Educating street children in the Mathare slums

by Mathari's Children Fund
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Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
Educating street children in the Mathare slums
George in 2003
George in 2003

Happy New Year 2021 and I sincerely hope this year brings with it good tidings.

I’m sending my heartfelt thanks to you, and to everyone who makes our shared work possible.

There is steady progress and, with it, so much hope in our endeavor. Hope that flows from having partners and friends like you and from the individual efforts of staff and the board working to ensure that the children we serve receive an education and live in a more just and healthy world.

Today, I’m thinking about one such child – who is no longer a child anymore - born and raised in the slums of Mathare in a family of 11 children, am thinking of George.

Meet George whom I have featured here before on his accomplishments.

George joined St. Michael Hill Primary School as a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education candidate in 2003. He thereafter joined Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School in 2004, where he attained B+ in Kenya Certificate Secondary Education in the year 2007. He then joined Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology for a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration – Human Resource Management {2009 – 2013], and attained Second Class Honors {Upper Division}. He continued with his education and attained a Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MSc. HR) in 2016. 2020, George made us proud when he received his Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD), a first for us as an organization but he is also the youngest PhD holder in his university at age 33!

Together we helped ensure that George and others like him was able to get an education, we kept all our lifesaving and education programs running strong, expanded our care and support to marginalized communities across Mathare and the surrounding slums.

You played a vital role in those efforts, and your continued partnership gives us continued hope for the future. Optimism and action are the only options for building a better, more humane world, in 2021—and beyond.

With your generous support, we continue to keep children safe and in school and for this we are forever grateful.

Like they say: Education has both societal and personal benefits. Education provides individuals with a foundation for individual and collective development. On that foundation, much of humanity’s economic and social wellbeing is built. Education is key to increasing economic efficiency and social consistency; it helps to raise the poor from poverty and, thus, eliminates poverty-driven crime. Supporting education, therefore, is one of the smartest investment towards achieving holistic human development – social, economic and other.

With warm wishes and gratitude.

George and his Wife
George and his Wife
George and his proud mum
George and his proud mum
George and staff
George and staff
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Food Packages
Food Packages
 

Dear friends,

We are because you are and I thank you for being part of our MCFP community since my last letter to you. It’s been 3 months and we (MCFp) hope that you and your loved one have kept safe and are staying strong and have the support you need at this time of uncertainty.

Allow me give special thanks to all of you for the continued support for the lives of more than 390 families for the last 17 weeks. In a special way, we give thanks to friends for coming through this difficult times.

From a total number of 1962 caseloads in May, Kenya has recorded; tenfold number of cases to a caseload of 37,053 from 385,723 tests.

The impact of Coronavirus continues to be felt in every home and workplace. While the cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa County and Mandera County have been lifted, the nationwide 9pm to 4am curfew was extended for a further 30 days, schools/learning institutions remain closed until the foreseeable future from January 2021 among other restrictions.

Too many children, especially those living in fragile context like Mathare, already face unacceptable threats to their wellbeing and futures. Beyond COVID-19 itself, children continue to inevitably face heightened food insecurity; increased risk of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation; and the interruption or total breakdown of essential services including formal and informal education. While children may not suffer the worst symptoms of COVID-19, millions of young lives have been put at risk as weak health systems become overwhelmed by the pandemic and precious resources are diverted. Our health systems are ill-prepared, and they have created inherent challenges in reaching those most in need. People reside in precarious and insecure conditions including large overcrowded and densely populated informal urban settings. Girls and boys in such hazardous settings are particularly vulnerable to a number of threats including malnutrition, disease, physical and sexual exploitation and abuse, gender-based violence and child marriage, child labor, absence from education, and significant mental and psycho-social health challenges and trauma. Children and their families in these contexts often live in poor quality and cramped housing that do not allow for physical distancing. Also, they have limited prospects for livelihoods or must work despite very difficult circumstances. Many people have limited or no access to basic services and supports, including basic healthcare.

