Clean Water for All

We pull up to a muddy ally, and are greeted by Kevin, a shy boy who is proudly wearing one of his best outfits, his shoes a gleaming white against the brown mud. Despite him being quiet, he exudes a sweetness, an inner self assurance, something I especially notice a few minutes later when we are surrounded by the street boys. Kevin leads us into the gates of the WTF drop in center, a place where street boys from the neighboring slum come to hang out for a few hours a day. The center is specifically only open for a few hours each day, so that the boys don’t heavily depend on the the sparse services provided: counseling, prayer, and a cup of porridge. We see the boys slowly start to arrive. The contrast between their appearance, and that of Kevin, is stark. While Kevin is wearing clean clothing and looks healthy, many of the boys have glazed eyes, are in tattered and torn clothing, with mismatching shoes and some of them no shoes at all. They gather in a circle around Chris, who runs the center. He is a social worker on a 1-year contract.

The starting prayer begins, and all the boys close their eyes, the first time I see some sort of relief on their faces. While all of them are over 12 years old, in this moment, they look like the children they truly are: young, vulnerable, innocent. Their lives have been rough, the streets are unforgiving. Chris later tells me that many of them sniff glue, a quick and cheap way to get high, and forget their troubles. But here, in the moment of prayer, they are relaxed. They are safe from the streets, a moment in their day when they feel that someone cares about their wellbeing.

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In a couple of hours, the center will close for the day. They do this because the ultimate goal is to encourage each boy to move into the Boys Ranch. Nestled in the outskirts of Nakuru, about 30 minutes from the drop in center, the Boys ranch is a haven for these street boys who are looking for a second chance. These boys often leave their homes and end up on the streets out of desperation – they come from a background of extreme poverty. There is usually not enough food on the table, or enough money to send them to school. Fueled by depression, their parents often turn to alcohol abuse, drug use, or prostitution, creating unstable, often violent environments. After living on the streets for some time, the boys are at risk of falling into gang activity, drug use, and trafficking. But in order to come to the Boys Ranch, they must take the initiative. They must want to change, they must realize their potential. The drop in center helps them do this, through the counseling offered, and also through visits by former street boys such as Kevin, who come to give first hand accounts of life on the ranch.

The Boys Ranch was created by WTF, or Welcome to the Family, a children’s organization run by a Catholic ministry. The organization is composed of three crucial centers: the drop in center for boys, which is the first point of contact, after which they decide, on their own will, to enter the rehabilitation ranch for boys. In addition, the organization has a girl’s rescue center for girls who have been sexually abused, where the girls receive psychological support, safe shelter, and even legal counseling, while their cases are taken to court. The importance of the center to the community is clearly visible when you take into account that the there are no other social services in place to address these issues. The protocol in fact is, when a child is seen living in the streets or when a case of abuse is brought to the attention of authorities, the child is placed in a private center such as Welcome to the Family’s. The center receives no economical support from the government, so they are left constantly asking for donations and relying on the goodwill of the community. Eventually, the children are rehabilitated, a process that can take from 1-3 years, and returned to their families or extended family members in their community. What we love about this home is that they make all efforts to keep families together, and actively work with parents on solving their issues and creating more stable home environments.

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The work this center is doing, in providing these children a second shot at life, is critical to disrupting the cycle of extreme poverty that is often the root of the problem. And it’s not easy – it involves supporting these children in more ways than providing shelter. It includes providing psychological support for therapy and rehabilitation, and this means hiring qualified caretakers who are committed to seeing the children through their healing process – they do not want to hire someone who is simply looking for a job, any job. To get the kind of long term commitment these children need, you need to offer employees job security and compensation that is commensurate with their expertise and the incredible support that they can provide the children.

Our Water Bottling Purification Project will help the home do just that – generate enough income so that WTF can pay their staff the salaries they deserve, so the children can get the support and care that they need. Even better, is the way in which the project will impact the surrounding community. When you live in a time and place where 1 Liter of clean water is more expensive than 1 liter of milk, you can understand how this commodification of clean water, a basic human right, is creating challenges for the community. Our project will sell clean water to the community at a much more affordable price – 30 Ksh per Liter as opposed to the average of 50 Ksh (70Ksh in some regions!). In a country where 46% of the population live below the poverty line (source: UNICEF), those extra 20 cents in savings can go a long way.

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What happens when people don’t drink clean water? Well, it depends on just how dirty the water source is. In our case, the borehole at the WTF center has extremely high levels of fluoride. This can cause fluorosis, which mottles teeth and causes them to have a stained appearance, but more seriously, it causes calcification of the bones after long term exposure. Children are especially vulnerable to this effect, and when they drink highly fluoridated water, they develop weak bones during their critical growth period (source: WHO).

The way to remove fluoride from water is by running it through a reverse osmosis treatment plant. The plant itself is rather large, and our supplier, Davis and Shirtliff, are known in the industry for providing high quality equipment. With the right maintenance, the plant can last indefinitely, only requiring the filtration membranes to be changed out every few years, a relatively low cost upkeep.

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So, lets break down the multiple levels of impact this project will have:
1. Generate income for Welcome to the Family through the sale of clean water to the local community. The income will be used to hire and retain highly qualified, long term staff at the multiple WTF centers.
2. Provide the surrounding community with clean water access at an affordable, yet competitive price.
3. Lastly, and most importantly, provide vulnerable children with the psychological support and nurturing environment they need to rebuild their lives, and thrive.

