In the packed slum of Kibera, it is quite rare for children to have the opportunity to participate in organized sports. With the help of St. Vincent's, 14 children are getting a unique chance to learn and play tennis. For the past 6 years, St. Vincent's has supported children to participate in weekly lessons with Coach Joe in Nairobi. The participating children come both from St. Vincent's Rescue Center, as well as from St. Vincent's community outreach activities. In addition to its physical benefits, the tennis program offers children the chance to have fun while acquiring confidence skills and a sense of commitment and pride all in a protected setting.
One of these tennis athletes is 12-year old, Grace, who has grown up with St. Vincent's. A graduate of our Nursery School, Grace and her family continue to receive support from St. Vincent's as part of our community outreach program. Grace lives with her mother and sister who was permanently injured several years ago in a train accident that took her left leg. With extremely limited access to resources for children with disabilities available in Kibera, Grace's mother struggles to care for her girls while simultaneously earning enough money to attend to the girls' basic needs. St. Vincent's support enables Grace to attend school and to participate in the tennis team, despite her mother's inability to pay fees.
Upon being introduced to tennis, Grace quickly developed a love for the game. She joined the tennis program from the outset and has been an active member of her team for the past six years, during which she has honed her skills in the game. In December, Grace was invited to join the team at a tournament in Mombasa, 480 km from Kibera. With St. Vincent's support, Grace was able to participate in the tournament. Toting a trophy in her hands, Grace proudly returned to St. Vincentt's following the tournament to report on her adventure and of course, to show off her trophy!
The following was written by Maureen, one of the children that St. Vincent's has supported for the past 7 years through its rescue center and community outreach programs. She wrote this in response to the question, 'Why is St. Vincent's important to you?'
I am Maureen. I came to [St. Vincent's] rescue center in 2006. I stayed for some time and my mother was called to come and pick me. I went with her. I stayed without going to school, but by bad or good luck, she passed away and St. Vincent's came to my rescue and I am really happy.
I am in Ahero Girls High School and I am going to my final year and I am really happy for the opportunity I have got from St. Vincent's. In school, I like Home Science because there is a lot of art in it. I want to study and go to the University to study law and be a lawyer by profession to help in constructing another rescue center to help children who are mistreated by their parents and relatives, and also [to help] orphans. I think this will be a good idea.
And in my life I would like to visit countries like Germany, South America, Jamaica, Spain and Netherlands. I hope my dream will come true.
Thank you to those contributing money for my school fees and for any other support to all my brothers and sisters in the rescue center.
St. Vincent's supports 20+ children and youth through its rescue center in Kibera. Your support has helped us to provide shelter, food, education and health care to children that have experienced abuse and neglect, and those orphaned as a result of AIDS. Many thanks for your continued support!
In September, St. Vincent's sent four aspiring vulnerable girls to college - an extremely rare opportunity in Kibera where just 42% of girls even reach high school. One of these deserving girls was our very own, Maureen, who has called St. Vincent’s Rescue Center her home for the past five years.
Orphaned at age 7, Maureen has been with St. Vincent’s since she attended our nursery school as a young child. This year, we are so proud that her hard work and dedication to her studies has paid off as Maureen has been accepted to the United States International University where she is studying International Relations.
A compassionate and reliable ‘big sister’ to all of the children in our rescue center, Maureen plans to pursue a career with the United Nations where she can marry her passions of working with women and children, and her dreams of one day being able to travel the world. Eventually, Maureen has her eyes set on an international diplomacy position with the government of Kenya. In addition to her studies, Maureen loves to salsa dance, read, listen to music and meet new people.
Ask Maureen about her plans for the future, her eyes immediately light up and she tells you, ‘I have been to Paris many times before in my dreams. One day I want to go for real.’
St. Vincent's has created a new microproject to help cover the tuition of Maureen and the three other girls we are supporting. Please check out the project here: https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/educate-and-feed-85-at-risk-kids-in-kibera-kenya/
Jayne* is a 10 year old girl from Kibera. She has been living in our Rescue Center for the past month - finally safe from the sexual violence that has become epidemic in Kibera. A recent study on violence against children in Kenya found that an overwhelming 32% of girls have experienced sexual violence.
Jayne has been the victim of multiple counts of rape. Most recently she was raped on her way to school and bravely reported the incident to a teacher, who was finally able to get her the help she needs. Sadly, Jayne experienced three previous incidents of rape inflicted by her own relatives, all of which went unreported.
We came across Jayne on a Monday afternoon in June after she was taken to a neighboring health clinic that treats sexual violence survivors. Known for the emergency care that we provide to children who have experienced rape and other abuse, the clinic called upon St. Vincent's to provide Jayne with immediate shelter. Our staff spent the day working with the child, the clinic and local government authorities and by evening, Jayne was placed under our care where she remains today.
Jayne is an incredibly sweet girl who manages to pull off a smile when she greets you. She loves coloring and playing with games and puzzles and she has already started to bond with the other children in our home. The trauma that Jayne has experienced will not soon dissipate, but for now, we can promise her a refuge where she receives ample food, shelter and care and most importantly, a place in which she can close her eyes each night knowing that she is safe.
*The name of the child in this report has been changed to protect her identity.
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.
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