UNICEF Kenya receives a generous funding to provide protection of refugee children

Today, 20th June is the World Refugee day. This is the day when the world commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.

Kenya hosts almost half a million refugees.  Over 20,000 children are unaccompanied or separated from their families or caregivers after they have fled conflict and drought in the region.

Bird's view of dadaab refugee camp

The good news is, UNICEF Kenya and the European Union will work together to provide child protection and education services that will benefit refuge children in Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps.

The European Union has committed €800,000 for UNICEF’s humanitarian response programmes to help refugee children in Kenya. The funding will support humanitarian child protection and education services for children in Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps.

The Representative of UNICEF in Kenya, Werner Schultink said, “We are grateful to the EU for this generous funding that will help strengthen our education and child protection activities in Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps. The support will greatly enrich our work with UNHCR and other partners, in building the much needed resilience and social well-being of every refugee child in the camps”.

Children living in Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps face many challenges.  Insufficient basic services and overcrowding have worsened an already stressful environment for children. Moreover, these children are vulnerable to numerous forms of violence and abuse.  Without education and its support, these children are at risk of further violence and losing hope – undermining their own future and that of their community.

Children attending an outdoor classroom

Through the EU grant, UNICEF plans to reach 25,000 children, half of whom are girls, with education and child protection interventions. Furthermore, the EU humanitarian aid will enable at least 2,000 out of school children, who have recently arrived to enroll in primary and pre-school education.  An additional 16,500 learners will also benefit from the provision of teaching and learning materials, and 420 primary school teachers will receive training on basic teaching skills, with a focus on teaching in situations of crisis.

With this support from the European Commission, UNICEF will continue to strengthen all-inclusive education and child protection services that cater to the immediate needs of refugee children and their communities.

world refugee dayworld refugee day hashtag

It’s going to be a terrific two!!!

Thank you for your congratulatory message. No, we are not celebrating another newborn. We are celebrating Jabali’s triumphant entry into terrific two!!!!! Yes, Jabali is officially two years today. Welcome into our world.

Exactly two years ago, on a bright Monday at 6.55am, my eyes met Jabali’s and I was smitten!

PG ALONE COLOURED

I went for admission on Sunday, 17th May for a  CS  scheduled for Monday morning. I was 39 weeks pregnant. Immediately my crew that consisted of my hubby, my sister  plus her son and my sister in Love left, I started crying. I was so emotional. So many things crossed my mind. I remembered the last time I was in this same hospital where I returned home with a CS wound, leaking breasts but nothing to show. I refused to eat and kept calling my hubby with clear instructions no clear and stern demand to be at the theatre door by 5am. I still remember this day and laugh so hard because my pregnancy brain told me my son could be stolen or maybe something worse. I was too paranoid maybe because going into hospital heavily pregnant and coming out empty-handed isn’t funny.

I had been instructed not to eat after 8pm- I had refused the food anyway but when hunger came knocking at around 7.30pm, I remembered I would stay for so many hours before eating after the surgery. That provoked me to swallow my pride and recall my dinner. I pounced on the food and washed it down with apple juice before covering my head to sleep.

No, I didn’t sleep. I tossed and tossed and kept calling my hubby and my sister reminding them to be in hospital early- yes by 5am on the dot. It took the intervention of my mum to calm me down. Like Esther, I said I am going into that theatre boldly with my God and if I perish, let me perish.

‘Good morning Lourdes’, amka uoge Dr. Murage is an early person, he will be here in no time’. A friendly nurse told me.

I said a quick prayer and took my 80+kg self to the bathroom.

At 5.30am, I was wheeled to the theatre. It was my official date with destiny. I was nerves but hopeful. I prayed for everything including the needles and the gloves and everything that will come into contact with me and my son including the sheets lool.

‘My name is Dr. Chirchir, I am your Aesthetician’
‘I am Dr. Maina, I am a pediatrician and I am here to receive the baby’
‘And of course I am Dr. Murage and you know why I am here’ (hahahaha)
‘I am…..

The introductions continued. I must say I had a super friendly team.

Fast forward, theatre rituals continued as we chatted here and there. I felt some pressure coming from my tummy just as Dr. Chirchir had told me and at exactly 6.55am, I heard the cry of my Jabali, he was immediately placed on my chest and I was asked to confirm his sex.

young jabali

It is a boy…oooh my son! Please place him again on my chest! Thank you Jesus’ I shouted as all the personnel present congratulated me.

It has been 730 days, 14 hours 2 minutes 17 seconds since you came into our lives Jabali. You have brought nothing but love and laughter.

You just make us so happy Kababa. I have quite a number of my favourite phrases but I love the following more:

Mum unado?
Amen!!!
Mum, good boy!!!!
I love you!!!!
Tuonane jioni!!!
Thank You welcome too!!!!
Daddy ya Jabali ameenda jobo!!!!

