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ChildFund New Zealand is the sole supporter of a community-based organisation that is working to enable long-term development in Emali, Kenya. The community’s priorities include access to water, improved education, and increased incomes so parents can support their children.

  • The Community
  • Stories from Kenya
  • Achievements

Welcome to Emali, Kenya

The busy trans-Africa highway splices this barren piece of Kenya. On one side of the road, the Kamba people tend their fields, the men coaxing oxen yoked to ploughs, the women hoeing large fields to keep the weeds at bay. On the other side, colourfully-beaded Maasai quietly shepherd their cows to graze on the silvery shrubs and tufty grass, while women lead donkeys with water containers strapped to their backs. Children work alongside the adults. Even at a very young age, they are required to pull their weight.

There is poverty here – you can see that people are hungry and bone tired. The arid climate means there are frequent droughts which means no harvest and the death of livestock. Families walk an average distance of 5km to get water, a task mostly done by women and young girls, and water sources are easily contaminated.

A girl in Turkana, northern Kenya ChildFund New Zealand has constructed 2 sand dams in Kenya Children waiting for lunch at school Clean water reduces the frequency with which children get sick Mums do everything they can in this harsh environment Providing access to clean water in Kenya Providing children with a quality education Providing supplementary food to preschool children Women and children walk long distances to get water

ChildFund New Zealand is helping the community to cope with both the tough times that constitute their every day existence – and the really tough times when people consider themselves fortunate to eat just one meal a day. Accessible, safe water is the solution for many of the problems – water not just for household use but for crops and livestock.

Consequently, there is always a new ChildFund New Zealand-supported water project on the go. As well as this, we’re emphasising education as a priority need identified by the community. ChildFund supports early childhood centres and schools. ChildFund has also been working with women and youth to see they have the skills and access to loans to help them get ahead. In all of these endeavours, the community are right there, actively bringing about change.

The Chair of the Parents and Children’s Committee said,

... tell [the people in New Zealand] how much this community appreciate them. I can recall that you had a disaster recently [the Canterbury earthquake] and, despite our problems, we were even thinking about how we could help you. We were surprised when the people of New Zealand added even more support.

What’s on Emali’s community plan:
Water systems, early childhood centres and teaching support, income generating activities, and improving the quality of education.

  • 23 April, 2015

    Gunny sack gardens

    Despite many kilometres of land and sea between them, Kiwi and Kenyan mums can find common ground in gardening through ChildFund’s Gifts that Grow collection this Mother’s Day.   ChildFund is encouraging Kiwi mums to test out their green thumb in a fun family gardening activity wh...

  • 17 April, 2015

    Second time, and not the last!

    Clare Lindsay and family have been ChildFund sponsors for so long that Clare can’t quite remember just how long it’s been. But Francis, who they’ve sponsored since he was just a toddler, is 22; so you get the idea that it’s been a while. Clare tells us about her family’...

  • 23 January, 2015

    Rewarding experience comes to life

    When Rachel Perrett and her husband started their family, they chose to sponsor a child on behalf of each of their own children. At the end of 2014, they made the bold decision to take William, nine, and four-year old twins Sophie and Samantha to Kenya to meet their sponsored siblings. Rachel shared...

  • 17 October, 2014

    Sponsor makes wish a reality

    Expat Kiwi Anna Robinson has sponsored seven year old Caroline in Kenya since December 2011. Anna and her fiancé Morgan live and work in Egypt, so using the close proximity to their advantage, they travelled to meet Caroline and her family, an experience that Anna says was both overwhelming a...

  • 22 May, 2014

    Changing someone's world with water

    This amazing Kiwi is making wonderful things happen in Kenya. Earlier this year, Clisa Tait funded the building of a water tank in Emali to help bring clean water to a community that struggles without water access.  ChildFund staff asked Clisa why she was so passionate about water, and we reall...

  • 17 April, 2014

    Crafts and trade in Kenya

    ChildFund with Kiwi support is helping to preserve the heritage of the rural community of Emali in Kenya and create livelihoods and trade through an exciting new project facilitated by Wellington resident and artist Chris Delany. 

