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May 13, 2013

How will a farm change your future?

seeds of a different future
seeds of a different future

I asked this question to the 10 single-mums currently living on the Turning Point Farm, in December this year they will be ready to move onto their own plot of land which they will gain full ownership of. Here are a few of their answers:

"I see my future it will be changed" Nancy

Land ownership is an impossible dream to many single-mothers in Kibera, the idea of saving enough money to purchase land is beyond their reach as so many immediate and pressing needs so often force them to dip into any savings they have - school fees, medical bills, responding to emergencies like theft or fire. The gift of land will completely change the future for these families, providing security, a home, a place to invest in and an inheritance for their kids.

"I want to have my own farm and continue cultivating food for my kids" Anastasia

Food prices in the city are high and always fluctuating, basic staple foods are taxed highly and at times high food costs force mothers to provide smaller portions for their kids or to buy cheaper, less nutritious foods. Land ownership means that these mothers can grow their own food, they don't need to pay rent and often can collect rain water and therefore eliminate water costs. So many of the things that require money in the city will no longer be a problem for these mums when they get their own plot of land.

"No one will disturb me there, no one will chase me from that place" Frida

The threat of eviction is real in Nairobi's informal settlements, essentially slum residents are illegally squatting, n the case of Kibera, they are squatting on government land. Landlords in Kibera are often merciless when tenants are late in paying rent, removing doors or locking people out of their homes until they pay rent. Fires and floods at times ruin homes in Kibera and at times insecurity forces people to leave their homes. Such threats will be no more when the mums have their own plots of land.

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May 6, 2013

A New Term: The workings of Transition class

Today was the first day of term two, this academic year. Our Transition classes were open again after the holidays and the compound was filled with the chatter of school children.

We currently have 22 children studying in Transition, split between our centres in Kianda and Mashimoni villages of Kibera. By the end of last term, they had settled into the daily routine and life back in the classroom environment, some having spent many months out of school. They are progressing well and were happy to be back in class today.

Next week, our social workers and project mamas will be busy selecting 20 more children to be admitted to the classes: 10 to Kianda and 10 to Mashimoni. We never go actively looking for children, instead children find us, either brought by their parents, concerned neighbours or come via word of mouth from their friends on the street. We deliberately stagger admittance to our class to create time for parents/guardians to find ways of  getting children into local primary schools themselves, meaning only the really desperate cases come our way. It also allows time for our teachers and social workers to really get alongside and work with each child individually.

Our centre in Kianda only opened a Transition class in January this year. The first term of the new class has gone well and Mary (project mama) has been excited to have the Kianda compound filled with more children. Teacher Magdalene, who has been with Turning Point for 8 years now and so is very experienced in the format of our classes, transferred from our Mashimoni centre to Kianda to help establish the class over there. It is running smoothly, and children who were coming to Kianda centre for just breakfast last year are happy to now be in class
learning.

So we look forward to the new term, welcome back to children who were with us last term and a new welcome to those who will join us next week.

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May 6, 2013

Loading up the units

Sylvester's course is going well and he continues to show great interest and dedication to his studies. The Commerce course involve lot of maths and business topics but the students also o assignments on wider topics that are relevant to developments in Kenya. Sylvester is learning to do research in the library and on the internet on these wide topics and is really broadening his reading beyond Commerce.

Last year Sylvester increased his workload to study 6 units each semester rather than just 3, this will help him to progress through the course much faster, he is eager to launch into his career and use what he has been learning. He has continued to perform very well in these units despite the extra work, scoring well in his end of term exams.

Sylvester has also learnt to use a laptop and is able to word process his assignments using a laptop he has borrowed from Turning Point, this computer skills will further increase his ability to get a job later. Recently Sylvester has been looking for some part-time work so that he can help support his family back in Kibera while he studies, as yet he has not found anything

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