Jun 13

Featured Student: Blaise Ochieng

A few years ago, we reached out to the Tumaini Children’s Project (TCP) community to seek support for one of our boys, Blaise Ochieng. Blaise was showing tremendous intellectual capacity and so we transferred him to a more competitive primary school. We also encouraged him to study hard to achieve the highest mark possible in his primary school exit exam, promising to send him to one of the best high schools in Nairobi, Kenya. Blaise delivered on his exams and has been attending Kanga Boy High School.

TCP’s support has markedly changed Blaise’s path. Without TCP, Blaise would be living on the street, trying to find enough to eat and survive another day. Best case scenario, he would find menial work, carrying huge jugs of water for hotels, selling eggs or trinkets or hustling at the local bus depot. He might scrounge up enough money to buy a boda boda (a bicycle taxi) but quite frankly, even buying a used one speed old bike is out of the reach of most orphans. Worst case scenario, he would have gotten involved with street boys, spending his time sniffing glue and hustling tourists for food and money. Every day, he would face the threat of being beating, robbed or assaulted.

Instead, Blaise enjoys Physics and Maths and aspires to be an engineer. With continued support, this intelligent and good kid spends his time studying and playing soccer instead of hustling in the streets.

Recognizing Blaise’s potential and seeing his commitment to his education, we are seeking a sponsor to provide financial but also emotional support. Letters, photos, and videos received from a sponsor communicate a belief in the child’s ability to pull themselves out of a cycle of poverty. They let the child know someone out there believes in them, in their future and their dreams.

Please help us find a sponsor for Blaise. If you are interested or if you know someone who might be, please contact us.

Sponsor Blaise

Sponsor A Child

Mar 12

Dearest Tumaini Donors

Dearest Tumaini donors,

I am writing to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the thoughts and well-wishes you have sent to our sponsored children, as well as your generous donations over the year. Having recently returned from Kenya, I want to provide you with updates on the children as well as share with you details on upcoming initiatives.

The Tumaini Children’s Project currently supports 44 children in primary boarding school and one in high school. They are all doing very well. They have all grown over the year and are healthy and vibrant. They have become much more expressive with enough energy and curiosity to spare!

Being fully aware of their sponsorship by the Tumaini Project, they expressed to me many times how grateful they are to their sponsors for helping them stay in school by paying their boarding fees, as well as providing them food, uniforms, books, and medical care. Many expressed their desire to do well in school as a way to show their sponsors how much their support means to them. They also desperately want to continue on to high school.

One of our boys, Blaise Ochieng, was consistently coming first in his sixth grade class. Recognizing his intellectual capacity, we transferred him from St-Francis to a more competitive school. Now in his seventh grade, he is still coming second in his class and will be writing his exit exams from primary school next year. In Kenya, the mark on your primary school exit exam determines which high school you can be admitted to. I have encouraged him to study hard to achieve the highest mark possible. If Tumaini can raise the funds, I’ve informed him we would try to send him to one of the best high schools in Kenya, which are in Nairobi. Recognizing that attending a high ranking high school is more than he could have ever imagine for himself, he cried when I gave him this news. We not only have the opportunity to give Blaise the hope that comes with knowing someone out there believes in him, but also power in knowing that realizing his dreams for the future is possible.

One of our young girls, Mary Claire Auma, attends Asumbi Girl’s School, a primary school about 2.5 hours from Kisumu (see photo – left below). She is in grade six now and doing very well (see photo – right) . She has asked me if she could join her school’s Girl Scouts. As she would need a uniform, and we’ve not budgeted for this this year, I’m reaching out to our donors. If anyone would like to sponsor her Girl Scouts uniform, I know she would be thrilled!!

I should also note, out of our 42 students enrolled at St. Francis Primary School, most are in need of new school uniforms. We are not in position to fund these with this year’s budget and so again, I turn to you. If anyone would like to sponsor our children’s school uniform, we would greatly appreciate it.

Mary Claire’s sister, Dorothy, is our first child to graduate from primary to high school (see photo – left). We have placed her at Asumbi Girls High School, an excellent school, so she could be near her little sister. The school grounds are beautiful (see photo – right above) and she looks great in her new uniform! As she was excited and nervous to be starting there, I told her many times how proud we all are of her for doing so well on her primary school exit exam and being accepted into such a great high school!

We are currently seeking to bring three more children into the Tumaini group of sponsored children. Two of them, Josephat, 14 years old, and Jackeline Akinyi, 15 years old, are children previously supported by Tumaini. Though we had placed them in school, they were removed and sent back to their villages because of their HIV+ status. Thankfully, we have located them and are going to place them in the same school as Blaise. Having spoken to the school administration, I have been assured that there will be no discrimination based on their status and nurses will be available to administer their medication.

