The mango tree orphanage a pillar for the less privileged
Established on leafy slopes a few meters from Kosele Market in Rachuonyo South Sub County, the Mango Tree Orphanage has stood out as a pillar of hope for thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in the region who would otherwise have been rendered destitute.
The Director of the orphanage Consolata Kunyada said that the Mango Tree organization which runs the orphanage sponsored education of 4,216 children and youths in the last two years. Of this number, over 500 are now in colleges and Universities.
“The number of young adults we support has doubled since 2013 as many students complete secondary school and become eligible for further education,” said Kunyada.
The Director observed that the coming five years will be the most expensive phase for the organization as it will strive to raise sufficient funds to support nearly 4,000 young people through their education and into sustainable employment.
“We now have 275 young people working as community service volunteers. These are people we supported through primary and secondary schools and are now giving back to their communities in different ways including working in the kitchens and farm at the Orphanages,” she adds.
She noted that through the organizations’ core programmes of education, employment, health, water and sanitation, they have continued to deliver a wide range of exciting and innovative services and projects all of which build on young peoples’ capacity to help themselves.
“We are translating awareness and knowledge into positive behavior to help improve sexual health amongst young people, reduce malaria infection rate for young children, improve family planning uptake, hygiene and sanitation for rural, marginalized poor families,” added Kanyuda.
She observes that in the olden days extended family and society in general supported needy members but the tradition is now collapsing as many children, who have lost one or both parents overwhelm family members that are already strained economically.
“Severe malnutrition, preventable diseases and infant mortality rates increase. School attendance rates plummet, and many are forced to migrate from their villages to become urban street children, creating a whole new raft of social problems,” decried the Director.
Kanyuda said that The Mango Tree Orphan Support Programme believes this snowball effect is the region’s most appalling problem, and has discovered what they think is an innovative, effective and cost efficient way of tackling it at its roots by focusing on the organization’s core programmes.
“We believe that enabling people to access education, skills and knowledge alongside health services to nurture their wellbeing is a holistic approach to development. The added benefit of investing in agricultural projects and business ideas at the same time creates a foundation for a lasting change,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries of the Mango Tree support programme is Gertrude Aluoch Okoth who hails from Nyatwere Village in Rachuonyo South Sub County.
Her father died in 2002 leaving her mother to bring up six children. Life was a struggle without sufficient funds for her secondary education. The mango tree started sponsoring her in 2011 at Rang’ala Secondary school where she sat for her secondary examination in 2014. She has joined the University of Kabianga for a Bachelor of Science degree.
“I had to work extra hard in school in order to retain The Mango Tree Support. When I see my mother struggling to take care of my siblings alone, I get motivated to work even harder,” Okoth said.
In January she joined The Mango Tree community service volunteer scheme where she worked as a cook in the orphanage kitchen.
Okoth received counseling, advice and career guidance throughout her secondary education. She also received regular health checks.
For Janet Okeyo, 20, she was diagnosed with HIV/Aids in 2013 and was registered with the Mango Tree programme and placed under Mama Herinas Family Home Based care where she was able to continue with her education and receive access to psychological support, health care and counseling.
Okeyo completed her tailoring training last year and is now a dress maker. “The Mango Tree funded my tailoring course and I now have a job so I can take care of myself even when I am sick,” she says.
The Mango Tree community celebrated ten years anniversary early in March in a ceremony that was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Information Communications and Technology Mr. Joe Mucheru who is also member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
By Davis Langat