JABALI SWEETY

This is to say, in the last twelve months since your 1st birthday, your experience and age has doubled… and so has your intelligence and cuteness.

You know what babzie, I don’t mind if you lose your baby fat and chubby cheeks, but please don’t ever lose your innocence, your love and respect for others.

This is my sincere prayer to you:

  • May you receive enormous favour before God and man
  • May everything you touch turn into gold
  • Where others experience shame, you will experience honour and glory
  • Where others are rejected, you will be accepted
  • Where others fail, you will succeed
  • Where others experience delay, you will advance
  • You will reach your destiny Jabali and I know Daddy and I will be there to witness it and give you a pat on the back.

Whether you turn two or twenty-two, all you need to remember is that Daddy and I Love You and so are your grand parents, aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews, neighbours and everyone you have ever came across. No doubt you are a magnet and gem son.

JABALI DIGITAL

You will definitely cut your cake and receive more hugs and kisses and a gift. Happy 2nd birthday Jabali, Jabjab, Jababa, Kababa, Kababzie, Kampenzi ka mum!

Please come let’s stand with Wayne…

wayne-2

One Monday, as Wayne was riding a bike with his best friend, he fell and sustained serious head injuries which resulted in a surgery at Nairobi hospital.

He has been at Nairobi Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 3 weeks but recently transferred to High Dependancy Unit (HDU) after showing great signs of improvement.

It’s been a long, hard, painful ride, especially for his parents Nana and Tony. The bill so far is so huge and this is where you and I come in together with our intercessions.

Kindly find it in your hearts to give something for Master Wayne. It can be 10/=, 100/= 1000/= 10000/=, it can be anything but the beauty is, it will go a long way towards his hospital bill.

They say when you hold a child’s hand you touch a mother’s heart…thank you as you stand with Lil Wayne.

wayne

Fare thee well Natalie…

Winnie and Vincent by the graveside

Vincent, Winnie and a relative by the graveside

Being a mum and a maternal, newborn and children health advocate has made me celebrate even the tiniest milestones in friends, relatives and even strangers’ pregnancies and child (ren) development. It is no wonder I gladly answer to calls to grace first birthday parties which, to me, are a celebration for making it through the first year of colic, burping, cries and fevers that come with jabs, stress that comes with weaning and the rambunctiousness that comes with crawling and first steps.

Most Saturdays of May and June have been spent singing birthday songs and sampling different flavours and shapes of birthday cakes all of which always remind me of God’s faithfulness, love and fulfillment of His promises towards these future voters.

Jabali’s first birthday was registered as well- We invited friends and families to celebrate with us. It was a small intimate affair with family and friends, more for the memories to show him when he’s older how much he meant to us and meant to so many people that were there to celebrate his big day.

The first week of July, 2nd July to be precise was not going to be any different for Natalie Mwende, the first and only child to my colleague Winnie Makau and her husband Vincent Makau. Natalie had clocked exactly one year and she was to blow her first birthday candle. But no, it never happened because baby Natalie fell ill on 30th June and had to be taken to Machakos level 5 hospital on 2nd July and she was admitted.

 

Lat days of Natalie in Hospital

Last days of Natalie in hospital

On 3rd July at exactly 7.30am, Natalie passed on having lived in this world for just one year, one day; she never lived to see her 5th birthday. Reports indicate that about 108,000 children die annually in Kenya before their fifth birthday with 65 per cent of them dying before they celebrate their first birthday.

So on Tuesday, 12th July 2016 we went to bury the bubbly Natalie in Katangi, Machakos County. It was a befitting yet painful send off with so many attendances from within and without. It was a weekday but her aunties, uncles, cousins, neighbours, and even politicians all came to give her a warm send off on that cold Tuesday.

Inside the grave

Natalie in her final resting place

Anytime I looked at her small pure white casket, my heart ached so badly. I may not have interacted so much with Natalie but Winnie and I were expectant almost the same time. Pregnant mamas are always buddies; they have a way of clicking with each other I think because they see themselves through the same lens as far as pregnancy experience is concern. Even after babies come, we still share the same experience- motherhood and the challenges that come with it. The news of Natalie’s demise saddened me. I imagined my Jabali and how he has occupied the greatest part of my life and tears just kept flowing freely because to be honest, I cannot envision life without my kababa.

My mind kept flash-backing on the many one-year-olds’ birthday parties I have attended in the past 2 months. The birthday celebrations were filled with so much joy and laughter. I was almost tempted to ask why Natalie? Why on her birthday? But again found refuge in my bible which says in Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The bubbly Natalie

The bubbly Natalie

Natalie was a baby, a cute bubbly angel of God who was blameless and sinless. I know she is resting in a better place, a place of milk and honey; a place where she will praise God with the other angles.

