SOUTHLANDERS’ financial support has gone a long way to improving the lives of a group of Kenyan children, Children of Maasai Educational Programme (CMEP) deputy chairwoman and New Zealand correspondent Zoe Dawson says.
The 20-year-old Southern Institute of Technology first-year nursing student recently returned from a three-week CMEP charity mission to the township of Kumpa, about 80km south of Nairobi.
She had initially planned to make the trip in September, but moved it forward to work in better with her studies.
CMEP is a not-for-profit charity founded in July 2015 aimed at reducing the underlying causes of poverty in the Maasai area of Kenya. It is run by Ms Dawson and Australian law student Lauren Jackson (21), along with Kenyan teachers Jackson Maya and Mary Saruni.
Using about $4000 in donations from Southlanders and Invercargill’s Sunrise Rotary Club, and money saved from her part-time job, Ms Dawson had been able to implement numerous initiatives during the trip.
“Money goes a long way over there,” she said.
She organised a one-day medical clinic for the Kumpa community with help from volunteer Mei Naka, which was attended by about 800 people.
The clinic provided free medications, maintenance of long-term conditions, such as respiratory tract infections, as well as deworming children and distributing contraceptives, she said.
She also organised an eye clinic for the town’s children.
“[CMEP] pays for glasses and any medications needed.
“This time 17 children needed glasses.”
In addition, Ms Dawson provided the pupils of the House of Hope Special Needs Centre with new uniforms she had helped design, ran rape and assault prevention classes for the girls and boys in Kumpa, and distributed 290 Days for Girls reusable sanitary kits to all the girls aged 10 years and over attending the region’s three schools.
She also left 70 maternity kits with a local nurse.
On receiving the sanitary kits, the girls clapped and hugged the volunteers in joy, she said.
“It was just beautiful. It is the favourite part of what I do.
“And, it is something I can relate to. Imagine not having sanitary products.”
Clothing supplied by Invercargill women Myra McDonald and Karen Wilson, the New Zealand ambassador of Dress a Girl Around the World, was also distributed.
Ms Dawson plans to return to Kumpa to continue her charity work early next year.
To find out more about CMEP and to support the cause, go to www.childrenofmaasai.org