Our partners at the School Fund are spending time at our site in Kibera. The School Fund's Executive Director Elizabeth Texeira and Director of Programs Michael Childress, are on a three week trip to East Africa to meet seven of our field partners in the region. They will be writing short posts about their experience, so check back for an update soon!
The School Fund staff has hit the ground running! And at altitude! We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday morning after about 27 hours of travel from SFO and were VERY excited to see 1) that the intense rains of the past few weeks were no longer falling, and 2) the sights of Nairobi—Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Nairobi National Park—as we valiantly fought jetlag in anticipation of starting work today.
We were up bright and early to prepare our materials for our first (and newest) partner of the trip, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). SHOFCO operates a program in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, with over 1 million people living in an area consisting of 1.3 square miles. As SHOFCO says,
“Kenya’s government, which owns the land upon which Kibera stands, does not formally recognize the settlement, regarding its residents as squatters. Thus, the people of Kibera’s 13 villages are denied basic social services—education, healthcare and sanitation, clean water, electricity, roads—and the basic human dignity that accompanies them.” Learn more on their site here
SHOFCO, developed with a mission to turn urban poverty into urban promise has four main pillars: education, with their wildly covered Kibera School for Girls (check out this video for a day in the life and some serious inspiration); health, they run a community clinic that serves all of Kibera; community empowerment, with savings and micro- loan clubs and vocational training; and water and sanitation/hygiene programs, providing low cost, clean water and eco-friendly latrines to a community that does not have any other access to these services.
Today was spent buzzing around the community meeting program staff, volunteers, members of the student selection committee, a group of proud parents, and even a Mr. and Mrs. SHOFCO—young people selected by the community to be role models who receive an internship working with the organization for the year.
Over the din of construction, the singing of an elementary school classroom, and the sounds and smells of the communal kitchen, the parents described the situation in Kenya, how the school fee structure changes every year, and they never know if they will be able to find the money to keep their sons and daughters in school. In a place like Kibera, sending their children away to boarding school is often the best option. Roger, one of the parents in our group whose daughter is now at the top-ranked national high school in Kenya said, “I can see the sun through my window. Without this scholarship I could never have managed her school. For the first time there will be a graduate in my house.”
And that folks, is what it’s all about.
The School Fund is proud to partner with SHOFCO to send 50 of their students to secondary school this year. We are honored to be a part of this amazing organization changing lives every day. YOU can be a part of this magic too—meet some of our amazing SHOFCO students here.