Winnie and Vincent by the graveside
Winnie and Vincent, It was evidently so painful for a mother to bury her daughter and even more painful for a father to see the little casket carrying the remains of her daughter, probably the bearer of her mother’s name being lowered to the grave. Dear ones, Be encouraged with Psalm 34:18 which says: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

The presiding priest

The burial rites Presiding Priest

I conclude with words from one of Natalie’s grandfathers in his speech ‘Life is pleasant, death is peaceful, it is only the transition that matters’

Fare thee well Natalie, there is no doubt your parents really loved you…

Polio drop, the perfect mother’s day gift to your under 5 child!

Last year a day like today, I was a mom in waiting. I marked mother’s day carrying my son, my little sunshine, my honeybunch. This year’s Mother’s day, which will be celebrated this Sunday 11th May, would have been my first ever mother’s day as a real mom and to be honest, the thought of being a mom gave me so much joy. It was God’s favour to have been among the women He blessed with the gift of the womb to ‘help’ Him in creation. But placenta abruption that occurred on 14th June 2013 robbed me off this joy this means I will be celebrating this mother’s day minus my little sunshine.

Baby could have been 8 months 2 weeks today and a site I have subscribed to was not late to inform me about his development – I receive this information every week though my baby is no morel I couldn’t deactivate from the service because this helps me stay sober. So this week, this was the information that was sent to me.

Hello, Lourdes! Your baby is 8 months 2 weeks old. He is starting to grasp what it means when someone can no longer be seen, the result of a growing understanding of what’s called object permanence. An exciting demonstration of this comes the first time your baby tries to imitate a goodbye wave by twisting a wrist or flapping a hand. Not all 8-month-olds can wave bye-bye, but it’s a fun new feat to anticipate. It takes a certain amount of fine-motor coordination to wave in the style of the Queen (or Mom and Dad).

I smiled amid tears and tried to envisage how strong and active this boy from Khwisero could have been considering the way he kicked hard especially when I sang Shania Twain’s ‘From this moment’.

As I was walking to my place of work this morning to do the duties that pay my bills, I was thinking of the perfect gift that I could have given that little man this mother’s day and I did got a suggestion which I want to request you my reader this mother’s day. You probably have a child who is under five. Definitely this child cannot buy you chocolate, cards, flowers or any gifts – he/ she maybe does not even know if such a day exists. But darling, you can do something for that baby that you love so much this mother’s day- please have him / her get the polio drop. This is not an expensive gift but it is priceless as it equals life.

Mother’s day is marked annually on the 2nd Sunday of May. It celebrates motherhood and it is a time to appreciate mothers and mother figures. Many people give gifts, cards, flowers, candy, and a meal in a restaurant or other treats to their mother and mother figures, including grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers, and foster mothers. But giving your children a gift on mother’s day is not a bad idea is it?

MOTHERS DAY OK

Starting tomorrow, Saturday 10th to Wednesday 14th May 2014, another round of polio vaccine will be administered to children under the age of 5 in 25 high risk counties in the country. Since Mother’s day is marked as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children, make a sacrifice to mark it with by having your little sunshine vaccinated.

The 25 selected high-risk counties where the campaign will be carried out are: Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garissa and Refugee camps, Homabay, Isiolo, Kakamega, Kilifi, Kisii, Kisumu, Kwale, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Migori, Mombasa, Nairobi, Siaya, Tana River, Trans Nzoia, Turkana and Kakuma Refugee camp, Vihiga, Wajir and West pokot.

In a nut shell, Polio is an infectious disease that has no cure. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis and even death. It is highly infectious, and can have debilitating impacts. While it can strike anyone, at any age, the disease mainly affects children under five years old.

A child receiving the drop of life

A child receiving the drop of life

You may say that your child had already been vaccinated fine; in fact you are very right but remember, polio virus knows no boarders and carriers frequently move from one country to another. Therefore, as long as a single child remains infected, children in all high risk countries are at risk of contracting polio.

Don’t let your child be statistic have him/ her vaccinated when the health workers come to your neighbourhood or simply walk to a health facility for your child to receive this drop of life.

Before I sign off, I wish my precious mother, Mrs. Electine Walusala, who has always been near to guide my way and light my day, a very happy mother’s day. And to my mother in-law, Mrs. Leonidah Atamba, thank you for giving birth to my husband, thank you for all the sacrifices you made to raise him into a man of integrity and honour- happy mother’s day my mummies!

And to all you mothers and mothers in waiting, HAVE A GLORIOUS MOTHER’S DAY!!!

