November Highlights

Every parent/ guardian/ caregiver / teacher wants a child that has in them the desire to excel in life, to be the next leader in society, a person of repute. A child who is morally upright, respectable and shows concern for others is every parent’s delight.  Being focused is undoubtedly going to make the child feel more positive and controlled in their life. Knowing what’s important in their life will be the seed that will determine where the girls end up. The skill is in being committed to achieving their goals. In the month of November, we concentrated a lot of effort on visiting the girls in Form 4 at the various schools where we offer mentorship and life skills. The idea was to help the girls cope with challenges at school after being home for so long, abruptly being asked to resume studies, and having to adopt to a new lifestyle of wearing masks, sanitizing and keeping social distance in order to avoid contracting and spreading the Covid 19 virus. As expected, there were a lot of challenges. The teachers were having a hard time convincing the students to keep their masks on. The majority refused to wear them, and the teachers had to use harsh measures to enforce the rules. Teenage pregnancies rose during the long holiday; many girls fell pregnant and gave birth, many resumed school while still pregnant.  Other girls were giving up, refusing to go back to school and being rebellious towards their parents and guardians. Teenage pregnancy can be a crisis for teenagers and their parents. Common reactions might include anger, guilt and denial. The teen might also experience anxiety, fear, shock and depression. Asking what the teen is feeling and talking about what’s ahead helps diffuse the situation and brings comfort. The teen needs parental love, guidance and support at this point more than ever. We visited some of the teens that had given birth, donated items that they needed for the babies, and encouraged them not to give up hope. Despite having fallen pregnant, there is still the hope of their going back to school and finishing their education. As a voice of hope, we were there to attend every situation that called for our attention. We have visited and formed clubs in the slums since Covid 19 hit, and we will continue with the programs until the end of November. We emphasized...

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Hope Amidst Despair

We have been visiting the schools where we offer our mentorship classes and encouraging the Form Four students as they get ready to sit their exams next year in March.  They have a short time to cover what is left in the syllabus, and they need all the encouragement and support they can get to pass the exams. This has been a very trying time for the teachers; they have to ensure that the students observe the guidelines been put in place by the Ministry of Health regarding safety due to Covid 19, though some students are not taking the matter seriously. We, have, however spoken with them and tried to help them understand why they need to be careful especially now that we are experiencing a second wave of the disease. Our mission to bring hope to the teenagers in the slums continues. We realize there is a great need to reach out to these teenagers. There is great talent in the slums, and all the teenagers need is a caring hand to steer them in the right direction. Last week we visited Soweto Academy Secondary School in Kibera. Soweto Academy found its beginnings in 1988, when Kenyan Pastor Chris Okumu was led to Kibera, the third largest slum in the world and the largest slum in Africa. In his words, “education is the most precious gift a nation can give to its children, and a church can give to its members.” The harsh reality of life in the slum is this: ‘education is the only means of escape from the cycle of poverty.’ The school sits in the slum, but once you arrive and go through the school gate, the atmosphere changes. Other than the high-rise slum dwellings that surround it, one would be forgiven for assuming they are in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi. The school is extremely clean; the administration office is quiet and tidy. There are hand washing stations in every corner of the school. The order in the school is admirable, and the students maintain very high discipline. The teachers are caring and motivated; they are happy to be there for the girls. This school speaks of hope- hope in the midst of the despair that surrounds the slum. The school has a huge garden in which they grow a lot of their vegetables. The school, which hosts both day and boarding students,...

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Environmental Issues Affecting Schools In The Slums

Poor drainage, flowing sewage, decomposing garbage, animal and human waste, that is a picture of what the slums look like on a normal day. When it rains, the situation is made worse. The current rainfall has caused havoc in the country. There is a lot of flooding reported in most parts of the county. The farmers are happy, however, because there will be plenty of food harvested which is a welcome relief after the losses they incurred during the corona pandemic as many restaurants shut down, and the demand for farm produce decreased. In the slums, floods mean misery. The situation is already bad enough on dry days, the wet season just adds to the already pathetic situations. The semi-permanent structures in the slums do little to provide the residents with shelter; the houses made of mud and wattle have gaping holes that make living in them extremely uncomfortable. The schools in and around the slum are made of the same material. They are roofed with iron sheets, but because is highly populated, the schools suffer flooding due to poor drainage. Students are forced to study in the waterlogged classrooms; they do not have an alternative option. The government, despite making promises to upgrade the facilities, fails to do so, and many a politician has been known to garner votes during the campaigns by promising to upgrade the slum schools and health facilities.  Once they get elected, however, it seems nothing changes. Having students live in this kind of environment can be very frustrating. They already deal with so much strife, studying in such conditions makes their lives very miserable. The cold and wet conditions contribute to diseases. Malaria is a major killer especially to the young children. Stagnant water from the floods create a conducive environment for mosquitoes to breed. Many of the students we mentor in the various schools come from an informal settlement. They experience better living conditions when they are at school. They eat three meals a day, have adequate beds and beddings, clean bathrooms and toilets; they have security. Overall, their general well-being is better at school than at home. They are lucky to study in schools that are either supported by the church, the government or are privately owned. During our discussions at Kimuka and Njabini schools this past week, we reminded the girls to look at the positive situations in their lives...

