Monday, July 17, 2006
Changing Lives for the Better
A Project of:
THE YOUNG MUSLIM ASSOCIATION
P.O. BOX 48509 – Nairobi 00100
Telephone: + 254 (20) 229896
Tel/Fax: + 254 (20) 229756
YOUNG MUSLIM CHILDREN’S HOME – ESTABLISHED 1969
A Project of The Young Muslim Association
Rationale and Background
The Garissa Muslim Children’s Home is a complex complete with an Orphanage, Primary School, Secondary School, Dispensary, Agricultural and Dairy Farm and its own Water pumping and treatment system. This project affectionately referred to as “Center” and is undoubtedly the grandest project of the Young Muslim Association in collaboration with Well-wishers who includes individual donors and the Government of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have continuously responded to the rising needs of the Center by upgrading it. Today, thirty five years after its inception, the center has tremendously changed from the one room shelter to the present complex. It is impossible to trace the history of the Center without touching on the history of the country, especially in the area of relations between the colonial and the first post-colonial governments and the Kenyan Somalis who inhabit the three Districts of the North Eastern Province.
The North Eastern Province of Kenya is made up of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa Districts. Garissa where the Center is located is the Provincial Headquarters and the closest of the three Districts to Nairobi. It is a Semi-Desert area with an average temperature of 35° Celsius. With an unreliable rainfall, the weather is usually hot. Due to these climatic factors, the inhabitants of the region are nomadic pastoralists. This pastoralist lifestyle coincides with that of their neighbours (and in some cases their relatives) in Somalia to their East, Ethiopia to the North. The region also boarders the Coast Province to the South.
Between 1895-1963 the British Colonial Government Administered North Eastern Kenya in the context of the Northern Frontier District (N.F.D). The whole of the NFD most of whose inhabitants are Muslims, included besides the three Districts of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa – Marsabit and Isiolo Districts. Because of the Skirmishes that existed between the Colonial Government and the Muslim Somalis of the NFD, this part of the Country was closed to the rest of the country and the movement of the people thoroughly restricted.
As independence of Kenya from the British drew near, the Somalis of the NFD agitated for cession from Kenya with the hope of merging with their brethren in Somalia. By Independence however, this region was still a part of Kenya. The first post-Independence Government failed to establish a relationship with the NFD owing to differences from what prevailed with the Colonialists. Consequently the “Bad-blood” and the aspirations for “A grater-Somalia” climaxed into a civil war with the NFD fighters on one side and the Government soldiers on the other. This painful and destructive war dubbed the “Shifta War” was to drag on until 1968.
With climatic conditions that do not support Agriculture, the only source of income for the people being livestock ( most of which had been taken by Government soldiers), the inhabitants of the NFD were rendered destitute, while many families lost their primary bread-winners, and others were disrupted never to re-unite again.
The ensuing period of relief intervention was lead by the Catholic Church which established an early and strong presence with its establishment of “the Garissa Boys Town”. While the apparent motive of the Catholic intervention appeared to be relief and charity work, the subtle yet real motive was to win Somali converts to Christianity.
With this realisation, the local Muslim Leaders launched country-wide appeals to Muslim Well-Wishers able and willing to take care of the Orphaned and destitute children (who numbered in their hundreds) to come forward.
The Young Muslim Association though only Five years old (having been formed in 1964) responded by sending a fact-finding team to Garissa. With the recommendation of the team for urgent establishment of a child-care facility, the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home (G.M.C.H) was established in August 1969.
The first 25 boys were admitted in the temporary structure near the main Mosque in Garissa Town. The Administration of the Center was set up around it’s first Director Ibrahim Ndirangu. The Young Muslim Association officials formulated policy and sought funds for the running of the Center. Effective response to the situation demanded that as many orphaned and destitute children as needed shelter and protection at the Center were admitted. This called for more resources, primarily, which was land to set up permanent and comprehensive facilities.
With the help of Allah, the Association’s application to the Government for land was accepted and 500 acres allocated for the establishment of appropriate infra-structure that is today the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home.
Al-Hamdulillahi, despite all odds, least of which was bad roads and weather, there was sufficient support from individuals and Government Departments to see the first phase of the Center successfully completed.
In July 1973, the Center was moved to the new site, which is 4 Kilometers out of the Garissa Town. By then, the inmate population comprised 77 boys. For children with a painful past, this new secure environment was more conducive for their education and early development.
In a sentence, it can then be stated that the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home owes its beginning to external as well as internal factors. The external factor being the civil war that dispossessed the people, the response by Government to an application for land, the response by local well-wishers and the secondment by the Saudi Government of personnel. The internal factor is the vision of the Executive Committee of the Young Muslim Association and the commitment and consistence of the same Committee. To all of them who played a part- May Allah reward them, as only He knows best.
