Fokko Doyen is a man full of verve. The former Lufthansa Cargo flight captain has barely completed his first year as a retiree, yet instead of sitting in a rocking chair, he is determined
to push his passion, Cargo Human Care (CHC), to the next level. Ambitious goals are listed on the charity’s 2022 agenda, all due for implementation or at least initialization within the next few
In addition to activities in Nairobi, Kenya's hinterlands will also see new CHC initiatives. Living conditions for many children and young people there are particularly precarious.
In this interview, the man dedicated to social and charitable work around the clock, illustrates the association’s plans.
CFG: Fokko, what is the status of the various CHC humanitarian projects in Kenya at the start of this new year?
F.D.: Overall highly satisfactory. All our projects developed very well in 2021 despite the pandemic and a long period of virtual standstill in 2020 during the Kenyan lockdown.
The children are all back in school, both those from our Mothers' Mercy Home and the pupils at our two schools. Our students at the John Kaheni Residence were able to resume their vocational training/studies. In other words: everyone supported by CHC sponsorships is “back on track” again.
And we completed the “Water for Bubisa” project, a costly and important 2021 milestone for CHC. Since late October, the solar-powered desalination plant has been providing clean drinking water to 8,000 people near Marsabit in northern Kenya.
CFG: Speaking of 2022: CHC intends to partner with a Japanese organization that is very active in Nairobi. What are the specifics?
F.D.: The project, called “Garden of Siloam”, is a cooperation. Japanese physician, Dr. Kazuko Kamon, is the instigator of this project. In a small, rented house on the outskirts of Nairobi, Dr.
Kazuko and her team care for almost 100 severely disabled children, also helping their parents. Often these are single mothers who are completely overwhelmed by the situation and with hardly any
opportunity to earn a living. Our pediatrician, Dr. Thomas Berger, sometimes referred children from our Medical Centre to the Garden of Siloam as it is the only institution of this kind in Kenya!
Unfortunately, the need is immense because the care at birth in local hospitals is often insufficient. Not to mention the many home births without any medical assistance, frequently with dire
That is why CHC has decided to strongly support Dr. Kazuko’s planned new building, capable of accommodating 200 children and young people. We have provided logistical support through our previous encouraging experience with local Kenyan architect, Bulli, and a reliable building contractor. The cornerstone for this much needed facility will be laid this year.
CFG: You also plan to enlarge the Happy Child Education Centre. Why is this project urgent, when will it be built, and what dimensions are we talking about?
F.D.: We opened the Happy Child Education Centre at the start of 2019 to accommodate two preschool classes and grade one to four of Primary School. The plan was to transfer the children to
another school after they completed the fourth grade.
Now Kenya's school system is being changed to a six-year primary and six-year secondary school system (formerly 8 and 4 years respectively). We have discussed the understandable wish of the Principal, Tabitha Njuguna, to now also include grades five and six in the Happy Child Education Centre and have decided to provide the required funds. Tabitha does an excellent job of managing this school which is located in the middle of a slum area, and we want to further support and promote the project both for her benefit and that of the children.
The school grounds are quite small, so we will construct a two-story structure on a 6 by 8-meter footprint. The building application has been submitted, the bid has been received, and we're ready to kick the project off! Thanks to its lightweight design, the new building will open its doors when the new school year starts this May.
CFG: A new boarding house for the children at the CHC-initiated Wings Academy is due to be built in Marsabit, in the northeastern dry zone of Kenya. What is need and won't CHC get bogged
down if projects are initiated in Kenya's hinterland? Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on aid facilities in the greater Nairobi area?
F.D.: I'll start with the “getting bogged down”: no, we are not getting bogged down. In fact, we are deliberately setting ourselves up broadly both spatially and in both areas: medical care and education.
Our principles: high focus on the effective use of donations, close supervision and management of existing projects, and no particular dependence on any of our local partners.
Local networking is important, hence our cooperation with several local partners: this includes the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Nairobi and in Marsabit, Doctor Kazuko Kamon, and a school in the Massai Mara, where we operate our new outpatient clinic. We also have the John Kaheni Residence that we run completely independently, hence without the support of any local institution.
Since 2012, we have gradually expanded the Wings Academy into a full primary school plus preschool. This school is extremely well run and is the only educational institution in this very poor and governmentally neglected area in Northern Kenya.
So why, now, the addition of a boarding house? Because the children have to walk long distances where many dangers lurk. On the one hand, there are wild animals such as elephants and hyenas, but an even greater risk for the youngsters are the rivalries and fights between different tribes. Girls are often raped, and recently, in the Marsabit area, three kids were even killed on their way to school. Another reason for our commitment is that the children often arrive at school completely emaciated and half starved. This is why we have opted to integrate kitchens in the boarding house layout.
CFG: As early as this May, a new sponsorship model will be introduced for the benefit of children at the Wings Academy going on to secondary school to achieve a higher level of education.
What is the status of this specific project?
F.D.: The first students will now finish Primary School with grade eight. That is, the old Kenyan school system still applies to the Wings Academy. We were on site in August 2021 and were able to see for ourselves that many of these students are very ambitious, bringing home very good school reports. It would be a shame not to give these youngsters the opportunity to attend secondary school and perhaps also subsequently be admitted to our John Kaheni Residence for vocational training or studies. Therefore, we want to support these children by way of sponsorships and send them to a Secondary Boarding School. To achieve this, we need sponsors willing to support a child with a donation of €50 per month. We are currently still looking for sponsors.
By the way, girls protected in a boarding school, are not available for the traditional marriage market. This is an important point since once they turn 14, girls can be married off against their will in this Kenyan region.
CFG: Looking back: During the pandemic, facilities were forced to close temporarily and CHC’s foster children had to be accommodated elsewhere on a makeshift basis. A real challenge, since most of them are orphans. Did this disruption have a noticeable impact on the young people and therefore on CHC's activities?
F.D.: Yes, there is no doubt that the ordered removal of the children was anything but easy for everyone involved. The children and young people in our homes come from bitterly poor backgrounds, almost all of them have lost their parents. The sudden order to relocate the children was not met with much enthusiasm by their relatives. Those who were already living from hand to mouth, i.e. from odd jobs that suddenly no longer existed in the crisis, were not happy about another hungry child in the family. This was also the reason for us to start our “Family Aid” project in March 2020 and to call for donations for food: €60 can feed a family of 5 for an entire month. The amount of donations was enormous, and the program is only now slowly coming to an end after almost two years. At its peak, we provided 250 families with the most necessary items.
However, not all of the children were well cared for during that time – some of the families were simply overwhelmed. There was even mistreatment, and sadly for us and the girls involved: two of our girls became pregnant. We have taken these young girls and their children back into our care.
At the end of 2020, all the children were able to return to our facilities. Yet we brought back some of those being mistreated earlier to shelter them as best as we could. There are tragic stories that I could tell.
CFG: Regarding the future: What should Cargo Human Care’s balance sheet look like on December 31, 2022?
F.D.: Here are our bullet points that should be accomplished by then:
- Happy Child Education Centre established as a full Primary School.
- Wings Academy provides boarding house space for x children (the x will be specified in the coming weeks)
- New sponsorship model for students of Wings Academy established
- Bubisa water project runs self-sufficiently - i.e. income from water sales is enough to operate the plant.
And, of course: all projects continue to function at high level - I will ensure this with other CHC volunteers by regular visits and close contact with our staff in Kenya. Even as a pensioner you can push projects forward. (Cargo) Human Care is not a matter of age!
CFG: Fokko, thank you for sharing your views and ambitions. We wish you good fortune and success for all your Kenyan CHC projects.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund
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