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!
In December 2013, 63 families eagerly convened in the courtyard of St. Vincent’s Nursery School in Kibera to participate in our second annual holiday food basket distribution. The purpose of the food basket initiative is to ensure that St. Vincent's nursery school families have available nutritious food supplies during the school summer break.
Weekly home visits conducted throughout the year by our Head Teacher, Alice, indicate that the majority of nursery school children are highly dependent on the two daily meals provided by St. Vincent’s Nursery School. Many of our children experience hunger during the weekends and holidays when school is not in session. With the price of food supplies continuing to soar in Kibera, the 6-week summer holiday in December and January is particularly challenging for families and leave many unable to provide food for their children.
All nursery school families were invited to participate in the day’s events. Participants received a hot meal prepared by St. Vincent’s cook, Dorcas, as well as a package of food that included maize flour, porridge flour, cooking oil, wheat flour, rice and sugar. Parents expressed their relief and appreciation through a song and dance.
The day’s event was organized by St. Vincent’s through the support of a generous private donor, as well as with the support of Kenya Commercial Bank.
For 13 years, St. Vincent's Nursery School has provided approximately 85 young children each year with a healthy start through its education, feeding and support program. But many ask, what happens to these children after they leave our care?
St. Vincent's support doesn't end with our nursery school -- that's merely the beginning of our engagement with needy families. After children graduate from the nursery school, we continue to be a resource to families and follow how children are doing. We do what we can with the little resources we have available to help families access the services they need for their children, making sure that the work we have done to give children a strong start is not lost.
As part of this effort, we identify the most vulnerable children and families and help them to pay for school fees and supplies so that their children can be enrolled and stay in school after they leave our nursery school. In 2013, St. Vincent's is pleased to report that we have supported 24 children from primary to college level with scholarships that cover school fees and other associated costs. This support is a huge assistance to families; it helps keep children in the family while also ensuring continued access to education.
As always, thank you for your continued support of our work in Kibera!
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