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Jan 4, 2019

The Twelve Days of Christmas

In honor of your support of the Children & Youth Empowerment Centre in Kenya, we’ve composed a special version of The 12 Days of Christmas.  We think even those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas will enjoy! 

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 In the spring of 2017, the CYEC opened a drop-in center in downtown Nyeri. Since then, more than 30 children have been removed from the streets and placed in schools or homes. These young people now have safe places to live and the opportunity to complete their education.

 “On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 Over the past two summers, Kansas State students in the Staley School of Leadership Studies program guided the prefects through workshops to enable them to be effective leaders. Prefects mentor younger children and play a key leadership role in the functioning of the Centre.

 “On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three acres of vegetables, two prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 Penn State ag students worked with youth in 2016 and 2018 to improve soil health in the shamba (garden) through mulching, composting and crop rotation.  Youth help grow veggies for the Centre year-round, earning income for themselves and providing healthy food for the children.

 “On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four outreach programs, three acres of veggies, two prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 The CYEC is a resource for local low-income families, providing fun days focused on literacy for young children. By supporting local education, they can help more children succeed, beyond those in the Centre, and help ensure fewer children end up on the streets.

 “On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five preschoolers playing & learning, four outreach programs, three acres of veggies, two prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 The CYEC opened its nursery school program to the local community in 2012. Now these children enter primary school ready to learn.

 “On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six students a-studying, five preschoolers playing & learning, four outreach programs, three acres of veggies, two prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 Public education in Kenya is free through 8th grade, but secondary schools charge tuition.  Local and international ZFI sponsors provide scholarships for CYEC youth as they further their education. Our kids regularly rank at the top of their class!

 “On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven children breakfasting, six students a-studying, five preschoolers playing & learning, four outreach programs, three acres of veggies, two prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 ZFI donors ensure CYEC children have a healthy breakfast before school 3 days a week.  We also provide medical and educational supplies and clothing.

 “On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 8 youth a-milking, 7 children breakfasting, 6 students a-studying, 5 preschoolers playing & learning, 4 outreach programs, 3 acres of veggies, 2 prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 In the summer of 2017, Penn State students worked on improving the diet of the cows, planted napier grass, and developed a strategy to ensure forage availability even in years of drought. Last summer they worked with the youth to make silage from this napier grass. The Centre’s two dairy cows provide milk for the children with surplus to sell to neighbors, supporting both nutrition and income!

 “On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 9 youth a-baling, 8 youth a-milking, 7 children breakfasting, 6 students a-studying, 5 preschoolers playing & learning, 4 outreach programs, 3 acres of veggies, 2 prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 Several years ago, a PSU faculty member helped youth start a hay-baling business. They’ve received grants to provide training to youth in Uganda and other parts of Kenya to expand the program – helping many young people across the region!

 “On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 10 volunteers mentoring, 9 youth a-baling, 8 youth a-milking, 7 children breakfasting, 6 students a-studying, 5 preschoolers playing & learning, 4 outreach programs, 3 acres of veggies, 2 prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 Friends of the CYEC in Kenya have formed the Zawadi Society, a group of local volunteers who mentor and tutor children at the Centre. It’s so important for the kids to have a special someone who cares about them!

 “On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 children playing, 10 volunteers mentoring, 9 youth a-baling, 8 youth a-milking, 7 children breakfasting, 6 students a-studying, 5 preschoolers playing & learning, 4 outreach programs, 3 acres of veggies, 2 prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

 After school activities include sports, reading, arts, music, and an environmental club to help CYEC children and youth develop their self-awareness and have fun!

 “On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 youth succeeding, 11 children playing, 10 volunteers mentoring, 9 youth a-baling, 8 youth a-milking, 7 children breakfasting, 6 students a-studying, 5 preschoolers playing & learning, 4 outreach programs, 3 acres of veggies, 2 prefects leading and a second chance for a child living on the streets.”

