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.
Jul 3, 2012

Providing Psychosocial Support

The children residing at the Rescue Center have all experienced some form of trauma; whether it is abuse at the hands of a family member, the death of a caregiver, abandonment, the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS, or a combination of these. Each child arrives at the Rescue Center in need of not only shelter and food, but support for their emotional development. It is in this light that St. Vincent’s looks to introduce an innovative program component by integrating age-appropriate psychosocial services into the existing programs. Integrating psychosocial support services will address children’s emotional, social, mental and spiritual needs, thereby increasing resiliency and coping mechanisms and contributing to decreased incidents of depression, grief, fear, and anxiety among this highly vulnerable population.

While psychosocial support is a vital element for children who have experienced trauma and grief, it is an often overlooked component of NGO programs. Therefore, St. Vincent’s is at the forefront of providing comprehensive care to orphan and vulnerable children through the introduction of psychosocial components. St. Vincent’s is supporting the growth of the whole child, and not just addressing their material needs.

St. Vincent’s has taken the first step by establishing a fellowship program with The Forgotten International. In this first year of implementation, the Social Work fellow is working at St. Vincent’s for three months to establish the foundation and framework for future psychosocial support services. The young lady is currently working with the children at the Rescue Center to introduce basic life skills, long term goals and planning, and teaching how to establish meaningful relationships with peers and adults. The fellow has also worked closely with staff to identify ways in which psychosocial support can be easily integrated into existing programs. In the near future, St. Vincent’s aims to hire a part-time counselor to provide in- depth, culturally appropriate psychosocial support through group and individual counseling. It is an exciting time as St. Vincent’s continues its’ holistic approach of caring for children and their families.

Jun 4, 2012

The Safety Net Approach

Medical Camp
Medical Camp

St. Vincent's Helps Vulnerable Children Access Critical Care: Lilian's Story 

During a recent St. Vincent's board meeting in April, a young girl came to St. Vincent’s with sadness on her face. Although the girl refused to speak, St. Vincent’s learned through her cousin, Peterson, who accompanied her, that the girl’s name was Lilian and she was a double orphan, having lost both of her parents.

Peterson explained to St. Vincent’s that they came to seek financial assistance to help Lilian undergo a needed operation to remove a tumor that had been detected during recent medical tests. Lilian’s family tried to seek support from friends and relatives in the Kibera community to cover the Ksh 100,000 (approximately $1,200 USD) procedure, but had failed to collect even a quarter of the needed amount.  In the meantime, Lilian dropped out of school due to her condition.

The family then learned about St. Vincent’s through another local school, Shine Academy. St. Vincent’s has become known in the community as a trusted, reliable resource to which people can go when they are in urgent need of support. Weekly meetings open to the community, such as the one Lilian and her cousin attended, help identify those families in greatest need and St. Vincent’s works with families to identify solutions and harnesses its networks to ensure families are connected to additional services when needed. Through this approach, St. Vincent's program creates a safety net for families in the community so that they are able to continue caring for the children. 

On their first visit, St. Vincent’s encouraged Lilian and Peterson to try to raise the additional amount needed by holding a fundraiser in one of the local public spaces easily accessible to friends and relatives.  The pair returned weeks later, reporting that despite their efforts, they were still unable to secure the necessary amount. And now, the cost of surgery had been increased due to its urgency. With no other viable options available and the need for the surgery immediate, the board members promptly decided that St. Vincent's would contribute the balance so that Lilian could proceed with having the surgery without further delay.

Two weeks later, Lilian and Peterson once again came to the board meeting, this time around with good news. The operation had been successful and Lilian now had hopes to return to school. Lillian shared with the board her future ambitions to become a doctor so that she could save lives for the less fortunate in the community. Lilian has since been enrolled in St. Catherine Nangina Girls boarding primary school in Western Province, Kenya where she is in Class 6.


Healing the Sick: St. Vincent's Collaborates with Family Hope Charity & Chamberlain College to Host Free Medical Clinic

In early May, St. Vincent’s collaborated with Family Hope Charity (Chicago, IL) and Chamberlain College of Nursing to host a free, two-day medical camp for the Kibera community at St. Vincent’s Nursery School in Olympic Estate, Kibera. The medical team comprised 23 medical experts from the United States, four local doctors and five clinical nurses. A team of 18 local volunteers supported the team with translation.

Mildred Wesonga, a local high school student who attended the medical camp commented: “Here, the personnel were very friendly to me and for the first time, I find this very relaxing. As from experience, most of the doctors I have visited were not friendly to me in the local clinics in Kibera. My prayer is that we should have more of these camps annually to help us community members.”  Mildred attended the camp because of ongoing chest pains she had been experiencing.

