Kenyan Child Foundation - Registered Charity Number (RCN) 20100452 - Approved by the Charities Regulator

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April 2021 - Kenyan Child Foundation

The Kenyan Child Foundation: Developing New Horizons in Slums in Nairobi.

The Songa School: Developing New Horizons in Slums          

The Kenyan Child Foundation is proud to announce the launch of its second educational project in Nairobi, Kenya. The initiative will develop a teaching center for children living with disabilities in the Mukuru slums of Nairobi. Our vision is to construct a child-centered facility for over 200 students – classrooms, gardens, playground, cafeteria and care rooms – to offer opportunities to the children who need it most, named the Songa School.

Over 500,000 people live in the Mukuru Slums which are located a few kilometers away from the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. Stretching along the highly polluted Nairobi Ngong river and beside the municipal city dump, Mukuru is one of the largest slums in Nairobi and Africa. It is located inside the abandoned wasteland of a former industrial area of the city. Families here face huge barriers to formal education, basic amenities such as water are in extremely short supply and there is almost no access to sanitation facilities. Open sewerage runs along the streets.

The Kenyan Child Foundation aims to offer better educational opportunities to children living with disabilities in Mukuru, as they are some of the most socially disadvantaged people living in the slum. Due to stigma, children and people living with disabilities are sometimes seen as a source of fear and shame in Kenya, with some tribal cultures viewing disability as a curse. Faced with such adversity, people living with disabilities are five times more likely to be abused in slums in Kenya. Part of the Kenyan Child Foundation’s aim is to use education as a tool to dispel such beliefs, primarily by offering new educational opportunities to these children and through our advocacy work.

The construction project will be managed over a timeframe of 48 weeks and will comprise of new purpose-built educational facility of over 14,900 sq ft. The project aims to reach completion in Summer 2021. The Songa school derives its name from the Swahili, to advance. We believe that the students of this school will have the chance to build a better life for themselves with the education and tools they receive there.

The Kenyan Child Foundation is also pleased to announce that during the current Covid – 19 Global Pandemic our partners, doners & volunteers have continued to work with great success on this project that will make a real difference to the lives of the children living with disabilities in Mukuru, Nairobi.

The Kenyan Child Foundation would like to thank the partnership and operational expertise of the Mukuru Promotion Centre (MPC) who are beneficiaries of this educational project. Similarly, the Kenyan Child Foundation greatly appreciates the support from our donors and volunteers: without their resources and time, achieving these critical projects simply would not be possible.

Life in Kawese during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Life in Kawese during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the global outbreak of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020, life across Kenya has been affected similarly as in countries across Africa. When the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Kenya during late March, restrictions included a nationwide curfew. This was imposed across the country from March 27, limiting movement from 07:00 PM to 05:00 AM.

Schools have also been significantly affected. Our school, St. Patrick’s Kawese, like institutions across the country, was closed until October 2020. To ensure the safety of students and staff, strong hygiene measures have been implemented, some of which have been a challenge at the school. The provision of clean water for hand washing, a key defence against the disease, is a challenge when the majority of Kenyan households do not have access to running water. Basic utilities such as soap can be extremely difficult to afford for Kenyans.

Culturally, it is also important to consider that the people of Kawese are very sociable. People greet each other with handshakes and hugs and spend much of their time in groups for meals, ceremonies and celebrations.

The people of Kawese do not have access to a stable income or state-led supports to supplement their earnings during a pandemic. Subsistence farming is main source of livelihoods for the village. Faced with a night-time curfew and restricted movements through lockdown, the people’s capacity to make a living, and tend to their crops are significantly curtailed.

While in Ireland, many schools moved to online learning, internet access is widely unavailable in Rural Kenya. Many families do not have the devices to take part in remote schooling. Nevertheless, a more accessible approach was adopted to provide alternatives for ongoing curriculum delivery through radio broadcasting.

The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Kenya Broadcasting Company, broadcasted educational radio programs in English for around five hours per day from Monday to Friday. The programs provided lessons in English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, Science, Hygiene and Nutrition and Civic Education.

At St Patrick’s Kawese, the Kenyan Child Foundation continued to provide the breakfast club and nutrition programme for the students so their health and immunity was protected during the pandemic. In October 2020, a partial reopening for the Standard 4 and Standard 8 grades was rolled out, including in St Patrick’s Kawese. The students in these grades are preparing for state examinations. Schools have now opened fully for all students and grades since January 2021.

Children in these grades are following strong hygiene protocols, including handwashing and wearing masks while at school. Seating arrangements have also been revised, with children being spread out across a range of classrooms to ensure social distancing is maximised indoors.

This is a great welcome change for the people of Kawese and the teaching staff of the school. While Kenya faces a range of structural challenges to education, the pleasant climate allows students to be taught outdoors, which greatly minimises the spread of coronavirus. The children of the village are pleased to return to St Patrick’s Kawese. The Kenyan Child Foundation wishes all students and staff a safe and happy school year.