By Judy Makori; Senior Writer MOHI on Nov 29, 2021 10:00:00 AM
Turkana is located in the northwestern part of Kenya and it is about 400 miles from Nairobi. Turkana is an arid area marked by hot climatic conditions and desert-like environments.
The people there are still marginalized and for many, it is a struggle to meet their daily needs and provide for their families.
Missions of Hope International (MOHI) made inroads into Turkana in 2013 when it opened a primary school at Napuu. Today, MOHI has two other schools in this area: Turkana High School, and Locheredome and is in partnership with the government to support two public schools - Kangagetei and Napusimoru.
Having a presence in this region, MOHI has offered an alternate option to learners from this area who oftentimes find themselves stuck and with no way out.
Yet, even with the promise of quality education, it is still not easy to get children enrolled at the school. The main challenge comes from dealing with parents who do not appreciate the importance of education and are stuck in their cultural ways.
This results in outcomes that keep children out of school such as forced early marriages, teen pregnancies, and adopting a pastoralist’s lifestyle where people move from one place to the next in search of pasture.
Also, because Turkana is such an arid place, the majority of our students have to overcome great odds just to access what many of us take for granted. Water, electricity, food, clothes, decent housing - these are luxury items in some of the homes these children come from.
Water - especially - is like gold in this place and MOHI students are among the privileged who have access to clean drinking water.
At lunchtime, the students appear more interested in getting water than eating their meal. They make long queues waiting to fill up their water bottles - some bring five-liter bottles others just a cup - but they are all eager to take this precious commodity. It is only once their thirst is quenched that you will see them seated together eating their meals.
In the morning when they come to school - and before lessons start, some of the teachers give them water to drink which they take alongside the nutritious porridge that MOHI provides. The teachers inform us that for many of these children, the last water they drank was in school yet they walk for long distances to and from school.
Another lot of children who find relief because of MOHI’s presence in this region are those struggling with malnutrition. This is especially prevalent among newly recruited students, the majority of whom report to school from homes where food is scarce. These children are often in dire need of nutritional supplementation.
While the government has set up a program to offer supplements and multivitamins for free to children, their target group is children between six months and two years of age. After this age, the children rarely qualify to receive any more nutritional support. These are our future MOHI students.
To address this challenge, MOHI’s Child Survival team conducts regular growth monitoring and nutritional assessments on all preschool and kindergarten students. The team has also trained preschool and kindergarten teachers throughout MOHI to enable them to monitor the learner’s growth, taking special note on identifying levels of malnutrition.
Any student identified as being severely malnourished is put on special supplements and there is a noticeable difference within one month. These supplements are, however, not always readily available and are quite costly.
We really thank God for our faithful partners who through their targeted giving, make it possible for our health team to provide these essential supplements to the children who need them. But, with the school’s growing numbers and the ongoing drought in Turkana, even more supplements are needed.
The learners identified as being moderately malnourished are given multivitamins daily. The children who are otherwise healthy, but are found to be anemic are prescribed iron pills and will be reassessed after 30 days.
Then to round it all off, MOHI offers all students two nutritious meals a day. Sadly, these are the only two meals for many of our students in Turkana. Fortunately, for the students in the boarding section, they receive all their meals and this keeps them healthy and strong.
We thank God for the way He has continued to use us so graciously in this community. When we see our students smiling, happy, healthy and coming to school without fail, it makes everything we do so very worthwhile!
And because MOHI’s focus has always been on the family and not just the child, our skills training classes offer hope to our parents.
From the year 2015 - to date, we have taught 82 ladies the fine art of garment making and it has made a difference in the lives of the women who attend these classes.
Several of these women have gone on to set up their own businesses while others have found employment. Within the villages of Lodwar and in the town itself, eight of our former students are running thriving businesses and are able to provide for themselves and their families.
MOHI offers these lessons for free targeting our parents who have been identified as being in a difficult position and are in need of financial empowerment. This is a year-long course that can either be done for five hours in the morning or three hours in the afternoon.
It is very fulfilling to see this skill imparted in these women’s lives and to see them empowered to go out and fend for themselves.
We would not be able to do any of these things without the support of our faithful partners. It takes a concerted team effort to successfully run all these programs and activities - so thank you our faithful partners. May God bless you.
Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to work with the families in Turkana; sharing the hope of Christ with them to bring lasting transformation.