The CYEC strives to develop the potential of these children & youth so they can lead happy, productive lives. Your support helps us meet this goal!

Oct 31, 2018

Nittany Lions in Nyeri

The education team in action
The education team in action

Last May, another group of Penn State students from the College of Agricultural Sciences spent three weeks in Nyeri, working with youth at the Centre. Students spent the spring semester learning about Kenyan history and agriculture as well as topics in community and youth development. They also discussed the ethics of service learning as they prepared to partner with their peers in Kenya. This year projects were focused on silage production, a crop rotation production plan, and workshops on active learning for the staff. 

When the 2017 team was there, Kenya was in the midst of a two-year drought and forage was hard to find. Once found, it was of poor quality and expensive. The students that year helped them plant more napier grass so they could produce silage to store for the next dry season. A number of the youth worked with our students to make three batches while we were there -- a genuine joint effort – and they’ve made several batches since we left.

The Centre seeks to grow much of its own food, both to lower costs and to ensure a fresh supply of vegetables throughout the year. Maintaining soil fertility and dealing with pests are always a challenge. One of the teams this year worked with the youth to develop a plan for crop rotation and basic integrated pest management (IPM).

The Children and Youth Empowerment Centre selected its name with clear intention -- they are focused on empowering the young people to solve their problems and those of the community. One way they do this is through educational and co-curricular programs that supplement formal education and enhance problem-solving skills. Our education team has worked with their staff and volunteers to build their capacity in active learning methodologies.

Of course it wasn’t all work. Several students brought art supplies to share with the children, and we made a day trip to the equator. Again, our students enjoyed sharing with the young people there, and they gained a greater appreciation of the challenges and joys of international development work.

Making silage
Making silage
Art time
Art time
Equatorial
Equatorial

Links:

Aug 6, 2018

Wildcats in Nyeri

         Learning and Leadership were at the forefront of the Kansas State University International Service Team’s journey to Kenya this summer. They were involved in activities at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre (CYEC) to build leadership capacity and strengthen life skills for the children living there. They assisted in the planning and facilitation of biweekly life skills lessons over topics such as goal setting, healthy relationships, drug abuse, and career planning for two groups of children at the centre separated based on age. They also led sessions on leadership development for older children who were taking on positions of leadership at the Centre and in their schools. These lessons revolved around strengthening communication and dialogue through the identification of personal values and strengths so the children would be able to work more effectively with their peers and among staff at the Centre.  Another area K-State students worked to develop was the Credit System for the CYEC’s “Zawadi Shop” in which children and youth could use credits to purchase clothing, school supplies, and other necessary items.  The credits will be rewarded by staff and prefects when a child is seen doing outstanding work at the CYEC.  Students were able to establish a spreadsheet to help organize the awarding and spending of credits to keep the shop running efficiently.  Each of these projects provided students the opportunity to learn more about the CYEC and interact with many of the children and youth whom their work would benefit.

While K-State students took on these projects, they also spent significant time learning about the culture of Kenya through interactions with the children, staff, and community surrounding the CYEC.  International Service requires individuals to be aware of their impact on the host culture and reflect on the many ways in which their host may influence their experience.  Spending time with the children of the Centre before and after school and on weekends allowed K-State students to gain a greater understanding of the lifestyle and daily routines at the CYEC.  Free time included many football games—especially as the Fifa World Cup was taking place, art projects showcasing the talents of children of all ages, and other adventures at the Centre and in the Thunguma neighborhood.  Students discovered that some of the most meaningful interactions with the children came in the moments shared during these fun activities because they could interact and build memories through shared experience.  As the summer progressed students gained a stronger understanding of the culture and their host community as well as context for the adaptive challenges the CYEC faces.  Upon their return to the United States, students reflected on their experiences and how they may continue to work as advocates for the Centre and each child who benefits from the resources it provides.

Having fun with the kids
Having fun with the kids
 
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