Educate and Feed 85 At-Risk Kids in Kibera, Kenya

 
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Jun 15, 2010

New SVPCDO Website Launch

Thanks to the help of one of our dedicated volunteers, SVPCDO is pleased to announce the launch of our new and improved website. Please check it out at: http://vincentdepaul-organization.jimdo.com/.

We think you will enjoy this new site -- it is more user friendly and allows visitors to learn about our program activities, see pictures of the children we support, and (importantly!) provides a direct link to the ways in which people can support SVPCDO. The site will also feature updates on recent events that happen at the nursery school and rescue center.

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JUNE 16th IS A MATCH DAY ON GLOBAL GIVING -- YOU GIVE $20, THE PROJECT RECEIVES $30

On June 15th, Global Giving will be matching all gifts made to our project by 50%. If you were thinking of making a gift this month, please consider doing it on this day. In addition to the match, prizes will be awarded to the organizations with the greatest number of donations on this day.

Links:

May 28, 2010

Visit to St. Vincent de Paul School

Student at St. Vincent de Paul
Student at St. Vincent de Paul

I visited this school a few days ago in Kenya. The visit was really moving. The kids are from very poor families in Kibera, considered to be Africa's biggest slum. 25% of the kids, ages 2-5, are HIV+. Many are orphans. They get two meals (ugali and cabbage for lunch the day I was there) some medical support, and a clean place to learn and play. Two college students from Holy Cross were volunteering for a month, and they were appropriately inspired and promised to recruit donors on our next Bonus Day - June 16th, 2010.

Apr 11, 2010

Postcard from Rescue Center and Nursery School

Lucy Kawiya escorted Zipporah, Vicky, and myself to their rescue home inside Kibera slum. Along the way we passed the offices of Carolina for Kibera (http://goto.gg/kibera-slum-develoment/), another GlobalGiving partner that works in Kibera. Within two more blocks you can find Hot Sun foundation (http://goto.gg/kenya-slum-filmmaking/) and a few other NGOs.

I looked up at the iron roofs atop the makeshift housing on this dirt street. Some of these shacks had TV antennas, and one even had a satellite dish. “You see that?” I said, pointing them out to Lucy. “Of course.” “It kinda complicates the typical impression outsiders have of slums.” “That’s why we tell people, ‘Just come here and walk around. See for yourself where we work.’”

The Kibera slum is actually many villages connected by dirt paths, clusters of shacks that could blow over in a storm. but within these 13 communities of tens of thousands you’ll find some wealth, a lot of cell phones, and many attitudes. Many NGOs have visited to collect feedback, and the people don’t speak with one voice. In fact, we were the fourth group to visit a nearby girls’ centre in the last 3 months. Such a complex environment calls for some new approaches, and a way to share more of these stories.

That afternoon, we saw a dozen children in the rescue center. One boy (about age 12) was drawing a face. He was obviously a talented artist. “I just wish we could help him pursue arts more,” Lucy said. “What about posting your question to the Map Kibera site?” We were helping promote one recent effort to share community information locally, using cell phones and the website http://kibera.ushahidi.com. People can ask a question, make an announcement, or just offer a general comment and it will be posted. Some who sign up for text-message updates can follow villages or topics that interest them. We'll also be posting the stories we collect in kibera. Lucy handed her phone to Miriam, the head teacher at their nursery school. “You do this. I’m not one with technology yet.”

Miriam wrote: [something like] We have an artist at St. Vincents. Does anyone know about an art program where he can get more training in Kibera? [My computer got hit with viruses so I can't read the exact message off the site right now.] She signing up for SMS-updates, so that if anyone replies, she'll get it on her phone.

The St. Vincent’s Nursery school was a colorful little house on the edge of Soweto village (Kibera) that serves 87 kids ages 3 to 7. Mini tables and chairs in blue, green, red, and bright yellow filled the three classrooms.

I was happy to see color, as I explained color’s importance to Lucy. “I’ve read that children learn better in a colorful environment. And yet so many schools are just gray cinderblocks. Mandela wrote in his biography about his prison. He said it wasn’t the walls but the absence of color that made him feel the most imprisoned. Gray walls, gray food, gray uniforms, and gray skies. Always the absence of color. Thankfully, this nursery school was vibrant, although empty for the Easter break.”

We met under the round shady bantaba in the back and shared stories as part of our training. Throughout the afternoon, several other people dropped by, including Havier and Cathryn – who Australian volunteers who are starting a sort of Montessouri school in the area with the guidance of St. Vincent’s.

Cathryn shared one story. I didn't transcribe it exactly, but from my memory, she said that a few years ago she was walking though a slum in Nairobi and she came to a rickety bridge over a rushing river. She turned to her husband. “Is this safe to cross?” “Probably not,” he said. It wasn’t what she wanted to hear, she said. After crossing, she noticed a run down shack on the edge of the water built on a hill. It looked like it could collapse at any moment. He peeked through a hole in the wall and was shocked to see it was an informal school. Dozens of kids were inside learning. She opened the door into this dark place and the sunlight blinded them. “I couldn’t just leave it as is. We helped them move to a better place.” Recently, she passed by that same place where the shack-school used to stand. Heavy rains had come, and the building had collapsed and washed into the river. “I hate to think what would have happened to the children if we hadn’t given a little money to move the school,” she concluded.

She titled her story, “It doesn’t take much money to make a big difference.”

