Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya

by Zawadi Fund International
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Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Educate and Empower Street Children in Kenya
Diana
Diana

While schools in Kenya were closed for most of 2020, those in 8th grade came back to school in October to prepare for exams. These exams determine opportunities for placement in high schools – the stakes are very high! Several of our students did quite well, especially considering the disruptions. Here’s a brief introduction to two of our 8th graders.

Diana was orphaned by the age of four and came to the CYEC with three older siblings. She thrived at the Centre, despite the difficulty of her early childhood. When she was little Diana loved to color and paint, and as a teen, she likes music and making new friends. She said, “I would like to … thank the Children and Youth Empowerment for the kind and caring support they have given me for the last ten years. I thank God for CYEC and may God shower blessings upon the CYEC family.”

Jacinta was only three when she came to the Centre. She likes watching movies and dancing and wants to be an accountant when she grows up. She said, “I thank the CYEC family for the care and support. To me the leadership and staff of CYEC are my parents.” She also promised to “work hard when I join high school and make CYEC proud.”

Both Diana and Jacinta have come far since they joined the Centre, and they appreciate the support they've received. They scored well on the national exams and we’re hoping to place them in good schools next year. You support can help them fulfill their dreams. Together, we're changing lives!

Jacinta
Jacinta
Girls education
Girls education

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Mask distribution at Thunguma Primary School
Mask distribution at Thunguma Primary School

Like much of the world, schools in Kenya closed last March due to COVID-19. The CYEC continued to provide academics, sports, lifeskills and arts for the children there, but due to limited internet access, most Kenyan schools did not operate remotely. That means that children have essentially missed a year of school. We know education is a critical part of providing these children a brighter future, so we've worked hard to keep them engaged. 

Schools have reopened, and our children are thrilled to get back to school! We have 52 children in primary school and 50 in high school. An additional five students are in college. We know how important education is for our young people and we want to provide them the support they need to get back into the schooling routine. Your support helps provide for school fees, uniforms (they've grown in a year!) and school supplies. Thanks for the difference you make!

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Leadership class at the poly
Leadership class at the poly

The Children and Youth Empowerment Centre opened the Rathithi Polytechnic in the fall of 2019 to serve high school graduates from the CYEC and related programs. The exceptionally high rates of unemployment (and underemployment) for young people in Kenya, which is even higher for the demographic that CYEC serves, means there is need for special effort to ensure our young people are prepared for their futures. A well-thought-out skills development program, which the polytechnic is putting in place, is a key component of such a program.

Housed on 15 acres, the polytechnic serves 52 learners. Programs include catering, tailoring, computing, masonry, agriculture and life-skills and leadership. Like all of the Centre's programs, the polytechnic is focused on forward-looking community development, sustainability and empowerment.

  1. Learning focused on empowerment and sustainability

Provision of practical knowledge is a central component of any significant empowerment effort. For ordinary skills training institutions, such know-how is focused on helping individuals find employment. For the CYEC’s polytechnic program however, there is a keen appreciation of the need to use its skills development program for the empowerment and sustainable development of the broader community. This is a key component of any long-term solution to the challenges that have made the CYEC program necessary.

Even while preparing its learners for marketable competencies, the polytechnic is focused on developing 21st century training programs that contribute to sustainable community empowerment. These programs include conservation agriculture, waste management, renewable energy solutions and non-timber-based building.

  1. Learning, living and production facilities

The socio-economic backgrounds of the learners at the polytechnic are such that program sustainability is an issue of critical importance. This means that learning facilities are best utilized for production as well. For example, those in the agriculture program are expected to produce food for the polytechnic’s kitchen, while those learning catering are expected to cook for all. The same is true for the other programs. The polytechnic’s facilities, with time, are expected to start generating income.  

  1. Life skills development

For the polytechnic to serve as an effective means of community empowerment, the students need to be self-aware and have leadership competencies. This is why life-skills and leadership training are an integral part of the polytechnic’s training program. The aim of this initiative is to enable learners to see themselves not as victims of circumstances beyond their control but as agents of positive change for their communities.

Your support will enable us to build critical infrastructure and purchase equipment for our new polytechnic so our young people can be positive agents of change in their communities!

Tailoring program at the poly
Tailoring program at the poly

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Children line up to wash their hands
Children line up to wash their hands

The Children and Youth Empowerment Centre, like the rest of the world, is facing both a health and an economic crisis. The shuttering of the Kenyan economy dried up their local sources of support and resulted in most of their ‘graduates’ losing their jobs. Rather than turn inward and ‘pull up the drawbridge,’ the CYEC has responded by reaching out to the community and taking in more children in need. They have received more than 30 additional young people, and they continue to provide medical care to the local community.

As noted by Paul Maina, founder of the CYEC, “Refusing to accept the children would signal withdrawal from the community’s struggle; it would be a succumbing to fear, understandable though this may be. Accepting the children at such a time signals commitment to the future of the community. It is an act of faith in times to come. As with any act of faith, there is not much for reassurance about the future. It is the commitment itself, and the will to succeed that comes from such commitment, that is the reassurance.”

Please join in this commitment to our shared future by supporting the work of the CYEC as you are able.

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These are unsettled and unsettling times for all of us. We're reminded of how we're connected as we share fears, but also as we share caring and compassion around the globe. 

The Children and Youth Empowerment Centre, along with the rest of Kenya and the world, has had to make adjustments to ensure the safety of the young people in our care. We've ensured we can maintain distances, and we're planting more vegetables and tubers in anticipation of future food shortages. We're also reaching out to highly vulnerable families in our neighborhood to provide what support we can. While shutting down the economy helps slow the spread of the virus, it's devastating for families that literally live hand to mouth.

Your support allows us to keep our children safe with nutritious food and medical care, and to provide a bit of a safety net for our youth who have lost their jobs. Together we can protect the people and institutions we love.

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Zawadi Fund International

Location: Paoli, PA - USA
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Project Leader:
Janelle Larson
Director of Zawadi Fund International
Nyeri, Kenya
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