The far-reaching advantages of educating girls are well proven – for girls themselves, but also for their families and for whole nations. Girls who stay in school marry later, have fewer children and have children later, thus avoiding medical complications due to early pregnancy, which are the leading cause of death among girls age 15-19 worldwide. An educated girl invests 90% of earned income in her family, compared to 35% for a boy. When 10% more girls attend secondary school, a country’s per capita income increases by an estimated 3%.
Despite the strong evidence about the impact of investing in girls, access to education remains a challenge for many girls in Kenya. Just 36% of girls in Kenya are enrolled in secondary (high) school.
Obvious barriers exist – for instance tuition fees and the need to purchase one’s own school supplies (e.g., uniforms, textbooks, etc.) -- that hinder many girls from enrolling and staying in primary and secondary schools. These factors are compounded by less obvious barriers. Among them is children’s ability to get to and from school safely. In urban areas like Kibera, the walk to school – in particular for girls – can be dangerous. Girls in Kenya, and in Kibera specifically, are highly vulnerable to sexual violence: 32% of Kenyan girls experience sexual abuse during their childhood.
It is this problem that spurred St. Vincent’s to strategize ways to keep our girls safe as they are accessing education. With the start of the 2013 school year (in January), 10 of St. Vincent’s Rescue Centre girls were enrolled in boarding schools outside of Kibera to give them the opportunity to go to school without having to be exposed to the many dangers posed in Kibera. The girls return to the Rescue Centre on school breaks and where possible, have been placed in the same schools and those in proximity to extended families.
The girls are excited about their new schools and all are doing well. St. Vincent’s conducts visits to check up on them regularly and track their school performance and overall wellbeing.
What are you doing this Valentine's Day?
Take a minute to vote for St. Vincent's Nursery School & Rescue Center's work to promote LOVE for vulnerable children and families in Kibera, Kenya
St. Vincent's mission is to build a society where all children receive the necessary LOVE and care essential to survive and thrive. We promote love by treating both children and parents with the love and respect needed to flourish.
We are thrilled that this work has been recognized by The Fetzer Institute. St. Vincent's has been selected to participate in the What In The World Are You Doing? contest for its work to promote love and forgiveness.
With YOUR vote, we have the chance to win $5,000.
Vote NOW until February 28th. It's easy and free!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The NGO or nonprofit organization that gets the most votes by midnight EST February 28, 2013 will be awarded $5,000 for being the MOST LOVED!
And as always, thank you for your support!
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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 Services: In 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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