Hatrack Heroes! Episode 5

SHINING ON THE IMPOVERISHED (PART 1)

Guest: Marcus Azzam

Organisation: Shine Academy

Release: 30th December 2019

This episode we journey back to Africa, specifically to Kibera, unbeknownst to me, the biggest slum city in Africa.

This city is located on the east coast in the beautiful country of Kenya, and is home to an unconfirmed number of people, somewhere in between 250,000 and 1 million people (most reports stating it's closer to the latter figure). 

Listen here!

Intro:

Nick: Hi guys, and welcome to another episode of Hatrack Heroes! And today we’re here with Marcus or Mark, and he’s been involved with a charity down in Kenya, in Nairobi specifically called ‘The Impoverished Children’ from a slum called Kibera. Mark, welcome today.

Mark: Thanks very much for having me.

Nick: You’re very welcome. Can you give us a small introduction about yourself, where you’re from, what you’re currently doing with yourself?

Mark: yep, so I’ve been the UAE now for 12 years. I work for Etihad, I’m a pilot for them, captain on the 330 fleet, and I’ve been involved in charities for a while actually, or what I like to call humanitarian organisations for a quite a while now. Before in Bangladesh, and now in Kenya… and I’ve been in the aviation industry for about 15 years, I’m originally from Lebanon, lived my whole life in Montreal, and I found myself in the UAE 12 years ago.

Nick: Nice… and how did you, how did you become involved with the humanitarian organisations?

Mark: Well, we…

Nick: What was your drive?

Mark: Yeah, that’s a good question actually. Uhh, we see a lot in the world, as all crew do, and I just found that a lot of the places  that I was visiting, or interacting with… the people I was interacting kind of educated me in different ways, but I’d also realised how blessed we are to be what we are, and to have the jobs that we have, and the ability to see the world the way we do. And I thought it was really important to give back to whatever we can give back…

Nick: Yep

Mark: Umm… and so I decided to take that kind of… to have a different drive towards it, and to try to help people in whatever way or whatever capacity I can help them, and to understand and explore more about these circumstances people live in, and be able to…

Nick: Was there something specific that attracted you… like something you saw, something that you noticed that made you go ‘ok, cool… this is what I’m going to do’?

Mark: Yep, so that’s actually a very easy question, because you go around the world all over the place, be it in certain cities like Manila or even around places in Africa. You see a lot of these children basically running around without shoes trying to beg for money and sometimes they get caned, you know by police or whoever is taking care of the area there. It’s very unfortunate to see that, and I thought to myself I actually wanted to go see where these people are living, or where they come from. To actually understand why the circumstances are happening, and how people like us who are privileged are able to fix it. Or at least not necessarily fix it, but give them the right direction to help themselves fix it. Empowering them, and empowering their children to do better, and to hopefully not have a continuous future that way for the next generations to come.

Nick: Now you say you started doing it in Bangladesh…

Mark: correct

Nick: Someone else I spoke to, Eva, who’s also from Etihad. She mentioned your name… involvement there. Just quickly, what was your attachment to Bangladesh?

Mark: Yeah, so Bangladesh, Eva founded the charity or the organisation called…

Nick: Choice 2 Change

Mark: Choice 2 Change… and I joined her in about maybe 3 or 4 months later. I was with her and her team there, there was also another cabin crew there named Mariusz, who was with us, who was a cabin manager. The three of us were spearheading it, we got up to about maybe 13 or 12 staff, and maybe 150 children, so it grew quite quickly over 4 years,

Nick: Yep, okay

Mark: and that’s the time I worked with it….and then I ended up finding Impoverished Children.

Nick: Okay

Mark: …so, Choice 2 Change did do well, and it was already on its way,

Nick: Yep

Mark: and I really found that I needed to work with something different, and something new at that time.

Nick: Yep, okay, cool!

Mark: and that’s why I decided to… I found it through Choice 2 Change actually.

