- Ava Cargan
Kibera’s Children’s Program: Improving and Raising Awareness for Kibera
There are over 9 villages in Kibera namely Kianda, Soweto East, Gatwekwera, Kisumu Dogo, Lindi, Laini Saba, Silanga, Makina, and Mashimoni. Kibera Children is an organization focused on improving child welfare in Kibera. The Kibera Children programs have been initiated with the goal of caring for the wellbeing of children in Kibera. The mission of the program is to safeguard the welfare and overall well-being of the children in Kibera through inclusive programs, education support, assistance through health programs, community outreach, and mentorship programs. They hope to be a beacon of hope and positively transform the lives of the children in Kibera.
The Kibera Children’s Program focuses on four different projects: health welfare, education support, community outreach, and the mentorship program. The community health welfare assistance program helps identify the most pressing health needs among the children in the settlement. Some of the health challenges not only affect the children but also the general community. These illnesses include Malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, and COVID which necessitate more resources and dedication to addressing in Kibera where healthcare access is slim.
The disruption of learning for lack of fees has been a persistent problem for many children and parents in Kibera. The education support initiative is focused on identifying who needs help and offering support to ensure the children's learning is not interrupted. With a volunteer team, Kibera children work closely with the immediate community to identify children who need help, which has rapidly increased during the COVID pandemic. The community outreach programs seek to engage the parents and children in the assistance program that help kids remain in school and continue learning by offering full or partial assistance in school fee and health-related assistance. The mentorship program set up a local mentorship initiative for Kibera children to involve them in positive engagement through sports and co-curricular activities that guide the children on the right path.
The project challenges in Kibera include:
Poverty (the biggest challenge in Kibera)
Children are being forced to drop out of school because their parents can’t afford to pay school fees
Many families don’t get to eat every day; most people depend on casual work to get food, when parents aren't able to get jobs, their children won’t get to eat
The houses in Kibera are small and lack privacy, these houses accommodate 4 to 6 people
Most girls in Kibera get married at age 14, this is the result of parents struggling to feed them, or provide things such as towels, education, and more, which leads to early pregnancies and hardships in young girl's lives
Poor hygiene and disease is common in Kibera due to clean water scarcity
The majority of those living in the slums lack access to basic services like electricity, running water, and medical care
The project publishes news about issues such as how child welfare has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cholera challenges in Kibera. Child development and welfare as we know it has seen significant changes since the beginning of COVID. Parents around the world have had to re-adjust from the disruption in learning and school programs. In settlements in Africa, COVID-19 safety restrictions put in place have limited human interactions and minimized the interaction among children, this will have a lasting psychological and behavioral impact on the children, especially in marginalized communities such as the Kibera. With the changes in the community, the challenges must be met with the proper responses to protect the children's welfare and development in Kiberan communities. Programs such as community outreach programs and educational support programs will ensure that all children get the proper help. To facilitate better responses to cases such as child neglect through the COVID pandemic, there needs to be a community to support children. The support includes food donations, sanitation, and hygiene products such as soaps, and toiletries.
With global health focus shifting towards combating COVID, there is a decline in the emphasis on other diseases and health challenges. The vulnerability and inadequacy of the health care systems in Africa have been exposed by the COVID pandemic. It is imperative that as the response towards addressing the pandemic is heightened, adequate attention also goes to other major health challenges such as Cholera & Typhoid amongst communities. Since January 2019, the Cholera outbreak has been reported in Narok, Kajiado, Nairobi, Garissa, and Machakos. Counties in Kenya and the report indicate a lack of proper preparedness and response as one of the leading factors in cholera deaths. From December 2014 through June 2015, Nairobi county reported 781 cases, representing 19% of all the cholera cases reported in Kenya. Left untreated, cholera can be fatal within hours, even in previously healthy people. Modern sewage and water treatment have practically eliminated cholera in most industrialized countries, but cholera still exists in Africa. In many cases the spread of Cholera happens fast, it is spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. This occurs more often in underdeveloped countries lacking proper water supplies and sewage disposal in local communities. The most vulnerable communities are communities living in slum areas such as Kibera.
The Kibera Children’s Project is dedicated to helping Kibera face challenges, and it hopes to be a beacon of hope that positively transforms the lives of children in Kibera so that they can have brighter futures.
Check out the project here: https://kiberachildrenproject.org/about/