I was inspired by St. Vincent’s staff, these volunteers, and the several community members that we met along the way. Earlier this week, when I asked Lucy to explain to other NGO staffers at a meeting how they got on GlobalGiving in last November’s Open Challenge, she says “it was a miracle. We were in desperate need of funding and we used GlobalGiving as an opportunity to reach out to all our past supporters.” On behalf of Lucy, Miriam, and others, I’ll thank you for the “miracle” that you made possible by giving a little something to St. Vincent’s in Kibera.

Links:

Mar 15, 2010

December Graduation & January Commencement

Graduation Speech
Graduation Speech

------December Graduation---------- In December 2009, the St. Vincent de Paul Nursery School graduated 30 of our students from the program. Graduation festivities brought together proud parents and caretakers, teachers, and children in a celebration that included singing, dancing, a fashion show, and speeches by the graduates, plus awards, and of course, a big feast! It is an opportunity for children to celebrate their achievements with their families and to say goodbye to the school and teachers who have played an important part in their lives over the last few years. We are pleased to report that following graduation, the entire graduating class of the St. Vincent de Paul Nursery School was qualified and enrolled into local primary schools -- a huge success considering the environment surrounding education in Kenya. In 2003, the Government of Kenya made primary education free to all children. Despite this important step, families continue to face significant barriers in sending their children to primary school due to two main factors. First, while enrollment in school is free, the costs associated with attending school are burdensome to many families, particularly those in Kibera. Without funds to purchase uniforms, textbooks, and other supplies, children are not allowed to attend school. Second, as a way to control overpopulated classrooms, government run primary schools are allowed to turn away prospective students that are not considered to be adequately prepared for entrance. To be admitted into primary school, students must therefore go through an interview process. As such, despite education for all policies in Kenya, 86% of school age children are enrolled in primary school in the country. (According to a 2003 study by Oxfam, 37% of school-going age children in Kibera were not even in the educational system and 70% of the children attending school only have limited access to informal schools and community centers.) Within this context, the 100% primary enrollment of the St. Vincent Nursery School graduates is an important achievement. Enrollment of the entire graduating nursery school class indicates that not only did all students successfully pass the primary school interview process, but all parents/caretakers of the nursery school students were motivated to identify resources to purchase the required materials for sending their children to school. -----January Commencement--------- In January, the nursery school welcomed our newest class of 30 students (17 boys, 13 girls), keeping our total enrollment to 87 children. On the first day of school, incoming students are fitted for uniforms with the help of teacher Miriam. Often with parents/caretakers close by, the new students are a bit shy and need some time to get used to their new surroundings. Meanwhile, parents/caretakers are excited for their children to have the opportunity to attend pre-primary school -- less than half (48%) of children in Kenya are enrolled in pre-primary school, and in Kibera this is even more rare. Global Giving funds are being used to purchase uniforms, shoes and food; provide teacher and staff salaries; purchase educational supplies; pay utility bills; and contribute to the school fees of 47 children who are unable to pay full tuition. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FUNDRAISING OPPORTUNITY: On Tuesday, March 16th, Global Giving will be matching all donations made to our project by 30%. If you were considering making a donation this month, we would love for you to do so on Tuesday so that your impact can be even greater. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Graduation Celebration Dance Performance
Graduation Celebration Dance Performance
Graduation Celebration Fashion Show
Graduation Celebration Fashion Show
Graduation Feast
Graduation Feast
First Day of School for New Class
First Day of School for New Class
Incoming Class Exploring their New Surroundings
Incoming Class Exploring their New Surroundings
First Day of School Nap Time
First Day of School Nap Time
Mar 15, 2010

December Graduation and January Commencement

------December Graduation---------- In December 2009, the St. Vincent de Paul Nursery School graduated 30 of our students from the program. We are pleased to report that following graduation, the entire graduating class was qualified and enrolled into local primary schools -- a huge success! In 2003, the Government of Kenya made primary education free to all children. Despite this important step, families continue to face significant barriers to sending their children to primary school due to two main factors. First, while enrollment in school is free, the costs associated with attending school are burdensome to many families, particularly those in Kibera where x% live on less than $1/day. Without funds to purchase uniforms, textbooks, and other supplies, children are not allowed to attend school. Second, as a way to control overpopulated classrooms, government run primary schools are allowed to turn away prospective students that are not considered to be adequately prepared for entrance. To be admitted into primary school, students must therefore go through a rigorous interview process. According to a 2003 study by Oxfam, 37% of school-going age children in Kibera were not even in the educational system and 70% of the children attending school only have limited access to informal schools and community centers. It is within this context that we understand the significance of the 100% primary enrolment of the St. Vincent Nursery School graduates. Enrolment of the entire nursery school class indicates that all students were successful in passing the interview process. Additionally, this high enrollment is due also to the motivation of nursery school parents who must identify funding for the purchase the required materials for their children to attend school. -----January Commencment--------- In January, the nursery school welcomed our newest class of 30 students (17 boys, 13 girls), keeping our total enrolment to 87 children. Global Giving funds are used to purchase uniforms, shoes and food; provide teacher and staff salaries; purchase educational supplies; pay utility bills; and pay for the enrolment of 47 children who are unable to pay full tuition. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FUNDRAISING OPPORTUNITY: On Tuesday, March 16th, Global Giving will be matching all donations made to our project by 30%. If you were considering making a donation this month, we would love for you to do so on Tuesday so that your impact can be even greater. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Project Leader

Lucy Kayiwa

Director
Nairobi, Kenya

Where is this project located?