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                                Jan 2016 Newsletter Revised Version
I apologize for sending out the first draft version, which had not been edited. Please discard and enjoy this moore complete version.
Doesn’t time fly. It has been about two years since I last send out a newsletter. I apologize for the silence, however, in spite of the fact that it may seem like MCOH was in a dormant stage, in fact the very opposite is true.  Much has been happening.
    My lack of communication over that period of time was directly as a result of my inability to keep up with all of the fundraising and project work. More importantly, my family and doctor have been urging me to try to cut back, which I have attempted to do.
  Nevertheless, I do want to assure you that as an organization, we are in good shape, and moving forward with our projects and programs. The following summary will give you a short update on each.

                          A Chance, not Charity
       
      Our various projects and programs are carefully selected and implemented in partnership with our community leaders in Mikinduri, so as to offer the maximum chances for sustainability..   
                
                            
 
   
  
    
      Mikinduri hospital has been upgraded to a Class III hospital, which means  the government had to assign two doctors, where before there were none, as well as additional nurses. In the last two years, male and female wards have been constructed, which are necessary before they can establish a minor surgical unit. As well, covered walkways between all of the buildings and the addition of an emergency power generator have been supplied by government.

  
 
   
                                         
Rehab program-   Before MCOH committed to funding the construction of the rehab center, Dr. Ed Harrison and I spent 3 ½ days in meetings with our various partners, including the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the Mikinduri Hospital Board, the Association for the Physically Handicapped of Kenya, our Bd of Directors in Mikinduri, as well as the local member of parliament , and the local chiefs. After grinding it out with them, we ended up with a signed document, ie; memorandum of understanding, outlining each partner’s responsibilities. However, in spite of our efforts to have the rehab center adopted as their project, it is still looked upon as our project, that is the “white man’s rehab centre”. This is not unusual in development work.  However, all is not lost, we currently are entering into a new phase, which if successful will see the hospital and rehab facilities operate as one.
 
   
  Our Mikinduri team act as coordinators between the rehab specialists and the patient’s, especially in the very remote areas. Each Friday an outreach clinic is conducted in a remote village, with the rehab team consisting of a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and our coordinator Nelly.  The rehab facility is a wonderful building, however unfortunately not all of the equipment needed to run a state-of-the-art rehab facility has been supplied, as promised by the government. Dr. Ed Harrison, who serves on our Board, heading up our Community Based Healthcare/Rehab Program, and myself, are working on a fundraising initiative to raise the necessary amount to purchase the very specialized equipment needed to manufacture rehab appliances, such as leg braces, specialized shoes, etc.
  Dr. Ed is also working on forming potential strategic partnerships with other NGO’s whom we have had exposure to during our exploratory trips over the last 6 years. These NGOs have existing programs for persons with disabilities in other parts of Kenya, and if willing they would be a wonderful addition to the services provided at the rehab center.
     
          Completed Rehab Facility              New Hospital  Wards


Chalice Child Sponsorship program.  As you may know, we formed a strategic partnership with the Halifax-based charity called Chalice, which operates in many countries around the world, serving many thousands of desperate children, similar to World Vision or Save the Children, except their operating costs are the lowest in the in North America.
    We are delighted to have them in the village of Mikinduri delivering effective programs to the approximately 450 sponsored children and their families. This is a great program because it deals with all aspects of family welfare, including education, health care, housing, and nutrition. There is a lot of cooperation between the Chalice staff and our staff in Mikinduri, on such programs as agricultural improvements.
 
Scholarship program - when a student completes class VIII, hopefully they then go on to secondary school. Often this requires them leaving their remote village to attend a boarding school, which most simply cannot afford. So, to help those disadvantaged students who have demonstrated a desire and an ability to achieve good marks, we have established a scholarship program which pays for their room and board as well as books, clothing, etc.  Currently we have 27 students enrolled in good secondary schools, where in a few cases they are leading their classes. If anyone reading this newsletter wishes to sponsor a child, the annual cost is approximately $650, which can be paid monthly. You will receive communication from you sponsor child as well as school reports, pictures, etc.

 Medical, vision, and dental clinics- when we have had a sufficiently large group of medical volunteers travellng to Kenya, we have been conducting clinics at the rehab center. However, this has not been the case since 2014.    A team of student engineers traveled to Kenya in 2015, led by Libby Osgood, Prof. of Engineering at UPEI, who is also an experienced MCOH annual team member.  For the past three years MCOH have been partnering with Libby, and UPEI, on developmental projects which can have an practical impact on the people we serve in Mikinduri, The partnership gives the students a real-life project in which to develop their engineering capabilities. The 2015 team were tasked with the challenge of improving the design of wheelchairs, to enable the users to better maneuver in very hilly areas. Using normal wheelchairs, which are not properly equipped for the steep inclines, can be dangerous for the caretakers as well as for the wheelchair occupants. The team very quickly learned, upon arrival in MIkinduri, that their ideas for improving wheelchair design which they had developed in the UPEI classroom were not at all practical in the field. So Brody Gallant, Peter Doiron and Kailah Biaz spend two or three days in their accommodations in Mikinduri, trying to come up with a truly practical solution, with some supervision from Libby, who was otherwise engaged in working on our projects with the Mik staff.
    They were so successful in redesigning the wheelchair with specialized handles, as well as bicycle type hand breaks, that they received a PEI Association for the Physically Handicapped Annual award at a award ceremony upon their return in Charlottetown.
    As well, Dr Barry and Mary Fleming, along with two nurses, Angie Dennis and Janelle London formed part of the team. Barry and Mary served at the Cantelengo Hospital as a surgeon and Nurse. Angie and Janelle also nurses conducted an important assessment study to improve services at the rehab center.




