St. Vincent de Paul Community Development Organization

The mission of the organization is to build a society where all children are provided the necessary love and care essential for growth. The organization is run by a small group of local volunteers, dedicated to improving the lives of poor and marginalized children in Kibera, Kenya by promoting their social integration into the community.
Nov 30, 2012

St. Vincent's Tackles HIV and AIDS in Kibera

December 1st is World AIDS Day.....

So we thought we would take this opportunity to share with you how St. Vincent's is making an impact on the fight against HIV and AIDS in Kibera, where the HIV prevalence is estimated at 15 percent, more than double the national prevalence of 6.3 percent.

Because children living with HIV need proper health care, medication and nutrition, each year St. Vincent's supports HIV testing of children newly admitted into our Nursery School Baby Class (approximately 30 children annually), following parent/guardian consent. Testing is conducted each Winter by qualified providers at a partner institution, called Lea Toto. For those children that are HIV-positive, an appropriate food and medicine regime is determined and agreed upon with parents and guardians to ensure adherence.

This all may sound simple -- but in reality -- it's actually quite complex. Because of the stigma and discrimination that is still associated with HIV and AIDS, many parents are resistant to having their children tested - as their child's status will be a reflection of their own status, which they may not know or be scared to disclose. To overcome this reluctance, St. Vincent's initiates discussions with parents starting at the beginning of the school year, to encourage them to allow their child to be tested so that the child can receive the appropriate care and support. This requires patience and persistence, as discussions take place gradually over a period of time so that parents can come to understand the importance of testing not only for their children, but for themselves too, in a way that is comfortable for them.

Almost always, St. Vincent's is successful in demonstrating to parents -- men and women both -- the importance of knowing their status. As a result, nearly all Baby Class children participate in the testing campaign each year, with those found to be positive receiving the attention they need to stay healthy. St. Vincent's effectiveness is attributed to the organization's role as a trusted resource in the community that is committed to promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable children as its first priority.

Nov 12, 2012

St. Vincent's Director Honored as Keynote Speaker in San Francisco

Lucy Kayiwa and Nursery School Student
Lucy Kayiwa and Nursery School Student

We are excited to announce that our Director, Ms. Lucy Kayiwa, or 'Mama Lucy' as they call her in Kibera, has been selected as the keynote speaker at an upcoming event in San Francisco, California hosted by One World Children's Fund.

On November 16th, Lucy will share her experience to the estimated 400 guests in establishing and running St. Vincent's Nursery School and Rescue Center in Kibera, the population that St. Vincent's serves and the challenges that the organization and the families face in ensuring orphans and other vulnerable children in Kibera have the resources to survive and thrive.

This event will provide great exposure for St. Vincent's at a time when the organization is working hard to attract institutional support from foundations and companies in both Kenya and abroad to help keep operations running.

For more information on the event, please click here

And thank you for your continued support!

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Nov 6, 2012

St. Vincent's Rescue Center Children Receive Life Skills Training

St. Vincent
St. Vincent's Rescue Center

My name is Lisa Helm. This past summer, upon graduating with my Master's in Social Work from Loyola University, I had the amazing opportunity to join St. Vincent's in Kibera, Kenya as their Social Work Fellow. During my fellowship, I worked closely with St. Vincent's staff, including the Rescue Center House Mother, Grace, to plan and roll out a Life Skills Training Program for the children. The program incorporated reproductive health education sessions, together with financial literacy instruction. The program was a great success and I am so pleased to be able to share with you a bit about my work this summer. 

Reproductive Health Education

The nine-day reproductive health education course, entitled ‘Taking Care of Your Heart,’ was conducted for Rescue Center girls and focused on the two roles of the heart: the physical and emotional. Girls learned about basic aspects of human biology, pregnancy, and puberty, and engaged in discussions around good communication skills, relationship strategies, dating, and ways to say ‘no.’  This education program provided critical information to our adolescent girls, particularly in the context of Kibera, where domestic and gender based violence rates in the community are extremely high. Meanwhile, the Rescue Center boys received a compressed, two-day course.

Financial Literacy

A weekly Financial Literacy program was introduced to all Rescue Center children over the course of three months. Sessions began with an introduction to basic financial concepts, including saving, budgets, and responsible spending. Throughout the program, children were engaged in hands-on activities through which they had the opportunity to practice their budgeting and savings skills, including through field trips to local sites and markets. The course was geared to provide the Rescue Center youth with skills that they will need to be successful in their adult lives.

St. Vincent's Rescue Center provides a safe and loving home to 18 children in Kibera, Kenya. The organization is at a critical juncture --- as many of its children are reaching adolescence, St. Vincent's has the challenging task of providing them with the information, skills and resources to help them lead healthy and productive lives and to help them develop into successful and motivated adults. This is a challenge for all families in Kibera -- as there are many hurdles that stand in the way to children's successful transition to adulthood --- and it is also a challenge in a group home setting like that of the Rescue Center. It is for these reasons, that I am particularly pleased with the support and active participation of the St. Vincent's staff in launching the Life Skills Training Program, both of which were key factors in the program's success. I am thrilled to have been a part of this initiative and so thankful for my time with the amazing children at the Rescue Center!   

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