By the way, did you know that more phone calls are made on mother’s day than any other day of the year all over the world? Ok, now you definitely know!

 

Good news: Free Rotavirus vaccine to be introduced in Kenya this July

My friend got a high paying job outside the country and just 3 days to her departure to go and grab the once in a lifetime opportunity, her son, who she had left under the care of her mom upcountry, developed rotavirus! Though she finally traveled, she left her very sick son admitted  at the hospital, under the care of her old mother- you can imagine the anguish and the inconveniences that the damn rotavirus caused to my friend.

That is not the end of my rotavirus stories! My classmate missed her end of semester exams because that very day that we were to start our exams, her son was admitted at Mater Hospital following chaotic diarrhea and vomiting due to Rotavirus! She had to wait until  when the exams could be offered again for her to take them with a different class- it took her a whole academic year – inconveniencing right?

Any mom, whether a working or a stay-at-home mom who has had a sick child before will agree with me that sickness in children not only causes emotional and psychological pain but it is inconveniencing and agonizing as well to watch your baby suffer yet you are too helpless to ease his/ her pain.

But  parents can breathe a sigh of relief because for the first time, rotavirus vaccine is being introduced in Kenya free of charge at health facilities in July this year. Announcing the good news in a Nairobi hotel, Dr. Collins Tabu from the Ministry of Health’s Unit of Vaccines and Immunization Services (UVIS)  said that this crucial vaccine targeting 1.4 million children under the age of 1 year is a 2 dose vaccine series and will be given at the same time as some other vaccines that are administered at age 6 weeks and 10 weeks.

“Preventing serious rotavirus disease by vaccination is the best way to protect children. It is safe and effective in preventing diarrheal disease caused by rotavirus”- Dr. Collins Tabu

Ahead of the introduction of the vaccine, the Ministry of Health has been  involved in the training health workers, procuring vaccines, increasing  the cold chain for vaccine storage, and advocacy with other stakeholders.

Rotavirus can spread easily. Good hygiene such as hand washing and general cleanliness are important but are not enough to control the spread of the disease. Rotavirus vaccines are very effective in preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) and the accompanying diarrhea and other symptoms. This simply means, save the July date and ensure that your child, your niece or nephew or even your friend’s or neighbour’s child get this important vaccine that will surely reduce the suffering and deaths of our children.

Kenya will be joining other countries that have introduced rotavirus vaccines. In USA for example, rotavirus vaccine was introduced for U.S infants in 2006 and since 2011, countries such as Sudan, Ghana, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Armenia, Tanzania, Georgia, Haiti, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Zambia and Burundi have as well introduced rotavirus vaccines into their national immunization programmes.

A part from vaccine, other existing interventions that are necessary and effective in fighting diarrhea include: oral rehydration solutions, zinc supplements, clean water and sanitation and exclusive breastfeeding which is considered naturally sterile.

I clapped all the way home after the announcement for two reasons, first, majority of Kenyans are poor and though the vaccine is available it is not affordable for all since you should have at least 5k for your baby to get the 2 doses therefore this free vaccine means more poor babies will be protected. Secondly, the introduction of rotavirus vaccine can help our dear country Kenya to get closer to reaching MDG4 even though we are 7 months close to 2015, considering that Rotavirus is the leading cause of death due to diarrhea in children under five, taking the lives of more than 450,000 each year.

Vaccine is equal to life and with rotavirus vaccine; many children will be able to survive beyond 5 years to at least validate their already valid dreams.

 

 

 

Has your child received polio vaccine?

Today, 9th April is the last day of Polio campaign in 25 high-risk counties in Kenya. The 280 million campaign carried by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) started on Saturday, 5th April targeting 5.4 million under five children. By now, you must have seen men and women in yellow visiting house to house in your neighbourhood administering this important vaccine.

Every child deserves the chance for a healthy life. Though the provision of vaccines, they can be assured a better future so, kindly get your child, your niece or nephew, your friend’s or your neighbour’s child vaccinated against polio.

A child receives a polio drop

A child receives a polio drop

Polio is an infectious disease that has no cure. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis and even death. It is highly infectious, and can have debilitating impacts. While it can strike anyone, at any age, the disease mainly affects children under five years old.

Polio is still a big threat in Kenya due to the country’s porous borders due to uncontrolled movement from neighbouring states. Other nations under serious threat in the Horn of Africa include Ethiopia, Somalia, Southern Sudan and Uganda.

Targeted areas include all counties at the coast, except Taveta, the entire North Eastern region, Isiolo and Marsabit from Eastern, Western and Luo Nyanza counties. If for any reason, your child did not get Polio vaccination during the campaign in 25 high-risk counties, go to your nearest health facility to receive these free services.

Together lets end polio in Kenya!

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