Nick: Ah ok, so it wasn’t like a trip to Nairobi

Mark: No, it wasn’t… it was the founder who was an Australian lady called Katherine. She founded ‘Impoverished Children” which runs Shine Academy, where the kids are educated. And she reached out to us, we worked a little bit with her, but when I ended up going to visit her, and Eva visited her as well, so we actually both went together. And when I went to visit her, and I saw the conditions that they were living in Kibera, was way worse than Lalmati’s slum, for example, in Bangladesh.

Nick: Wow

Mark: And I was like, “wow, these people really, really need a lot of help”, and already, Katherine was already doing this for about 5 or 6 years… before, so she had a lot more experience than we did.

Nick: Yeah, ok… See, I don’t know... I’ve never actually been to Nairobi… I’ve done the turnaround, but I’ve always come back.

Mark: Ah, right… yeah!

Nick: So, I’ve never actually laid over. It’s weird because I don’t get this impression of Kenya being like this at all. So, can you tell me a bit about Kibera? I know it’s… I’ve done a bit of research. It’s the biggest slum in Africa…

Mark: Yep

Nick: Can you tell us a bit about what the conditions are like, that kind of thing?

Mark: Yep, So I’m going to quote Katherine on this. So, Katherine is the founder of Impoverished children/Shine academy, which is the school that is run under Impoverished Children Organisation. She basically got to South Africa to start her journey, and she wanted to find a place where she could change lives, and she travelled literally from South Africa all the way up into Kenya and stopped there. She travelled for a year before she decided to stop in Kibera and make her school there, so that’s her story. And the reason why she did that in Kibera was because Kibera was the most abhorrent, and poorest conditions… the most dangerous conditions she’s ever seen anywhere in Africa until that point of one year of travelling in Africa with her husband.

Nick: Wow… and that’s saying something.

Mark: It is saying something… and this is how I would explain Kibera best, is through Katherine’s words. Because when she told me that it actually hit home for me as well, because what I did see there was much worse than Bangladesh. And I was shocked by it myself, even though I’ve seen a lot in Bangladesh as it was, and for her to tell me that, that means we are literally in one of the most difficult, toughest places for humanity to actually survive.

Nick: (gasp) It’s crazy!! Basically, it says online is conflicting figures… which obviously means that records aren’t kept properly…

Mark: Yes

Nick: …between 250,000 and 1 million people.

Mark: Yes, and I would say the 1 million is actually closer… ah, because when you actually fly over… so now I know where Kibera is when I’m flying into Nairobi, I actually know the area.

Nick: Ah, you can see it… yep, yep!

Mark: From the flight deck…

Nick: Yep

Mark: …and is absolutely massive. When you are there, you do not… you cannot comprehend its size when you just look at it from a bit of an elevated space. You really, really need to actually take it all in.

Nick: Wow!

Mark: And it’s actually… and within Kibera, you have higher level housing, and lower level housing as well, but the actual… I don’t like to use the word slum, but that is what it’s known as, but that area of people living in, it’s so massive that it actually changes socio-economically from place to place, which is really very fascinating. You have the extreme poor of the poor, and you have the poorer of the poor.

Nick: A hierarchy type of th…

Mark: Yeah, a lot of people do not understand, or they just assume that poor is poor. But there’s actually… just like the rich, or the middle class to the rich have many different you know stratifications, or many different levels of richness… the poor do as well.

Nick: Mmmm

Mark: …and that’s something you really learn when you actually work with these people. And you can walk into Kibera for a bit, and then just walk… you know take a left for two minutes, and go into a whole different zone.

Nick: Mmmm

Mark: Completely different… much, much worse…

Nick: Wow

Mark: …and much more difficult to walk in. The smells are much worse cause there’s also the… obviously the smells of dung and urine, and all kinds of things.

Nick: Yeah!

Mark: It’s just much worse kept than the area you were in before… and some places are slightly tarred, some are not, it’s just all pure mud and stone. It also changes even infrastructure wise, not just the poverty level of the people.