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To donate and be a part of this project, please visit our project page. Every contribution helps, and the only way we get this project going is with your support. As a donor, you’ll receive updates on the project progress, exclusive videos, and photos. By donating to this project, you are creating real, tangible, measurable change. This is not a one-time handout, this is a sustainable project that is empowering children to rebuild their lives, and providing #cleanwaterforall

Jacqueline Herrera
Co-founder and Director
Kitechild

12 Steps for Gender Equality

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Photo: Solo Imaji/Barcroft Media: A human rights activist in Indonesia on International Women’s Day

 

The Guardian recently released a list of 12 steps we can take to achieve gender equality. One of the first things we can do is include women and girls in the discussion of policy-making. Other steps to take is to make education gender-sensitive and to encourage girls in technology and the sciences. Read the rest of the steps: goo.gl/7prlFJ

Maintaining the Spirit of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was this past Tuesday, but one day is not nearly enough to honor the achievements of women around the globe. The IWD is not just a time to celebrate all that women have done, but to talk about the work that still remains for the world to reach gender equality.

Honoree Malala Yousafzai attends the 23rd Annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards hosted by Glamour Magazine at Carnegie Hall on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Malala Yousafzai at the Annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards on Nov. 11, 2013. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

One major component of achieving equality will be securing education rights for girls. 31 million girls should be in primary school and 32 million girls should be in secondary school, but are kept from receiving their education, according to the UN. But, more and more people are standing up for the right to an education. Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for boldly going to school. She has since gone on to speak up for the rights of education and became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. As more people follow in Malala’s footsteps, education will become a given right for girls, which will lead to healthier families, less violence and more economic stability. For us, this issue is very important because more educated women leads to less poverty and poverty is the number one reason why children live in orphanages. And as women gain education, marriages are delayed, which helps to eliminate unwanted pregnancies, which is also a contributing factor to children in orphanages.

In this Aug. 9 2011 photo, Gloria Steinem laughs during an interview with The Associated Press, in New York. Four decades after she helped found the women's movement, the feminist icon is in a reflective mode, writing a memoir and participating in an HBO documentary on her life. "Gloria: In Her Own Words" premieres Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, on HBO. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Gloria Steinem during an interview with the Associated Press on Aug. 9 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Thanks to women like Gloria Steinem, we have come a long way on the road of women’s rights. We have more opportunities than ever to become the women we want to be. However, there are still problems that need to be addressed in the workplace. Women are still left behind when it comes to pay equality, earning only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. Furthermore, America is only one of three countries that does not have paid maternity leave laws (the other two being Papua New Guinea and Oman). As we near the 2016 presidential election, hopefully further legislation will be passed to protect and support women.

Indire Ghandi.

Indire Ghandi.

Violence against women is still an epidemic that needs our attention in order to be eradicated. 4.5 million people are victims of forced sexual exploitation and nearly all (98%) are women and girls. Around the world, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence, according to the UN. As Indira Ghandi’s quote points out, we cannot have a peaceful world while violence is still a reality for so many. The UN and other organizations are working on fixing this through educational initiatives and working with men and boys to bring an end to gender-based violence.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after receiving the 2013 Lantos Human Rights Prize during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. The New Hampshire-based human rights organization awarded its highest honor to Clinton for her efforts to promote human rights for women and through Internet freedom. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton receiving the 2013 Lantos Human Rights Prize  on Dec. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

This year was the 105th International Women’s Day and looking back, there has been so much achieved in the name of social justice and civil rights in the past century. We currently have a woman in the democratic primaries and women now earn the majority of college degrees. Reflecting on how far we’ve come, I can only imagine what strides will continue to be made, as the world becomes more just and equal for all people. This year’s theme for IWD is “Pledge for Parity,” and that’s a pledge well-worth making.

 

Resources

http://fortune.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-trivia/?xid=soc_socialflow_twitter_FORTUNE

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-saloranta/building-a-planet-5050-by_b_9385690.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erica-diamond/international-womens-day-_32_b_9409482.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/08/africa/iwd-uganda-child-sex-worker/

http://www.one.org/us/

http://mashable.com/2014/03/08/quotes-international-womens-day/?crlt.pid=camp.sSKhte5VSQZh#_LjXHSpyxSqS

http://www.unicef.org/education/bege_70640.html

http://www.biography.com/people/malala-yousafzai-21362253#synopsis

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/whats-really-behind-the-gender-wage-gap/462363/

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/paid-family-leave-obama-work

http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women

http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/prevention

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/12/11/women-are-dominating-men-at-college-blame-sexism/

The #LetGirlsLearn is a White House-sponsored initiative that #FLOTUS champions that is working to transform the world through the education of girls. Educating girls creates healthier families and improved communities with lower rates of HIV/AIDS, infant mortality and maternal mortality. By increasing girls’ access to education, we make this world a much better place to live. Find out more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/letgirlslearn 

Did you know that if a child’s mother can read, that child is twice as likely to survive past age 5? Educating a girl creates a ripple effect of positivity on the health, well-being and economic empowerment of the world. Let’s give our girls the education they deserve and it’ll help ensure that all children are cared for and given the best life possible! ow.ly/PwIs2