       2015 Mission team  - From left, Dr Barry Fleming, Janelle London, Mary Fleming, Peter Doiron,  Brady Gallant, Keilah Biaz, Angie Dennis and team leader Libby Osgood in the middle.
 

  

Newly designed wheelchair                Cottolingo Mission Hospital

   The 2016 team consists of three nurses from Atl. Canada, returnee Angie Dennis, Marla Townshend, and Sarah Bennet. As well, Marion Jones from Saskatoon will be returning for her 4th time and bringing her grand daughter Maddie, a student, who has a lot of volunteer experience working with persons with disabilities. All will be spending their weekdays at the Cottolingo Mission Hospital, located about a 45 min drive from Mikinduri.. The nurses will be working with Dr. Beppe Gaido at the hospital, and Maddie will be working in the rehab facility at the Cottolingo Hospital. On the weekends they will be traveling to Mikinduri to visit some project sites, as well as meeting our Mikinduri team, and Board of Directors.
    We have a long history of partnering with Dr. Beppe, who provides incredible care to people at a price that is far more affordable than the Kenyan hospital system. Each year the team brings medical supplies, utensils, wheelchairs, and anything else we can get our hands on that will support Dr. Beppe’s wonderful mission hospital. The team will have an incredible time.
                 
       Dr Barry and Mary Fleming with Dr Beppe Gaido

  Feeding programs- our feeding programs have developed to the stage where we feed 1800 kids every school day, at seven different schools. Some kids are fed twice a day, i.e. breakfast and lunch, while one or two schools are only fed lunch. In the past 12 months, we have been fortunate to be able to feed approximately 800,000 meals to kids that otherwise would be hungry. It is the parents or guardian’s responsibility to work the crops which we grow the inputs for the feeding program.
    However, sometimes the envious and threatened political opponents convince the parents and guardians that the Canadians have lots of money, that they should not have to be working the fields. Our project team in Mikinduri must then step in to correct this interruption, which sometimes requires the cancellation of the feeding program at one or two schools, until the parents fulfill their agreed upon responsibilities. The parents and guardians cannot be blamed for their lack of consistency, because they are susceptible to government interference, simply because they are so poor, and must fall in line with government, in case there is a possibility of some handouts.  Our team does a great job of helping them realize how they have been misdirected by deceitful local government representatives.
     Feeding programs are critical to the education of the child for several reasons. First of all, if it were not for the child being fed at school, many of them will go home at lunchtime and not return, thus they don’t go very far in school. Headmasters tell us the great impact that the nutritious meals have on their ability to learn, as well as their social development. Obviously, if a student has an aching empty belly it is very difficult to concentrate, or run around and play sports.
    Feeding programs do far more than simply provide a nutritious meal. They actually give the children a better chance at finishing school, which then means that they have learned basic math, reading and communication skills sufficient to be able to navigate through life, far better than their mostly illiterate parents.

         
 Children being fed at Thurri Mountain School in their new Cow's T,shirts
 
Project oversight- Because I am trying to step back from my daily commitment of overseeing our work in Mikinduri, and because I will not be traveling to Kenya in the forseeable future, it was important that the MCOH Bd of Directors, go through a process of re-evaluation and assessment.
   Detry Carragher,  owner of Carvo Group, a PEI based HR firm, volunteered many hours over a period of months to lead us through an organized, strategic process of evaluation, analysis and critical planning, so as to guarantee that MCOH will remain sustainable. Detry did a wonderful job of guiding us through the process, with expertise, effectiveness and efficiency, the net result of which is an updated and renewed strategy for guaranteeing sustainability.
   One of the outcomes of that process was some tweeking of the structure of our organization in Kenya, which is responsible for implementing our various projects.
    To that end, we have contracted the services of a dear friend and trusted colleague, Mr Benard Mware. Not only is Benard a native Kenyan, he is highly educated, skilled, and motivated to help us reach the maximum number of disadvantaged people, with efficiency, and minimal expense. Dr. Ed Harrison, I and others have been associated with Bernard for several years in various capacities, and can attest to his abilities, effectiveness and level of caring. Additionally, he has already done a significan amount of work with our partners in MIkinduri, so has developed a profile of trust and  effectiveness.
    Since I will not actually be visiting Mikinduri and able to view our programs and projects firsthand it is virtually impossible to be an effective project coordinator. Thus, Bernard will be taking over my responsibilities and will be acting as International Liaison, between myself and our Mik staff and Board. Essentially this means that he will be responsible for working with our Mikinduri team, overseeing all of their efforts to deliver the best programs and projects possible for our fund raised dollars.  I am looking forward to seeing our projects prosper during 2016.
 