Nick: And it’s not the best of infrastructures is it?

Mark: No, it’s not, definitely not… when the rains come it is really difficult, I have to say. I’ve been there in rains, and not. Also, in Bangladesh, the same… but Bangladesh, most of the slums tend to be paved there so they’re a bit easier to work with. With Kibera, it’s not…

Nick: Ah, I see… yeah okay!

Mark: It’s mud, it’s stone… they build houses out of dung, like cow dung, so you can only imagine the smells that come out when it’s raining.

Nick: Wow

Mark: It’s a very different situation

Nick: …and it’s not a healthy kind of place to live in either

Mark: No, it’s definitely not… it’s definitely not. Even getting clean water is very difficult.

Nick: Yeah, that’s what I was reading, the ummm… they used to get their water from a dam, which has typhoid and cholera in it.

Mark: Correct, yep!

Nick: But now they say there’s two pipes coming in, which I guess is movement in the right direction, but that costs them money.

Mark: Yes, of course… it costs them money, and the Government of course doesn’t necessarily prioritise these areas.

Nick: no electricity, or 20% electricity or something like that?

Mark: Yep, definitely… a lot of candlelight, the whole thing is pitch black at night. Definitely there’s no electricity at all… the electricity that actually exists would be in the more upper scale poorer areas that we discussed.

Nick: yeah, okay.

Mark: They would actually take lead lines into their homes and have their tv’s, and have one bulb in the whole entire kind of shack.

Nick: Is that where the area where you’d find the owners living? I believe there’s 10% of the place owned by the Kikuru.

Mark: Ah, yeah… okay, so there’s different tribes. So, the way that they work would be… there are a few chieftains for the whole area. They run different parts, or segmented parts of the ‘slum’ as a whole.

Nick: Yep

Mark: and those chieftains are responsible for different people, or different tribes in this case, because…

Nick: yep

Mark: …unlike Bangladesh, in Africa it’s more of a tribal system. They’ll be responsible for their tribe, so each chief of every tribe will be responsible for that area where the tribe is.

Nick: yep

Mark: Some would be more poor, some would be obviously richer in that level, and they would probably have more access to electricity or you know basic…

Nick: And would they have toilets? I believe majority of the place does not have a toilet system, or sewerage system.

Mark: I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen one… No, sewerage system definitely does not exist. So, within Kibera, the Government is taking parts of it, they’re demolishing it fully so nothing in Kibera… Let me just go back here a little bit. Nothing in Kibera is owned by anyone.

Nick: Ah okay.

Mark: The whole land is Government owned officially, ahh, so you can never buy land in Kibera and own it, you can only rent. And you renting off generally a chieftain who has kind of confiscated this land, or the chieftain’s office if you wish, has confiscated this land, and then they just… basically you have to pay them because it’s kind of their space. Whatever happens with the government later, I don’t know. This is something which the chieftain or whatever… but if the Government wants to come and demolish a whole area of Kibera, they will, and they do, and they have.

Nick: Yeah, I’ve…

Mark: And there’s been riots, there’s been a lot of violence because of people have died… because for them, it’s all their land anyway. People do not have the right to live there.

Nick: Yep

Mark: So, what the Government does, is they’ll come in, they’ll demolish, and they’ll build more kind of sustainable housing. Not the best quality obviously, but their intention is to move people into these. As time goes on, their going to build more and more of these 5 to 6 storey buildings.

Nick: So, would you say this is a…  I was about to ask the question, ‘Do they care this Government?’ but then you say, it is for sustainability I guess… but would you say that’s a caring thing? or would you say it’s a…

Mark: No, it’s a…

Nick: …disruptive, it’s rash

Mark: well, it’s a difficult question. It is partially caring, it is disruptive too, because of course when they demolish, they also build highways, roads, they’re building infrastructure as well.

