Simon Jersey give our girls at HOVIC something to dig their needles into

Posted on
14th May 2015
by Martina Gant

When Steve Sharp visited HOVIC on our Making Tracks cycle ride, he found the young women there learning to sew using paper.

Many of these young teenagers have been forced to leave home for the streets, or resort to prostitution to feed themselves. Some, little older than children themselves, now have babies of their own. But since KOP funded a collection of sewing machines for the shelter, they have been learning tailoring skills to support themselves.

Steve saw the young women sewing their paper and decided to send them some fabric and equipment from the team at Simon Jersey! The girls were overjoyed at this and have been making some gorgeous clothes for other children at the shelter. Marti, KOP’s international programme manager, went to see them recently and has returned with these photographs to share with all the amazing supporters who made this possible. Thank you everyone, Simon Jersey and the Making Tracks cyclists in particular, for helping these young women get back on their feet.

Want to help us change more lives at HOVIC? Donate.


Gathering data for good at Kochogo

Posted on
13th May 2015
by Martina Gant

To make the best possible decisions about how to spend your donations, it is enormously important that we collect the best possible data. It is by analysing data that we can see how our projects are working to improve the health and well-being of the children we’re here to support. We’d like to share with you how we’re making that happen at Kochogo.

Kochogo Integrated Children’s Development Centre was built by (then KOP) and Omega Foundation in 2005, in a rural community near Kisumu where the prevalence rates of HIV/Aids are particularly high. Today, the centre provides healthy, balanced meals to 180 children and 11 elderly community members. Children are also supported with psycho-social support and access to medical care.

At Kochogo, we’re changing the data we’re gathering in order to find out more nutritional information about the children. We have recently provided new measuring equipment to the centre to enable the staff to collect this.

To train the staff in using the new equipment, a nutritionist from the ministry of health visited the centre for a day and the centre held a free distribution of vitamin A. As children aged 3-6 queued for their free tablets (an essential vitamin for early childhood development), staff were able to get plenty of experience of taking the measurements, with expert guidance from the nutritionist!

We are so excited about the progress at Kochogo. The centre is becoming a real hub for health services in the local area, and now operates as a coordinator between the local health centre (which was originally built by KOP and is now run by the Ministry of Health) and the local schools for this sort of activity. This means Kochogo is bringing real benefit to all children in the local area, not just those at the centre by ramping up the engagement with health and nutrition issues among the whole community.

This boost in the role of the centre within the community is driven by the passion and hard work of the social workers at the centre, Alice and Liz. We are so very proud to work with brilliant women like them on improving the health and well-being of so many children.

Inspired by this news? Want to support the work of Alice and Liz at Kochogo? Join Core.

The HealthStart Pilot

Posted on
12th May 2015
by Martina Gant

The big focus for this trip is the end of the HealthStart pilot.

What is HealthStart?

Thanks to the support of our biggest donor, Festival Republic, for the past three years we’ve been running HealthStart, an innovative school health and nutrition programme, with our Kenyan partners at the Ogra Foundation.

HealthStart is unique because we address the holistic health of children at school by providing multiple health interventions as we believe that they improve the effectiveness of each when delivered together.

By providing a combination of interventions, including nutrition, clean water, malaria nets, de-worming, health education and school health policy development, we believe that the positive effects of each of these interventions has a longer-lasting impact on the health and educational outcomes of the children.

What was the pilot?

Over the past three years, provided HealthStart to over 2,000 children in two schools in Western Kenya. We’ve gathered lots of data on the health and performance of the children, which we use to measure the impact of our work.

The data we’ve recorded is one of the things that makes HealthStart particularly unique and I’m working with the HealthStart team at Ogra to make sure we have everything we need to evaluate the impact of the pilot programme and to tell the story of what HealthStart really means to the children, staff and wider communities.

What next?

Last week I met with the community members, including the schools’ Boards of Management and local government representatives to discuss what will happen when the pilot closes at the end of term.

There were some concerns about the programme coming to an end but the schools made promises to continue supporting the feeding programme with the help of the community. KOP and Ogra will be monitoring changes over the next few months.

I also facilitated a workshop with the HealthStart team. As the programme is closing, we’ll sadly be losing some team members and we wanted the chance to share all of our experiences and suggestions for the future of the programme. It was an interactive and fun session where we shared ideas, challenges and successes from all aspects of the pilot programme.

As we gather more feedback and the data comes in, we’re preparing a review of the pilot and starting to look at what the next phase of HealthStart might look like.

Once we’ve collated all of this information, we’ll be telling you all about it…and there’s plenty to get excited about!

