Community Program for Addiction and Mental Health
This programme started in 1999 and initially concentrated on HIV/AIDS in response to the increasing number of children found in the streets of Nyahurur as an effect of HIV/AIDS. During this period, there was also a lot of stigma about HIV/AIDS and not many families were ready to take in these orphans, most of whom were also HIV positive. The programme provided health and social care to these children and eventually St. Martin CSA was able to start a home for HIV-positive children with Talitha Kumi. In
Until 2008, the alcohol and drugs abuse arm of the programme maintained a low profile only addressing the correlation between alcohol and drugs abuse and HIV/AIDS, but in 2008 the high prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the area was recognized and a project for this area was launched. The program and its volunteers are following cases that have been brought to their attention, give first psycho-social support and try to put the beneficiaries on a recovery path.
In mid-2018, the issues of mental health were added to the program. In a pilot project, the abundance and severity of mental health problems were mapped in a defined area and a methodology was developed to bring care and support to the beneficiaries, always following the philosophy and approach of St. Martin CSA to work through the community.
I was losing my marriage because I could not accept the reality of my situation. Despite the fact that I have a job with the government, I could not work on my alcoholism. My wife complained regularly about my inability to provide enough money for the family needs. Occasionally, she took casual jobs in the neighbourhood to earn an extra coin, which embarrassed me.
When she reported the matter to the volunteers I was very angry with her but to my surprise, the volunteers were quite skilled. They helped me to accept my reality and seek help. Then they brought us to the table and reconciled us. I am full of gratitude to them.
Community Program for Children in Need
The programme has three rescue and rehabilitation centres where that offer temporal shelter, safe custody and counselling services for boys and girls rescued from various abusive situations. In line with the Saint Martin’s motto and values, the programme believes that the best place for a child to be is in a family set up and therefore enhancing social integration of children takes up an important place in the programme's objectives.
Julius was only 10 years old when he was first arrested for colluding with his mother in a theft. His mother, a single parent of five children, had many antisocial behaviours and often neglected her children. She sometimes engaged them in crimes such as theft in order to get money and food for the family. When Julius was taken to court along with his mother, jointly accused of theft, his mother was jailed for one year and Julius was committed to St. Martin CSA CSA for care and rehabilitation.
After his mother’s jail term, Julius was reintegrated with the family and enrolled in a nearby school. However, he dropped out soon afterwards because his mother did not support his schooling. The programme tried to enforce parental responsibility through government action but it did not work.
Finally, the programme chose to involve the community and therefore called all the neighbours to the home of Julius for a meeting to discuss the issue. The community took up the issue seriously and committed themselves to journey with the family.
A teacher volunteered to be the contact person for Julius to ensure he remains in school, the neighbours agreed to mobilize resources to provide school levies and uniform for Julius, a pupil in the school promised to be passing by Julius’ home every morning to help him get ready and leave for school on time.
Now Julius has found new hope in life. He attends school on a daily basis and he is happy. The people who support him are happy to see their little sacrifices bearing fruit.
Community Program for People with Disabilities
Over 20 years ago, a Catholic priest had a life-changing encounter with a man called Thomas. Thomas was disabled and had been hidden in a dark room never to see the light of day for more than 20 years. He led a lonely life as he had only minimal contact with the rest of the family. He was fed but that was about all he received from his relatives. He could not access most of his rights as a human being.
Thomas came from a community where stigma around people with disabilities was very high. There were stereotypes around families of children with disabilities which were intertwined with traditional belief systems. Thomas and his family would, therefore, live a life of suffering caused by rejection from the community.
Having been moved by the circumstances and the life of Thomas, the priest mobilized his parishioners and embarked on a mission to identify other people with disabilities. Many were found hidden in the homesteads. Having seen the magnitude of the problem, there was a need to increase the awareness for the needs and rights of people with disabilities, move the community towards accepting these people and their families and mobilize resources to care for them. This mission brought forth what is today the Community Programme for People with Disabilities.
For over 20 years, the Programme has continued to create awareness for disabilities to debunk disability-related myths, to expose the plights of people with disabilities, and to move the community towards being more inclusive and supportive of people with disabilities. Every year the programme supports nearly 1000 children under community-based rehabilitation which include health, education, livelihood, and empowerment. The programme involves a network of trained volunteers recruited from the target areas to carry out its activities.
