ARE YOU AWARE THAT ...

... girls who reach puberty lose up to one third of their schooling due to the fact that they have to stay at home whilst menstruating? They are unable to leave their homes because they have to use rags or newspaper instead of feminine towels (STs). STs are too expensive for them to buy so they have to wash out the rags but they cannot hang them up to dry as they would be visible to all their neighbours. They, therefore, try to dry them indoors but often have to reuse them damp, as they don't have sufficient rags, which causes infection, thus keeping them off school even longer.

Direct Link has a source of STs that cost only £5.00 per annum per girl. We have now introduced this project into our fund raising, to enable the girls to stay at school all the time, thus increasing their performance level.

... physically or mentally disabled or deaf children are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to a poor family choosing which of their children should receive education. We have a number of children who contracted polio as babies and now have withered legs so that they cannot stand or walk. These children are frequently found hidden away in their guardians' homes as they are often considered to be cursed and an embarrassment, and they can be treated almost like slaves, having to do very manual tasks and not being sent to school. One of our students was discovered hidden behind his house, unable to go out or to communicate with anyone other than his guardians, who treated him very badly. Another boy was found at his home, refusing to go back to school because he had been bullied and shunned by the other children who were fearful of him. When our representative found him, he said that he could not return to any school because he had to crawl on his bottom, he was constantly muddy and wet, his socks were dirty and he couldn't carry any books.

We brought him to school, to board, and gave him a tricycle with all his own text books. He was fed in the Boarders' Kitchen and had no more worries about being wet or dirty. His academic marks were poor when he first arrived but after two terms he was 4th out of 50 children and then passed his KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) exams so well that he was offered a place at a very prestigious school for the disabled. If he continues to work as well as he has, he will definitely be offered a place at a university.

He is an example of the brilliant brains that are being hidden away from their own community and never given a chance to flourish in the wider world. 

The deaf children suffer a similar fate, as their guardians cannot communicate well with them and appear to think that the children are not worthy of receiving any education and are just a burden on the family. We have now established a college for training guardians and the general community in deaf signing language, which has proved to be a revelation to everyone concerned. For the first time, a church congregation has participated in services conducted by deaf people, and they have realised that the deaf children are just like anyone else.

"Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who may cross your path." Abdu'l-Bahá