Nick: I know, that’s what I saw…

Mark: Yep! This happened not too long ago. We actually nearly lost the school because of it. It was very close to the border of the school…

Nick: You’re kidding me…

Mark: it was… It was a big thing. Katherine was very stressed about it

Nick: I bet, I bet

Mark: …we were discussing a lot together at that time

Nick: Because I mean, if it’s a Government of that nature, where it’s…

Mark: Yep

Nick: You know, you look at Africa, compared to Europe… the Governments are much more… I don’t know how you’d describe it. But, they do as they will… vote for them, it doesn’t really matter.

Mark: yeah, true!

Nick: So, in regards to the Government not really caring about sustainability, that kind of thing. When you said there was a highway put through, and you said it was close to the school… With the children, what do you think goes through their mind when they’re seeing this happen?

Mark: It is, I’m sure terrifying for the children… I mean if you just go onto the news and you  see the pictures from that time, this happened about maybe… early on this year, I think it was March or February this year… 2019 that would be. So, if you would just go back and see all the pictures of the rioting, the fires, the fighting against the Government forces and all that was happening there. I mean, it is terrifying of course… it’s like literally, like those movies that you see if you watch Avatar. For example, where you have this massive bulldozer of this kind of other people, that will come and terrorise your land, and you’ve been there for ages long.

Nick: Yeah!

Mark: Obviously, it’s not something which is officially your land, or you haven’t bought it, and people are coming to destroy your land.

Nick: Still, you’ve made it your home

Mark: Still, you’ve made it your home… you live there!

Nick: Yeah

Mark: And, they will make a decree, they will just say okay this will be the zone where our highway will be, where we have to build our plumbing and infrastructure which will help out the next city down the line, which is through Kibera obviously... we’re going to just go through it, that’s it… and there’s no ifs or buts or qualms about it.

Nick: These children, it’s just… generally a picture of innocence. They have no idea, that all they see is potentially their school going, or they might see their home just disappear.

Mark: Yeah! They’ll just see an army of bulldozers and then that’s it, and then a week later it’s all gone. And their school was literally almost in their path…

Nick: …and they can’t do anything

Mark: Nah, they won’t, they can’t… they will do, the people will fight… of course, and they have. There will be deaths, and there will be violence but the kids themselves will be suffering of course.

Nick: And what goes through your mind when you hear this, when you see this?

Mark: I was extremely upset, I mean obviously anyone that works in a charity like this, or in an organisation like this, like Katherine does, she was extremely upset, very very stressed for those two weeks… I remember very much when I was talking to her. I was very upset because I was imagining, I was remembering these kids faces and what they would be going through.

Nick: Yeah, of course!

Mark: I think, if I remember I think Katherine said there was about six families that were affected by this particularly…

Nick: Mmmm

Mark: …The rest were not, but this can happen anytime again…

Nick: yeah, of course

Mark: … and the Government have said we are going to change Kibera. Kibera will no longer be as it is, we need to continuously work on it. They say we need to work on it for the people, to build more sustainable infrastructure to put people in from Kibera. But, that does not always happen… it does happen to some degree, but not always fully because other people that belong to the government, or are under the government, or have… to the government will also get access to these very cheap, low-income housing…

Nick: Yeah, okay

Mark …and they’re not part of Kibera, so, truthfully they’re not literally building these 6 storey houses just for those in Kibera… yes, maybe 20 or 30% but it’s also for their own people, and their own extended families, and whatever it is they have.

Nick: Yeah

Mark: They never say that of course, but that is the reality.

Nick: I was going to ask, what can be done about the behaviour of the Governments? Their idea of development, is there other options? Shouldn’t they just be saying “we’ll move you first, and then we’ll come through”?

Mark: yeah, so…

Nick: Is that not possible?

Mark: …moving is also another problem, because if you want to move people, they don’t have the money to move.

Nick: …the government doesn’t have the money?

Mark: No, the people don’t… they already live in dung build tin sheds

Nick: yeah, yeah!

