have also increased our food order, and we will have a big barbecue, and people can prepare their own meal if they like.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. Perhaps you will be able to tell your friends about our appeal? We are grateful for even the smallest contributions.

If you would like to contribute you could either send money to our PayPal account, using the ‘Donate’ icon below…

 

PayPal Donate Button

 

Presents Through Mpesa and TigoPesa

…or, if you are in Tanzania or Kenya, you could send money by

  • TigoPesa (0676 074 793) or by
  • Mpesa (0764 074 793), even just a few shillings!

Address for letters, gifts and other donations

Watoto Kicheko
PO Box 14311
Arusha Tanzania

Account Details for Donations via Checks, ACH or Wire Transfers:

Account Name:                 Laughter of a Child Foundation
Address:                              1805 N. Carson Street, Suite, Carson City, NV 89701
Beneficiary’s Bank:        Wells Fargo Bank, Las Vegas, Nevada
Account No.:                      7608540196
Routing number:             321270742
Swift:                                     WFBIUS6S

For US citizens and US corporate citizens:

The “Laughter of a child foundation” is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). Please note our federal tax number: EIN 46-4875575, in your records. From the state of Nevada, the “Laughter of a child foundation”, a nonprofit corporation, has received a “Charitable-Solicitation Registration Statement” For further information, see:
http://taxes.about.com/od/deductionscredits/a/CharityDonation.htm.

Sponsored by:

LCF banner

Jackline ready to move house

Moving House – Nanenane!

Moving house? I'm ready!

Moving house? I’m ready!

Moving baby clothes

Moving baby clothes

Moving house? Yes, Watoto Kicheko is about to move house, for the second time, because of a shortage of water. We have simply had no supply for much of the last three months, and have spent an enormous amount of time trying to find water, and a lot of money on increasing storage capacity. Thankfully, our generous donors have provided all the money we need for storage tanks, so thank you all for that!

Moving gives us lots of space in the new premises for the kids to play, indoors and outdoors, with front and back gardens and lawns. There is even another garden, with a great lawn surrounded by a hedge, just outside the compound. There are trees for shade and plenty of greenery. The new house is far more suitable, being all on one floor, and we are much closer to the main road, close to some shops and services; the roads are in (slightly) better condition.

Moving: Are you Ready?

The children are all well and ready to take over the new space and make it their own. The staff will be happy too, as the gardens are much easier to supervise. The whole premises is easier to keep clean, which will be a relief, as everyone has to do some cleaning work. In the past 12 months, some of our bills have risen considerably, such as accommodation, but others have fallen, such as hospital bills; we want the latter to continue!

Moving baby things

Moving baby things

We have numerous projects just waiting to get going; some have already started. One member of staff has learned to drive and become the Watoto Kicheko driver (and supervisor) and another will get a month of lessons, so that he learns to drive like a non-Tanzanian. Several members of staff have started English classes, which will be provided by dedicated volunteers. Others will be taking courses in basic computing and office applications. We will make the house safe and secure (which is difficult in Tanzanian houses as they are not built with safety in mind).

And every member of staff, without exception, will do a course in first aid, and another in fire fighting and evacuations. Indeed, we are now finding time to make everything safer and more efficient. We need to comply with regulations, but there are also precautions we must take regardless of the need for compliance. We expect 2016 to be a time of big changes.

Moving: all Hands on Verandah

Moving photo opportunity

Moving photo opportunity

The whole orphanage has moved to a new premises, but the four school going children will soon move to their own home, with a house mama to look after their daily needs. Their lives have changed in the last few months, radically, just by starting school. But things will change even more in the next few months. Then, there will be 5 or 6 more school going children next September. We are already employing a pre-school teacher to prepare them for the big changes ahead.

Moving our staff

Moving our staff

Moving furniture

Moving furniture

As we get ready for Rose’s first birthday and the Watoto Kicheko Xmas Party, we will also plan additional changes, prepare budgets and communicate our plans, in due course. Then there are the unexpected changes, which we can’t tell you about, because we don’t know about them yet…

Water Storage Tank Campaign

Thank you to our generous storage tank donors!

Watoto Kicheko is just finishing up a quick campaign to raise enough money to buy some extra storage tanks for water. The campaign has been really amazing, starting on Friday evening, with about 85% of the money we needed by Monday morning. We needed $500 altogether, about $130 for a small tank (2000 liters), that we can also transport water in, and the rest for a 5000 liter tank.

Unless we find ways of cutting down water usage substantially, these will only ensure an adequate supply for a few days, which wouldn’t have been enough over the last few months. We have been out nearly every day to forage for water, as if we lived in a village with no well or borehole. Yet we pay huge amounts for rent and local services and amenities.

The water company keeps charging us what it has always charged us, but we don’t get water most of the time. There is certainly no way we can use as much as usual when we might only get water on 3 or 4 days a month. But the bills look suspiciously similar, as if someone else is getting the water and we are paying for it. But, surely not!

