Social Media and Technology

Social media has created a lot of anxiety among the youth and lowers the self-esteem of those that do not have access to it. When teenagers from the city go to visit their friends in the villages during the school holidays, they intimidate them with their cool phones, iPads, cameras, and other electronic devices. As much as the children in the village are used to daily house and garden chores, the media craze is catching on, and the parents are facing a lot of pressure from their teens asking for gadgets. Teens with access to electronics have mastered the art of keeping themselves occupied in their free time. Whenever they have leisure time they go online, text their friends, share photos, ‘troll,’ and generally waste a great amount of time on social media. By the end of the day, they haven’t gotten much done because they were so distracted. The dive into electronics becomes addictive; the teens feel the need to stay ‘relevant’ by being online, but ironically ‘become irrelevant’ because they have not exercised real-life social skills. They lose their language abilities as they tend to use a lot of abbreviation, slang, and acronyms. The teens get exposed to a lot of the good and the bad side of the Internet due to poor regulations like weak age restrictions. Anyone can virtually access anything online due to a lack of strong verification requirements. This ‘addiction’ to technology causes the children to lose track of time as they dwell on the technological benefits of social media. As a result, with their heads in their phone or computers, they are missing significant opportunities to pursue important aspects of life, such as developing their individual gifts and talents, as well as career choices and possibilities. Cyber bulling has become very common and can negatively affect people from any age group. Many kids and teenagers who are cyber bullied believe they can handle it themselves and refuse to resort to the help of an adult (which, in most cases, is necessary). Once an adolescent is being cyber bullied, their first instinct is to fight back as a form of self-defense, but this can lead to more aggressive bullying. After the adolescent realizes that their ‘self-defense methods’ don’t work, they often attempt to block or report the bully, but many cyber bullies will find other ways to cause their victim to suffer, if...

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Counseling for the Girls

We have been offering counseling and guidance in our Choice Club meetings to the girls we mentor. We have also extended the services to other girls who are not part of the Choice Club, but who are also facing challenges that need addressing.  Many students have different situations affecting them. They all deserve to be offered effective guidance and counseling, so they can develop the ability to cope with differing situations facing them both in and out of school. We realized once we gave these girls a platform to air their issues that many concerns were raised which would, otherwise, have been ignored. Students feel the pressure to perform well because this is what their parents, and the teachers expect from them. When this doesn’t happen, the student ends up getting stressed and with time, depression can develop, and their world can become a very dark place.  The students feel they are not given the opportunity to express their inner conflicts and voice. Exams cause extreme stress, trauma, and anxiety. There are students who refuse to attend school during their last year of school because they fear failing; they will do everything possible, including organizing demonstrations in school and even burning the school dormitories, to avoid the exams. They tend to target the dormitories because they know that without accommodation facilities the students will be forced to leave school. They cause an inexpressible amount of inconvenience to the other students who are ready to sit for their exams. The time spent at home while the dormitories are rebuilt causes extreme anxiety for both the parents and the students. With proper counseling and guidance, students learn how to overcome anxiety during exams. They are taught how-to live-in peace and harmony with others in the school community and how to appreciate their classmates. The counselor can guide them within a ‘proper forum’ to air their grievances before the situation gets out of hand. Mentorship and counseling go hand in hand. We have realized that many students are struggling with challenges from home and school which need to be addressed urgently. It is important that parents not shy away from sharing the challenges their children are facing in order to help before the situation(s) get out of hand. A counselor prepares the students for academic, career, and social challenges by relating their educational success to their success in life.  They help the...