 
Fundraising - Without effective fundraising, our work in Kenya would suffer significant setbacks. Thus our fundraising committee must be constantly endeavoring to find ways of establishing sustainable sources of funds.

   Value village- Over the past two or three years we have been fortunate to develop a great working relationship with this socially conscious corporation. They have been a major sponsor of our Gigantic Yard Sale at the East Link Center in Charlottetown for the past two years.
   Additionally, we are fortunate to be to sign a contract  with Value Village, whereby they will pay MCOH, as well as continue to pay Canadian Diabetes Association for every pound of clothing that we can collect, as well as small household goods and appliances, for example toasters, countertop ovens, books, and toys. 
    During 2015, we partnered with Value Village, as well as some other great partners on PEI, such as the WOHELO group of ladies who support the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and the Knights of Columbus  especially the St. Francis of Assisi Council in Cornwall lead by Basil Favaro Grand Knight, as well as at the Burnside Presbyterian Church and the West River United Church in Cornwall. During 2016, it is our hope to expand our scope of collection to many other island churches, and community groups, who can play a role in collecting the items which we can prosper from.

This project is a win-win for all parties, because everyone has clothing that no longer fit, or don't suit anymore, and which cost  nothing to donate, yet MCOH benefits. If your church or community group would be interested in supporting us, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 
Kids promoting our clothing drive from Mik   A portion of our goods for sale at our Gigantic yard sale
 
Gigantic Yard Sale -   One of our mainstays of fundraising is our annual spring Gigantic Yard Sale, which takes place at the East link center in Charlottetown. Every year we have well over 200 tables covered with all kinds of "gently used" donated items. The sale will be taking place on Sat, May 7.
 Donations   We are extremely blessed with a wonderful group of volunteers who support this project in such an generous way. Thank you so much gang.
If  anyone has items to donate, such items as furniture, antiques, fancy , hardware, books, toys,sporting goods, electronics, gardening items, etc, please contact Mr. Lew Black,  our incredibly generous pickup coordinator, at 902-569-1924. He will arrange a time to pick up your donated items and store them in the containers, which have been donated  by Superior Sanitation in Charlottetown.  Please note, we can not accept baby furniture, tires, or televisions. Anyone wishimh to volunteer may contact Karen McKernna at 902-887-2417, or email kandgmckenna@pei.sympatico.ca.
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One might be tempted to assume, because I am stepping back somewhat, that MCOH will be less motivated to serve the people in Kenya. This will not be the case at all for two reasons: 1) I will be continuing my duties as fundraising director, working with our very dedicated fundraising committee, and our incredible donors, to make sure all of our projects can not only be sustainable into the future, but irather expand to serve even more people. 2) Far more  importantly, I have been getting far too much credit and attention, since the outset, for being the mainstay of our organization. Please know that MCOH consists of so many more wonderfully dedicated and committed people, serving on our various committees, and Bd of Directors, not to mention, the fact that the Good Lord is guiding our destiny as he has done from the beginning This is His project as it has been since the beginning, thus. we believe our future is ever expanding and secure.
 
   It is hard to believe, that we have sent approximately $1 million to our projects in Mikinduri. Often, I have people ask me if our work over the past 13 years is making a difference. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that many, many desperate people have benefited from our programs and projects. In fact, the village of Mikinduri and area, has been transformed into a much more advanced and prosperous village, with better communication systems, paved roads, much more attention from government in terms of funding local projects, as well as the increase in commercial enterprises such as Credit Unions and activities in the form of new businesses such as hotels, small manufacturing companies, expanded markets, and improved schools. 
   Please know that your generosity and kindness has made a huge difference.
 
   In closing, I would like to sincerely thank all of our great volunteers, the various churches that support our work, including the Burnside Presbyterian Church, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church,  West River United Church, and All Souls Catholic Church in Cardigan. A special thanks to the Knights of Columbus who have taken on the role of coordinating our Clothing drive on PEI  in  the Cathloic churches As well, the Alderwood United Church in Mississauga, Ont, which has been a solid supporter for the past five years conducting annual fundraising events, with leadership from Cheri, Cindy and Tracy Butt.  Thank you and Pastor Connie so much for your dedication.
   Anyone having comments, concerns, or suggestion, please email me at tedandritagrant@gmail.com. All input is welcomed.  
   I know that I will have missed thanking special people and organizations, which I apologize in advance for. 
    Have a wonderful 2016
    Most thankfully
    Ted Grant
    President and Fundraising Chair
    MCOH
 
Copyright © 2016 Mikinduri Children of Hope, All rights reserved.


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