Storage tank for rainwater harvesting

Anyhow, the next step will be to implement a rainwater harvesting scheme for the rainy months, and we might increase storage capacity again for that. So we’ll have a separate campaign later, but all that depends on where we are based at the time. So we’ll keep people informed through Facebook, our website, etc.

Thank you again to our donors!

As a matter of interest, although our campaing stretched out to many countries via Facebook and other media, our most regular contributors are our neighbours! Tanzanians and Kenyans send us dontions by mobile money (Mpesa, TigoPesa, etc, details for sending donations are on our Donations page). Anyone can send money through PayPal, but it’s nice to know that some of our most avid supporters are so easy to reach.

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Vulnerable Children – Loss and Gain

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a blog. Sometimes it is the bad news that is hardest to write about. But little Lina, twin sister to Linda, was taken to hospital last week. She died shortly after. It was heartbreaking to see her not smiling, not thriving and getting weaker and weaker. Thankfully, Linda is well and happy, but they look very similar, and it is difficult not to think of Lina when looking at her sister.

We must concentrate on the 24 beautiful, happy and healthy children here at Watoto Kicheko. But it is impossible not to wish something had been different, that we had done something sooner, or that some outcome was more positive. For the people who work here, there will always be a child that stands apart from all the other children in their memory. Many of our most vulnerable children settle in quickly and thrive, but not all, and some take longer than others.

Happily, some of our more vulnerable children who were fragile a few months ago are now doing well. Careen and Madeline have been at home for some time, becoming more alert, even smiling and laughing. Junior has been looking less uncomfortable and Esther has been happier. There is only one child in hospital, Eligiva, and we hope she will be back home soon.

Several of the children will be going to school soon, others should return to their community. Our very first children, twins Salva and Davey, will celebrate their fourth birthday in a couple of weeks. There will be changes at Watoto Kicheko; we just don’t know exactly which changes, or precisely when yet!

Not long ago I blogged about Enock being on the verge of walking. This week, he took his first few independent steps. He is very energetic and has long been our chief escapee. Now that he is even more mobile he will be a bigger handful, harder to watch, and more likely to be found hiding under a hedge, chewing a mouthful of mud and stones. But his antics are hilarious, a much bigger, more mischievous boy in a smaller skin, whose body hasn’t quite caught up with his imagination.

As well as playing with the kids and helping them with their standing, walking, learning, etc, some of our volunteers have been working on other small projects. One volunteer started building a hen house for our two adult hens, one rooster and ten chicks, who are about five or six weeks old now. We hope to have a functioning hen house at the end of this week. But things have a habit of not quite working out how you expect, so I’m glad I’m not a hen.

Maggie edited

Walking Talking and Other Challenges

Walking Talking Maggie

Walking Talking Maggie

One of our little girls is well past the age where she should be able to walk, 2 and a quarter years. But she has been neglected, and her skinny legs are weak. She is not confident standing, yet she can stand. So I stood her up, sat ten meters from her, and waited for her to walk over to me.

It took several attempts as she wanted to sit down again, but she eventually walked, then enjoyed a good cuddle. That was Wednesday afternoon. She walked again on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Each time I had to stand her up and coax her from 10 meters away.

Walking with Confidence

Walking Talking Maggie

Walking Talking Maggie

Maggie is not very confident, not like many of the other children here. But she is good natured and smiles and laughs when you play with her. Hopefully she will stand up of her own accord and walk without coaxing very soon. I’ll be looking out for that!

All the other children continue to be well. The ones who were sick, sad or otherwise a cause for worry are all improving, some very quickly. It’s easy to forget sometimes that there are children with very serious health problems, and children who will need treatment for their entire lives.

Palpable Happiness

But the happiness here at Watoto Kicheko is palpable; it’s a lovely place to arrive in the morning and to spend the day. Sometimes I get impatient with the administrative work I have to do and want to march upstairs and find out who is crying and why, who is doing something they haven’t done before.

Maggie, Glory and Elinipa started babbling this week. The only noises they had been making for the past weeks and months were sobs and wails (especially Maggie, whose wail would bring tears to a statue’s eyes). But Maggie and Glory seem to be copying each other’s baa baa baa noises and Elinipa mimics some of the sounds she hears around her, such as people’s names.

UK Volunteers

Walking Talking Learning Materials

Walking Talking Learning Materials

Here at Watoto Kicheko, several volunteers from the UK have been creating a bit of artwork and some learning materials for the kids. They have also spent time trying to get the kids to creat some artwork of their own. The facepaints were a treat at first, but once the kids decided to paint their own faces, and the faces of others, some of them didn’t look quite so good!

It has been another good week, all considered. The fundraising drive for part of Careen and Rose’s hospital fees has now closed. Sadly, we only raised 40% of the $2,000 we hoped for. But we are grateful to those who contributed and thank you very much. The good news is that they both continue to do well and stay healthy, which is the important thing. We wish all our followers a lovely weekend.