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.
Nov 11, 2014

A Letter from Violet

The below excerpt comes from a letter written by Violet to St. Vincent's Board of Directors. Violent is one of the girls St. Vincent's (thanks to you, our donors) is supporting to attend college. In her humbling letter, Violet thanks St. Vincent's for their support and she has permitted us to share her letter with you. We have left the letter in Violet's words.

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I come from a single family of eight where my mum is the bread winner of the family. My dad died long ago that even I can’t remember his face how it looks. Being a single mum [my mom] - to educate those children was very difficult so she distributed others [children] to her sisters who were available. They [my siblings] were made house help where they don’t attend school and this made them not to be interested in school. The three of them, who were older, got married earlier because of this -- because they don’t have any other option so they decided getting married is what can help from the suffering they were getting from my mum's sisters. My mum saw this was not helping so she took us in to live with her. The only business she could do was to transport marijuana from Tanzania to Kenya.  She did this her whole life until she was found by the government and she had to serve her sentence in jail.  

This was the most difficult moment in my life as I had no dad, no relatives, nothing at all that gave me the hope to live. But one thing I kept on saying and telling my sisters is that we are serving a living God. He will not let us down and that our tears will not go to waste. The place we were living was hell: it was near a pub where you could find beer flowing inside our house. We couldn’t do anything because we didn’t have any option to live in a better place.

When I was in primary school, I kept telling Sharon and Helen [St. Vincent’s Board Members] how I will go to boarding school and how I will go to the university. I didn’t know where the money will come from, but what I knew was that I would fulfill my dream no matter what it would take. Luckily the Lord sent St. Vincent de Paul [Community Development Organization] who came to my rescue. I thank God for that. When my mother was in jail and we stayed alone in that dirty house -- no relatives, no friends, no mother, no dad -- our mother and protector was God. On behalf of my family, I take this opportunity to say we are really grateful for everything you [St. Vincent’s] have done for us. This is where St. Vincent’s took over. They visited us at our place, advised us and gave us food that could last us for a whole week. We were happy then so that we didn’t have to depend on only one meal that was in school.

When I was taken in by St. Vincent’s, I knew I couldn’t be the same again. In terms of education, I could live the life I had longed for which is to have education, this is the best gift someone has ever given to me, but I couldn’t do it without the advices of Aunt Lucy [St. Vincent’s Director], Edwin [St. Vincent’s Administrator], Robert, Henry, Thomas and Helen [St. Vincent’s Board Members], you have shown me how great you are. You have really helped me a lot. You have shown me that life does not end where somebody is raised and that even that little fly has dreams and can really work hard to fulfill them.

The past of someone does not determine the future of somebody. I believe that now and forever. I was almost giving up because I couldn’t bare the pressure anymore, but Edwin once told me that whatever you want in life will not come from a silver platter -- one needs to struggle in order to get it. And a humble person does not get tired until she gets whatever she wants. This means that my life will not end in Kibera. I know I am going places with the little knowledge I have I can help someone who has given up in life and really needs help or encouragement that he or she can’t get it. I can put a smile on somebody.

Given the opportunity, I would really love to give back to the society, to put some smiles on the children’s faces like they put on me. Thank you big time and love you all. 

 

Nov 7, 2014

Our Wildlife, Our Heritage, Our Responsibility

St. Vincent
St. Vincent's Art Competition Winners

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.

Sep 5, 2014

Family Unification

The rescue centre was established 12 years ago to provide emergency care to children who have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment. The goal of the centre is to create a safe space for children where they receive care and protection in the short term, while we work with government social services, other community partners and families to identify long term care options for children.

Our approach is grounded in the African custom of extended families caring for children who have lost parents. Yet, the reality on the ground particularly in Kibera makes this difficult to achieve. Extremely hard hit by poverty and HIV, which has affected extended families ability to care for children, Kibera is also unique as people have come from rural homelands to find work -- moving far away from family. This makes it difficult to find family members that actually know the child and are willing and able to care for him/her. As a result, St. Vincent's has often found itself unable to find viable, safe, long term care options for children that come under our care.

Despite this challenge, St. Vincent's still prioritizes family reunification through a more gradual process. We work to identify family members (immediate or extended) and help to build bonds between them and the child. We do this by talking with families about their ability to provide care, arranging for the child to make visits with family members during school breaks and by inviting family members to visit the child at our centre. Sometimes this leads to a child going to live with their family, with continued support from St. Vincent's (e.g., paying school fees). Most often though, the children stay living in our centre and we aim to build relationships so that when the child comes of age and leaves our care, he/she will have in place a network of support. Each step of the way, we prioritize the wellbeing of the children by doing our due diligence to assess the safety of the child during visits and by giving children a voice about visits and about their care situation.

 
   

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