The vision of the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home is to effectively, comprehensively respond to the cry and wipe the tears of every Muslim Orphan and Destitute child in the country.
The mission of the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home is to provide an environment and facilities within which the inmates can experience love, achieve self confidence, gain education benefit from an Islamic upbringing understand and prepare to serve the Muslim Society in particular and the rest of humanity in general as enshrined in the teaching of Islam.
The goal of the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home is to be a Center of excellence with the best and committed staff capable of imparting quality and relevant values to the inmates that will make them outstanding members of society.
Pursuant to the Vision, Mission and Goal statement, the Center has pursuant an integrated approach in the Education and early development of the inmates. The children are thus exposed to the Madrassa as well as School-related training. This is the path established right from the inception of the Center in 1969. Until 1978 when the Center opened its own primary school, the inmates used to attend school out of the compound. This was to compliment the Madrassa tuition that they received in the Center.
Garissa Muslim Children’s Home Madrassa
The daily Mosque activities form part of the training of the children in the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home Madrassa. This Madrassa with an enrolment of 600 pupils (250 of whom come from outside the Centre) is run by a total of 15 teachers who instruct the children in the knowledge of: Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Seera, Tawhid and Arabic Language. Apart from emphasizing to the children the importance of Akhlaaq, the teachers also train the children in Hifdh -Ul-Quran. The Centre has therefore entered its competent pupils in this area in both internal as well as National competitions. The Centre is now at I’daadi (Intermediate level) all the costs including the salaries of the Madrassa staff are paid for by the Association. As extra-curriculum activity in this area, the Teacher and some of their students undertake Da’wah activities outside the Centre.
Young Muslim Primary School
This school declared a Centre of excellence in Garissa District has a current enrolment of 800 pupils 450 of whom are from outside the Centre and include girls. The remaining 290 are all inmates of the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home. As indicated earlier, this school was established in 1978.
While the Young Muslim Association provided for the infrastructure and continues to equip the school and supervise it, the Government has provided the Teachers who follow the 8.4.4 Syllabus. The performance record of the school has consistently improved. In 1995 for example the second-best result from the province was scored by a pupil from the school. Young Muslim Primary School also participates in extra curriculum activities such as Drama, Games etc. The seriousness with which the school views these activities is attested to by the fact that the school holds a National Certificate in this regard.
Despite the fact that the school entered its pupils in the seven out of the 16 National schools placed allocated to Garissa District, the Association still hopes to improve the facilities at the Centre to enable and even better result.
Young Muslim Nursery School
In 1987, in response to request from the Muslim community, a Nursery school was opened at the Centre to provide and Islamic environment with which Muslim children can develop. The Nursery school follows the integrated syllabus which introduces Islamic values to the child side by side with secular knowledge.
By the Grace of Allah, with the support of well-wishers particularly; Local Business people, Jamjoom Family of Jeddah and Africa Muslim Agency the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home now boasts four Dormitories. Dar al-Arqam and Dar-al-salaam which were constructed through local initiatives have a capacity to accommodate 90 children each. Dar-al-Jamjoom too has a capacity to accommodate 90 children and was built by the support of the Jamjoom Family while Dar-al-Abrar which was built by funding from Africa Muslim Agency of Kuwait can accommodate 120 children. While the children are accommodated in respect of their ages, they are each allocated a bed, mattress accompanying linen and a box, while at the Centre, all the wardrobe requirements of the children are catered for by the Centre. With the box the child is given school uniform, change of clothes, shoes etc. Every year, they are given shirts, Sarong’s (Kikoyi) and Kanzu (robe). The Housemasters assigned to each of the four dormitories supervise the activities of the children in their particular dormitories and monitor their academic, and disciplinary progress or otherwise of the child.
Through the Sadqa program, well-wishers have continued to support the Center’s commitment to the provision of a balanced and nutritious diet to the children. The Sadqa program has remained consistent since its establishment in 1972.
In order to promote and sustain healthy conditions and environment for the child, the Association undertakes all the Medical expenses in respect of the inmates. To minimize reasons for hospital visits to only major cases the Association established a dispensary within the Center in 1988 to serve other ailments suffered by both the children and the staff. Though the Association had employed a clinical officer to man the dispensary, the cost of drugs and remuneration become prohibitive. Consultations are going on at the moment towards a viable alternative, Well- wishers are called upon to assist.
Young Muslim Association Farm Project
The project was set up in 1975 on a 150- acre plot with the goal of generating income for the Center. The dairy section currently with 28 animals has recorded tremendous success. The Agricultural section has recorded some disappointing results with the failure of its first citrus crop. Since 1993 however, new ideas have been solicited and new crops like Mangoes and Neem trees are being grown. At the moment 403 Mango trees which mature in 3 years have grown. Another 200 trees will be planted soon. With consultation with ICIPE, it was established that Neem tree which does very well in a climatic zone such as Garissa’s has medicinal value. Plans are underway to pant more Neem trees.