Mark: …constructed sheds, and this is something they’ve built themselves; they don’t have the means to buy new material…

Nick: Mmm

Mark: …or to build a new home anywhere, then what land are you giving them?

Nick: yeah, yeah!

Mark: Because Kibera in itself is already… it’s massive… it has, I’m sure it has 1 million people; we don’t really know the numbers. Between 150,000 to a million, but I’m sure it’s more towards the million range, a lot of people have said that. Ah, consensus has not been done properly.

Nick: That’s crazy

Mark: it’s crazy, it really is… and it’s a whole economy on its own, it’s a whole system on its own, it’s a whole society on its own… but it itself is contained, it’s all in a lower kind of space, and then you have like all around it is a higher kind of plateau or a higher space…

Nick: Ah, I see… yep, okay!

Mark: …so it’s already contained, there’s nowhere else to move them, they’re going to have to start a whole new slum area, but that’s also not acceptable, the government wants to fight against that. So, what do you do with these people? You’re basically removing them, but not putting them anywhere else…

Nick: Just making it worse

Mark: …they don’t have the means to build anywhere else, you’re not giving them land.

Nick: Just compounding the problem.

Mark: Exactly! So yeah, the government wants to transform Kibera, that’s great, they want to make it better, perfect, but you need to do it…

Nick: But…

Mark: …in a way that’s sustainable so you take a space…

Nick: Yep

Mark: you remove people, or you move them out for a while, but you have to give them somewhere else to live safely, and you know, comfortably, and then after that you move them into the structure and not other people from outside of Kibera into the structure.

Nick: Nope, that’s just making it worse.

Mark: This is the way that you do it right!

Nick: So, the Government they’re not doing much in regards to looking after people, they’re doing their own thing, being a bit cavalier I guess you might say. In regards to their role in the community, is there any sort of health things, or schooling that they focus upon at all?

Mark: Yep! So, the health issue actually… I’ll discuss the health issue on its own, and this again very different from what I had in Bangladesh. Is there’s actually a very big percentage of people with AIDS, or HIV at least if not AIDS with it fully there, in Kibera. So, this is another thing which I did not actually experience much in Bangladesh, which really shocked me when it came to this, because when I discussed with Katherine, that about 30-40% of her students are HIV+, not necessarily having AIDS but HIV+.

Nick: 30%?

Mark: Yeah, easily… because a lot of the parents have it, and then they don’t really treat it…

Nick: So, it’s just contracted

Mark: Yeah, exactly… it’s contracted. Not that anything’s happened to the kids, but they get it through just being born with it. 50% chance…

Nick: …and in regards to that, obviously in the western world, there are ways and means of dealing with HIV. Do they have any kind of access to deal with this?

Mark: So, there are medications that are provided, I believe partially by the government or fully, they don’t pay much for that, but the problem is the consistency.

Nick: Yep

Mark: So, there’s a massive stigma on AIDS and HIV… so, if people know that you have it you’re generally stigmatised by the society around you.

Nick: Okay

Mark: So, everyone’s very quiet and private if they know they have it. Otherwise, because of the stigma they don’t actually go research to see if they do have it, they don’t get checked properly.

Nick: Ah, I see.

Mark: So, it just keeps proliferating as time goes on, because no one knows who has what.

Nick: Yep

Mark: For those that do know they have it, they’re very private about it, they’re very quiet. They will go get their meds, if they care about themselves to do so, and not every parent is responsible enough to make sure their kids are on their meds for AIDS to not start forming. So, this is the main issue there.

Nick: As you mentioned before, Katherine, who started this charity… she started off in South Africa, and she worked her way up…

Mark: Yep, she literally travelled all the way through all those countries to get to Kenya and stop there.

Nick: What was her aim? Was there like a reason she is doing this? I mean her mission statement is to… the aim is to remove a child from poverty. Can you describe what this means to her, or to the children?

Mark: Yep, I wish she was here to speak for herself, but I’ll speak on her behalf because I know her quite well. So, with her, she literally wanted to find, and I’m sorry to use this word, but she wanted to find hell on earth.

