My name is Lisa Helm. This past summer, upon graduating with my Master's in Social Work from Loyola University, I had the amazing opportunity to join St. Vincent's in Kibera, Kenya as their Social Work Fellow. During my fellowship, I worked closely with St. Vincent's staff, including the Rescue Center House Mother, Grace, to plan and roll out a Life Skills Training Program for the children. The program incorporated reproductive health education sessions, together with financial literacy instruction. The program was a great success and I am so pleased to be able to share with you a bit about my work this summer.
Reproductive Health Education
The nine-day reproductive health education course, entitled ‘Taking Care of Your Heart,’ was conducted for Rescue Center girls and focused on the two roles of the heart: the physical and emotional. Girls learned about basic aspects of human biology, pregnancy, and puberty, and engaged in discussions around good communication skills, relationship strategies, dating, and ways to say ‘no.’ This education program provided critical information to our adolescent girls, particularly in the context of Kibera, where domestic and gender based violence rates in the community are extremely high. Meanwhile, the Rescue Center boys received a compressed, two-day course.
A weekly Financial Literacy program was introduced to all Rescue Center children over the course of three months. Sessions began with an introduction to basic financial concepts, including saving, budgets, and responsible spending. Throughout the program, children were engaged in hands-on activities through which they had the opportunity to practice their budgeting and savings skills, including through field trips to local sites and markets. The course was geared to provide the Rescue Center youth with skills that they will need to be successful in their adult lives.
St. Vincent's Rescue Center provides a safe and loving home to 18 children in Kibera, Kenya. The organization is at a critical juncture --- as many of its children are reaching adolescence, St. Vincent's has the challenging task of providing them with the information, skills and resources to help them lead healthy and productive lives and to help them develop into successful and motivated adults. This is a challenge for all families in Kibera -- as there are many hurdles that stand in the way to children's successful transition to adulthood --- and it is also a challenge in a group home setting like that of the Rescue Center. It is for these reasons, that I am particularly pleased with the support and active participation of the St. Vincent's staff in launching the Life Skills Training Program, both of which were key factors in the program's success. I am thrilled to have been a part of this initiative and so thankful for my time with the amazing children at the Rescue Center!
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