We’re back in Nakuru after our weekend trip to the Masai Mara. This means we’re back to work as volunteers at Gabriel’s School, which is part of the Nakuru Hope Project. It’s hard work and we’ve been busy at the project from about 9am – 5pm every day. But seeing what the project is achieving for the community makes it worthwhile. In the photo above, some of the younger children (4-5 years old) were entertained for about half an hour just by seeing their reflections in my sunglasses. They were poking and prodding my glasses and laughing loudly (until they saw the camera and got distracted 😉 ). It was a nice way to end the day.
But let me take you back to the beginning of the day. I started my day by visiting the classes and seeing what the students were learning. School here is very different from in Australia. The pedagogy here is largely focused on rote learning, while Australian schools have moved to a learning how to learn model. The different pedagogies make sense to me though because children in Australia have the luxury of being children who have time to explore the world. Here in the slums, childhood is a luxury that children only have while in school. Once they go home, these young souls live hard lives.
In the afternoon, we went on home visits to some of the families whose children are supported by the Nakuru Hope Project. Some were sponsored while others are supported out of the project’s budget. Homes here in the slums are small and rugged. Families of six to ten people live in single rooms with no electricity, running water or sewerage. Most homes merely have old sheets for doors, meaning security is non-existant. Though conditions for sponsored families are often better because the project can help them find better accommodation. At night, some households have candles or kerosene for lamps but for many the nights are long and dark. Whole families will share just one or two double beds and maybe a couch. The whole houses are often just 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft) in size and all those people have to live there. The conditions leave them vulnerable to typhoid, malaria, violence and other risks associated with overcrowding and poor sanitation facilities. Many families go without food for days and rent is not controlled.
During the home visits, we bought families some basic foods to get them through the tough times. This included a bag each of cooking fat, maize flour, salt and sugar, and a packet of soap. We tried to buy beans but the shop didn’t sell any today. Some families were given money for medicine (some mothers were unwell or HIV positive) or the doctor (one young child seemed to have a fractured arm from a fall). This is the reality of life for the children who go to Gabriel’s School.
The Nakuru Hope Project has also helped some of the children’s mothers establish their own small businesses so they can support their families. These businesses include fruit and vegetable stalls, clothes hawking operations, and small roadside food stalls were they cook food for locals to buy.
The project also offers adult education to interested members of the Kaptembwa slums’ community. The hope and opportunity this provides the community was evident in the smiles and confidence this lady showed when she asked me to take her photograph. Currently, there are about six adult students and the school is flexible to their competing needs to receive an education and provide financially for their families.
The Nakuru Hope Project takes a truly holistic approach to helping the people of the Kaptembwa Slums climb their way out of poverty. The project includes:
- Gabriel’s pre-school and primary school
- support for children who need to attend boarding school; special needs schools; or other schools that meet the child’s religious, personal or geographic needs
- 4 acres of land that will become a farm to grow food for the children at the school and orphanage, and also so that the project can provide start up fruit and vegetables for women to run food stalls
- support to help women start small businesses so they can support their families
- home visits to support the families of children who receive education through the project
- support for children needing rehabilitation to prepare them for school if they’ve been living on the streets
- an orphanage is currently being built to provide housing for orphaned and at-risk children.
Through this approach, the Nakuru Hope Project does more than provide children with education; it also provides children with more secure family settings where housing, food and opportunities for improvement are very real outcomes.
You can learn more about the Nakuru Hope Project and ways you can support it’s wonderful works through the Nakuru Hope Project website.