Its the time of the year where new students are joining high school to start off their four year programme. When I first begun working in Mathare about 15 years ago, very few students made it to and through high school. Over the past few years this has changed a lot and more and more students are getting a high school education. Yet, it is still not easy. High school education still remains very expensive to many families living on 2US$ a day. This week I have received many calls and visits all with a single request, to help a student get funds for high school. Today, a young girl that I have known for years, ran away from her home heart broken, when I could not assure her that I would get funding for her to join high school. She felt that she had run out of options. Luckily she was found safe a few hours later. For her and many others, it is a chance to further their education and escape the cycle of poverty and for all of them , it is four years where they are able to be in a safe space that develops them while keeping them out of the negative peer pressure and challenges of a slum that has ended the lives of many before them. The question on many young boys and girls tonight is, “will I go to high school?”
Back to school…kind of
School re-opened last week and we were able to start of right at our school in Mathare. We have been receiving many new students and we even had to turn away some of those asking to join the school. That is always a hard moment but we try direct them to other good schools.
The other school that I work with in Gachie, is a different challenge. Last year we had to move out of the premises we were letting and we thought we had a new space until a last minute change threw everything into a spin. As schools re-opened last week we found ourselves without a place to bring the children to. That resulted into a lot of leg work and conversations as a team of volunteers, teachers and parents worked to get a new space. So though its a week later we have found a new space where we move to tomorrow. So hopefully, if all goes well, the kids will be in class by end of week.
Update – Dec 2015
Spent the last few weeks preparing new systems, hiring staff and organising resources for a day care centre and primary school in Mathare Valley that we will be running from January 2016. The school serves about 200 children from low income backgrounds. Excited that we get to serve these children and prepare them as future leaders.
We currently focus on serving the people of Mathare Valley, one of the oldest informal settlement in Kenya, with thousands living below the poverty line.
Vitabu Project – This aims to bridge the gap created by lack of textbooks for students which affects the pace of teaching and learning, disadvantages slow learners and increases the work load for both teachers and students who have to share the few books available in most schools. The Vitabu Project makes the books available at a one-off fee, resourcing the students throughout their schooling years as long as they turn in books previously received from the project.
School of Leadership – This is currently working with 32 high school girls to equip them with skills they need to lead themselves and others, laying a strong foundation for future leadership in different arenas of life.
Healthy Homes – Providing nutritious meals beginning with school going children and reaching out to their families to provide affordable nutritious food to ensure proper nutrition for the children in school and at home.
Mathare Technology School – Using technology, this computer lab, gives access to a whole world of life building knowledge to the children and community of Mathare.
Technology can be a powerful tool when used right. After many months of dreaming about bringing technological tools to enhance learning for children in Mathare, the dream has become a reality! Was finally able to set up a 10-machine computer lab at a school in Mathare.
African Girl by Naomi Wachira
What an amazing voice, and what a beautiful song… Her name is Naomi Wachira the song is called African Girl
The safest place
Two days ago, on my way home, I saw four high school students (3 boys and a girl) walking home from school in full uniform. This was on a major road close to their school and seemingly not caring that someone would see them, they were drinking alcohol straight from a can. I was shocked! The more I thought about it the more I realised that, to a great extent we have made our schools safe and homes safe from things that we consider dangerous to our children such as drinking alcohol. Clearly, this did not stop these four students. We must try our best to keep our schools, homes, and streets safe for the next generation but the safest place is when we teach them to make the right choice regardless of where they are, what is available and who is watching. The safest place is not an alcohol free zone, its an enlightened mind and an empowered heart. The safest place has to be inside them.