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Sowing Seeds Of Love

Kindness can mean different things to different people. Some will define it as being friendly, considerate, doing for others, and being generous among other things. Some definitions say it is treating people like you want to be treated yourself. It may involve choosing someone else’s wants over your own. It may be doing something for others and expecting nothing in return. God’s Word is clear that we are called to help the poor. It may be a simple encouraging word, a smile or an act of kindness. Or God may call us to take up the cause of the needy by defending their rights. We may be comfortably living in our apartments or houses. We may not be affected by hunger during this time of despair. But there are many people who may not have eaten a proper meal in the last few days. The turmoil caused by the COVID 19 pandemic is playing havoc in the lives of millions of people all around the world. We are all in this together. We can all do our bit. Let’s feed the hungry and help the less fortunate among us. Together we can make this world a better place. Caring for the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged makes a big difference in their lives. We all have the power to influence others. It is up to us, whether we are going to abuse that power to manipulate people or use it to help them. Empathy is a strong and useful personality trait. It is a challenging world, and we can make it better by providing a few compassionate acts of kindness. Children brought up in the informal settlements have many unfulfilled dreams. Most of these slums are located directly in the middle of very affluent neighborhoods. The children, therefore, see their age mates picked up and dropped off in cars; they see the kind of lives the more well to do children live, but they are not able to participate. Most of the well to do in society are so busy thinking of ways to create more wealth, that they do not have time to observe what is going on in their surroundings, or to lend a hand when help is needed. The children in the more well to do families, however, also have a lot of unmet needs. They may seem all put together, but to a keen eye, this...

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New Normal Way Of Life

We started our Choice Club activities last week by visiting Kimuka School. It was a happy reunion with the Form 4 Class after 7 months of disruption due to the Covid pandemic. The girls were in high spirits and were as excited to see us as we were to see them. The club patron had called us and asked that we engage the girls as it has been very hard for them to adjust after being home for so long. Life has drastically changed for these girls, being in school during this time is hard for them. Life at home is very different than the requirements of being in school. Waking up early is one of the greatest challenges the girls face. They had gotten used to waking up late at home and sleeping whenever they wanted. There was a lot of non-structured time spent on social media, meeting friends, sleeping and basically, being idle. The school requires that the girls wake up by 4.30 am and finish classes after 10 pm due to evening classes. This being a candidate class, they are under a lot of pressure from all the teachers to perform because of the upcoming exams. Poor diet, wearing of masks, separation from their families were other challenges the girls said causes them to struggle. Some of the girls resumed school without personal supplies and tuition fees because their parents could not afford to give them any money. Many parents have lost their source of income which has negatively affected the students. It is hard for a child to concentrate in school when they have dire personal challenges. The students are also in fear of getting infected by the corona virus and that makes them very apprehensive. There is a second wave of the virus, and this one seems to be worse than the first attack. The numbers of those affected keeps going up and some parents are requesting the government to close schools once again. This is not likely to happen but the uncertainty lends to the fear and confusion. We encouraged the girls to stay positive and focus on reading, and not to compare school life to life at home, so they do well on their exams. The luxuries they so badly desire can only be obtained when they finish school and obtain good grades, so they can buy these items for themselves. Wearing...

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Back To School

The government has ordered all the Form 4, Standard 8 and Standard 4 classes to resume physical learning. The rest of the classes will probably resume next year. The group that resumed is critical as regards the academic calendar because these students have final exams coming up at the beginning of next year. The Form 4’s will be finishing Secondary School and these students will then attend college; the Standard 8 class will be joining Secondary School, and the Standard 4 will be joining Senior School. As physical learning resumes, the students are happy to go back to school after 7 months at home due to the corona virus. Though the pandemic continues, the schools opened their doors to students who are soon sitting their exams. The remainder have been kept home in an effort to observe social distancing and ensure the students are observing all of the safety health measures put in place. As expected, there are challenges that the students will face as they resume school. Financially, many parents have lost their jobs, so they do not have a source of income. The situation is so dire that some parents do not even have money to give their children as transport to school and for buying personal supplies required by the schools. Tuition fees will be required once the students get back to school and many parents cannot afford to pay. The financial detriments have contributed to some children staying at home at the risk of discontinuing school. This is a big concern for the children and a huge struggle for the parents. Some girls got pregnant during the long unanticipated holiday, and now that schools are opening up again, they find themselves at a crossroads. The number of girls who got pregnant was so alarming that the government had to intervene and ask parents and guardians to keep a keen eye on the girls and find constructive ways of engaging them during the holidays. This is where Valvisions Foundation stepped in with various activities to engage the girls constructively- activities like hiking, nature walks, mentorship sessions, Zumba, guidance and counselling. The girls were treated to lunch after each activity and were kept occupied and h appy. The girls looked forward to these activities, and freely shared with us stories about their experiences and challenges back home amidst the Covid 19 pandemic. During the long holiday, we...

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