An interview with one of the nursing students working at the camp, Carolyn Lay, says of the event, “It was really good to give a listening ear to people as they tell you what ails them and by the end of the day, the trust they all have in you…. But for me, the most inspiring thing was to give education to the sick people who showed up.”

A total of 576 children and families received medical and dental care and treatment at the event.  

Medical Camp
Medical Camp
Medical Camp
Medical Camp
St. Vincent
St. Vincent's Hosts Medical Camp
Medical Camp
Medical Camp
Apr 2, 2012

St. Vincent's 2011 Achievements

Agnes posing for the camera
Agnes posing for the camera

St. Vincent’s is pleased to share with you this report on its work in 2011. Thanks to your support, the organization has been able to accomplish the following in the past year:


Summary of 2011 Achievements:

  • 78 children enrolled in our Nursery School, including 25 new students
  • 17 children supported by our Rescue Center
  • At least 23 children and 5 parents received medical treatment
  • 10 nursery school alumni supported with school fees/educational supplies to attend primary and secondary schools in Kibera
  • 9 nursery school families supported with food rations


Nursery School:

Established in 2000, St. Vincent’s Nursery School provides a safe place for children to go during the day where they receive education from a trained and dedicated teaching staff and two daily meals. This service enables parents/caretakers to seek work, while children are accompanied in a safe environment.  St. Vincent's subsidizes school fees depending on families' ability to pay which allows the most needy and vulnerable children to benefit from our program.

In January 2011, St. Vincent’s enrolled 25 new children into our Nursery School’s Baby Class, bringing the total number of children at the school to 78. Early childhood development programs, such as St. Vincent’s, are among the most critical interventions for protecting vulnerable children: they increase the capacity of families to care for children and are a proven cost-effective measure for investing in children’s long term development. Despite these positive attributes, today fewer than 1% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to early stimulation or pre-school programs.

St. Vincent’s Nursery School children come exclusively from vulnerable families and the majority of newly admitted children are malnourished and present with stunted growth and thus, are particularly susceptible to disease and infection. By the end of the year, through the nutrition services provided by St. Vincent’s, most of these children have grown and developed and are now in fine health. In addition, the care and attention provided by Nursery School staff is essential for personal growth and development, which enables children to develop healthy self-esteem and ultimately to facilitate healthy interactions with peers from different backgrounds.


Rescue Center:

In 2011, St. Vincent's supported a total of 17 children through its Rescue Center. Eleven children lived full time at the center where they receive shelter, care & support, and attend local schools in/around Kibera. Children at the Rescue Center are also provided opportunities to interact and associate with their relatives in preparation to fully integrate back to their community in the future. In addition to the children living full time at the Rescue Center, another six children were supported remotely, whereby St. Vincent's covers children's boarding school and transport fees and provides shelter/care & support for children during school breaks.  


Community Outreach Services:

St. Vincent’s takes a whole family approach to its service provision; utilizing our nursery school as an entry point into households and then working with families to identify and address the basic needs of the entire household. This includes helping caregivers to start businesses, assisting families with children’s school fees once they leave the nursery school, providing food to HIV-affected families, helping families to secure shelter and covering medical fees of children and families.  St. Vincent’s weekly meetings, which are open to the community, provide a forum for identifying families with additional support needs. St. Vincent’s draws upon its existing networks with other service providers and allocates additional resources to ensure those families are connected to additional services. Through this approach, St. Vincent's program creates a safety net for families in the community so that they are able to continue caring for the children. 

Health & Nutrition ServicesIn 2011, St. Vincent’s supported at least 23 children and 5 parents/guardians to receive medical treatment and an additional 9 food insecure families with nutrition support through food rations.  For children and parents in need of medical care, St. Vincent’s accompanied them to the clinic or hospital if needed, purchased medication directly, discussed medical regimes with clinics or pharmacies, and helped track adherence to medication regimes.  Parents/guardians who were sick and bedridden received both medical and nutrition support, thus expediting their recovery period and enabling them to support their families independently, as before.  

Education Support:  St. Vincent’s maintains relationships/contact with the children and families it serves even after children leave the nursery school, following children to primary school and beyond to ensure that they continue to grow and flourish once they have left our care.  In some cases, St. Vincent’s provides support for children to be able to attend primary and secondary schools, when families are unable to cover these costs.  In 2011, St. Vincent’s covered the school fees and related costs for 10 nursery school alumni to attend primary and secondary school.  



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