Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School

by The Sunflower Foundation (Australia) Inc.
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School
Help Kenyan Girls Qualify for Secondary School

Hello from the Sunflower Foundation!

We are excited to welcome new members to our newsletter. With all the new people interested and with new projects on the horizon, it is amazing to see the growth and impact of the foundation. 

This month we want to highlight the Riley Orton Foundation (ROF), located in the slums of Kisumu, Kenya, which have been a long-term partner of Touch Foundation. David, the founder of ROF,  and his team are tenacious in their efforts and creative in their ideas to make a positive impact on girls' lives. 

The ROF’s mission is to alleviate generational poverty amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalized rural girls. They deliver holistic programming focused on education, health & wellness, economic empowerment, and life skills training in order to provide rural girls and their families with the agency to make sustainable changes.

We have funded (thanks to all of our supporters ) the literacy garden that enables the girls at the school to read, write and perform in their own space without judgment or unwanted attention. We have featured some of their amazing work in previous newsletters. The creative minds of kids cut across language and culture.


During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to support the operating expenses of ROF to help the teachers and girls.  This decision was not taken lightly as our funding is historically project-based, however, it played a critical role in the school remaining open in the midst of lockdowns and instability in Kenya. The Malala Fund found that due to COVID-19, more than 20 million girls (from pre-primary to upper secondary) are at risk of dropping out and may never return to school. We did not want this to happen at the ROF school!


With the new school year starting this August, our funds were used to help provide uniforms, shoes, and underwear for over 500 students at the school. The uniforms were important as the Kenyan government supported the tuition of students but their aid stops there. All other costs associated with going to school had to be provided either by the student or the school. Many girls at ROF school cannot afford their uniforms (and shoes and underwear) and would quit going to school if these were not provided.

With pride in our hearts, 100% of the girls from primary school were enrolled in secondary school. This is a truly incredible achievement and almost close to twice as high as the national average in Kenya. 

Our mission is to get girls to school and to keep them there. 

The Riley Orton Foundation is our featured project and you can support their girls staying in school by making a donation here. 


Until next time,

Team Sunflower

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Things in Kenya and at the school are continuing as good as they can, even though the country has gone into another lockdown.

 

With the extra time, the girls have had their go at farming and growing their own food. This is both a project of growth for the girls and for the plants themselves. It takes patience and skill to grow the food, but it is something that compounds itself: the skills to grow the food increase with each crop, as does the yield.

 

That is why they have started a food security development program. These types of programs focus on sustainability by continually seeking solutions to increase the availability in the food that is grown on the school grounds. This way there can be multiple harvests a year, and as a result more food for the girls.

 

A result of looking to grow our own food, is that the easiest and lower skilled plants are fruit and vegetables. This means that they are making sure to stay healthy during the pandemic by eating right. These are habits that will stay with them throughout life.

 

The food is healthy for the body and for the school budget. Previous to starting the sustainable food program, fruit and vegetables accounted for over 20% of the food costs. Now that is much, much lower. This in turn means there is more money to help the school grow.

 

In these tough times, it is important to be adaptive and creative.

 

Both students and staff have been working to grow food at the school, and we have started harvesting mangoes, papaya, bananas, oranges and other small vegetables. They have expanded what they are growing as they get more skills and have planted some trees in the literacy garden.

 

In a few years time, the girls will be able to sit out there and read while smelling sweet fruit growing all around them.

 

We are excited for this development and proud of the school for focusing on sustainable projects. We are also proud of the girls for learning these new skills. 
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Learning must go on!
Learning must go on!

Hello Everyone and a happy 2021 from the entire Sunflower Team. 

Even though it is a new year, there are still challenges that we are all facing. That said, we are optimistic that 2021 will swing in a positive direction. 

We are lucky enough to have been in touch with David Otieno, the ED of the Riley Orton Foundation in Kenya. He and his team have moved mountains the past 9 months to keep things ticking over. We are so happy to have a relationship with the organisation and the great work they are doing. 

***

From David: 

The 8th graders at Akili school resumed classes on 12 th October 2020 when schools in Kenya reopened for the candidate classes. This marked the beginning of 2nd semester which ends on December 23rd 2020.

The closure of schools in March this year due to COVID-19 pandemic, interrupted learning for millions of students who missed more than six months of formal education.

We have a total of 8 girls in 8th grade and they are all safely back to our campus where they board.

The teachers have been working with the students to cover the syllabus and lead revision sessions as the students prepare for the primary school exit exams scheduled for March 2021 .

Staying at the boarding school has greatly contributed to the safety of the students and given them the much needed time to learn without worrying about COVID 19 or the living conditions at home.

They are getting supported emotionally as well with the teachers and staff available to counsel and talk to them, assist with specific topics, and guide them in their study groups. Our goal is to have all the students scoring at least 70% in all the tests.

As all students prepare to return to school in January 2021, we are conducting interviews/focussed group discussions with girls from rural and urban slums to identify the barriers that may prevent them from returning to school.

Some of the girls are now pregnant or married, some parents have relocated to other towns and villages due to loss of jobs and economic hardships occasioned by the COVID 19 pandemic, while some schools may not meet the government threshold/requirements for reopening of schools.

Such threats to return to school for girls may negate the gains we have made in ensuring gender equality /girls empowerment through education. We hope to use the findings to ensure that all girls in our community return to school and continue learning.

We are also making and giving out school uniforms and free bicycles to students to increase access to education to marginalized girls and boys. We continue to use sports to teach life skills to both girls and boys to ensure that they have the skills to stay safe as schools remain closed.

***

As you can tell from David's note, they are doing the very best they can with what the circumstances are. We are so impressed that they have been able to keep the school up and running throughout these tough times. 

What is just as impressive is that they have had 98% attendance rate while achieving 90% of what they set out to teach for the year. Those are incredible numbers when looking at the odds they were facing. 

We look forward to continuing to support such an awesome organization. 

On to a better 2021!

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It has been a wild ride these past few months. 

As Covid-19 has swept through the world, it has found it's way to Riley Orton's little corner. 

The money that is normally quite limited in Kisumu has all but dried up. The funding our the foundation has been slashed. 

But yet, the organization continues on. 

The literacy garden is being taken advantage of by the girls in the area as it is a space for them to get away from all their troubles and to just be a kid. 

It gives them a chance to continue their learning, even if schools have been shut down. 

There are social distancing measures put in place to ensure that no one is getting sick. 

We will continue to support these wonderful girls as they become women the best we can. 

The major expansion efforts of the garden have been put on hold. For the time being, though, it is business as usual for the girls to learn. We hope that this can continue, even as Kenya goes deeper into lockdown.

In the meantime, we wish them well and that they continue to stay safe. 

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Do you know what is powerful?

Girls that can read!

We continue our support of this wonderful program in Lake Zone Kenya and their Literacy Garden. 

The garden is continuing to grow and the space has really blossomed into an oasis for creativity. 

We had a funding drive in late November and early December and I am thrilled to report that it was a resounding success. This will allow us to continue funding the project and expand access to education for girls in the area. 

In the garden, creativity reigns supreme and we believe that the best is yet to come. 

We look forward to continuing to share with the great strides that the girls have made. 

Watch out world, these girls are coming for you!

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Organization Information

The Sunflower Foundation (Australia) Inc.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria - Australia
Website:
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Twitter: @SunflowerF1
Project Leader:
Evan Lorendo
Dr.
Melbourne, Victoria Australia
$4,546 raised of $5,000 goal
 
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