Children gaining apprenticeships, growing in confidence and working together to carry out daily tasks from washing to planting pineapples, were the key news points from Malaika Kids Children’s Village manager James Kalinga.
75 people gathered at the charity’s London base to meet James during his first visit to the UK, and get the latest on the 70 children currently living at Mkuranga. James, living up to his nickname as ‘Baba’ or father for the children, clearly knows everything about the youngsters in his care and said: “I miss each and every one of them and can’t wait to get back and show them my photos.”
He was also eager to give them a report of his own experience of London’s train system, which he thought was rather amazing, particularly the height of the escalators on the underground.
James gave detailed accounts of how some of the children have developed to be successful at school. He spoke about twin boys Rahim and Karim who came to Malaika when they were just 28 days old after their mother died, and their father could not cope with them. He also revealed the recent success of three teenage girls Maria, Amina and Leila, who have recently secured places to study hotel management at Macmillan Training College – with a fourth girl, Mariam going on to study social work – maybe encouraged by James, who has a Social Work degree.
He also explained how Malaika Kids is working to support the education of children – with Badru recently gaining a distinction with high hopes he will go on to study A Levels, and possibly gain a place at University.
As well as focusing on children being happy and getting access to education, James explained how the charity is focusing on the health of children in its care, with a nurse recently coming in to speak to all the older children about sexual health and contraception.
Children come to Malaika Kids through a number of routes, and the charity is often contacted by Social Welfare workers who have found children wandering the streets either because they are lost, or have been abandoned. Some have been removed from their families by the Social Services because of physical and mental abuse. In other cases they have been orphaned by disease and simply have nowhere else to go. If possible, these children are reunited with their parents, but if not Malaika Kids works to find extended family members and support them to care for their relatives through its Relatives Support Programme. We now help 62 children in this way.
Only if there are no suitable relatives that can be traced and this “re-uniting” cannot happen then the children are cared for at the Village – where they live in families of 10, looked after by a house mother.
James told the group that for these children it is often impossible to tell them about their past, as we simply do not know what happened to some of them. A focus for the charity in future is looking at mental health care for these youngsters to help them deal with this area of their lives.
He said his hopes for the charity over the next few years is that it can expand, and take even more needy children into the village. The site currently has the infrastructure for more houses, but needs to ensure it has sufficient funds to care for extra children, and pay house mothers for many years to come.
Concluding his speech, James said he wanted to thank all current Malaika Kids supporters, and asked for people to continue to support the charity – either through donating funds or their time.
If you missed James’ speech, we recorded it LIVE and you can watch it on our Facebook page.