  • 12 December, 2013

    Fighting malaria through technology

    Malaria is one of the world's deadliest preventable diseases and claims millions of lives every year. Children living in developing nations are at particular risk from malaria due to inaccessibility of health care. However, thanks to a new device designed by researchers in the Netherlands and Kenya,...

  • 26 November, 2013

    From 2 hours to 20 minutes: bringing water to families in Emali

    In April 2012, the situation in Emali was dire. On the road from Nairobi to Mombasa, Emali always had water issues. So much so, there was no way families living here could possibly hope to recover after the Horn of Africa Drought.When ChildFund staff first interviewed Krystal, her village had no wat...

  • 08 November, 2013

    Swapping Letters for a Kenyan Visit

    After sponsoring Rency since she was 5 years old, Errol and Kaye Hadfield topped off years of enthusiastic letter writing with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to meet her in Kenya. Errol describes their memorable journey. Rency is 20 now, so this trip has been a long time coming, and we were so excited...

  • 07 November, 2013

    A gift of seeds makes Ayo's dreams grow

    When Ayo’s dad abandoned the family, and a drought came, things became very tough. That’s why the drought-resistant vegetable seeds given by Kiwis were such a help.   Ayo’s mum told ChildFund staff:“It was dry; the farms were empty and there was nothing growing. I was ...

  • 01 November, 2013

    Borehole provides fresh water and a fresh start

    Life has been pretty hard for the community of Emali, according to Jackline, the teacher at Entumoto early childhood centre in the Kenyan rural township. In 2011 they struggled through a severe drought and the fear of future droughts is never far away from people’s minds.

  • 11 October, 2013

    A family holiday like no other

    After more than 15 years of child sponsorship, Marg King, her husband Phil and their eldest son, Jamie, jumped at the chance to meet three of their sponsored children in Kenya. Marg tells us her story.   Visiting our sponsored children is something we’d always wanted to do, but it jus...

Educating Children
Primary school education is free in Kenya but it only begins at the age of six or seven. ChildFund New Zealand has renovated or constructed more than 30 preschools in Kenya in order to give children a foundation for learning that will help them transition from home to school. 1,400 children at 36 centres in Emali are now learning basic skills and have access to nutritious meals, quality teaching and play materials, and clean water. The children receive regular medical checks and are vaccinated against diseases such as measles.

Safe water
Emali is a rural area of Kenya that is very prone to drought. ChildFund New Zealand has worked hard to ensure that the community has enough water. Water tanks have been given to preschools, water pipelines have been extended, five wells have been drilled, troughs have been built for livestock and five sand dams constructed. Even in the dry season, people can dig down into the sand behind the dams to find water. The dams have allowed farmers to water their crops and give their families healthy food. 

Robert used to sell small amounts of spinach but during the dry season he had to leave his family to find extra work. Construction of a sand dam has changed his life:

"I'm married with two children – a boy and a girl. We earn a living through farming. It was a hard life before this project began. I've benefited much from the dam because now we get a lot of water and I can plant more. The children have changed because of the nutritious food they get. Nutrition is important for them. Even their mental capabilities are improving – my son is now number one in school!"

Conor helps his dad in the fields beside the dam. He said, "I help my father, seeing that the spinach does well. Our new house is liveable now. It's nice living in it, and that's just because of the farming. I want to be an engineer when I grow up because the roads in our area are muddy and dusty."

Supporting parents

ChildFund is helping parents to earn a decent living and grow enough food for their families in Emali. There are no banks in the area and families don’t have the collateral to access loans, so ChildFund has helped almost 900 parents to establish village savings schemes that can also disburse small loans. Training on livestock rearing, new water facilities for irrigation, and provision of drought-resistant seeds are also giving parents a hand-up. Over three tonnes of fast-yielding, drought-resistant seeds were distributed to the parents of sponsored children in 2013, leading to a bumper harvest. Farmers were able to sell part of their crop to buy education materials for their children, pay medical bills, buy clothing and invest in assets such as bulls for ploughing their fields.