Feb 17, 2021

Educating 70+ children in Mathare Slum.


Since the last report civil society in Kenya has started to returned to more normal levels of activities. There are still restrictions and most people are aware of not gathering in large groups. However classes at St. Benedicts SoH have been gathering together since Christmas and the Classes that are stting exams in March are working together with there revision time. There have been some online lessons delivered by volunteer experienced teachers here in the UK in the Sciences and Maths for at least 1 1/2 hrs each week.Pupils have been responding well and expectations are high.ChallengeAid is ensuring that the is a good stock of past papers over the past 5 years with questions & marking scheme answers in those areas.

Less time has been spent on reacreational activities with games taking a back seat until everything returns to normal but certainly chess continues at full staeam with the children of all ages cultivating a real passion and desire to achieve. Before the pandemic ChallengeAid had won two national TV competitions for Informal Slum Settlement children winning the top two spots in two consecutive years. The copmpetition was not held last year but there is a real expectation that that we can do well again this year.

Normality is resuming also with all the Supervisors,including those from St. Benedicts attending Supervisor meetings and getting back into a routine and unified approach in which all the children can get back to the "new normality".

Jan 9, 2021

ChallengeAid - training of Supervisors & Teachers.

In this most difficult of times with the COVID19 pandemic - the Schools of Hope have been shut down as have all Government Schools in Kenya until end of November 2020. None of the Govrnment Schools are reopening till January 2021. The programme will spring back to life as soon as the shut down is relaxed at the start of 2021.Though schools are starting back people in the slums have been instructed to stay at home but for a typically averaage family of 5 in a 3' x 3' schack in a slum this is just not realistic. Additionally most people do not have savings so the idea of not working ultimately means starving. This is the situation in which hundreds of thousands have to exist - this is their reality.Restrictions are relaxing but but civil society is not back to normal.

The Supervisors are in communication with ChallengeAid but at this moment in time there is not much that can be done. The monthly meeting with the supervisors is not occurring at the moment but this could well chnge in the near future.What does emerge from the situation is the need to get this training back on track as soon as we are able to cascade the learning to the young people who rely on the SoH's to fulfil their aspirations and turn them into a reality.

This is a letter from Kibera regarding the Covid 19 Crisis reflecting life in the Informal Slum Settlement by a resident -

We had all assumed that things would return to normal and that a cure would soon be found for Corona virus but this did not happen. More people lost their jobs and the government placed a 7pm curfew in Nairobi. There was even talk of a lockdown, we were told a lockdown would be an order for all people to stay indoors. We were told this had been done in Europe and South Africa. Then reports reached us that in Europe people were dying by the thousands and it had become even impossible to bury them in a decent manner. It sounded like the end of the world was near. The government even called for a day of national prayer !

Desperate times call for extreme measures, since there was not enough money for feeding the children, jobs were not available in the city and the Corona virus seemed to affect people in Nairobi more. Most families hurriedly organized to send their children and the women to their rural homes but then we were also

told that we would be spreading the disease by doing this. It is an impossible situation.

Most of us who have no rural homes to go to; sit in our houses which are essentially one room shacks of about 10’x10’. It’s almost impossible for one person to spend a whole day inside of a shack in a slum let alone a family of 5. Most of us now spend the day waiting for a Good Samaritan to drop by with a bag of food; when food is available we share it with our neighbours who have none. When there is a rumour that there may be a charitable donation of food from an NGO into the slum that almost makes matters worse as it creates a stampede and all the good work that has been done by social distancing is ruined. Please don’t judge us harshly though because if you and your family haven’t eaten for days it is very difficult to grab the opportunity. On the bad days when there is nothing to be eaten, we just sleep with the hope that tomorrow will be a better day !

The one really positive story to tell is that because of school closures over the best part of last year ChallengeAid has been able to create online lessons for Form 4 students (equivalent of Yr13 A Level) in Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Biology. Over the past months students living in some of the most impoverished parts of Nairobi have been having online lessons from experienced volunteers in the UK. There have been at least one lesson of each subject each week with usually two Maths lessons. We have been teaching over 100 children with a total week's attendance of approximately 200. These lessons have been screened into the 4 SoH with the best wi-fi connectivity.The lessons have been projected from a laptop onto a white plain wall screen.

These pupils who are currently benefitting will now have more chance of doing well in their KCSE exams with a greater liklihood of going on to University or vocational training and consequently returning back to the SoH's as better qualified supervisors. 

Oct 19, 2020

Educating 70+ children in Mathare Slum.

St. Benedict was fully operational before the lockdown of all schools by the Kenyan Government and was immediately seeing some hugely positive results.

In December 2019 ten children took the Kenyan Primary Certificate of Education.  Considering that this School of Hope has been operational for less than a year, the results were hugely positive.  The average score was 306.6 / 500.  Considering that St. Benedict is a School of Hope where homeless street children can find refuge and are fostered out to homes, it proves that given an opportunity, these children can thrive.  The nearest Government school, Old Mathare Primary, had an average score of 217 / 500 which means that the work that St. Benedict is doing has allowed the young people in the School of Hope an almost 50% value added level of attainment.  The reasons for this are many and varied.  The children appear grateful just to have an opportunity to escape from what appears to be a hopeless situation.  Most of our Schools of Hope have two or three supervisors.  Here at St. Benedict there are four, all of whom are educated to university level, trained as social workers and have emerged out of the streets themselves.  Having experienced what is possible, they are hugely motivated to show others who are in a similar situation to what they experience themselves, the way. Additionally the School of Hope is participating in everything that ChallengeAid provides such as talent competitions, chess, life skills, music, drama, football, rugby, cricket and volleyball.

The Schools lockdown ended this week and pupils are now returning to school. Mathare has also been under a curfew which has made evening lessons impossible.

Hopefully as from this week we will be back on track and resuming the positive work that was clearly evident before lockdown & curfew.

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