International Day for Street Children 2015: spotlight on HOVIC

Posted on
12th Apr 2015
by Anjali Dwesar

April 12th marks International Day for Street Children – a prominent day for millions of street children around the world to have their voices heard. KOP would like to help raise awareness of this day, because we know first hand what a difference a little support can make to children living on the street.

We work with street children in Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, where a significant number of children migrate in search of work. Many children are subject to domestic abuse, high levels of poverty, including lack of financial and educational opportunities. HIV prevalence is high (three times the national average), leading to many children losing one or both of their parents. As a result of this, children often find themselves living on the street. These kids are vulnerable to high levels of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and many develop drug addictions.

We support HOVIC, a street children shelter, based in Kisumu. HOVIC provides several different services for street children. They run a day centre for boys to drop-in, offering them a meal, a chance to wash, basic healthcare, education and life-skills training. A night shelter has also been set up, giving boys who wish to move away from the streets a safe bed for the night. They receive support from a social worker who communicates with their families encouraging them to reintegrate back into their homes, seek a guardian for them or secure a place for them at boarding school.

HOVIC also offers vocational training for young girls who had been lured into prostitution or worked in backbreaking domestic work from a young age, and often have children of their own. These young women can learn valuable skills to help them support themselves and their young families. Here are some photographs of some of the girls, showing off their latest sewing to Marti, on her recent trip to the centre:

HOVIC focuses heavily on advocacy, ensuring that there is emphasis on children being taught about their rights.

KOP funded the purchase of the centre for HOVIC in 2008. We also fund HOVIC’s weekend feeding programme, support the children’s education and have provided items for the vocational training programmes, including sewing machines and materials.

See the video below to hear more about HOVIC.

Do something amazing today. Donate to support our work and help us give a child with an unlucky start at life, a leg up and a fresh opportunity.

Tales from the field

Posted on
29th Mar 2015
by Martina Gant

I’m in Kisumu, Kenya, for two weeks, with a packed and productive schedule. I’m out here in my new role to focus on KOP’s work with our three project partners; Ogra Foundation, Omega Foundation and HOVIC.

Week one was mainly office-based; visiting the partner offices, catching up with Kenyan colleagues and making plans for the project visits next week. We had some positive meetings about the end of our HealthStart pilot and the planning for the Charity Apprentice trip is coming along nicely…look out for further posts with more detail, coming soon.

This week has been very warm, very humid and very wet, with some spectacular storms. I was cursing the rain earlier in the week until Rose, Child Support Officer at Omega Foundation told me that being caught in the rain is a blessing, especially after a period of drought.

The rains have arrived late which means crops haven’t been planted yet. The delay will result in a late harvest which will be felt acutely by the subsistence-farming communities in this region. Now that the rains have arrived in full force, I’m embracing the blessing!

I’m sharing regular updates on our Twitter and Instagram channels: make sure you follow us for more project updates.

Sean takes on his first marathon, runs it in the Sahara Desert

Posted on
11th Mar 2015
by Ellie Dawes

Anyone who has dabbled in a spot of fundraising knows that the best kind of fundraiser is a crazy fundraiser. These are the guys who take a challenge and take it just a little past the normal levels of sanity to bring in those donations.

On February 24th, Sean decided to run his first ever marathon – a brave move for anyone. Because he knew what a difference KOP make in the lives of children, he decided to run it for us. And, because Sean is our kind of person, he decided to run it through the blistering heat of the Sahara desert.

So how did he get on? We caught up with Sean after the run, who said:

“It was bloody hard! But extremely rewarding.

When it’s 35 degrees, and you’ve been stumbling through the Sahara desert for almost five hours when, from nowhere a refugee camp appears and Sahrawi kids start chasing you around, it’s tempting to shed a tear of joy.

I’m not exactly sure why I thought the ‘Sahara Marathon’ wouldn’t involve blood, blisters and giant sand dunes. But it did. And after a while, when the crowd has thinned and the only way you know where to go is a lonely soldier waving in the distance, the blisters and cramps and sunburn pale in comparison to the mindbending heat and loneliness.

That said, it was a wonderful experience and I’m humbled how well this fundraiser has gone. With a bit more help it could make tons of difference to some whose daily struggle is far greater than the marathon.”

If you’d like to help Sean raise that little bit extra to hit his target, here’s the link you need.

So what’s next for Sean? “It was my first marathon so I need to do a ‘normal’ one now to gauge what time I should properly get…”

Great plan Sean. Maybe you could run it underwater. Or in the Arctic. Or across a lake of lava.

For being a total legend and making the world a far better place. Sean, we applaud you. From KOP and on behalf of all the inspiring kids we support, thank you.

See Sean’s thank you limerick.

