May I take sometime today to give you some highlights of what has been going on with the Mathari Children’s Fund since the beginning of the year.
We held a workshop with Amani People’s Theaters on Participatory Theatre in Child Rehabilitation (from playing, to learning to change) for 5 days which I must say was very successful. A total of 68 children were led through a creative journey of self discovery and self awareness through interactive techniques of theatre and other participatory games and exercises. This process will help them to develop coping mechanisms for the myriad issues facing them as young people in the slums. One of the initiatives resulting from the workshop was to organize outreach programs during school holidays themselves, to enlighten and raise awareness on the dangers of risk behavior, such as promiscuity and drug abuse. This activity has the potential to raise the self esteem of the young people as they become part of the change they want to see in others and themselves.
Selected children were visited in school during the January – March school term, for a one-on-one between the children and the facilitators after which a follow-up workshop for the children during the next school holidays would be conducted. This particularly targets aggressive behavior which remains following the election violence two years ago.
We completed our annual medical checkup. This saw 62 children go through a complete program of medical tests. We usually do this for the early detection of common health risks. Following this check-up, 19 children were found to be ailing from different diseases and had to seek medical attention in a hospital with the necessary facilities. All the 19 children are now doing fine.
We also held our annual end of year party with our children on the 22nd of December. During the party, various awards were handed out to those deserving especially those that performed very well in academics and areas of interest to different children. We had a great time, with dance competitions, drama and poetry among other competitions like soccer and volleyball.
In January this year, 11 children joined different secondary schools all over the country after they performed well in the Kenya national examinations for primary education. 4 joined prestigious national schools. All the children in the program reported to school on time from the 4th of January.
February saw us hold a 2 days parents’ workshop facilitated by Amani People’s Theatre. The workshop was attended by 23 participants – 19 parents, 2 members of staff and 2 visiting interns from Austria. Of the 19 parents, 2 were male and 17 female. The workshop was designed to build upon the children’s workshop. The parents were informed of the issues raised by the children, and it was quite an eye-opener for them. A majority of the parents present expressed a lack of appropriate skills, time and space to interact well with their children. Rather than depending on individual parents to come up with solutions, one key way forward was for the parents to elect representatives to meet either all the children or representatives of the children, in a facilitated session to design joint strategies to deal with the existing and emerging challenges. Since family issues often destabilize the lives of children in the slum, we regard this as a key initiative that we hope will lead to concrete improvements over time.
Seven of our students sat for their final high school exams, and performed pretty well. All of them have joined computer colleges, which will be a great help to them in taking up future employment opportunites.
Living with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis can be a difficult and stressful reality for many people. If you need someone to talk to, or are looking to meet other positive people from a similar cultural background, it becomes very hard especially in the slums. With this in mind we met some few parents who have been diagnosed and found to be positive with HIV/AIDS and have expressed the need to start a support group. Since our project works on the principle of working in partnership with agencies such as hospitals, community workers, benefit agencies, counselors among others who all share a responsibility for providing key services to people living with HIV, we believe we could indeed work on creating a support group. We will be taking this forward in the coming months.
It would be appropriate to mention that with your continued support, were able to raise $39,000 in the Global Giving Challenge late last year, and we sincerely appreciate your continued support and assistance as we endeavor to facilitate the uplifting of children's lives. These monies will go a long way in meeting the needs of our children under our care.
Like always please feel free to ask any questions or information regarding our project.
With many thanks for your support,
Titus Mwangi, Team Leader