MCFp RESPONSE

  • We have establish a two-way dialogue with community members at all levels (including children youth and women) that seeks to understand their perspectives, solicits their inputs, shares information, explain their fears, ask questions (and have them answered), and engages them in the response to Covid- 19.
  • In Health and Nutrition, we have continued to address food and nutritional requirements for more than 390 family members for the last 17 weeks through food packages. Promises of cash transfers and food to those who are sufferingextreme hardship as a result of the curfew and lockdown don’t seem to have materialized. The fear is if the funds raised by the government from all over the world will go towards the intended beneficiaries or will simply line some politically-connected pockets. Anecdotal evidence and other reports indicate that the KES 2, 000 (about $20) monthly stipend that was promised to the most vulnerable people has still not been disbursed to them despite assurances by various government officials that cash transfers started in April. None of the people, who have either been laid off or have had to close down their small businesses, have seen a cent of the stipend. On medical needs especially the increased malnourished children among the clients we serve by providing added nutritious food as advised by our nutritionist. Within the children/teenage mother’s families we serve, more than 34 children had malnourished issues, 49 cases of abuses from sexual abuse, assault to Gender Based Violence and more than 69 visited a medical facility due to malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, malnutrition, typhoid, among other infections.
  • We have continued to provide free reusable face masks to the community members of Mathare and its environment. We have given out 560 masks over the last 17 weeks.
  • On Child Protection and Education: Provision of psychosocial support and respond to violence and abuse of children is something we are keen in by supporting the survivors and reporting those that are involved. The closure of schools has seen an increase in teenage and adolescent pregnancies. Stigma and discriminatory school rules are likely to prevent these girls from continuing with their education once schools re-open. To ensure that this pandemic does not turn into a girls’ crisis, all stakeholders involved must come together to ensure the back to school guidelines provided for teen mothers under the National School Health Policy (2009) are followed to the letter. This is being worked on through the several networks we are involved in as an organization both at the National and local level. Additionally, we are lending our voice to advocate for the establishment of government-run safe houses where girls at risk of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence can seek refuge, during holidays and unforeseen circumstances like what we are experiencing today. Over the last 4 months, we have seen an increased risk of sexual exploitation of children, including sex for assistance, commercial sexual exploitation of children and forced early marriages – Case in point - More than 28 girls on average became pregnant daily in Machakos County in the last five months!
  • We have also started availing a safe space for where children can undertake studies now that schools are not opened, an environment that is conducive, a study room that is well spaced in accordance with the new Covid 19 Restrictions and up to date curriculum books. We are currently serving approximately 23 at anyone given time.

Allow us to put something into perspective.

It's a chilly morning. While most of us are woken up by an alarm, “Judy” is woken up by the need to survive. The closure of schools and the increasing economic burden on her family violates her right to be a child. And she is encumbered by the responsibility of bringing home an income, “she is 12 years old! I was 15 years when I got her” her mum exclaims. Numb hands, Judy makes the journey on foot through the narrow, litter strewn streets of Mathare, lined with small shacks made of corrugated iron sheets oblivious of abuses that goes on around her to the nearby neighborhood of Eastleigh to try to find a day’s work with thoughts of school haunting her. As the COVID19 pandemic accelerates and pressures on economies rise, girls like Judy are vulnerable to child labor and exploitation. The pandemic has led to the resurgence of harmful traditional views, including those that see girls as an economic burden and a medium of exchange. With the closure of schools, girls are facing a double burden and are defenseless against activities that could compromise their physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing.

Allow MCFp to intervene where it can with such cases like “Judy’s” with your continued support…

Giving is not only about a donation but making a difference…Asante sana for making a difference in this uncertain times

Spaced - Library
Spaced - Library
Receiving Food
Receiving Food
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National Newspaper
National Newspaper

 Dear MCFp Friends

Your gift today will keep 104 former street children and teenage mothers going. Even if we are apart we are in this together…

We are because you are and I thank you for being part of our MCFP community. I know it’s a scary time. The impact of Coronavirus is being felt in every home and workplace around the world. I hope you and your loved ones are staying strong and have the support you need at this time of uncertainty.

COVID 19 has lifted the veil on the desperate levels of inequality and exemplified that the world cannot sustain such levels of disparity. The pandemic has catalyzed the dire need and urgency for a new normal, one that will remove the systemic barriers that continue to hold the marginalized back. This new reality must honor the spirit behind ensuring that we all thrive in our uniqueness and diversity. But the virus is now spreading across Africa, hitting countries with weak healthcare systems that already face challenges from access to water and overcrowded housing, making hand-washing and social distancing a luxury…in terms of health, the informal settlements are more at risk due to malnutrition, chronic respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and higher exposure to other diseases associated with weak hygiene practices, exposure to waste and wastewater, overcrowding, inadequate housing and exposure to seasonal flooding, changing weather conditions and otherrisks.

Would you imagine a few weeks, some of my constituents had their “homes” demolished!!! We have a lock down that has been extended to 21 more days in Kenya but then the powerful decide to demolish houses to over more than 5000 families leaving them hungry, no place to call their home and yet we have a curfew! That is what we have to deal with.