In the last strategic year (2017-2018), 147 community volunteers were trained on awareness and mobilization, disability information and basic therapy provision. Consequently, the programme involved the community to raise Kshs. 513,725 in cash and un-quantified support in kind to address the plights of children with disabilities. 121 beneficiaries were placed in different learning institutions, 1041 children were offered therapy and 76 caregivers received counselling services.
The Programme has seen the community capacity to care for and involve people with disabilities increase year after year. However although the programme interventions have brought about positive change in the lives of the beneficiaries, people with disabilities continue to face barriers that make their lives difficult compared to other people.
In 2019, the Programme will embark on a new journey to integrate with L’Arche Kenya an organization dealing with intellectual disabilities from where it will continue offering its services. CPPD beneficiaries were the first members of L’Arche Kenya during its inception in the year 2008.
When Ahmed was born, his family was considered fortunate; they had been blessed with a baby boy. The young family could not imagine a better situation. This changed when everyone realized that Ahmed had been born with a disability. This disability, in the eyes of many, was a curse.
The case of Ahmed was brought to the attention of a volunteer and Ahmed had to undergo corrective surgery. The operation was expensive and the family was not able to raise the funds required. They sought assistance from friends and well-wishers in the community. The community volunteers created awareness and initiated a process of mobilization. It was challenging to bring together people of different faiths to assist the Muslim family, but it was finally achieved. A fund-raising activity was held at the Mosque were people of different faiths gathered to share life with the family of Ahmed.
Community Program for Peace and Reconciliation CPPR
Other incidents of human rights violations were evident and frequent within Nyahururu town. For example: First, a mob (in) justice under police watch; secondly, the rape and murder of a street girl at Nyahururu bus station and the denial of justice to the victim simply because she was a street girl; and finally the death of an inmate in Nyahururu prison as a result of torture. These and others convinced St. Martin CSA to intervene and mitigate the situation. Around the same period, St. Martin CSA was inspired by the work of ChemiChemi ya Ukweli (Fountain of Truth), an organization located in Nairobi and the international movement on active non-violence.
Based on experience with two other St. Martin CSA Community Programmes, a committee of 11 people was constituted and the Community Programme for Active non-violence and human rights violations was born.
Through the years, the programme has continued to grow: numerous interventions, more partnerships with private organizations and public institutions, and increasing community involvement. It has worked in 4 prisons within its target area, organized, and conducted legal aid clinics, conducted training on the Sexual Offences Act, The Children Act, human rights, conflict management, peace-building, and governance amongst others. The programme now reaches out to parts of the Nyandarua, Laikipia and Baringo counties and works with a network of about 100 volunteers spread throughout its target areas.
The Programme has partnered with PAT (Autonomous Province of Trento) of Italy; Mensen met een Missie (MM) of The Netherlands and Kindernothilfe, Germany for the financing of its projects.
When her husband sent her away after many incidences of domestic violence in the year 2007, Anna, a mother of two was desperate with no source of income. She took her infant daughters and returned home to her father but her step-mother sent her away. So, she got herself a cheap rental house in the neighbourhood and started her life all over again. Through casual labour, she fed her family and provided medical care for her first-born daughter who has a chronic illness.
One day she received a court notice informing her that her husband had filed for divorce accusing her of deserting the matrimonial home. After sharing her predicament with a neighbour, she was led to a programme volunteer who brought the case to the office. Through the programme’s legal support, she was granted a temporary separation and the husband was ordered to provide maintenance for the children. The volunteer also presented the case of Anna to other volunteers in their monthly meeting and together they decided to mobilize for her support. They spoke to her father who agreed to provide a portion of his land to Anna and then mobilized members of the community to come together, collect some building materials and put up a three-roomed temporary house for her. Later the programme’s management committee (volunteers at management level) reached a decision to support Anna in growing food crops. Funds were provided to rent land and buy farm inputs.
Anna is a beacon of happiness today. The community around her remains surprised that they can come together in such unity to support one of their own. They identify every day with Anna’s success and are planning to go back one day and put up a kitchen for her. Anna lacks words to express her gratitude. She has a new house built by many hands with love; a place to call home, she has a new family and friends around her. When she stood up to thank the community she said “My hope is now a reality, without you, I would have remained the desperate Anna! Thank you”