KIBERA MIRROR ISSUE 4: PAGE 3
Lack of seats could not deter these young spectators from enjoying the game during the Amani Kibera tournament, they broughtan old tyre.
It was inspiring to see these two women as part of the community that turned out to ferry sand to the constructionsite of the new KSG building as there is no road network for vehicles to pass.
Stock controller Antony Otieno busy at work.
Ignorance of the law denyingchildren some of their rights
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Concerning children rights apart from participating in a competition to knowhow much they knew about theserights. Another issue that raised debatewas whether beating up your child as aform of correction amounts to childabuse as in Kenya most people believein sparing the child spoils the child.One female particular participant inobjection of the idea was nearly intears as she narrated how her nephewwas being subjected with daily inhu-man beatings by her in laws but his behavior never changed until he wastaken up for counseling. He is now astudent at The university of Nairobi „sKabete campus.
The community programs manag-er at Shining hope for communities
Bernard Maticha, while contributing toone of the discussions held that dayinformed the participants on the pro-cess of child development that parentsmust adhere to always.
“A child develops in 4 ways; phys-ically, intellectually, spiritually andsocially. Denying your child any of these is like denying him some aspectsof his life”
“Infact a child who is denied someof these rights or abused during child-hood is likely to become a child abuser as an adult”
However it is quite sad that for children raised in slums the difficultiesof life have ensured that most of thechildren do not get some of theserights. For instance most of the chil-dren lack basic needs, health care andeducation and while little is being donesome of the children have also beenforced into child labor, early marriagesand child prostitution in order to sur-vive and most of them are exposed tosex from a young age as one partici- pant said during the workshop.“Although exposing your child to pornographic content amounts to sexu-al abuse. Let us be realistic, in Kibera people live in small rooms of about 6 by 6 feet together with their children,so you can imagine”
Impressively, in Kibera most parents take their children regularly for immunization since it is offered for free in many health centers. However according to Addah Alati, a nurse atthe Johanna Justin Jinich clinic in theslum, some of the parents skip takingtheir children for regular weight meas-urement and observations opting toadhere only to immunization dates.
“This is a very dangerous trendas sometimes we notice cases of abnor-mal weight growth which could be anindicator of other underlying serioushealth problems when it is too late.Furthermore regular observation of achild‟s physical features is necessaryespecially for boys.”
She alludes this problem to lack of information, though she says thatsome of the parents are aware but takethings for granted. It now seems a lotof awareness campaigns have to becarried out to fully eradicate the prob-lem.
Our journey to success– St. Aloysius High school
The story of Kibera has beentold countless times throughout thewhole world, but that story is about poverty, crime, violence, humansuffering and about girls as youngas 15 trading their bodies for food.However in the midst of all these,some very inspiring stories emerge.Stories of hope. One is the story of St. Aloysius Gonzaga high schoolthat started in the slums, offeringfree education for orphans but it hasgrown over the years to what it istoday offering not only free butquality education to hundreds of needy students. From a rented struc-ture in the slum the school has out-grown itself and recently moved tomagnificent premises in Langata.Kibera mirror visited the schoolwith a view to finding out from the principal Beatrice Wairimu on their road to success.
(KM) When did the school start?
(BW) This is the 7
How did it start?
The idea was conceived by a mem- ber of the Christian life communitywhen he looked at the children of Kibera and how most of them suf-fered, especially if they are or- phaned. So he sold the idea to other members and they started sponsor-ing some of them by paying fees for them in the schools they were. Af-terwards they felt that the schoolsthat they were going to were notoffering quality education so theydecided to bring them together. Westarted on a rented building but withtime the numbers kept on increas-ing, so we looked for some space inKianda in Kibera and built somestructure. Then we felt that havingthe school in Kibera was not condu-cive for learning, we looked for donor funds to purchase a plot for another school. The construction of the premises we are in now in Lan-gata started in 2008. We moved inhere in May last year.
Can you remember the numberof students you started with?
20 in form 1, 20 in form 2. Rightnow we have 280 students fromform 1 to form 4.
How do you select them?
We receive so many applicationsfrom students who want free educa-tion, so when the KCPE results arereleased, we invite applicants, butwe have conditions. You must havescored above 300 marks for boysand 280 for girls. This is becausewe only need 70 students and wereceive around 350 applicants. Wealso ask them to tell us why theyshould be admitted. Then weshortlist and call them for inter-views and ask them to come withdeath certificates for those who areorphans. The interview includes awritten exam
Do you also receive applicationsfrom Langata or other areas?
Yes we do, but Langata is a middleclass estate, but as long as you areneedy and bright then you will beshortlisted.
What if someone wants to pay?
It is not enough; here we provide eve-rything for free. They only buy uni-form.
We understand these students comefrom the slum where there are a lotof social problems that might affectperformance. Do you follow up?
Infact we have a social department thatdoes that, but even before they join as Itold you, we evaluate them so weknow what kind of problems eachstudent might be facing. So it is not just a question of coming here, but wetry to keep abreast with their lives.
We have also noticed that yourschool is one of the few success sto-ries that we have from Kibera.
Yes, any secrets?
No, It is the grace of God and also thegood work of father Terry Charlton,the school chaplain. He has workedtirelessly looking for donor funds. Onewould have never thought that St Alo-ysius will be where it is today. It usedto be a dream, Infact most of us arestill in that dream. Our students used toask when we started construction of this new school whether we wouldmove them here or we have some other students somewhere who will occupyit. There are those who did not believewhen one day we told them, “pack your things we are moving to a newschool”
Any support from the government?
Not yet, we are now trying to look for local donors.
By the way we have noticed thatyour top student last year had a B+
Yes, not one but three
And do you follow up these studentsafter school?
One unique thing about our school isthat we have the school programand then we have the graduate program. Here, educational assis-tance does not end with KCSEexams. After exams every studentin our school goes for a compul-sory 6 month period of communi-ty service where we attach themto places like orphanages, homesfor disabled people, churches andother organizations that serve thecommunity where they work for 4days a week. During this periodthe exams are released. Thosewho qualify to join public univer-sities, we sponsor them and thosewho do not we take them to ter-tiary institutions.
What of the parents, are theycooperative?
Most of them are, but there arethose who are least interested inissues to do with education.
We notice your office is full of trophies…..
It means we are doing well in co
curricular. We have been takingitems for nationals and winning.Especially in music.
Personally ,what motivates you?
I am a mother, when I stay withmy children I feel so much at-tached to them and I feel there isso much I have to do for them andthat makes me transfer the sameto my students. Most of them donot know what it is to have both parents, so as a teacher I feel thereis a gap I have to fill for thesechildren who are very needy.Every day I feel there is someonecalling me to fill the gap, so Idon‟t come here because I am paid but because I feel these stu-dents are not just students like inany other school who only needan education but also someone to bring them up.
A view of one of thetuitionblocks at St.AloysiusGonzagahighschool’s newpremises inLangata.The schoolthat startedon a rentedbuildingmoved to itspresent loca-tion fromKibera inMay lastyear
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk appearing senti-mental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement
To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved inreturn
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair To try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken because thegreatest hazard in life is to risk noth-ing.
A person who risks nothing, doesnothing and has nothing is nothing
He may avoid suffering and sorrow but simply cannot learn, feel,change, grow, love or live
Chained by his attitude he is a slavewho has forfeited his freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
DID YOU KNOW?
When asked what would bringhappiness to their lives, teenagersfrom around the world listed thefollowing values (from most toleast important) Love, successfulcareers, fulfilling family lives,freedom, money, helping others,having children, religion, power,good looks and fame?