2019 is well and truly with us. The Centre opened up on January 2nd after a ten day break for Christmas and New year. However, the birthing unit remained in service 24/7 throughout and I even did a tour of duty Christmas eve waiting for a baby Jesus look alike. It didn’t happen until later into Christmas day.
Christmas Day may have been quiet but that can’t be said of the birthing unit since it was opened on June 2nd 2018. Well over five hundred mothers have presented themselves with around 470 babies and the difference being referrals of mothers with complications.
The birthing project is a free service for the mothers to be spoilt for a few hours and have a baby with the best of care available. The free service was built on the promise of a NHIF (National Health Insurance Fund) rebate to Ruben for every birth of a mother with her I D.
This ‘Linda Mama” (Care for Mothers) was an initiative of Kenya’s First lady some years back and something provoked by the high rates of neo natal deaths in the Country. As good as the rebate promise was it has taken till yesterday February 8th 2019 for the first installment to be paid. Yes, the US$5,000 payment in the new bank account made for great reading. This represents about one hundred and thirty-five mothers, so we have our hands out still for more. The wait was certainly worth it and now that we are on the books, we are counting on things getting faster.
School started on January 3rd but it took a few weeks to have all the children back as many had traveled to their rural home places and with peak demand for buses in the first weeks of January, fares are not very children friendly. Three of our long-time school staff got government jobs and departed to rural places. Our preference was that they be retained here, but the partnership between Ruben Centre and the Ministry of Education that created a Public sponsored school sadly remains a theoretical framework.
Last year the Centre focused lots of energy on a mid - term five-year Strategic Plan review and now the task is to act on the recommendations and build on what has been achieved so far, so that all the strategic actions listed in the plan are actually achieved.
Heads of the many projects are busy completing their 2019 work plans that will chart their course for the year.
A part of the review was looking at transitioning beyond the Director and so 2019 has been ear marked as the year of ‘The Business plan.’ So how does Ruben centre fund its many projects and how does it move beyond just surviving month by month on the good will of some generous people. The Centre has begun 2019 with US $ 240,000 deficit or just over 26% budget shortfall, just a reminder of how important the Plan is as the future administrators look to move forward beyond Edmund Rice and Frank O’Shea’s theory of “Providence Is Our Inheritance. ‘
The business plan will then set the scene for a new Five-year Strategic plan to be worked on in the first half of 2020.
The administration has been busy with auditors who are doing the 2018 audit.
One new initiative of the director has been the mobilization of the Ruben Primary school alumni. The Grade eight and Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KPCE) results from 2017 were very ordinary and the school found itself struggling to respond to all the social issues present within the Grade eight students so this initiative is an attempt to get in early with this year’s three hundred and sixty Grade eight students.
a. To motivate the Grade 8 students to succeed with this important final year of their primary education. .
b. To help nurture life skills in them.
c. To build a good spirit in the Grade 8 class students.
Already a training day for Alumni leaders has been held and the first of the monthly Saturday morning gatherings of the alumni and students has been held. See website alumni
Visitors are always a key part of the life of Ruben Centre and this year has been no exception. The year began with Maggie and Dave and three daughters getting their hands dirty. `Maggie is my sister and of course it is always great to have the support of my family present. Their visit can be summed up with a variation on an old saying, “They came, they saw, and they ……..donated.”
Then eighteen Americans from Seattle came. Their presence was part of the Brightonjones Richer lives Foundation and they happily joined into the life of the place and hopefully it will now translate into more ongoing support to Ruben Centre.
The Centre now awaits the visit by Kurt Fearnley (Australian para Olympian and NSW Australian of the year 2019 )and a number of Australians. We hope to have the Australian High Commissioner to Kenya open our very own Kurt Fearnley Special Needs Unit on February 25th. More about this visit will follow.
So, as I wind this up, let it happen and let invite all you friends of Ruben to journey with us this year and keep up to date with the Ruben website and Facebook.