Awasi is an outskirts town located 40km from Kisumu city. Natives typically live a rural life. As such, challenges abound. Poverty is the bane of Awasi. “We struggle to make money,” says Gabriel Ngeso, a resident. “The economy is not as vibrant down here as it is in the city.” Well, Awasi suffers the same poverty as many remote villages in Kenya. But unlike most places, the area bears a heavy HIV & AIDS toll. “The disease has claimed so many lives since two decades ago,” Ngeso says. The virus claimed young adults; the drivers of the economy. This sapped away the area’s economic engine. “The disease left orphans in its wake. I myself took in four children left behind by my elder brother,” Ngeso says. These unique challenges informed the creation of Pamoja Child Foundation (PCF), a non-governmental that operates in the larger Awasi location, expanding into Nyang’oma, in Kisumu County. “We base our operations on child welfare,” says Samuel Otieno, the Operations and Projects Manager at PCF. The organisation’s signature program involves individual student sponsorships. “If you want to see a child through school you can sign up as their sponsor. You will henceforth be remitting funds that will be used to educate them,” Samuel explains.
Two of the orphans Ngeso took in have benefitted from the sponsorship program. Currently PCF has 24 sponsored students in the system. “They were actually many but we are facing out the programme because of donor fatigue,” Samuel says. As a result, the organisation ceased recruitment of children for sponsorship and has now trained its eyes on the wider issues of poverty which arrests families’ ability to look after their children. “Our approach is now broader: so that we help families secure income generating activities. This way we empower them economically and they are able to care for their children,” Samuel says. The more intrinsic problems PCF wants to mitigate are early pregnancies and high school dropout rate. Their work is cut out for them. Donor fatigue means that Samuel and his team have had to go back to the drawing board to strategise on fundraising. It was therefore a pleasant surprise for Samuel and one colleague who were invited for a training on Mobilising Support, organised by Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF), working in conjunction with Change the Game Academy. “Two of us from PCF attended the training – I and Joan Omolo,” Samuel says. “The training opened our eyes to many opportunities that we just ignore or simply do nothing about.” Samuel and Joan attended the training for six months: from October 2015 to March 2016. Janet Mawiyoo, the Executive Director at KCDF says that the NGO fraternity in Kenya will have to look beyond donor funds to continue delivering services to their intended communities. “Mobilising Support was meant to influence the thinking by organisations that funds can only come from abroad. And Kenya having become a middle income nation we cannot seat on our laurels and assume that it is work as usual. Donors have begun pulling away. Looking for alternative resource mobilisation strategies is therefore imperative,” she says. Post training PCF has been utilising locally available avenues to get things going. “For instance, we have managed to get Bamburi Cement, to donate 200 bags of cement, to Nyalenda Girls Secondary School,” Samuel says. According to Samuel, proper facilities at the school, which is only five years old, would ensure that students’ needs are met, and they can stay in school. Joyce Otieno, the school’s principal, commends the help PCF has offered to the school, “Because those efforts have contributed to a higher school retention rate.”
The school, says Joyce, has so far lost eight girls to early pregnancy. Samuel is a Board member at the school. Through PCF, he has organised seminars for the students and brought in renowned speakers from around the country to impart knowledge and wisdom for the teenagers as they pursue education. “There are many other ways people can give for PCF work. We are now approaching corporates; we are asking community members to contribute; and we are seeking partnerships with other like-minded organisations,” Samuel says. Just recently PCF got 31 computers, which they will be distributing to 31 primary schools in Nyalenda. “We don’t want to turn down any form of help for our work. It is through mobilisation efforts that such can be achieved,” Samuel says.