While in Kenya, ChildFund New Zealand’s Kathrine Seavill visited the rural township of Emali where more than 1,000 children are sponsored by New Zealanders. Emali holds a special place in Kathrine’s heart…

Kathrine and MaasaiWe were up bright and early to travel to Emali. First of all we went to the National Office to meet colleagues and to get a briefing before leaving. I was very excited to visit Emali again to see the changes that had happened since my last visit.

After collecting our driver and vehicle we were off! I was lifted into the back of the van still in my wheelchair which was great because I had a fabulous view. After battling some heavy traffic we were on the open road to Emali.

Watching the surroundings as we drove closer to Emali gave me a real sense of what life is like in Kenya. Many people were walking and some of the women were carrying heavy loads on their backs and heads.

Lack of rain has killed cropsAs we got closer to the town it was very evident how much havoc the drought had wreaked on the crops. We passed many fields covered with brown, dead and dying maize and I began to worry about the people in Emali and how they were faring because of the drought.

As we entered Emali we could see the market stalls with everyone selling their wares. There appeared to be an abundance of food in the markets but when we asked about the food we discovered that the global economic climate had hit Kenya hard. The food prices were very high and put simple staples out of reach of many people.

After spending some time in the Emali Project Office we went to visit some mothers and babies to talk about giving birth and raising a baby in Kenya. I was really looking forward to visiting these women as I love babies!!

We spent a good part of the day speaking to mums and their beautiful babies. These mothers are just like mums here in New Zealand; they love their children and only want them to be healthy, happy and educated. It was a very sad and humbling experience to speak with them as many of the children were not meeting their milestones and one little boy was not able to sit up although he was nearly a year old. The reason these children are under developed is because of a lack of nutrition. We watched women trying to breastfeed with almost empty breasts.

ChildFund is providing supplementary feeding to children under five years old and to breastfeeding mothers. The women are very grateful for the support we are giving. One woman said that she believed her child would have died had it not been for the extra feeding we are providing.

The next day we visited a Maasai family. Driving out there we seemed to be driving further and further into the wilderness there was absolutely nothing around and only the odd person on the road. After a long hot drive we pulled up outside a little mud hut called a manyatta (traditional Maasai house). The family came out to meet us.
Inside manyatta
The family was lovely and very pleased to meet us and also proud that we had come to see them to learn about their lives. The manyatta is tiny and I was astounded to learn that five people live in one manyatta.

The house is so small that I was unable to go inside with my wheelchair so I stayed outside and chatted to the children. Even though they spoke no English and I spoke no Maasai we were able to make ourselves understood using the universal language of smiles and hand signals.
Maasai children
This family are really struggling to make a living. Traditionally the Maasai make their living from their cows however because of the drought the cows have all died leaving only a few goats to sell.

To hear their struggles is hard but I know we’re doing what we can. If only we could do more.

I hope to hear some good news tomorrow when I visit some old friends…

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