There are also serious economic challenges due to the loss of income as most residents rely on informal daily work to put food on the table every day. The lockdowns, curfews, transport restrictions and closure of businesses, building sites and markets mean there are few opportunities available.

We have also seen the potential for social problems. For example, the threat of unrest and violence related to the enforcement actions of national measures related to COVID-19 and the increase in domestic violence, we have had to deal with more than 23 cases of domestic violence in the last 2 months and we have 2 cases in ICU with no good end in sight.

At MCFp, we are living our vision and ethos, and embodying this new reality. We are investing in weekly care packages parcels to the most needy, providing medical needs and any psycho- social support we can offer under the circumstances while working to end this period poverty and reduce the increased financial strain on families. These care packages include dry food, face Masks produced by our teenage mothers and sanitizers to meet the essential living needs of our constituents. To date, we have reached between 1500 persons (60/70 families) every week for the last 5 weeks. "Leaving no one behind" is even more important during these times, for the well-being of all and controlling the pandemic.

As the world grapples with the pandemic, children lives are turned upside down everywhere you look. As part of the MCFpanairobi community, I ask you to remember those who are most at risk. You’ve already done so much for those who are most in need. The street children and teen mums who fall under our care are designated as the highest risk of going hungry and sickly but with your past generosity, you’ve put the right organization to take care of this.

One of the teenage mums came to me in tears “Titus, am so hungry and my kids and my siblings are so distressed and hungry... I fear we might contract the coronavirus but that’s not even important, we are hungry…” it’s put an extra burden on me and friends of MCFp to ensure we are able give them food and this is why I come to you for support my dear MCFp friend.

A few friends of MCFpanairobi have come through the last few weeks but from the look of things, we will need more support in provision of food packs, medical care and psychosocial support, please help us out if you can.

Thank you for your kindness and compassion.

Lastly I end this letter with a poem of a student whose homes were demolished for you to understand the severity of the problems that my constituencies are going through. It’s anonymous and copied.

The Bulldozer…

There was a “house” here – shattered glass, wattle, wood and iron sheets – the bulldozer didn’t know…

There was living here – a flattened plastic cup, a metallic plate, banana peels, paracetamol tablets – the bulldozer didn’t know

There was hope here – school books, a bag, a half inch pencil – the bulldozer didn’t know

There was a “secure” house to protect the family from rain and sunshine – the bulldozer didn’t know.                

In what used to be Monday, Korogocho/Kariobangi children – young boys and girls with their mothers walked by, picking up broken pieces, hungry, angry and determined to start again as the bulldozer dug trenches to ensure no one ever builds on that land again BECAUSE THE BULLDOZER JUST COULDNT KNOW!!!

Delivery of Food
Delivery of Food
Demolitions in Kariobangi
Demolitions in Kariobangi
Receiving Food Pacakages
Receiving Food Pacakages
Face Masks
Face Masks
Children receiving food
Children receiving food
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Figure 1: Flagging Off walk on IDSC
Figure 1: Flagging Off walk on IDSC

Celebrating Street Connected Children!

Friday 12th April 2019 marked the 9th International Day of Street Children, MCFPanairobi joined 20 Organizations (Nairobi Street Children and Youth Consortium) to celebrate the strength and resilience of street children. Over 650 street connected children participated in the event which sought to raise awareness on the need to ‘Commit to Equality for Street Children’ by appreciating their humanity and resilience to face daily challenges.

Street children are an important cohort to MCFPanairobi as we trace our project origins with them, they continue to be a big part of our work as we strive to facilitate and promote their basic rights and dignity. At this event, it emerge that the numbers of street children are continually on the increase with little being done by the government to safeguard them.

Stakeholders were challenged to design interventions that will provide street connected children with similar opportunities to other children as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. MCFpanairobi together with other stakeholders committed to share information on existing interventions for street connected children, to lobby and advocate for their rights. Further, organizations present agreed to hold one another accountable in their work to meet needs specific to street connected children.

Peer Learning for Teenage Mothers

In this quarter, 30 teenage mothers participated in a learning visit in collaboration with Fortress of Hope in Komarock, Nairobi. The visit was aimed at providing a platform for sharing experiences with positive role models and mentors.

Fortress of Hope runs a girl’s mentorship program to equip young adolescent girls with Life Skills. There were ten (10) young ladies between the ages of 19-25 years who led discussions around contraceptive use amongst adolescents, sexual relationships and leadership. Teenage mothers shared their life experiences, challenges and approaches to navigating life’s challenges. They were challenged by the day’s mentor who had overcome teenage motherhood, and were leading successful lives.