Nick: Yep

Mark: That was her aim… 

Nick: Yeah, okay.

Mark: She wanted to find the worst that she could find, and then she felt that when it was right, she’d stop there. And her initial investment was her purely hers and her families. So, she comes from a family of affluent business people, be it her father, her mum and all the rest. So, she initially invested her own money. She’s a trained PhD in psychology.

Nick: Oh wow!

Mark: So, she’s actually a child psychologist, there’s abnormal psychology, and normal psychology and that’s what’s amazing about that, is that she also understands the psychological mind of a human being, be it a child or be it an adult… and she also has a Masters in Teaching.

Nick: Okay.

Mark: So, that made her absolutely perfect for the situation. And she had a great job and great life, everything back in Melbourne.

Nick: She’s from Australia?

Mark: Yeah, she’s from Australia… from Melbourne. But, she’s like “you know what, I’ve done it all… I’ve seen as much as what I want to see, but I really want to give back now… and my families done well, and I’m very happy with everything, I need to give back.

Nick: Yep

Mark: She told her husband. He agreed, and then they both went to South Africa and began moving up. And when she found Kenya, she stopped there, and she’s like “this is the place I have found what I feel is ‘hell on earth’ for me. I want to find the poorest child I can find, the dirtiest, the most difficult situation that they live in, the most health threatening as well, and I want to raise them with an educated mindset to get them out of this, and then hopefully get their parents out of this, cause usually this causes a chain reaction.

Nick: yeah okay.

Mark: When you build the child up, they will eventually help out the family, so that’s why Kibera.

Nick: Yeah, okay. And how did she manage to start a school? That was it, or did she have to do a proper registration, that kind of thing?

Mark: Yep so… that’s a very good question, actually a very interesting question… I’ll tell you now. Basically, she did start a school… she just went in with her Australian kind of teaching mindset, and her curriculum from Australia, which was really cool, not ever seen before there… very different. A lot more on teaching through play, and teaching through interaction, and kinetic interaction.

Nick: Okay, practical kind of thing

Mark: Exactly… than just sitting in front of a classroom and teachers, and you zoning out as a child after you know, 10 seconds or 20 seconds while being taught on a blackboard. She has that element too, but it’s a very minor element. Hers was very different, so she had to actually train all these teachers to train in a different way. So, her requirements… so she came in, just to get back to your question… she came in, she found a home, and she rented it with a space, and she began from there. So, the school is always in a concrete type of structure, it’s never in a tin.

Nick: So, they’re coming to her home

Mark: yeah… they came into her home. No, not her home sorry… she always goes to Kibera itself, but she rented…

Nick: Ahhh, a home in the scho… right, gotcha

Mark: that upper… going back to that upper scale area, it’s in Olympic area in Kibera. It’s called Olympic if anybody wants to visit, that’s where you go. And that area of the Olympic area of Kibera is on the outskirts, it’s not so much deep into the actual slum itself, it’s on the outskirts, which you can access more easily, and that part has more proper construction, like it has buildings made of concrete etcetera. So, she took a building with a whole space around, the building had you know a toilet and kitchen, and a bunch of rooms which became the first class rooms.

Nick: Okay

Mark: And then she went from there, rented it herself… began building it up on her own for the first year, went back home, then through her different church affiliates and organisations, she began raising money, and has been consistently been raising money since then.

Nick: Okay!

Mark: She usually has one big money raising even every April I think… something to do with horse racing or whatever the case is… that’s where she gets a lot of the bulk of the money for the whole year.

Nick: Oh wow, okay

Mark: To make sure she can meet all of her budget requirements.

Nick: Is there specific things she puts the money towards, is it towards property, is it like rent and so forth, or is it towards health, or paying the teachers… anything specific?

Mark: Yep, I’ll discuss where the money goes in a bit… before we get into that topic, I want to discuss something more about charities, or about organisations in general, humanitarian organisations in general, and how important it is to know where your money is going…

Nick: Of course, yes!

