PROTECT A CHILD TODAY! TOMORROW IS TOO LATE!
Child abuse is a reality and a major concern in Kenya that cuts across all sectors at all levels. The ever growing numbers of street children, the painful stories of child trafficking and sexual violence are all experiences that leave children with live long scares and with fears of uncertain future and lost opportunities. Studies (National survey 2010) also indicate that girls ages between 5-16 are deemed to be most vulnerable to sexual violence and that the abuse often happen in familiar environment by persons known to them and who is often charged with their care and protection. The recent media reports of over 100 teachers having violated their pupils in primary schools are all heinous acts of evidence that care and protection of the Kenyan child needs special attention through strategic national and county government response.
While we recognize efforts made by communities, NGOs, cooperate and government to address the well being of children and vulnerable families, it is evident that systems are overwhelmed by the increasing demand for care and protection and now need strategic policy guidance and partnership response.
The Thika Court Users Committee (CUC) which was established in 2001 is a collaborative effort of key actors drawn from public bodies in the criminal justice system and Civil Society all working on prioritized agenda –i.e.; improved justice for children. This effort complements Government’s commitment to protect children’s rights as stipulated in the constitution and the Children’s act.
WEM Integrated Health Services (WEMIHS), a Kenyan NGO established in 1998, is committed to continue making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and households most affected by poverty and disease. The organization has reached over 15,000 beneficiaries in marginalized semi-arid and the poor rural areas of Kenya. While vulnerable children are the largest beneficiaries of WEMIHS programs the achievements are realized through strategic partnerships.
WEMIHS continue to play a role in facilitation and strengthening community support and advocacy for child protection. As a member of the CUC, WEMIHS played a key role in the refurbishment and Launching of the Children’s Court.
This partnership culminated in the inauguration of the Thika Children’s Court on June 16th, 2015. The court was opened by the Honorable Deputy Governor G. Githinji, and was graced by a representation of key actors from National and County level.
The collaborative action is a call for increased commitment to child protection in Counties and the need to leverage on local partnerships. “It is my responsibility to protect a child today! Tomorrow is too late!
Wairimu Mungai – Executive Director WEMIHS
Though Florence a care giver in WEMIHS ECD program walks for miles in the terrain of a semi arid area in search of water and fire wood, she passionately defines “ the shelter I want for my children” as a priority desired change she wants by end of program.
Most genuinely motivated indigenous organizations are overwhelmed by the complex and competing priority needs presented by vulnerable households. WEMIHS has had significant success in adopting empowering partnership approaches with key actors. Vulnerable households are engaged in the program not just as beneficiaries but also as valuable partnersin the transformation process. Men and women are engaged in making meaningful contributions to towards achieving and sustaining the desired change .They engage in defining household and community desired change, mobilize their own resources and make decisions in the transformation process.
With each person infected by AIDS, a family is forever affected particularly the most dependent members. The consequences are deeply felt among the youngest and the oldest generation. While lives of parents and care givers can now be prolonged through greater access to ART, orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) constitute one of the most long-term evidence of HIV/AIDS impacts with about 1.3 million orphans below 18 years of age are in desperate need of support. In general, the epidemic has created a cohort of children forced to endure the illness and loss of parents and face an uncertain future due to socio economic decline as a result of illness and the death of productive adults. Long-term demand for care and support of orphans isamplified beyond the immediate affected households to wide networks of informal support. Almost every family in Kenya is now affected and are overstretching their resources to support orphans and vulnerable children.
orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) constitute one of the most long-term evidence of HIV/AIDS impacts with about 1.3 million orphans below 18 years of age are in desperate need of support.
Grandmother Resilience and Nurturing Initiative (GRANI) was initiated by WEMIHS Executive Director and Founder, Wairimu Mungai, in 2003 out of her deep concern that aged grandmothers were overwhelmed by the burden of care and support for AIDS orphans at a time when there was no treatment, no national social protection policy and when stigma and discrimination at community level was unacceptably high.
Over the years, WEMIHS has developed and implemented unique collaborative care and support interventions with significant success in improving grandmother headed households gain resilience to cope withloss and grief of their own daughters and sons, livelihood skills to deliver care and support to youth orphans and youth, strengthening linkages to community support networks and a range of services that include education support, treatment and care, social and legal projection, field follow-up and mentorship to support practices and monitor progress.
Courtesy of the invaluable funding support from the Stephen Lewis Foundation, WEMIHS has been able to scale upthis programto benefit 108 grannies in six villages (Thika and Maragua sub-counties) caring for a total of 265 AIDS orphans, some living with HIV and in critical need of care and support.
Your support to WEMIHS will make a difference in the care of orphans under the care of aged grandmother
The negative impact of HIV/AIDS has further complicated survival for a large population of disadvantagedcommunity groups; a majority of them already living in abject poverty with limited access to essential services and opportunities. Unfortunately, most HIV and AIDS work including national strategic responses have had limited interventions to address vulnerability and term mitigation on impact of HIV/AIDS. Most efforts to this regards are often limited to short term community grants and reliefhence promoting agrant mentality that compromises efforts on sustainable community development.
WEMIHS empowerment as a key principle of the livelihoods approach has worked to overcome the grant mentality. Evidenced of vulnerable households better coping with the impact of HIV /AIDS is best demonstrated through theirengagement inagriculture practices for improved household food security, saving and loans, small income generating activities (IGAs), market led value chains and in their advocacy for policies.