Stories from Our Community
Kennedy was one of Ameena Centre’s first students when we opened our classroom doors in 2011. Bright and dedicated, he consistently placed in the highest percentages on his annual exams.
After leaving Ameena Centre, Kennedy moved on to a local primary school and continued to excel, scoring at the top of his class year after year. Ameena Centre supported him with school fees, supplies, and supplemental food throughout this time.
Because of his success, Kennedy was accepted into a high school of national ranking. He hopes to be an aeronautical engineer and has every chance to achieve this goal if we can help him complete his education.
The oldest of five children, Kennedy’s mother Lilian was a volunteer at the school for five years before she became employed as a casual laborer in the kitchen. Her daily interactions with Ameena Centre staff have transformed her family and given her a sense of purpose. Ameena Center Director Mercy invested in Lilian from day one, teaching her safe cooking and cleaning practices to protect her children from continued reinfection from scabies in their one-room dirt floored home that housed seven people.
When Lilian routinely volunteered, Director Mercy and Cook Esther supported her with additional housing supplies like bedding, towels and cooking supplies.
Kennedy’s three siblings attend Ameena Centre and are following in his excellent example.
Winifred moved from a volunteer position to a paid position as head cook. She is happy, thriving and giving back to her community.
In 2015, Ameena Centre school was in its fourth full year of operations. We had eight staff and around 50-60 students attending. Parents began to volunteer at the school, cleaning classrooms and toilets and helping with meal prep.
Winifred Mwende was one of those parents. While her daughter Lillian, a bright student, attended classes, Winifred would stay to assist. She began to develop a relationship with Esther, Ameena Centre cook, and Mercy, Ameena Centre program director.
Then, in mid-2015 while they were walking home from school, Lillian was hit by a motorcycle.
Winifred rushed her daughter to the district hospital located a few miles away. This hospital is a Level 5, meaning the highest level of care in a municipal area. Even still, the waiting room at the time consisted of an outdoor concrete pad with a roof covering and wooden benches. There was one intake window. It was not uncommon for patients to check-in and wait all day to be seen by medical professionals.
Lillian died in that waiting area before she was seen by a doctor.
Lillian’s death was difficult on the staff and students of Ameena Centre. They grieved as they kept positive for their other students. They assisted the family with funeral expenses and planted a tree on campus in her honor.
Even in the depths of her grief, Winifred kept volunteering. It gave her a structure and something to look forward to.
And eight years later, Winifred moved from a volunteer position to a paid position as head cook. She is happy, thriving and giving back to her community.
In a part of the world where death is all too common, and even expected, we are bringing hope one day at a time, one family at a time.