In the U.S., struggling families generally have a safety net for ensuring basic needs in dire circumstances.
Mitchel’s story highlights what happened to a once-stable family in Kenya after a work accident left her father injured and unemployed. Then, a life-threatening incident took their spiral from bad to worse. In the video, hear from the family how Mitchel’s application to Kenya Works Student Sponsorship Program in May provided life-saving interventions and helped put the whole family on solid ground.
Student Sponsorship Connects Family to Life-Saving Services
Charles and Lilian had created a good home for their six children. Their two eldest successfully completed secondary education (high school). The family's situation changed in February 2021 when Charles was in a work accident that left him injured and unemployed. The family's security was shattered.
Under financial duress, the family of six moved to a one-room mabati (a Kenyan term used to describe a slum dwelling made of corrugated metal siding tacked to lumber often on a dirt floor) with no furnishings, beds or bedding. Feeding the family was a daily concern. There was no money for school fees or uniforms--requirements to attend Kenyan schools.
Mitchel finished primary school and scored well on her exit exams. She looked forward to starting secondary school when the family's struggles began. After sitting out a school year, she wrote a letter of application to Kenya Works for student sponsorship in May and was quickly accepted, then enrolled into a day school.
CHARLES' STORY as summarized by Kenya Works Social Work Team:
During the Kenya Works-sponsored Father’s Day celebrations held on the VICODEC campus, Mitchel's father Charles was among the active participants in the training. It was at this point that we noted he was going through a lot of life challenges despite his jovial nature. He later approached the social workers who conducted a home visit and compiled the below report.
Charles is a father of six children; Kelvin (completed form 4), Joseph (completed form 4), Roy (sat for KCPE 2021, still at home), Mitchel (form one), Marion and Gillian. They live in the slums, and all of them stay in a single-room mabati house (made of iron sheets) house. The house has no single seat. They use jerrycans to have a rest while in the house. They have no bed, they spread two mattresses on the floor with a few bedsheets and a single blanket. The boys and other siblings share one mattress without a blanket while the other is shared with both the father, mother and two young girls. The house has electricity which is limited to use by their landlord.
According to Mitchel's mother Lilian, even getting water is a challenge, in that the three jerrycans they use to fetch water also act as their seats. They survive on hand to mouth kind of life, sometimes they go for days without food, at one particular instance, the two younger girls were sent home by their teacher to pick their mother for questioning why they don’t carry food to school as the rest of the pupils do for their lunch.
Charles narrated while shedding tears that it was not his wish to live such a life. Initially, the family was stable. While he was in his line of duty he was involved in a road accident in which he ended up with a head injury and lost his job, rendering him unemployed from February 2021 to date. The head injury that caused him memory loss is a condition he is trying to fight still. It was during this period auctioneers took all his belongings including beddings to recover the loan he had.
On 9th May 2022, while going to photocopy Mitchel’s birth certificate he was bitten by a dog near his gate. He never got proper medication which eventually led to rabies, a disease that is very expensive to treat, and untreated is deadly. Medication has become a nightmare for the family. Charles can’t afford the recommended four injections. In his discharge summary from the hospital, he is cautioned if he doesn’t get the right medication the disease will spread into the brain which will lead to nothing but death.
Charles has no relative he can go to for help. His nine siblings are deceased as is his mother who succumbed to cancer. Her cancer treatments led the family to take loans that came due while the family could least afford payments.
Through the home visit, the social work team outlined a needs assessment to determine referrals the family could benefit from.
Charles is dealing with severe medical and mental health concerns due to the work injury, prolonged unemployment and recent exposure to rabies that he has not been treated for
They have been given a notice to evacuate the house due to rent arrears
Buying water is another problem for the family if the mother or elder brothers do not get any casual work within the week
Getting food and other basic needs for the family is a problem
Not enough bedding especially blankets and a bed
Mitchel is now in day school, but the other three children are not in school due to lack of school fees and uniforms
The females in the family can’t afford or access sanitary towels
The team outlined recommendations and began the referral process.
Charles was referred for medical attention and obtained rabies treatment; he is rabies-free
Charles was referred to counseling at Miale ya Tumaini
He was told that death is a certainty within 60 days of contracting rabies, and had been worn down counting down the days til he died while his family was in jeopardy. affirms he has had suicidal thoughts
Family was enrolled in Miale ya Tumaini feeding program to stabilize
Bedding and furnishings were donated donations
Makini Pads were provided
Mitchel was enrolled in a boarding school to ease expense and congestion in the small room as well as provide added stability for her
Roy is sponsored and attending school, back on track to complete his education
Uniforms were purchased and educational support provided for the two younger girls
The family's back rent was paid
Lilian, Mitchel's mother was referred to Miale ya Tumaini for training on beginning a small business
"Thank you Kenya Works, my family is now transformed again," Charles says.