Finally, I am thrilled to announce our 2012 summer project. The Tumaini Children’s Project is running the first EVER (in all of Kenya!) Leadership Camp for Orphan and At-Risk Youth!! It will be a one-week sleep away camp for 50 children ages 10-15 years old held in Kisumu, Kenya. Though some of our sponsored children will be attending, we are also taking referrals from local teachers and community workers who know of an orphan child (especially girls) who might benefit from the camp.

Most of these children have spent their entire lives being told that as HIV+ orphans, they are a burden and will amount to nothing. Many of them have missed critical learning normally imparted by parents regarding healthy bodies, menstruation/puberty, safe relationships, and their rights. Most have never been encouraged or given the confidence to seek success. We hope to change all of this through our camp!

With the help of Kenyan counsellors and guest speakers, we will focus on leadership, self-esteem, goal setting, healthy bodies and relationships, and self-defence and rights. This will be a fantastic and motivating experience for these children, and I know it will positively affect all of their lives. By the end of week, I want the children (especially the girls) to know if they believe in themselves, THEY CAN ACHIEVE!

As you know, these children are either orphans or have a single parent or extended family member unable to care for them. Without Tumaini’s help, these children would be idling in their home villages, begging, sniffing glue, or being exploited. Together, we have given them the best gift possible: a chance to escape poverty!

Thank you for making the Tumaini Children’s Project possible. Thank you for supporting these children and giving them a chance at a better future. Of all the disasters in the world and the battles that are lost, please think of our 45 children and of those coming to our Summer Camp and know that theirs are the battles you help win.

All my love,
Julie Hakim

Child Peeking
Jul 29

Asante sana sana!

I cannot believe that our time here in Kisumu and Asembo Bay is almost done; it has gone by so fast. Looking back, I realize that I have leant a lot and grown as a person. Amongst other things, I will take with me the pure joy seen in the children’s eyes, the sense of community, the kindness and the hospitality of the Kenyan people. I realize that what they have given me far surpasses what I can ever give in return; though this saddens me deeply, I am eternally grateful. Warm thanks to everyone who helped us with our projects,the list is endless. However, it would have been impossible without Steve and Emily in Kisumu and Bertha and family in Asembo Bay. I offer my sincere thanks and would love to see you again. I never imagined that I would dread the day when I would have to return home, I simply love the place! I guess what they say is true, once you come to Africa, you will surely return. Asante sana sana!


Asembo Bay Shoreline
Jul 29

Asembo Bay Has Put Itself On The Map

Asembo Bay. It’s in Kenya, somewhere along Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. It’s not on any maps of Africa, and almost no maps of Kenya bother to identify it. Not even Google Maps, one of man’s greatest atlases, can tell you where it is:it just doesn’t find it within its vast database.
It’s safe to say Asembo Bay is remote. And up until now, you probably did not know that this place existed, nor how its people lived. Sure life is different here; most of the village has no electricity or running water, women and girls carry water and goods atop their heads, and men and boys herd cattle and sheep through the village’s streets.

Yet, these people are not that different from you and me. They too, just like us, have the desire to discover new things; acquire new knowledge and develop new friendships.

On the one hand we hope that the computer lessons we will have taught here will help the orphans in Asembo Bay be better prepared for their professional careers and help them become more employable, even though if for some these careers will start too soon. On the other hand, in teaching the widows of Asembo Bay computer classes, we hope that we will have been able to add an extra tool to the shed of these extraordinarily resourceful women. For we know that during our time here in Kenya, we will have learned countless lessons in humanity from them. The warmth of Kenyan strangers’ smiles who wish only to welcome us to their land, and their confidence in the fact that strange people (like us) fundamentally deserve appreciation rather than apprehension are definitely something for us Westerners to ponder upon.

In the end, we will have developed lasting friendships in Kenya and in Asembo Bay. And on top of all the knowledge which has become available to the people of Asembo Bay thanks to the computers and the internet which we (TCP) have provided here in the past few years, in teaching these people to use these tools, we will have also have given them the power to connect with each other. In being able to check up on old friends, maintain relationships, and develop and nurture new found friendships, Asembo Bay is truly connected to the rest of the world. Think about it, this is one little village in the middle of Africa, which just a few years ago (or just a few minutes for most of us) we did not even know existed. Now, its people are able to learn about Jupiter’s different moons, the cause of various diseases, and events happening around the world at a moment’s notice. And in turn, through email and social media, we are able to know everything that goes on in this little village.
I think we can safely say Asembo Bay has put itself on the map.


