Giving children in Kibera chance to prosper
Spur Afrika supports pupils access education with sponsorship and mentorship programmes.
Thomas Bwire @thomasbwire
Living in the heart of Kibera slums, Catherine Gesare, 16, remembers well her struggles earlier in the year while living with her grandmother.
“While upcountry, money dad sent for upkeep was never enough to cater for our bills, and most often I did not attend my pre-school studies as expected,” says Gesare.
After much persistence from her mother, she came to Nairobi and joined Raila Educational Centre Primary School in Kibra constituency.
Attending school was not a walk in the park: both parents had little income and Gesare and her three siblings could often miss several days without going to school for lack of fee payment.
It was not until she was in Class Four, in term three that luck came knocking on her door.
Spur Afrika, a non-governmental organisations in Kibra paid them courtesy call at home to access their well-being after Gesare was recommended as one of the girls that would greatly benefit.
“We used to live in a single-room shanty, when rains came, we stood in one of the corners, covered our heads with a piece of nylon paper.
Night rains were terrible. After the rains, we used to go out in a nearby field to get some mud to mend the fallen walls.
To make matters worse, the landlord showed us no mercy: Rent had to be paid without fail every end month,” she adds.
After check and balances to ensure they got the right pupil to sponsor, Gesare joined Class Five in term one, with Spur Afrika fully supporting her.
She worked through school and sat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and attained 289.
Gesare joined Karen C High School in January, but with Covid-19, she and many other learners had to come home in March.
“The only activities I engaged in were house chores with my three siblings. I also revised on my own, because we have grown with no TV set or radio at home,” she explains.
This made life tougher, with zero media content interaction.
Gesare is one of the 100 beneficiaries of Spur Afrika’s education programme.
Started in 2010, the organisation seeks to engage, empower and educate. It helps families within Kibera to access quality education and healthcare.
They work through a referral programme with the community suggesting members who need support.
An education officer visits homes on several occasions before they can identify beneficiaries.
Several impromptu visits are also conducted to weed out fraudsters, some of whom have mastered the art of hiring homes to show donors the poor conditions they are living in.
Once the case is determined as genuine the parties are notified and a meeting held on kind of support the family will receive.
Spur Afrika, also runs a mentorship programme since 2015. Although the programme was being held at the centre, it has gone digital in observance of the Covid-19 protocols.
With the mentorship, the children discuss various issues about their lives and get to learn from mentors about life situations.
“Even when children are still at home, they have been engaged with their mentors virtually from our centre offices.
One of the success stories from our Zoom mentorship sessions is that conflict resolution between parents and children has greatly improved since March,” says Nicholas Keng’ora, Child Programme Manager at Spur Afrika.
He adds that education experts predicted that large number of children from poor regions would not return to classes due to prolonged holidays resulting in rise in vices.
As such, they have encountered cases of domestic violence and abuse, something they attribute to low revenue streams for parents and guardians and negative peer pressure within the community.
“In Kibera we have also recorded quite a number of cases touching on teen mothers even before Covid-19 pandemic set in.
This indeed adds pressure to the young girls and their families,” King’ora says. “Our agenda is to give them core education.
Students have been assisted in regards to their respective classes. We ask them to come in specific days and collect revision papers that can last a week.
Students go back home, revise and accomplish assigned work. Then they come back and revise with respective teachers.”
The children at Spur Afrika have also benefited from food packs.
For Gesare, her wish is that the Ministry of Education should find a way to distribute revision material to children across the country by placing them in churches, mosques and public halls so that children can stay up to date with their learning.
“This approach would also sort thousands of children with zero access to technology,” says Gesare in conclusion.