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.
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!
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