December 1st is World AIDS Day.....
So we thought we would take this opportunity to share with you how St. Vincent's is making an impact on the fight against HIV and AIDS in Kibera, where the HIV prevalence is estimated at 15 percent, more than double the national prevalence of 6.3 percent.
Because children living with HIV need proper health care, medication and nutrition, each year St. Vincent's supports HIV testing of children newly admitted into our Nursery School Baby Class (approximately 30 children annually), following parent/guardian consent. Testing is conducted each Winter by qualified providers at a partner institution, called Lea Toto. For those children that are HIV-positive, an appropriate food and medicine regime is determined and agreed upon with parents and guardians to ensure adherence.
This all may sound simple -- but in reality -- it's actually quite complex. Because of the stigma and discrimination that is still associated with HIV and AIDS, many parents are resistant to having their children tested - as their child's status will be a reflection of their own status, which they may not know or be scared to disclose. To overcome this reluctance, St. Vincent's initiates discussions with parents starting at the beginning of the school year, to encourage them to allow their child to be tested so that the child can receive the appropriate care and support. This requires patience and persistence, as discussions take place gradually over a period of time so that parents can come to understand the importance of testing not only for their children, but for themselves too, in a way that is comfortable for them.
Almost always, St. Vincent's is successful in demonstrating to parents -- men and women both -- the importance of knowing their status. As a result, nearly all Baby Class children participate in the testing campaign each year, with those found to be positive receiving the attention they need to stay healthy. St. Vincent's effectiveness is attributed to the organization's role as a trusted resource in the community that is committed to promoting the wellbeing of vulnerable children as its first priority.
We are excited to announce that our Director, Ms. Lucy Kayiwa, or 'Mama Lucy' as they call her in Kibera, has been selected as the keynote speaker at an upcoming event in San Francisco, California hosted by One World Children's Fund.
On November 16th, Lucy will share her experience to the estimated 400 guests in establishing and running St. Vincent's Nursery School and Rescue Center in Kibera, the population that St. Vincent's serves and the challenges that the organization and the families face in ensuring orphans and other vulnerable children in Kibera have the resources to survive and thrive.
This event will provide great exposure for St. Vincent's at a time when the organization is working hard to attract institutional support from foundations and companies in both Kenya and abroad to help keep operations running.
For more information on the event, please click here.
And thank you for your continued support!
We just timed it.....and in about 30 seconds, you can help St. Vincent's win $1,000. All it takes is a few clicks of your mouse and it won't cost you a dime!
For the second year in a row, St. Vincent's has been selected as a finalist in the Global Giving Photo Contest. The Global Giving project whose photo receives the most votes will be awarded $1,000.
With this amount, St. Vincent's can cover the school fees of 35 children to attend our Nursery School for an ENTIRE YEAR!
At the time of writing this report, our photo is in 6th place --- we have until August 15th to collect votes. So, please take a few seconds out of your day to help us out.
Click on the following link to cast your vote.
And don't forget to ask your friends and family to help out too!
Many thanks for your continued support,
Lucy Kayiwa, Director
St. Vincent's Helps Vulnerable Children Access Critical Care: Lilian's Story
During a recent St. Vincent's board meeting in April, a young girl came to St. Vincent’s with sadness on her face. Although the girl refused to speak, St. Vincent’s learned through her cousin, Peterson, who accompanied her, that the girl’s name was Lilian and she was a double orphan, having lost both of her parents.
Peterson explained to St. Vincent’s that they came to seek financial assistance to help Lilian undergo a needed operation to remove a tumor that had been detected during recent medical tests. Lilian’s family tried to seek support from friends and relatives in the Kibera community to cover the Ksh 100,000 (approximately $1,200 USD) procedure, but had failed to collect even a quarter of the needed amount. In the meantime, Lilian dropped out of school due to her condition.
The family then learned about St. Vincent’s through another local school, Shine Academy. St. Vincent’s has become known in the community as a trusted, reliable resource to which people can go when they are in urgent need of support. Weekly meetings open to the community, such as the one Lilian and her cousin attended, help identify those families in greatest need and St. Vincent’s works with families to identify solutions and harnesses its networks to ensure families are connected to additional services when needed. 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.
On their first visit, St. Vincent’s encouraged Lilian and Peterson to try to raise the additional amount needed by holding a fundraiser in one of the local public spaces easily accessible to friends and relatives. The pair returned weeks later, reporting that despite their efforts, they were still unable to secure the necessary amount. And now, the cost of surgery had been increased due to its urgency. With no other viable options available and the need for the surgery immediate, the board members promptly decided that St. Vincent's would contribute the balance so that Lilian could proceed with having the surgery without further delay.
Two weeks later, Lilian and Peterson once again came to the board meeting, this time around with good news. The operation had been successful and Lilian now had hopes to return to school. Lillian shared with the board her future ambitions to become a doctor so that she could save lives for the less fortunate in the community. Lilian has since been enrolled in St. Catherine Nangina Girls boarding primary school in Western Province, Kenya where she is in Class 6.
Healing the Sick: St. Vincent's Collaborates with Family Hope Charity & Chamberlain College to Host Free Medical Clinic
In early May, St. Vincent’s collaborated with Family Hope Charity (Chicago, IL) and Chamberlain College of Nursing to host a free, two-day medical camp for the Kibera community at St. Vincent’s Nursery School in Olympic Estate, Kibera. The medical team comprised 23 medical experts from the United States, four local doctors and five clinical nurses. A team of 18 local volunteers supported the team with translation.
Mildred Wesonga, a local high school student who attended the medical camp commented: “Here, the personnel were very friendly to me and for the first time, I find this very relaxing. As from experience, most of the doctors I have visited were not friendly to me in the local clinics in Kibera. My prayer is that we should have more of these camps annually to help us community members.” Mildred attended the camp because of ongoing chest pains she had been experiencing.
An interview with one of the nursing students working at the camp, Carolyn Lay, says of the event, “It was really good to give a listening ear to people as they tell you what ails them and by the end of the day, the trust they all have in you…. But for me, the most inspiring thing was to give education to the sick people who showed up.”
A total of 576 children and families received medical and dental care and treatment at the event.
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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