The session gave hope to teenage mothers, and confidence that with support and good decision making their lives could change for better.                  

Sports for Behaviour Change

MCFpanairobi has in the last one year embraced sports as a tool to enhance knowledge amongst our constituents. Sports has become effective in strengthening the Life skills and resilience of children and youth. In the month of April, sports was used to communicate and pass information on crime, drugs, and peer pressure. Activities employed are simple and memorable hence enhancing memory for the children.  This promotes positive behaviour and attitude change while equipping the children with knowledge and confidence to handle any risky situations they may face.

Additionally, the children were trained on crime avoidance within their schools and communities. This was facilitated in conjunction with Kwetu Crime Si Poa Organization-Reformist Organization. This is an Organization established in partnership with the Department of Corrections and comprises reformed convicts who share their experiences to deter youth from crime. They were challenged to stand out and be agents of change in their communities by choosing to speak against crime.

We plan to host a meeting with parents in the month of August 2019 to raise their awareness on crime at home and in their communities, how to engage children to prevent their entry into crime.

Figure 2: Street Connected children perform skit
Figure 2: Street Connected children perform skit
Figure 3: Teenage mothers session on leadership
Figure 3: Teenage mothers session on leadership
Figure 4: Group photo at end of training
Figure 4: Group photo at end of training
Figure 6: Using sport to communicate on drug abuse
Figure 6: Using sport to communicate on drug abuse
Figure 5: Plenary session following sport activity
Figure 5: Plenary session following sport activity
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The first quarter of the year will come to an end soon, bringing normalcy to the flurry of activities that marked the beginning of the New Year. Your support enabled us to ensure that 100 children in the program reported to school without delay, having met all their academic costs. We have 6 new recruits; the youngest aged 4 years and the oldest aged 14 years. The new recruits have been absorbed into the program following a rigorous process of individual case assessment. The process of assessment takes approximately 3 months, this is because it requires numerous home visits and meetings with possible partners to verify information given. As such, we review applications throughout the year in readiness for intake at the beginning of the year.

We receive numerous applications for academic support from residents in Mathare and surrounding environs, it is always difficult to turn anyone away. We have come to appreciate that, however much we try, we will never accommodate everybody. This gives us courage to face parents, guardians or children whose applications are unsuccessful. We have been able to refer a number of them for various services to our partners within the Child Protection network where they have received assistance.

We are thankful for the support offered by our friends and partners who make it possible to take a child through school, from kindergarten to college or university. Walking this path with the children is fulfilling and challenging; there are countless joyous moments for example when we see new confidence and attitude in a child after joining the program, good school performance, improved grades and finally graduation and employment. We have four students graduating from college this year, and we are excited about the new journey they’re about to undertake.

It is difficult to watch a child struggle to stay in school, a child’s early life experience and home environment plays a big role in their overall behaviour. To mitigate this, we design interventions that will address and meet the needs of the children holistically.

In order to realize the children’s dreams and meet our targets; our goals for this year are:

  1. Towards Improved Academic Outcomes: Each holiday, Project Staff will be guided by school report forms in identifying strong and weak subjects and using that as a basis of mobilising beneficiaries into study groups. Capacities of students who perform well will be built as peer mentors/educators to enable them to take charge of study groups. Well-stocked libraries, computer rooms and tutors will enable beneficiaries to work towards improved academic outcomes.
  2. Towards Improved Beneficiary Welfare: Nutritional supplements, psychosocial support, an annual health camp, enhanced capacity to provide emotional support and adoption of strategies that will enhance parent-child relations are some aspects of the project that are geared towards improved beneficiary welfare.
  3. Participatory Workshops and Other Interactive Forums: The workshops will be facilitated for respective age cohorts: 6-9 year olds; 10-14 year olds; and 15+ year olds. The peer mentors in charge of study groups will also act as group leaders during focused discussions. After the series of workshops, an interactive forum will be facilitated for group leaders from all the age cohorts for the purpose of collation of issues arising from the workshops, and to identify common areas of interest
  4. Commitment of Parents to Supporting Children in the Programme: Parenting education and other capacity-building forums {support groups} will enhance the capacity of parents to provide emotional and moral support to children in the programme.
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Organization Information

Mathari's Children Fund

Location: Melrose, MA - USA
Website:
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Project Leader:
Cathal Conaty
Founder
Berlin, Germany
$131,355 raised of $149,000 goal
 
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