Friday, October 18, 2013

School Days

Greetings friends,
During the month of October, we thought we would highlight some of the other outreach activities that take place at Hope Anew Child Friendly Space (HACFS) besides the Hope club which is held regularly. Activities such as providing schools within the slum access to our facility for recreation, study, and library services.  Also this month, we would like to profile our current staff of three besides Kimberly and Kamau. Hopefully this will enable you to meet them virtually and also to know how to pray for them specifically.   Karibuni! (Welcome!)

Our hosts in a one room school class. The teacher was nowhere to be seen!  The children busied themselves with boiling rice on an  open fire inside the classroom using tin cans. No wonder fires are frequent in the slum!
This is one of the many schools from the slum which access our play area on a weekly basis

HACFS is sandwiched between two neighborhoods in the city of Nairobi. On the western side, we share common wall with a middle class neighborhood which consist of one to three bedroom flats and four bedroom stand-alone homes.  On the eastern side, we have Mukuru Kayaba, one of the other larger slums in the city.
In the middle class neighborhood, the parents are mainly professionals who work for the various companies, government or self-employed business people.   Their children are mainly dropped off to school or bused back and forth.
Now the slum is a different story all together; here anything and everything goes!  In the midst of the usual muck and slime of poor living conditions, there are hardworking people who actually do an honest day work in factories as laborers, others as causal employees, while others are involved in self-employment.  This includes a variety of businesses such as selling groceries, scrap metal and pastries.  There is also a thriving criminal element that engages in petty to serious theft and the brewing and selling of illegal local liquor which contributes to all manner of social ills. 
On a visit to the various schools last week, it was very sad to see these children foraging for trinkets to sell or play with in this dirty river where raw human waste from the slum is emptied.

The children in the slums who are fortunate, attend overcrowded government schools. Competition for admission is very stiff due to high number of school age children. The rest of the children attend non-formal schools in the slums. These are also overcrowded and meet mainly in rented 10 X 10 rooms in the slum. The typical number of students may vary from less than a 100 to over 350.

There was no space to stand when we visited this one room school.  The one room was partitioned into two classrooms with a curtain in the middle,
The teachers are mainly untrained, poorly paid and unmotivated. The schools also lack curriculum books for their pupils.  Due to heavy congestion in the slum, play space for children in these schools is almost always non-existent. 
Snack time at the school

This is where Hope Anew comes in to meet this real need for play space and library in a practical way. Eleven schools from the slum visit our center to access our play space and library services on a weekly basis.

Desperate times calls for desperate measures or perhaps creativity! A cardboard box transformed into a blackboard 
When the children visit the center, these bundles of energy are able to unwind and have fun. They swing, slide or push tires.  Some teachers and their pupils may decide to utilize our library to catch up on lessons they would otherwise have missed due to lack of the text books in their school.
Others choose to visit our video room to watch a child appropriate movie.

In another school ,several grade classes all meet in the same room for lessons

Art time after school under  Kimberly's watchful eye.

Children showing off their art and craft at Hope Anew children center

One of the 11 schools which access the center either  for play or library services.
Race time for the swings and seesaw bars!
It was challenging to witness the deplorable conditions in some of these schools, I was left wondering what future these kids have without basic literacy. Most of these schools have preschool through 4th/5th grade.  When children reach this level, their parents are expected to place them in others schools within the city which offer higher grades.  Many children drop out of school at this stage for any number of reasons; even though primary school education in Kenya is technically “free’’, teachers usually ask parents to pay a desk fee, firewood fee (for cooking lunch), text book fee, tuition fee, uniforms/shoes etc. When this amount is added up, it becomes exorbitantly high and many parents who are already struggling to put a meal on the table just give up. Hence, the future of these kids is compromised and the vicious cycle of destitution continues. 

Meet the Staff

Our Activity Coordinators, Edwin and Chris play a key role in organizing play and providing reading materials at the library.  They work together with the teachers to insure that safety is observed and that all the children have access to the play equipment.  Kelvin provides security services at the gate and monitors the activity within the center.

Edwin:  A cheerful yet thoughtful young man. He is a college student studying community development and social services. He became a committed Christian at the age of 17. His favorite verses of scripture are Galatians 3:28, Jeremiah 29:11.  His hobbies are soccer, indoor games and socializing. His goals and prayer request are that he would succeed professionally in his field of study.

Chris: This young man has experienced a lot of hardship in his early years.  He has lived in a slum and at one point ran the streets before being rescued and committed to a Christian orphanage where he grew up and went to school.  It was also during this time that he was introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ.  After high school, he had to leave the orphanage since at that level, he was considered to have aged out. He started working some temporary jobs and living with relatives. He later enrolled in a college where he is presently pursuing a degree in community development and social services. His desire is to reach out and assist many children and families in a similarly difficult background that he himself came from.  His favorite scriptures are 11Tim 4, Ecclesiastes 12. and his hobby is making graphic designs with inspirational quotes. His prayer requests are for continued provision of his college fees.

Kelvin: Of the three Hope Anew staff, Kelvin is the only one who is married.  He has a wife and one child and another on the way.  He loves serving at Hope Anew and when not very busy at the gate, he can be found jumping rope, doing hoola hops and pushing tires with the children.  He also is a committed Christian.  He desires to see Hope Anew grow and impact the lives of many children in the community we serve.

His favorite Scripture verse is John 3:16.  His prayer requests are for his wife who is expecting, that both she and the little one will be good health and the birthing period devoid of complications.

Please join us in giving thanks to God for bringing these godly young men to become part of the Hope Anew staff.  We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them.

Prayer Requests
  • Pray for a fruitful outreach and time of fellowship with a team visiting next week from Maryland.
  • For save travel for Kimberly's mother and sister who will also arrive next week from Delaware.
  • Healing for Kimberly whose legs have been paining. Pray that the Lord will heal her legs and feet wholly and beautifully so that she is able to take the good news to the many children who need to hear!
  • Praise God for Kamau's healing
  • Praise God for providing health insurance coverage locally.
Thank you very much and please let us know how we too can pray for you!

The Kamaus

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