To facilitate irrigation, a 750 metre canal has been laid at the cost of KShs. 500,000/=. Self-sustainability and income-generation as the goal the Association holds for the Farm project, ideas and support for its improvement are continuously being sought.
Besides its core-activities, the Centre also runs a bursary program for needy students, distributes Islamic Literature and Provides lecture to students in different schools within the area. The Centre also supervises and Co-ordinates teaching programs in 30 Madrassas with a teaching force of 70 teachers and a student population of 2000 children. Besides providing Text Books for use in such madrassas, the Centre also oversees syllabus preparation courses for the madrassa teachers.
With such an elevated status, the Centre also plays an active role in the Socio-political activities of the region as they relate to Islam and Muslims. These include peace missions, security issues and participation in meetings affecting the inhabitants and the country as a whole.
The Centre as the base has also received full recognition by the UNICEF as its training partner for the implementation of Islamic Integrated Education Programme in the Country. Being part of the National Children’s Caucus it has become a hub of activities for the region on United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, the African charter on the Rights and Welfare of Child and dissemination of Information on the Children’s Act recently passed by the Parliament.
Thirty Five Years Later
Today about 1,650 students have gone through the Centre from different stages. These stages or levels range from Primary, Secondary, Colleges and finally University. A good number got absorbed into various trades and professions. What is common about them however is that they maintain touch with the Centre and Association. They make a difference wherever they are. They remember the Centre was there when they needed somebody to take them in. And above all, they pray for all those who contributed in one way or the other to give them a fresh start in life. This is no mean achievement in only thirty-five years! With their permission, we cite in this report a few of such old Boys of the Centre who now occupy important positions in the Society on Appendix 1.
These 12 have been selected to illustrate and relevance of the Centre to these young individuals as a provider of a second chance. One need not strain too much to imagine the probable other life they might have led without the intervention of the Centre.
Other Relevant Needs
If it has to live up to its Vision and Mission, the Centre must not only respond to the growing needs to anticipate them, and prepare effectively. While a competent staff of full-time professionals run the activities of the Centre under the Director, the need for constant training to keep abreast of new skills in the field of child-care remains paramount. The state of the world characterized by wars and refugees is signal to the capacity-building requirements that the Centre must address. As it has been the practice over the past 35 years, development of infrastructure is at the Center of these capacity-building needs of the Centre.
Al-Hamdullillah with a generous grant from the Islamic Development Bank the Secondary School Complex consisting of 4 Class Rooms, 2 Science Laboratories, 1 Computer Lab, Administration Block and Abulation Block was completed in November 2002. The School opened its doors to the first intake of 21 students in January 2003. The unique feature of the school is its syllabus which besides teaching of secular subjects also teaches Arabic and Islamic Religious Education.
Though reading library facilities are currently held in two old classrooms converted into a library, a proposal is being made for a fully fledge library complete with reading and audio/visual components.
There is a need for a standard hall that will not only be used for Assemblies but for other meetings of the students as well.
That Education includes observations needs. In this respect, learning by observation is a feature of the Kenya Education Structure and includes nature trails and tours. To fully take advantage of this opportunity, the Centre requires a Mini-Bus to transport its pupils to such outings.
While the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home has offered respite for Boys in difficult conditions, it has only assisted Girls in Similar condition by providing for their education up to the primary level. This assistance too is limited to those who can find shelter of their own within Garissa Town. The need for a Centre for Girls such as the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home is therefore a real one.
Current projections show a need for another Dormitory with a capacity of 80 children.
The 8.4.4. System of education is geared towards developing the pupils and students in skills. While conceding that some of the inmates of Garissa Muslim Children’s Home have not performed well in their examinations for absorption into the labour force, the inability and unpreparedness of the Centre to absorb them is lamentable. It is proposed that as part of a future development strategy, the Centre considers introduction of a vocational training and skill imparting College in the compound of the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home.
The Centre has provided the much needed Home to the needy for the past 35 year by the Grace of Allah and the support the Association continues to receive from individuals, families and organizations both within and without the country. Both the public and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have supported the Centre in different projects. The office of Daawah and Irshad, Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf Saudi Arabia have seconded the services of a qualified personnel.
Africa Muslim Agency:
Since 1983 the Agency has continued to sponsor a number of the inmates of the Centre, thus giving it much needed financial support. While acknowledging the lump some donations received for specific projects and activities of the Centre, the sponsorships under the Sponsor-a-Child Scheme deserve special mention. To each of these supporters the Association wishes to record its appreciation and gratitude. Insha’Allah, Allah will surely reward those who strive on His path with Jannah.