Mark: …with these types of places. A lot of the big ones, I’m not going to mention names, because I don’t want to be on record with that, but a lot of the big ones have massive administrative fees. A lot of the money that you believe you’re giving to these companies via through telephone marketing, or if you’re doing it online, or if you put it in a little box somewhere in a mall… it ends up going to a lot of the rent of the structures that they need, and the offices that they need, and the staff that they need to run the organisation, which… which runs in the other country yes, but like 65-70%  will go into just running in the home country that it’s from.

Nick: Yep

Mark: Unlike when you give money to a charity like this, or like Choice 2 Change for example…

Nick: …it’s more direct

Mark: …it’s a lot more direct,

Nick: Yep

Mark: So, whenever we talk about humanitarian organisations ourselves, and the ones like us that work in them, our aim is to have 85% into the actual direct line if you wish, and 15% to run.

Nick: Yep

Mark: Now, going back to your question… How do you go with direct? Direct is school uniforms every year.

Nick: Yep

Mark: Direct is a lunch program every single day for the children, so they get a proper lunch.

Nick: Okay cool

Mark: Which is not easy to do, 120 kids every single day. You can only imagine the logistics of that, the cooking staff required, and the money to be spent on all the products.

Nick: Yep, mmm

Mark: …or on all the materials to make for the food. That also goes of course to schooling, which is to stationary, to books. It goes to backpacks; it goes to shoes… a lot of these kids have no shoes when they come to Katherine. It also goes to a bank of medical care, so if anything happens to a child, we need to have a bank of money just in case.

Nick: yep, yep, yep

Mark: Sometimes they get hit by buses, all kinds of things happen on the main roads.

Nick: Wow.

Mark: Or they get cut, or they get hurt.

Nick: Yep

Mark: Of course, then there’s the whole entire element in this particular case, the HIV… where Katherine has to take care of the testing, where she has to… I think in Kenya it’s actually now free. Most of the medication is free… that’s one thing the Government has actually done quite well there…

Nick: Yeah, okay

Mark: Because a lot of people have it… so there’s a lot of investment from the Government in that, but there’s still some small fees you have to pay here and there to make the whole thing work for you, which she also pays for as well.

Nick: Mmmm.

Mark: And then of course, some very, very impoverished families will get a bit of aid from Katherine too… we don’t usually give money in these charities directly, because we don’t know if that money can go to alcohol, or drug abuse or anything else. We tend to give it through food, bags of rice or beans, whatever the case… whatever the local food is. Or clothing, to the parents as well.

Nick: yeah okay

Mark: So, this is really where the money goes. Of course, you have the teacher’s salaries, you have the rent of the school because you can’t buy property there, and you have school trips as well… usually once a year.

Nick: Ah, okay!

Mark: Sometimes we try to do it twice a year, like once every semester, but they can’t always afford it, so school trips is another big thing… like a live safari or different types of things that they…

Nick: Ok, I was about to ask…

Mark: Yeah, outside of classroom teaching basically… but that’s the least one that they do because it is quite an expense to move all these kids in a bus and back… there’s also a safety element too, and you have to have of course… you know, it’s a logistical thing, it’s not that easy.

Nick: Yeah, of course, yeah yeah!!

Mark: So that’s where all the money goes…

Nick: We decided last minute that we’re going to leave it there for this episode… to give you a chance to contemplate what’s been discussed so far. It’s quite a difficult topic to listen to considering the health issues and the living conditions of these people, especially what the children have to live with. We did however give you a small positive taste of what the organisation are doing in regards to the school itself, but next episode we’ll discuss more about this in terms of the teachers, what the curriculum involves, and also about the children. We look forward to having you back for part two of this heartfelt story from Kenya, but in the meantime… Merry Christmas, and seeing as though it’s the 30th of December, we’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year, and also a Happy New Decade. We’ll see you again soon.

Outro:

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