Food programs have always been an important focus for the projects in Kenya, as GVI Kenya Country Director Tess Doogue explains 'You cannot separate nutrition and education; they really go hand in hand. Any investment in education risks being wasted if there are not accompanying investments in the student’s nutritional needs'
With food programs recently donations have been focused on three main areas:
Term time for the children
One of the major obstacles the schools is facing right now is feeding the children. At present lunch is provided to the children, however as the schools continue to expand in the number of children attending each day, the lunches are becoming more and more watered down as they struggle to accommodate everyone. It is quite common for a volunteer to come home saying that their students had complained that, despite having eaten, they were still hungry. The most common cause of primary school drop-out in Kenya is hunger. If schools cannot provide lunch for the children this has a detrimental effect on the students being able to concentrate on learning for the entire day, and being able to focus on lessons proves too much. Consequently they end up dropping out before they reach high school age.
For many students, the meal given at the schools are their one guaranteed meal of the day. With this additional money being used for the lunches, the school is able to bulk up the food and give the children a more substantial meal, thus allowing them to be able to concentrate, resulting in increased academic performance. Furthermore, the increased nutritious meals served will improve the health of these students. Lack of adequate nutrition results in compromised immune systems which is a concern particularly for these children as a) they do not have access to medical facilities due to lack of funds and b) do not live in hygienic conditions. The extra food they receive each day will go a long way to improve their health. The children are livelier and happier with food in their bellies each day, a benefit which is impossible to put a money value on!
During the April holidays lunch was provided for the children the schools, Monday to Friday. This was done to encourage them to come to school for a number of reasons: 1) to get extra tuition 2) to keep them out of trouble - with nothing much to occupy them in the slum, the children out of boredom often fall into a bad crowd as they get older; and 3) to ensure they ate that day – the majority of the children at the schools come from impoverished families. The result was phenomenal: 150 children were turning up each day as opposed to the 40-50 children that have turned up in past holiday programmes.
In June 2011, a medical camp was held at the Olives school to provide free professional medical advice and treatment to the Bomboluluu community. Despite the bad weather this was a successful and busy day. Approximately 500 people from the local village were seen by the doctors, nurses and professional medically trained volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to help local people that would not be in a position to afford to pay for this professional service. Donations to this project helped to provide the volunteer helpers with a basic lunch.
Funds raised for the GVI Charitable Trust have recently been used to purchse text books for our schools in Mombasa, Kenya.Text books in schools are certainly something many of us took for granted when we were at school but for children in Kenya they can be a precious luxury.
Before GVI CT funds purchased theses books children could share 5-6 children per book or often only the teacher would have a text book. This made lessons incredibly inefficient as everything needed to be written in full on the board meaning lessons invariably took longer and it would become a real rush to cover the complete syllabus before the end of term.
Now the classrooms are stocked with beautiful fresh books and the benefits are already visible. There are now enough books for children to share 2-3 to a book or even one per child. With less time spent writing on and copying from the board more progress can be made in actually teaching the children.
Teachers and volunteers have time to cover subjects in detail and also find that there is time to provided extra care to children who are struggling and may be falling behind. In addition high flyers can now stand out and be encouraged to excel.
With increased attention and progress children seem to be noticeably more engaged which is being reflected in monthly test results which are slowly but surely creeping upwards.
To everyone who has supported the projects- Asante sana!
With thanks to our wonderful and generous supporters our team and communities in Kenya have been very busy recently!In addition to the food programs at the Precious Vision school to provide vital nutrition to children while they learn the goal has always been to help the school become self sustaining, the first step on this path has taken the form of a greenhouse.Tess Doogue, GVI Kenya Project Manager, explains: 'The installation of a greenhouse at Precious Vision is the first example of an income-generating project funded by GVI Mombasa and the Charitable Trust. Produce grown in the greenhouse will be sold at a competitive rate to the local community, the proceeds from which will go towards teacher’s salaries. This project is extremely exciting as it is the first step towards Precious Vision becoming financially self reliant.Importantly, there is a high level of investment by the local team. Madam Jane (Community leader) is an experienced farmer and her skills, knowledge and commitment have been crucial in the formation of the project. A “greenhouse committee” of standard 6 students has also been formed, to support Madam Jane on issues such as water management, and importantly, to teach students some practical food production skills. Families in slum areas such as Shauri Yaku (where Precious Vision is located) have no access to tenable land, so those skills are not passed onto younger generations. GVI has employed a gardener (selected by the community) as an additional support for the running of the structure, on the understanding that once the greenhouse is producing money, his wages will come from there. Although his wage is modest, he is given free accommodation at the school and is provided breakfast and lunch from the school’s feeding programme. The first crop rotation is a ‘learner’ crop of various spinach-like greens, low profit margin, but ideal for the first three months of learning how systems work.'Tess also explains that in addition to the clear tangible benefits of the initiative the school has also benefited from a huge morale boost due to the increased activity and progress.
With thanks to generous donations to the GVI Charitable Trust children at the Olives Rehabilitation Centre in Mombassa, Kenya will be able to earn the KCPE (Kenyan Certificate in Primary Education) for the first time.Staff and community members are hard at work building new classrooms which will house children as they progress through to Standard 8 to earn their KCPE. Donations have also helped build a temporary kitchen to keep the children well fed, providing a balanced diet and helping the children concentrate in school.The KCPE is necessarily for even the lowest skilled jobs in Kenya, now children at Olives will no longer have this barrier working against them.
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager