In Kibera, it is estimated that approximately 20% of people are living with HIV. This is much greater than the approximate 4% of people living with HIV in the greater Kenyan population.
In response to this health concern, St. Vincent's orchestrates HIV testing for all newly admitted children to our nursery school on an annual basis. The goal of this testing is to enable St. Vincent's and the families we serve to know the health status of our children and ultimately to monitor and support the health of all children under our care.
In collaboration with the Lea Toto health clinic, 29 newly admitted nursery school children received a rapid HIV test this year. In advance of the testing, parents/caretakers participated in a counseling/information session with our nursery school administration team to learn about the importance of testing and knowing their children's status, to share information about the necessary care for HIV-positive children and to discuss the importance of good nutrition, particularly for children living with HIV. This counseling is essential for preparing parents and gaining buy-in for the testing, as there still exists a stigma associated with HIV in our community. This stigma has previously led some parents to deny their children's HIV status for fear of rejection in the community. When this occurs, children do not receive adequate care for their HIV status. Following testing, St. Vincent's works with families of HIV-positive children to help them accept the results, understand how to care for their children (e.g., recognizing symptoms of opportunistic infections, accessing proper nutrition, etc.) and seek medical care early.
This year, we are so grateful that all of our children tested negative for HIV. We hope that this is symbolic of the ongoing efforts in the community to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV in Kibera.
The St. Vincent’s Nursery School held an event for eighty five vulnerable children in Kibera, Kenya. The purpose of this
event was to provide meals for children who have been orphaned or whose parents are unable to provide proper
nutrition. Children received staple foods, which included: rice, flour, maize flour, sugar and oil. These distributions are
extremely important for our nursery school families, particularly those affected by HIV. The food baskets were meant to
last each child approximately one week. With prices consistently rising in Kibera, it is difficult for families and orphans to
obtain adequate food throughout the year.
Typically, children at our Nursery School receive two meals per day while school is in session, and are usually the only
meals children have access to each day. This event made it possible for struggling children at our Nursery School to stay
fed even when they return home after school. Volunteers from St. Vincent’s Rescue Center were present and participated
by putting food baskets together and serving goods to children. The children were grateful and joyous throughout the
event and truly appreciated the goods that were given to them and their families.
St. Vincent’s is excited to announce the recent achievements of our Pre-Unit nursery school class in Kenya’s Giraffe Centre National Environmental Competition. From January – March 2014, students from all over Kenya were invited to submit art work and essays in line with this year’s theme: Our Wildlife, Our Heritage, Our Responsibility. Participating on behalf of our Pre-Unit class, four children from St. Vincent’s -- Rosalyn, Fabian, Jacklyne and Clinton -- were awarded third place for their art submissions that highlighted the importance of conserving the environment.
St. Vincent’s Nursery School teachers helped children to create art projects that were submitted in the nationwide competition’s Kindergarten category. According to St. Vincent’s Head Teacher, Ms. Alice Wanjiru, the children were proud of their achievement and proud to be representing Kibera. She noted: “Giving a child a chance to participate in such activities usually uplifts their spirits and brings out the talent a child might have. It does not also matter where you come from, be it from the slum or posh estate, but the skills and talent you can bring out is all that matters.”
All participants received goodies (e.g., T-shirts, certificates, encyclopedias and stationery) and St. Vincent’s received a trophy for the school’s third place finish.
The day started off with buzzing voices of St. Vincent's nursery school children eagerly awaiting their 'safari' (or trip in Swahili). By 9am, children, teachers and volunteers were all on the bus, ready for the day's adventure. After a short drive within the confines of Nairobi city, children arrived at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage to the waiting wild animals -- monkeys, hyenas, lions and cheetahs. Most children could not hide their fear and also their excitement, many seeing these animals in person for the first time in their lives.
Following the animal orphanage, children had lunch and play time at a local park and were off again to the next stop: Mamba Village (a Swahili name meaning “Crocodile Village”). Here, the children had a chance to see (and even touch!) crocodiles and baby tortoises basking in the midday sun. The tour guide talked to the children about reptiles and engaged them with questions about animals. One memorable question was 'What do crocodiles eat?' To which children offered up different answers: 'beans, grass, children who don’t finish their homework' (as the adults broke into laughter). The guide of course explained different foods eaten by crocodiles (not including children who don't finish their homework!) and gave the children a chance to ask questions.
The day ended with children playing in the Mamba Village bouncing castle and enjoying french fries (a favorite treat among children). As the group filed back into the bus, the children looked tired, but full of excitement about their day out of the normal school class routine.“Imebamba” meaning the day was amazing indeed.
St. Vincent's would like to thank the group of visiting donors that made this special day possible for our children.
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!
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