If this report appears to emphasis achievements it is because it narrates the story of the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home during the past 35 years.
In terms of the Vision however, there is much to cry about. As the expenditure estimates for the next three years on Appendix 11 will indicate the current budgetary obligations are overwhelming if left to the Association alone to mobilize. The relevant needs too need looking into and funds mobilized. Yet the greatest challenge remains that of preparedness in terms of meeting the needs of all the children in difficult circumstances when such needs arise.
You Can Give Us Your Hand
Thirty five years ago, only in a dream could one imagine that the temporary shelter where the 25 boys were enrolled would become to complex the Garissa Muslim Children’s Home is today. This dream was made true by the Grace of Allah and the faith and Trust our supporters placed in us. The progress made at the Center so far justifies the dream of a bigger Centre with all the facilities necessary for the realisation of the vision of the Centre.
Sponsor-A-Child Scheme: For KShs. 2,000/= a month you will help pay the fees, provide food, clothing and textbooks to one child.
Zakaat, Sadqa and Donations paid to the Young Muslim Association only helps with the upkeep of the unsponsored children but sustain other specific projects of the Centre and general programmes of the Association.
Endowments and Legacies left to the Centre or Association guarantees self-sustainability and immortalizes the dream
For Thirty Five years children who could otherwise have died in infancy or grew up miserable and probably in a life of crime have had a second chance at this Centre. Is it not necessary that more children in similar circumstances have a place to look forward to?
Allah (S.W.T) says in the Quran:
“So gives what is due to kindred, the needy and the wayfarer, that is best for those who seek the countenance of Allah and its they who will prosper: “……………. But that which you give for charity, seeking the countenance of Allah, (will increase) it is these who will get a recompense multiplied”
The Prophet (S.A.W) has said:
“He and the care taker of (sponsor) the Orphan are like these two fingers in Janna and he pointed to his index and next finger implying that they will be side by side in Jannah.
It is in this spirit that we request you to extend your hand in co-operation and send your contribution to:
YOUNG MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OR YOUNG MUSLIM ASSOCIATION
A/C N0 35025-05 A/C NO 011328-0
HABIB BANK HABIB BANK AG ZURICH
KENYATTA AVENUE KOINANGE STREET
P.O. BOX 30673 P.O. BOX 30584
NAIROBI – (KENYA) NAIROBI
Listed Below are Some of Garissa Muslim Children’s Home Old Boys
Ibrahim Mohamud 1974-1981 Has MSC in Environmental Education served as
a teacher, Headmaster and currently National Co-ordinator of Wildlife Clubs of Kenya.
Abdulaziz Sheikh 1972-1982 BA, MA in Journalism worked with government and currently working with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Abdisalam Sheikh Mohamed 1971-1981 Certificate in Social Work, working with Young Muslim Association as Administrator of Garissa Muslim Children’s Home – Member of Kenya Adult Education Board, Kenya Board of Mental Health and District Education Board and District Health Board and District Health Management Board.
Mohamed Aden Mahat 1974-1984: Certificate in Social Work, Awarded Presidential
Silver Star for his service to the community, Appointed 3rd Secretary Embassy of Kenya in Abu Dhabi. Currently he is the Kenyan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Abdirashid Sheikh 1972-1983 BCS. Civil Engineering currently working with
Ministry of Works based at Wajir North Eastern Province.
Hajir Sharif 1969-1981 Diploma in Special Education, worked as
Headmaster of the special school for the disabled in Garissa, Currently BEd at Kenyatta University
Dagane Mohamed 1975 – 1990 BA-Journalism Al-Azhar University worked as
A Public Relation Officer-Africa Muslim Agency currently working in Saudi Arabia.
Khalif Dol 1979-1990 BA Nairobi, worked with CARE currently
Employed as a District Officer with the office of the President.
Captain Mohamed Nur Ali Joined the Kenya Army – Currently serving as Major. Now
Khalfan Jabir Actively involved in Youth & Daawah Programme, worked with Kenindia Assurance Co. Ltd. Dealing with Litigations, Currently working with Young Muslim Association in Youth and Dawah Department
Idle Ibrahim Ahmed Graduated with a B.Sc.(Environmental Studies) Second Class Honor Upper Division Degree from Kenyatta University . Conferred on 17th October 1997 by President of Kenya. Working with Barclays Bank of Kenya as a Country Service Manager.
Aden Guliye Yusuf Graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree from University of Nairobi. Currently employed by the Ministry of Health as General Superintendent of Garissa General Hospital.
This piece is taken from the blog of the Young Muslim Association.