Educating at-risk youth in Kenya

by Margaret Okari Children's Foundation
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Educating at-risk youth in Kenya
Solomon, Eric, Rebecca and Zipporah
Solomon, Eric, Rebecca and Zipporah

Greetings from Kenya,

This has been a challenging season for all of us. COVID-19 and the Delta variant continue to threaten public health here in Kenya and we face an acute shortage of vaccines. But I want to send a message of gratitude in this update, as there is still so much to be thankful for. Our kids have been back in school and are regaining the learning lost during ten months when schools were shut down. Our staff and students are healthy. And thanks to your support, we continue to be able to provide a home and education for children in need.

A family of four orphaned siblings are the most recent addition to our school. Pictured above, Solomon, Zipporah, Rebecca and Eric, ages 6-13, lost their mother six years ago during childbirth. Their father died from unknown health complications in June of this year. After that, a woman who lived nearby looked in on them and provided food from time to time, but the older children, the 13-year-old twins, were left to parent the younger two. They cooked, washed clothes, fetched water and firewood. T

They lived near Meru, about 10 hours drive from our school. But some well wishers knew of their difficult circumstances, learned of our school, and obtained permission from the local area chief for the children to join us. There were several hurdles to overcome before their arrival, including the sudden appearance of someone claiming to be an uncle who had not been involved in their welfare but who showed up when it seemed like people with resources were going to help the children. He wanted payment in exchange for giving permission for the children to go to school. Fortunately, the area chief intervened and ensured the children’s transportation to our school.

From the time they arrived in early August until now, they seem happy and energetic and are doing well in school. One would not know they have endured such severe hardship. I am humbled by their resilience and grateful we can provide them a safe home and the chance to be children and students rather than providers.

I know how difficult the past 18 months have been for everyone. And I know it’s easy to forget about us halfway around a very troubled world. But our school would not exist without you, we would not have survived the past 18 months without you, we would not be able to open our doors to Solomon, Zipporah, Rebecca and Eric without you, and for that I am very grateful. Thank you.

Warmly,
Kwamboka

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
8th grade class after completing exams
8th grade class after completing exams

We are very happy to report that results from this year’s national exams came in, and we ranked 2nd out of 140 schools in our district! We consistently rank among the top schools in the region, but this year was particularly challenging with school closures and the fact that our students lack access to basic technology like smart phones, laptops and internet that can facilitate at-home learning.

Our staff worked hard to keep kids engaged as much as possible, and their creativity and dedication is reflected in the exam results this year. A big kudos to our staff and students and a heartfelt thank you to the community of supporters that helped our kids make it through a very trying year!

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Ondicho (8) and Lucy (6) in front of their home
Ondicho (8) and Lucy (6) in front of their home

As I write this update, schools in Kenya have just reopened for the new school year after closing in March due to COVID-19. For the first time in nine months, all of our students are now back on campus. Although the pandemic is still spreading, nine months is a long time away for our students. As you know, our school caters to vulnerable children whose living environments are not conducive to remote learning and everyday existence is often a struggle. So we are glad to have them back at school.

Throughout the time school was closed we did our best to keep in touch with students and their caregivers and were prompted to buy food for many struggling families. Ondicho and Lucy, pictured above, are one of the families we were able to help in this way. Unlike most of our students who have lost at least one parent, Ondicho and Lucy have both parents. However, the parents are very poor. In fact, Ondicho and Lucy started attending our school after a local public school sent them away because they were not able to pay a small fee (which even government schools charge for various things). Their father, who works as a labourer, leaves home very early in the morning to go and search for a job. Sometimes he might find a job and other times not. The mother washes clothes in people’s homesteads. Sometimes she will find a job but other times not. Food is hard to come by unless they find something to do on the particular day, which is especially challenging during the pandemic. So we have bought them corn and groceries to ensure they can eat. And just before Christmas, we fixed a new door for their little house because it was badly cracked. I am glad we were able to help their family and others during the pandemic but am also glad Ondicho and Lucy are now back on campus with the rest of their classmates.

As our 13th school year gets underway (our first masked school year), we are deeply humbled by your continued partnership and support, which has made our work possible over the years and particularly during the very difficult year that has just passed.

Wishing you and your loved ones good health and fulfillment in the new year.

With gratitude,
Kwamboka

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Kindergarteners in class before COVID closures
Kindergarteners in class before COVID closures

Greetings from Kisii,

As I write this update, I know schools in the US are just beginning to reopen, many virtually. As I mentioned in my last update, schools in Kenya have been closed since March and we do not expect to reopen until January, which is when the Kenyan school year typically starts. This means our students will all end up delayed a year in their academics (so students who started in fourth grade this past January will have to start fourth grade again once we are able to reopen).

As you know, our focus is educating children who come from poor families and difficult backgrounds, many of them orphans. When you have vulnerable kids like ours, they can fall very far behind during a time like this. Unlike better off children in Kenya, our students don't have access to laptops or even smart phones, so virtual learning options simply don’t exist. Since it looks like schools will remain closed for the next four months, we are trying to figure out ways to continue engaging our kids and exercising their brains. We've already begun issuing assingments to some of our older students that teachers collect and review. But these are challenging times indeed and it is not easy. Still, we are doing our best to learn as we go. 

We are so very grateful for your friendship and support and look forward to the day when our kids are able to return to school and learn together, eat together, play together. In the meantime, we hope you are managing under the strain of this global pandemic and are finding ways to enjoy your days and your loved ones.

Many thanks,
Kwamboka

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Students help out on the school farm
Students help out on the school farm
We hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and well during this unsettling time.

As COVID-19 has disrupted life around the world, it has also led to school closures across Kenya. In an effort to deter the spread of the virus, Kenya closed all schools in March. As a result, we shut down our campus, and all of our students are now staying with relatives and guardians. Current guidance suggests schools could reopen in June (the Kenyan school year runs from January-November). However, this guidance is tentative and we, like so many others, are taking things day by day. For now, we are all doing our part to social distance, as we do not want to imagine the effects of an outbreak here.

While our students are home with relatives, we are still keeping in touch. Recently, several of our older students asked if there were ways they could help during the school closure. A small group then gathered to help work the shamba, or farmland, where we cultivate maize and other crops for the students. They wore masks and kept distance between themsleves but enjoyed the opportunity to see one another and feel productive (see photo above). And of course, we must continue with the planting season to ensure we are producing food for when school reopens.

During this time of uncertainty and great challenge, we are reminded how interconnected our global community is, and we are so grateful to you for being part of our Margaret Okari Children's Foundation family. Please know that many of our children, even some as young as seven, have asked me how our American friends are doing. We are all in this together and wish you and your loved ones good health, strength and peace. 

With gratitude, 
Kwamboka Okari, Founder and Executive Director

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Margaret Okari Children's Foundation

Location: Carmichael, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MargaretOkari
Project Leader:
Jessica Lewis
Andover, MA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

Still want to help?

Support another project run by Margaret Okari Children's Foundation that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.