Fundraising Goal: $50,000
Problem to solve: The Kenyan Ministry of Education ordered all learning institutions not in compliance with the government’s safety guidelines to be shut. Several months ago, Chema Vision School did not have the resources to upgrade their school facility and was forced to vacate leaving no school for 155 children.
Purpose: New location has been secured but requires renovations, supplies and 1-year operating costs.
School Location: Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, and the largest urban slum in Africa.
Who will benefit: 155 vulnerable children (80 boys and 75 girls, ages 2.5-15)
Funds needed by: June 30, 2020
Target date to open the school: as soon as the government allows schools to be reopened.
Situated at the heart of Kibera, one of the biggest slums in Africa is Chema Vision Children Centre, a school that is restoring hope to the less fortunate children in the slum.
With a population of more than 250,000 people Kibera suffers from inadequate housing, overcrowding, poor sanitation and extreme poverty. “Education is a major challenge for children born into the Kibera slum because quality education is costly,” says Mary Muthini, Director of Chema Vision Children Centre and Co-Founder.
For the past 10 years, Mary Muthini and her colleague Joseph Cheruiyot have been directing Chema Vision Children Centre. Apart from being founders, they are both teachers. Mary is an English teacher and Joseph is a mathematics teacher who is also in charge of academics. “Back in 2009, I was working at a local private school when I realized that so many children were missing out on school because they could not afford to pay tuition. Being a mother and teacher who had a soft spot for the needy, Mary wished to start her school where she would provide the kids with what they needed. “I wanted every vulnerable and poverty-stricken child to have equal education opportunities,” she says.
Mary sought the support of her colleague and fellow teacher Joseph Cheruiyot, who also shared the same sentiments. “I was very much happy to work with Mary because we came from the same professional background. Since quality education is costly, we decided to partner together to provide affordable education to those in need,” he says. “Kibera also has an influx of street children. We also saw this as a chance to rehabilitate street children by getting them to school,” he adds.
With the little savings they had, Mary and Joseph rented a building and bought some stationery to start them off. “That is how Chema Vision Children Centre was born. Our next step was moving from door to door looking for children in the slums who did not go to school. We were shocked to find children as old as 10 years who had never been to school,” recalls Mary. “The challenging bit was also convincing parents and guardians to let their children come to school. Some of them opposed the idea because they did not believe us,” says Joseph. Mary and Joseph also knew they had to establish a feeding program for the school. “Food is a very important requirement because you cannot teach hungry children. A well-fed child will concentrate better in class,” says Mary.
In the first month, the school had enrolled 6 children who were provided with free education. “We also dug deeper into our pockets and bought food for them. This attracted more children who would come for food and the number rose to 45 the following month,” she says. With the growing number of children, they decided to seek financial support from Childs Life International, a Non-Governmental Organization for help with the feeding program. ChildsLife International agreed to step up in the feeding program and also provide fuel for cooking.
Today Chema Vision Children Centre has a total of 170 pupils ranging from Kindergarten to standard eight (8th grade). “Our biggest achievement is seeing all the children who have been to Chema Vision Children Centre make it through high school. We have also created employment opportunities for 11 teachers and one cook who can now support their families,” says Mary. Also, one of the most important aspects of the school is guidance and counseling sessions especially to girls as well as sexual education. Girls in slums live in abject poverty, lack proper guidance and are sometimes pushed to early marriages and prostitution. “We have been attending seminars that enlighten us on how to guide them on such concerns. We walk them through the different stages of adolescence and teach how to take control of their lives,” adds Mary.
Currently, Chema Vision Children Centre charges affordable tuition money. However, only 40% of the pupils pay and the money is used to pay teachers and cover operational costs of the school. “Another challenge we incur is the lack of enough food supplies and stationery. The number of children is increasing forcing us to rely mostly on well-wishers for support,” says Joseph. “Chema is a Swahili word meaning something good. Our goal is to educate and feed as many children in the slum because we want something good for the children of Kibera. Chema Vision Children Centre is very important because it serves as a centre for many hopeless children. To some, the food we offer at school is their only meal,” says Mary.
Several months ago, Chema Vision School was affected by the Kenyan Ministry of Education directive to close down all learning institutions that had not complied with the government’s safety guidelines. Chema Vision School was not able to raise the funds to bring the facility up to code and was forced to vacate leaving no school options for 155 children ages 2.5-15 years old. MOT learned about the predicament of the Chema Vision School and offered to help organize this fundraiser to cover the costs.
MOT is seeking to raise $50,000 in the next 60 days from family, friends and all caring people so that post Covid-19 when the Kenyan government allows schools to be re-opened that the 155 children who had previously lost their school will be able to return to a new, safe, well-staffed school with an enhanced daily lunch program.
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