You deserve the best support

Posted on
09th Mar 2015
by Thomas Muirhead

Whether you’re one of our Charity Apprentices, or a long time supporter by direct debit; one of our fantastic Ambassadors or a 9 year old climbing Ben Nevis, we feel you deserve the best support you can get. So we’re committed to providing you with the support you deserve by building our team.

Content & Community Manager
Ellie Dawes has joined the KOP team as our new Content and Community Manager. Ellie will be focused on making our Charity Apprentice course the best training experience for the third sector anywhere in the world. She will ensure our Apprentices emerge with all the skills they need to change the world. She’ll also be responsible for how KOP talks – being an expert copy writer and brilliant at bringing a brand to life. Ellie has written a blog on Charity Apprentice.

Supporter Experience Assistant
Anjali (above) has joined us as our new Supporter Experience Assistant. She’ll be focused on supporting the entire KOP community (Apprentices, Ambassadors, Supporters, Alumni). It’s essential you all get everything you need, and know that you have someone you can chat to if you need anything. She’s lovely, so give her a call on 07751768207 if you have any questions.

We're putting a real focus on our work in Africa

Posted on
09th Mar 2015
by Thomas Muirhead

Delivering innovative programmes like HealthStart, and supporting our children’s centres in Kisumu requires a huge amount of input, management and expertise. To do this we work really closely with our excellent partners in Africa. However, we’ve realised that for us to be able to ensure the impact of the work we do, and the money our supporters raise, we need to have someone dedicated to just that.

In a huge step for KOP we’ve recruited someone with great experience of working with partners in Africa, with a strong understanding of our organisational objectives and with a vision for the most vulnerable children in the world that mirrors ours exactly… our very own Martina Gant.

Marti will be between Bristol, London and Kenya for the next few months, and potentially spending much more time in Kenya after that. She’ll be reviewing, assessing and evaluating all our current programmes, as well as identifying new opportunities to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Marti will make everything we do through our partners work better.

It’s another step forward for KOP and one that will directly improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the world – and it’s a step that’s only been possible because of the incredible support you all give us.

A historic day for international development

Posted on
09th Mar 2015
by Martina Gant

Today a bill passed through the House of Lords, enshrining to law the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on foreign aid.

This is a momentous step for international development in the UK; it means that the political debate can shift from how much to how effective, focussing on delivery and impact, rather than on the insecurities in funding that arise with every election.

The 0.7% target was first pledged by the UN back in 1970 and the UK is the first G7 nation to enshrine the commitment in law, with many institutions, agencies and charities campaigning for years to protect the commitment by law.

Millions of lives positively affected by UK aid and can continue to be. Well done and thanks to all those involved in the campaign!

Follow the news here: #TurnUpSaveLives and read more about the progress of the bill.

International Women's Day: how we keep young women in school

Posted on
06th Mar 2015
by Ellie Dawes

The 8th March 2015 is International Women’s Day! As of this date, already in 2015, we will have provided 66,568 meals to girls supported by our projects. To young women, these meals mean they can get an education and the opportunities they need to look forward to a brighter future.

Emaculate is 15 years old and in class 6 at Kiliti primary in Kenya. She lives with her father, step-mother and six siblings.

Life has not been easy since Emaculate’s mother died. Her father’s job as a casual farm labourer only enables him to provide one meal a day for his family: a very small dinner. As a step-daughter, Emaculate finds herself last in line for food at home.

Emaculate used to get up and go to school on an empty stomach and miss lunch too. In the evening, she would go home to just half a cup of porridge or black tea.

“It was not easy. I felt very hungry over the nights and this affected my sleep. The same happened in school. I could not concentrate and this greatly affected my performance.

I thought of engaging into very dangerous activities which would otherwise affect me for the rest of my life. I even thought of getting married to solve the whole issue.”

But life changed in 2011 when Emaculate enrolled on our program at the OGRA feeding centre. She says:

“When I heard of the program and managed to get enrolled, a lot has changed in my life. I found new hope to guide me through.

Even though breakfast and lunch are hard to come by, I always console myself that I will get something to fill my stomach with in the morning and at lunch time at the Feeding Centre. Apart from the food, I was also given a school uniform and a pair of rubber shoes.

Life has been better and I always encourage myself to work hard and get good marks. My only request is for OGRA Foundation to support us through our secondary education to help better our future. Otherwise, erokamano (thank you).”

As well as food, KOP provide young women like Emaculate with menstrual hygiene and sex education. This ensures that girls are not missing out on up to a week of school every month. Our support helps prevent girls in Emaculate’s village from putting themselves at risk of pregnancy by exchanging sex for sanitary towels.

You can help us support more young women. Do something inspiring today and change the lives of children who don’t have a head start in life. Donate.


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