Une histoire extraordinaire

Une histoire extraordinaire.
Nous nous apercevons rapidement que lorsque nous foulons de nos pieds la terre rougeâtre du Kenya, nous tombons dans un univers parallèle au nôtre. Au premier coup d’oeil, nos regards s’arrêtent sur tout ce qui bouge, sur ce spectacle hétéroclite, sur ce désordre quasi organisé. Nous restons la bouche grande ouverte, le regard médusé par ce changement si drastique. Pourtant, nous attendons toujours ce fameux choc culturel, vous savez celui que tout le monde parle quand vous leur racontez que vous aller en Afrique. Nous l’attendons toujours. J’ai la vive sensation que ce choc culturel explosera dans notre figure lorsque nous retournerons au Canada…
Explosion d’intenses sensations,
Comme un orphelin te souriant de telle façon,
Que tu restes là, immobile pour aucune raison,
A tenter de te rééquilibrer après ce trop plein d’émotions.

Explosion d’intenses sensations,
Comme ce regard des gens d’ici remplis d’espoir,
Que ces messages porteurs d’espoir viennent réécrire ta propre histoire.
Ainsi, ces petites leçons de vie, seront à jamais gravés dans ta mémoire.

Explosion d’intenses sensations,
Comme ton regard posé sur ces gens si courageux,
Fabriquant des montagnes avec bien peu,
Ils resplendissent, te rendant toi, petit blanc, bien heureux.

Explosion d’intenses sensations,
Comme ce regard illuminé de milliers d’étincelles de ces jeunes Africains,
Ressuscitant du même coup ton côté intrinsèquement humain.
Jeunes Africains, jeunes Africains tendez votre main d’humain à nous, Nord-américains.

Explosion d’intenses sensations,
Je partirai du Kenya le coeur remplis de sourires,
Sur mon visage se dessinera un long soupir,
De ne pas avoir été voir plutôt ce pays vivre.


Almost Time To Say Goodbye

Its almost time to say goodbye to the people of Kenya, just thinking about it makes me sad. I didnt except to get so attach so fast to the people, the lifestyle, and especially the food. My experience in Kisumu was incredible due to the great welcoming of the Novelty Guest House employees and the opened arms of the people of this town. Since the beginning of our feasibility work, I was surprise by the support of the local NGO’s and the Kenyans regarding our project. Each and one of them helped us achieving our own goals in a way or another. We met so many wonderful people (here are a few of them), from Wangu of Wangu Kanja Foundation, to Charles of UNICEF, to Harrison of IJUMA Foundation, to Georges of Omega Foundation, to Gabriel of SULWE and to the incredible story of Pal-omega community group. They helped us going further with our work but teach us great life lessons that we will remember as well. Also, a huge thanks to the Novelty Guest House, my second home like I call it now. All the employees made our experience even better by there warm welcome and there hearty kindness. Furthermore, what can I say about the local food? I really eaten very very well in Kenya. Tilapia, suma wiki, chapati and ugali were delicious almost daily . I even had the chance to learn how to bake some Chapatis!!! So far, Kisumu has been so great to me, but I’m certain that Asembo Bay will be the same.


Asembo Bay Mountains
Jul 20

C’est incroyable, c’est beau, un soupcon de magie dans l’air

Le Kenya te fait reflechir sur beaucoup de choses. Le sourire d’orphelins te perturbent et vient te hanter lorsque tu dors. Tu te demandes comment ces orphelins sans mere ni pere peuvent etre aussi heureux, mais pourtant ils le sont. Tu fais egalement des rencontres incroyables avec des gens incroyables qui mettent sur pied des centres communautaires et qui ne veulent que le bien pour leur peuple. Tu regardes les Kenyeens et lrd Kenyennes et ils te rendent le regard par un immense sourire en te traitant bien gentillement de muzungu (blanc ou europeen). Tu realise que le cote humain est mis en avant-scene ici et que le cote buisness ne veut pas dire grand chose. Tu realises que les gens en general ont beaucoup plus a apprendre des Kenyeens qu’eux ont apprendre de nous. Tu realises qu il y a des ongs locales qui levent des montagnes, nivellent des collines, changent la trajectoire des fleuves et le monde sont instruits, eduques et les nouvelles ne parlent que d’education, que de developpement humain que d’amener le Kenya a un autre niveau. Tu te sens, toi petit muzungu, tout petit.

