How it Started...
In June 2017 we linked with Tushinde Children’s Trust, a Kenyan based charity run from England that has been providing support for families in Mathare slums of Nairobi for almost ten years. Megan Wright set-up Tushinde when she was a nurse working in Nairobi, noticing just how difficult it was for mums keep their children safe whilst they were at work earning enough money to keep them fed and housed.
In Mathare slums babies and toddlers were being left alone or with older siblings who were not at school, or maybe with informal carers sometimes with 30 babies to one exhausted carer in one tiny shack. The children were therefore malnourished, withdrawn and often burnt or injured despite all efforts to care for them. Before doing anything we needed to know what impact having a day care had on the children’s health. We analysed one year of data from children attending another local day care programme and this provided the proof we needed to start Fi Day Care plus a feeding programme.
In November 2017 we started in a small dark empty shack with nothing but a few plastic chairs and two bunks beds for babies to lie on. The floor was dirt and the children still and silent. Babies were often dropped off wearing a paper bag as a nappy the mother had nothing else. I stood in this dark empty room and saw a small boy was creating his own entertainment by running a piece of plastic across the wall making car noise.
Firstly we doubled the size of the day care by renting the shack next door and putting down a lino floor. Next we tripled the number of carers so that there was no more than 10 children per carer. Then we commissioned other women setting up their own business to provide two meals a day, plus help with feeding. The carers are paid slightly more than if they were undertaking domestic chores work and are trained in first aid. Mums pay a small amount for the day care, it is not free, however, if they have not been picked up for work that day they are not expected to pay. Nobody abuses this process as it is a vast but tight knit community and we do not wish to contribute to debt.
Our visit in June 2018 showed an amazing transformation in the children and the building. It’s noisy, entertaining and educating. There is a water bucket outside for hand washing before any food is eaten, there are pictures and prompts on the wall and plenty of cuddles for all.
Fi Day Care is the Start...thank you.
Fi Day Care now supports up to 30 families; providing two meals a day and a safe space for babies and pre-school children, thus allowing their parents (usually very young single mothers) to work so they can provide for their families. The mums work is not stable and they stand on the side of the road waiting to be picked up for work to earn approximately £1.20 per day for various domestic chores. They have no other way of earning a living. They wish for their child’s life to be different and are willing to make that happen.