St. Vincent de Paul Community Development Organization

The mission of the organization is to build a society where all children are provided the necessary love and care essential for growth. The organization is run by a small group of local volunteers, dedicated to improving the lives of poor and marginalized children in Kibera, Kenya by promoting their social integration into the community.
Feb 10, 2017

St. Vincent Student Joins Semester at Sea

Maureen and Me in San Diego Harbor Looking at Ship
Maureen and Me in San Diego Harbor Looking at Ship

Three years ago, through your support, a young Kenyan student from Kibera began pursuing her goal of attending university at the United States International University in Nairobi where she studies international diplomacy. A terrific accomplishment considering that a mere 3% of all girls in Kenya make it to tertiary education. Chances are even lower for children growing up in the impoverished Kibera slum.

Maureen is a poised and passionate young woman that has overcome significant hurdles in her life. She comes from one of the most renowned slums in the world where residents lack basic necessities and rates of violence (particularly against women) are soaring; she lost her single mother at age 6; and she has spent her adolescence growing up in an institution. Despite all of this – or perhaps as a result of it – she has found a way to persevere both academically and personally.

I met Maureen five years ago as a volunteer with St. Vincent's Rescue Center where she lives. I was immediately impressed by her strong and curious demeanor and her interest in the world -- despite having never travelled outside of Kenya. I got to know Maureen more and more over the years through several visits to Kibera – watching her grow and evolve as a role model to her siblings at the rescue center.  

As an alumni of the Semester at Sea program, I knew it would be an experience of a lifetime for Maureen considering her passion for global development issues. I sailed on Semester at Sea as a student and as a staff member and it is an experience that forever changed my life (and I undoubtedly shared my love of the program with Maureen time and again over the past 5 years)!  Semester At Sea is a study abroad experience like no other. Students travel to 11 countries across 4 continents while studying aboard a ship with faculty, staff, students and lifelong learners from across the globe.

Despite it being a perfect fit for Maureen, with its hefty price tag, I didn’t think participating in the program was actually within the realm of possibility for her. However, when Maureen learned about a full-funded scholarship offered by Semester at Sea, she was dead set on applying. Full funding would be the only way she could participate. It was a huge long shot, but worth a try.

Maureen worked diligently over several months to prepare her application for a scholarship to join the Fall 2016 voyage. When she learned that she had been accepted only for a partial tuition scholarship, she was devastated to have to withdraw her student application. But Maureen refused to give up – deciding to reapply for the Spring 2017 voyage.  In September 2016, again after much hard work (this time she applied for every scholarship for which she was eligible), Maureen learned that she was awarded $20,000 to cover program tuition. I had the fortune of sharing the news. We cried and laughed – it was unbelievable. A quick and aggressive GoFundMe campaign helped us to raise funds for Maureen’s in country expenses while Maureen hit the ground running to gather the visas she would need in advance of her departure (a harrowing process!).

In January 2017, Maureen flew to San Francisco, California where she was greeted by my family. She fulfilled her dream of seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and had a few days to explore the Bay Area with curiosity about EVERYTHING she saw! On January 4th, I flew to San Diego to meet with Maureen and the following day, saw Maureen off to join the Spring 2017 Semester at Sea voyage.  She could not have been more excited and so ready to see the world.

Over the past month, I’ve been keeping in touch with Maureen via email and a FaceTime call. She has now visited Hawaii and Japan and is en route to Vietnam. She says she loves everything about the ship and the voyage so far. She is on the council of the international student body, joined a salsa club, and is preparing to give a presentation about Kibera to her shipboard community.   

I cannot think of a better person to have the opportunity to be part of a program such as this one. It is an unbelievable experience of a lifetime for any student – but for Maureen it will have an impact not only on her, but on the 20 siblings back in Kibera that will see that anything is possible. 

Getting Ready to Embark
Getting Ready to Embark
Registration before embarkation
Registration before embarkation
Saying Goodbye in San Diego
Saying Goodbye in San Diego
Maureen Arrives in Japan
Maureen Arrives in Japan
Feb 9, 2017

Photo Essay of A Day in the Life at St. Vincent's Nursery School

A Day in the Life at St. Vincent
A Day in the Life at St. Vincent's Photo Essay

This summer, with the help of The Forgotten International, St. Vincent's welcomed videographer, Gregory Walsh, who joined us for three months to capture the story of our organization and the children and families we serve. Hailing from Washington, D.C., Greg spent his time meeting with children, students, teachers, program administrators and parents to hear their stories, to learn what St. Vincent's is all about and how our programs are working to reach the most vulnerable children in the Kibera slum with a range of education, health, shelter and protection services.

This photo essay created by Greg utilizes captivating pictures to artfully depict a day in the life at St. Vincent's Nursery School. Please take a look at the photo essay here -- it really rings true that a picture (or a handful) is worth a thousand words!

Many thanks to Greg and to The Forgotten International for helping St. Vincent's share our story of the work we are doing in Kibera.

Links:

Sep 30, 2016

Food Brings Children to School

St. Vincent
St. Vincent's Nursery School Lunch Time

If you ask the teachers and parents at St. Vincent's Nursery School, they will tell you that one of the most important reasons that parents and caregivers send their children to our school is for the two meals they receive each day.

The typical St. Vincent parent/caregiver earns less than $2 per day. With this, they must feed their families (which on average consist of 5 people), pay rent and children's school fees, cover public transport fees (for those that work outside Kibera) and unexpected medical costs and pay for an array of other typical living expenses. It is easy to see why food is so constrained in these Kibera households. That is why children line up at 6am at the gates of our nursery school each day, eager for breakfast, as it is typically the first meal they have had since the lunch we fed them the day before.

Once in our doors, we are then able to provide children with other critically needed early childhood development services that help them to be grow happily and healthily. This includes early education and developmental play, health care services such as routine deworming and HIV testing, and ongoing protection and care. 

Please click here to check out our new video on St. Vincent's Nursery School Feeding Program. We would like to thank Gregory Walsh and The Forgotten International for helping us produce this video.

To learn more about St. Vincent's, visit our website at www.kiberachildren.org. And don't forget to like us on Facebook @ St. Vincent's Nursery School and Rescue Center.

Links:

 
   

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