J’ai eu la chance de rencontrer des gens d’Amnistie International et d’aller dans les bidonvilles a Nairobi. Jai eu la chance de parler avec une bonne quinzaine d’ONGs dont un representant d’ Unicef egalement. Le “people approach” est essentiel, ultimement important. Cette aventure vient reconforter mes ideaux, rassurer mes ideaux, me fait rever de nouveau. C’est incroyable, c’est beau, un soupcon de magie dans l’air.

Cette magie se transporte avec la brise du Lac Victoria, elle vient rafraichir tes valeurs les plus profondement humaines, les plus profondement naturelles. Le lac Victoria se fait contempler par ces collines qui t’observent de haut tout en posant un regard hyper reconfortant sur ce que tu es en tant que petit muzungu, petit blanc dans ce pays de geants kenyeens. Tu ecoutes, tu ecoutes toujours, tu regardes, tu observes, tu te fascines. Tu ne parles pas beaucoup, car cela ne sert a rien de parler quand ce peuple a tant a t’apprendre. Ils ne te font pas la lecon, ils reinventent tes idees par leur sourire, leur gentillesse, leur approche immensement humaine, intrinsiquement humaine, naturellement humaine. Tu realises que c est cette approche qui est la bonne que l’ approche tres mecanique occidentale est bonne pour developper un pays, mais elle n’est pas tres bonne pour developper une conscience.


Asembo Bay Resource Centre
Jul 6

One of the Most Amazing Days of My Life

Just had one of the most amazing days of my life. It started bright and early on a stuffy and bumpy matatu ride to Asembo Bay. Still, the 25 people sharing the transport couldn’t deter me from being mesmerized by the beauty of the scenery around; gorgeous mountains and rock formations. Kenya amazes me every single day. After a few hours, we are finally dropped off at the junction to the village, where we catch a windy motorbike ride to the computer center. My first impression of Asembo Bay is a low-key, small village, filled with friendly faces. A few curious kids follow us mzungus to Lake Victoria and are full of joy when I offer them my hand to hold. What wonderful smiles I get in return! It is then finally time to meet with the children present for the feeding day. At first they are shy and merely stare at us in wonderment, with little interaction. But how things can change in a short window of time! For over 2 hours, we serve rice and beans to over 200 kids. The “thank you” we get in return is indescribable with words, truly a moment to be lived! Singing and dancing, jumping around, all the shyness we saw previously has vanished. At one point, I think I have about 10 kids on each arm! I only speak a few words of Kiswahili and Luo but that doesn’t seem to really matter when you sing with them. These children are all smiles and laughter. The widows also warmly welcome us and offer their thanks and blessings. True Kenyan hospitality! I have never in my life felt sure gratitude when feeling that these emotions should be in reverse. I am overwhelmed by the moment and the tears of joy that I have been fighting off all day can no longer be retained. Having been able to be a part of this day truly makes me feel lucky. My sincere thanks to the Asembo Bay community, to the children and widows and to the Asembo Bay Women for Development group.


Kenya Kids Field
Jul 6

One Week In

Where to begin?! Its already been 1 week that we arrived in Kisumu. Last Sunday, we meet with St-Francis kids, we had an awesome day playing around the field football, freeze-be and skipping ropes! They also sang for us and still had energy after a full day! We were exhausted!! hehe Yesterday, it was feeding day in Asembo Bay. Marie-France and I arrived early in the morning to join the guys to help with the preparation. We meet around 200 orphans who were shy at first but quickly became comfortable. After we feed them, they all came to thanks us by holding our hands and dancing with us. It was one of the most beautiful moment of the trip so far. There big smiles were full of joy!!! Also to end the day, we met with the Widows of Asembo Bay who sang for us which got us all emotional.


Aug 11

Exhibit Up In Ottawa!

Habari everyone!

For the first time in a while, the photos from this project are being exhibited in Ottawa. They went up recently at The Green Door Restaurant and will be on display until Saturday, August 21. So far, response has been quite positive so I’d like to encourage you to go check it out and have some yummy food!

The photos cover the walls of the restaurant but here’s a quick shot of one of the walls.

And some more precise informations: PIECES OF INNOCENCE
Une innocence en morceaux
Photographs by Kenyan HIV orphans / Photographie par des orphelins kényans affectés par le VIH

Presented by the Tumaini Children’s Project / présenté par le Tumaini Children’s Project

du 25 juillet au 21 août 2010 | July 25 – August 21, 2010
The Green Door Restaurant
198, rue Main Street Ottawa (Ontario) K1S 1C6
ouvert du mardi au dimanche 11h à 21h | open Tuesday to Sunday 11 am – 9 pm

Also, to stay on top of what the Tumaini Children’s Project has been doing this summer, be sure to follow @TumainiKids on Twitter!

Thanks all of you for your support!