Busia unveils ambitious plans to address children’s issues

The First Lady of Busia county Mrs Judy Ojaamong joins Mundika Girls Primary School pupils where she went to share with them the importance of hygiene and self discipline. [Picture: Nyakwar Odawo]
The First Lady of Busia county Mrs Judy Ojaamong joins Mundika Girls Primary School pupils where she went to share with them the importance of hygiene and self discipline. [Picture: Nyakwar Odawo]

As the world sets to celebrate Day of the African Child on June 16th, 2016, Busia County has unveiled an impressive work plan which if completed will address several challenges afflicting children across the seven sub-counties.

Construction of the first County Child Protection Centre at a cost of KSh45 million is ongoing at Mauko in Matayos Su-county. Led by Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, the county government has also launched child information management system.

Other services in the Children’s Department include children’s assemblies, capacity building, skilful parenting and area advisory councils.

Improved care, safety and participation of children in the family and community as a whole in Busia by 2018, child friendly places and institutions are being established at all levels. Households are also being empowered economically for children’s well-being.

Other activities earmarked includes rehabilitation and reintegration of street children, improved access and use of child protection and participation service structures, establishment of child protection facilities as well as enhancement of child participation.

Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation will also launch a three-year programme in four sub-counties within the county. The organization’s Country Director Duncan Harvey revealed recently that the project is geared towards reducing maternal mortality and new born babies deaths.

The Save the Children delegation was received by Busia County Secretary Nicodemus Mulaku on behalf of the Governor. Also present was Acting Health CEC Martin Kafwa, Chief of Staff Robert Papa and County Referral Hospital Administrative Officer Ali Temba. The sub-counties to benefit from the multi-billion project include Teso North, Teso South, Nambale and Samia.

According to Harvey, the projects will be funded by UK Aid and they will partner with the County Health Management in the fight to reduce the number of mothers who die while delivering and save new-born babies from premature deaths.

The project has also been implemented in Northern Kenya in Wajir and Turkana as well as in Bungoma in Western Kenya.

“The project has also been implemented in informal settlements of Kibera in Nairobi County,” said Harvey. He added: “A report on maternal and new-born baseline survey which was conducted in July and August last year will be unveiled soon.”

In a related development, ten volunteers from Germany have donated €20,000 (KSh3 million) to construct a children’s home at Aterait Village, Teso South Sub-county.

Teso South MP Mary Emaase will provide an additional KSh1 million to help in the completion of Alakara Ore Moru Children’s Home Aterait.

The team’s spokesperson Dr Shelti Shatz said they opted to construct a home for the orphans in Busia County after the warm reception they were accorded in Amukura and Aterait in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Shatz said the main objective of putting up the home is to help curb the number of street and destitute children in the town centres within the county.

“We had joined Dr Lilian Apadeet for the Medical Camp when we met Emaase who became a good friend. Her request to help address problems of orphans and destitute children in the county met our instant consideration,” observed Shatz.

Emaase expressed appreciation for the Friends of Germany for the kind gesture saying it will help address problems afflicting orphans and destitute children in the county.

Busia First Lady Judy Ojaamong’ has offered to take care of one child pursuing college or university education at Compassionate Children’s Home as a show of concern to the less privileged in the society.

Addressing the management of the home as well as the orphaned and vulnerable children hosted at the facility recently, she warned proprietors of children’s homes who start them for monetary gains saying they risk being closed by the government.

“The homes which do the right thing and are straight forward will attract funding from the county government and other well-wishers. I salute the home’s proprietor Stella Egesa for her sacrifice to bring up the children,” she said.

Egesa said the home was facing major challenges of having very bright children who lack fees to exploit their talents. She appealed to the county and national governments to come and supplement the efforts of an American volunteer who is sponsoring college and university students single handedly.

“The home has 12 students in various universities, 10 in secondary schools, 13 in primary schools with seven having graduated from university while three sat for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2015,” said Egesa.

The home was started in 2003 after absorbing orphaned and vulnerable children from courts whose cases are yet to be determined.

Egesa notes that 46 children were this year integrated with their families after the conclusion of their cases.

Egesa has been recognised for her outstanding work in rehabilitating children, she was awarded the Head of State Commendation Award by retired President Mwai Kibaki in 2012.

“So far we have had 16 graduates, two in medicine and law, one each in engineering, agriculture and pharmacy and four in education,” says Egesa.

Last year, the governor’s spouse launched free sanitary towels programme in girls’ primary and secondary schools to ensure the girl-child has a better place in the county despite their status in the society.

Big Heart for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Initiative has offered KSh2.4 million worth of education bursaries to 181 orphaned and vulnerable children in Busia County.

Secretary General Bramwel Siku said the Big Heart   initiative had set a target of KSh10 million but the charity walk they organized managed to raise only KSh2.4 million.

Siku appealed to well-wishers, county and national governments as well as friends of goodwill to help the Foundation sponsor over 2,000 students in 2017.

Siku lauded Busia County government for actively contributing to the success of the charity walk and Deputy Governor Kizito Wangalwa for his proposal to offer the Foundation a secretariat at the County Government offices.

“The exit of Aphia Plus, a non-governmental organisation with a bias towards health from the County prompted the formation of the Big Heart Foundation to continue with the bursary program,” Siku said. He noted: “There are 117,000 orphans in the entire county with Aphia Plus managing to sponsor only KSh20,000.”

Wangalwa on his part said the County Government will give full support to Big Heart Foundation to ensure that all deserving cases get education.

“It is regrettable that Big Heart Foundation was still a brief case agency. We shall organize a marathon to help boost its education kitty,” reiterated Wangalwa.

He added: “Apart from offering bursaries, the Foundation should also support schools with Green Houses to enable it become self-sustainable in vegetable and fruit production.”

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