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Children’s Rights

Despite there being rights that protect children, many of them still suffer great injustices. Many have no access to education; they are forced into child labor, early marriages, and easily exploited by some of the people that have been entrusted to their care. Children the world over face serious injustices. Several are kidnapped for ransom and are inflicted with isolation, trauma. These will inevitably develop deep-seated trust issues often lead to depression later in life. Most of the mental illnesses that children suffer are the result of early childhood trauma and serious issues within their upbringing. Children lack the capacity to take care of themselves; too many living with their guardians face a lot of abuse and oppression. The children suffer silently without questioning whatever they face. It is important for people to speak out against child related abuse and injustices. People need to be empowered to help in the fight to end social injustices towards children or at least, find a way to promote better living conditions for such children. In Kenya, we have many children living on the streets. They come from broken homes, some are orphans, some are abandoned. The majority lack families that can take them into their homes. There have gathered to form large street families and most of these sniff glue to release stress, escape the reality of poverty, and to wade off hunger pangs. The glue is readily available and affordable though the health risks are major. These children need care, protection, and guidance.  Below are some of the Universal children’s rights: The right to association with both parents The right to physical protection The right to food and shelter The right to an education The right to healthcare The right to play and recreation The right to protection from abuse and harm The right to equal opportunities The right to guidance from a caring adult The right to spiritual development Women, on the other hand, have the right to live free from violence, free from slavery, and free from discrimination.  Women also have the right to own property, to be educated, the right to own a fair and equal pay, as well as the right to vote, among others. Women voting in Kenya at a Polling Station...

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Teachers’ Role in the Classroom

After reviewing the reports, we received from the counselors who managed the counseling sessions at the different schools, it is evident that the students need teachers and parents who are willing to go an extra mile to give them attention and to seek out those who need special help. All teachers have a job description which details their scope of work. It will, therefore, take a teacher who has a special love for the children he/she teaches to go the extra mile to help where need is detected. We appreciate all the club patrons at the Choice Club meetings who take time to sit with us in the class sessions and mostly get home late on the club days. They organize the students and make sure that they are in class on time, so that we can begin the club activities on time. They realize and see the need for the mentorship and guidance that the girls receive. If they did not see the need in what we offer, they would leave us to work on our own which would make our work very difficult. A good teacher should be patient, kind, tolerant and open minded. It is important that he/she be enthusiastic about teaching and have a sense of humor. Other significant traits of a good teacher include their being imaginative and creative, humble, self-disciplined, a good role model as well as a friend. A good teacher needs to understand the different environments the kids are coming from and not compare any child with another. Each student has specific unique needs and strengths; they all need to be handled individually. When a teacher makes herself available to all students, he/she is able to realize which students need extra assistance. A good teacher can help a student with their self-esteem by being honest in his/her relationship with the student, show the student the value of studying, and encourage each to be the best they can be. A caring and sharing nature will help the teachers know their students better. Since the students spend more time at school than at home, a teacher plays the role of a loving parent, fair, respectful, flexible and able to handle challenges without taking issues personally. He/she needs to be a careful listener and observer. A student with a question should be answered whether the question is related to the subject being taught or...

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Abusive Marriages

Since the year began, we have witnessed several gender-based murders. Many young women and girls have been killed. Most of the deaths are the result of either love gone sour or domestic violence. A few of the women who survived the domestic violence were questioned. When asked why they stayed in abusive marriages, the responses were generally that the women had nowhere to go for safety. These women are suffering in bad marriages because they cannot afford to take care of their children on their own. They need the mens’ financial help, and the men have used this advantage to batter the women at the slightest provocation. Our topic on ‘Women and Money’ was very well received by the girls at the Choice Club. They have witnessed first-hand what their mothers are going through because they do not have financial independence. The rate of suicide in Kenya has risen greatly over the past few months, and in some instances, children have been killed by their parents before they took their own lives. Most of those who leave behind suicide notes always blame poverty for their actions and domestic violence. They say they can no longer take care of their children, and so they don’t see the need for living. They kill their children to spare them the agony of growing up in poverty. Such is their reasoning. Most of the suicide victims are women and children. When a woman is financially stable, she can control her life and claim her rights. Financial stability gives the woman the confidence and credibility to participate in important matters of decision-making for herself and her family. She is able to help her husband run the home by paying some of the bills.  Her financial assistance lifts the burden from him, and her husband will, hopefully, appreciate and support her efforts. When women earn money for themselves, they are immediately more in control of their lives. They are not trying to compete with their spouses- this fact needs to be clearly communicated and understood. Most women who are in abusive marriages confirm that their spouses restrict them from access to financial resources. They live with the abuser because they lack financial independence, which would otherwise enable them to have a choice. It has been proven that women who earn an income reinvest 90% of it to their families as compared to 30% or 40%...

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