Lamu’s economy has taken a terrible beating over the last five years with dramatically diminished tourism and political instability in Nairobi. As a result, the local population is poorer and hungrier, especially the children. The drug problem is considerably worse and the children are sicker especially as the hygiene standards of the local community have deteriorated along with the finances. As a partial response to these developments, we helped start a kindergarten two years ago that has three classes: K1, K2 and K3. There are 60 children in the school which means 60 very small children have been taken off the street. A second kindergarten is starting in April sponsored by a Zurich family, and we are negotiating to acquire land to build a new structure that might house both kindergartens in due course. Kindergartens are not paid for by the government, and the children who attend these kindergartens are from the poorest families in Lamu, often quite malnourished.
All of these children will need a place to start first grade, and public schools are not an option because the parents cannot afford school fees, uniforms or lunch fees. Clearly, all of these factors support the maintenance and expansion of the existing school project. Unfortunately, given the local financial and hygienic circumstances, schooling in and of itself is not enough to ensure the future of the children. In this context, the Anidan Orphanage which has established the leading hospital in Lamu as an adjoining project can treat all of the children in the orphanage, the kindergartens and the school for free with treatments against parasites, malaria, diarrhea and other local diseases. Given the experience of the existing school teachers plus the full support of the Anidan and the two local kindergartens, we are confident we can develop an education, food and health program that will attract high quality staff and support the developmental needs of generations of local children.