Dorian and Maura Ferdinando have recently come back from a very encouraging visit with Bill and Lesley Anderson to the Bala Children’s Centre in February. Bill and Lesley have been sponsoring Mildred Auma for a number of years.

The children all looked healthy and happy. Bill and Lesley had brought clothes and shoes out with them which were given to those in most need. Nearly all the children (and teachers and guards) received at least one pair of pants! We were also able to help two children (one being Mildred) who were unable to take up their places at secondary school because of a lack of funds. We learnt that, when children pass the national exam in their last year of primary school, they are allocated a school. All secondary schools charge fees which have to be paid at the beginning of the school year. Bala also charge fees – at about half the rate of other schools – with the vital difference that, if a family cannot pay, the pupil is not made to leave.

Ezra Ouma Omollo, a student at Nairobi University studying English, gave a presentation on behalf of the Leavers’ Assocation. He arrived at the Centre about 16 years ago as a small boy who had been orphaned and was barefoot in ragged clothes. We were all very moved – he was so grateful that he had been given an excellent education, care and a fresh start in life. We also met others of the Alumni who had gathered together to see how they could support each other through uni and college – it is a huge struggle for them to find money for rent, food etc. but they support one another and also want to give back to BMCC as and when they are able.

We learnt from a Swedish Red Cross worker in Homa Bay that Homa Bay County has the highest percentage of HIV in the country – 26{c3f4913e45124c3efe0cb4973bb93fda4d1b4e10f6fefa073b6d8da2282ee2f5} of the population are HIV Positive; it is also at the top of the table for teenage pregnancies. These are some of the issues that BMCC tackles by educating the children and keeping them safe.

We were thrilled to learn that there are now 105 goats with families in the community – they have multiplied from the 11 that money was originally given for. The milk has really helped the children’s health and given an income from the surplus which is sold.

We saw a man from the Electricity Board up a pole with loads of cable right outside the Primary School. Mains electricity is now available – but there is a cost to connect.

Income-Producing Projects:

The 11 ½ acre farm is now making a significant contribution to the finances of the Centre and last year averaged £880 a month. This year that figure is expected to double. There will be eight cows in milk by the end of this year with more heifers of different ages coming on which will join the herd in due course.

Meanwhile the bull calves are being fattened and three will be sold this year. There are two poly greenhouses and we are looking into the possibility of more projects on the land such as a fish farm.

There is now a functioning water borehole with an electric pump and water tank at the secondary school site. A water purifier needs to be installed before it is fit for drinking by humans. However, we are looking into the possibility of bottling the water and selling it which would be a big boost to the funds needed for the Centre. Wonderfully, Bill Anderson has considerable expertise and experience of bottling plants and is now advising on how to take this project further.

As ever we want to give a huge thank you to all our supporters who make all this possible. Your generosity
is amazing and it is changing the lives of more and more children.

Dorian and Maura Ferdinando