16 years – the prime age when teenagers become indifferent towards education as they want to explore the world. For some, it’s all about trending dance moves, songs and having fun. That is however not the case for Sylvia Dama who is an excellent student with A grades from one of the Elite National schools in Kenya.
Sylvia aspires to be a pilot and is working tooth and nail to make this a reality. She recently attended a camp on Aviation in Nairobi where they interacted with various captains from the Kenya Airways such as Captain Denis who is an Aviation Lawyer. They learnt various flight modules such as flight planning, air laws and many more that she describes as very interesting.
Sylvia’s story in her own words
“I emanate from a humble family of three siblings. We were all raised by a single mum who could not afford to pay her secondary education school fees. Kesho Kenya came through and offered me a scholarship. My family background pushes me to work extra hard so as to change it.”
“I aspire to be a pilot and am working really hard to make this a reality. I recently attended a camp on Aviation in Nairobi. The participants interacted with various captains from Kenya Airways, such as Captain Denis who is an Aviation Lawyer. They learnt various flight modules such as flight planning, air laws and many more – all was very interesting. “
“In school people come from diverse backgrounds. Some are even picked up by Porsche cars. But that doesn’t bother me as I always tell myself, ‘You create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life where you become what you believe.’I believe that our existence is a sign that this world requires change and that our lives continue.”
“During school, I also met other role models personally. For example people from the NGO Akili Dada Kenya; an international award-winning incubator cultivating leadership among African women. And Wandia Gichuru, Founder of Vivo Active Wear. Theyreally inspired me and the other girls to be creative and come up with community give-back initiatives.”
She really thanks Kesho for the enrichment trainings they offer and supporting youth in Kilifi County as she states that through them, she is now courageous, understands her rights and is knowledgeable about Child Protection.
Everybody knows that reading is very important for a child to understand text, express himself or herself, build self-confidence, comprehend and narrate stories before congregations. Unfortunately in Kilifi County, most students especially those in upper grades of public primary schools and at the age of 9 to 14 years are not able to read fluently and understand a single paragraph in English or Kiswahili. The Tusome initiative promotes reading amongst school going children. Kesho has been implementing the project in ten public primary schools in Kilifi County. Our key objective of the project was to enhance reading for understanding among grade 1 to 3 pupils. With a vision of having communities where parents understand their roles in child literacy development and pupils master expected reading competencies for their grade levels in school we did not want to stop there. Why limit implementing the reading sessions to just ten schools yet there are more public schools in Kilifi County, which could benefit from the same?
The First Time Ever in the Library
So we were looking for an avenue to reach out to more children to profit by implementing the Tusome methods. The idea of community reading sessions was born so that children from Kilifi County can have the chance to read storybooks and enjoy reading them. By then, we had no idea the impact these community-reading sessions would have on the community at large. Those who were also on board were Kilifi National Library (KNLS), Rotary club of Kilifi and the NGO, Moving the Goalpost (MTG).
Our first Community Reading Day was held on Saturday, 10th March 2018. Only a few children and parents turned up. “We did not know that there is a library in Kilifi,” Said one community member who attended. For him it was the first time that he entered the library.
Spelling competitions, word puzzles, word building and story re-telling
The activities were geared towards enhancing key literacy skills. The children were reading aloud under supervision of volunteers, participated in spelling competitions, did word puzzles, and word building and practiced story re-telling. We also had an open forum where children engaged in play activities such as sac races, drama and dancing.
This event took place at the Kilifi library, which turned out to be the best choice. In talks with the children we found out that the facility was under utilized because most of them were not aware of procedures of accessing the services. We utilized the opportunity to inform the children that it is free for them to attend, study and read from the library and they only charge five shillings per borrowed book. Part of the resources to enrich children’s education journey are E-readers that contain thousands of stories We also informed children of community library at MTG and Kesho resource center. More services like sponsorship opportunities were also brought to the children’s attention
Library Visits Increased By 50 Percent
The success of this event made the library more attractive to children and prompted for expansion of sitting space and fencing of the grounds to make it more secure to children and community members visiting. The numbers of children accessing the facility over the weekends and school holidays increased by 50%.Children playing the word puzzle game
How huge the impact of the first community reading session became evident during the second event, which was held during World Literacy Day on Saturday, 8th September 2018. More partners offered to join. We expected 250 children to participate, instead over 500 attended. Children, who had attended the first event, liked the event so much that the word spread very well. “I told my friend ‘Let’s go!’”, said one of the students.
Influx of parents came in and they were interested to find out on the reading sessions, what the children are doing and to monitor their activities. Others came in to support and volunteer by supervising children reading out loud. The parents’ feedback on the event was very positive. “I like the methodology to access literature through stories, ” said one of the parents. “Reading stories is better for the children than sitting at home and watching cartoons and TV.”
Children loved Story Cards
Each child was gifted a supplementary reader from the County Government of Kilifi. They also got laminated story cards with an array of story titles to read and share with other children who did not attend the session. Thus Kesho and its partners ensured that also those children were informed about the library and other resource centers where they could visit and access reading and study materials. “The laminated story cards is a very affordable way of providing reading materials to a child and reaching more children who do not visit us” said one of the librarians. Indeed, The children were asking for more stories, as they really loved them.
The very positive experience and feedback we got on the two community reading sessions were overwhelming so that we plan to have an event every school term.
About Kesho Kenya
Kesho Kenya is a nonprofit organization whose core mandate is to enhance access to quality education among children and youth in the coast of Kenya. Part of our strategic areas is to offer literacy support to children with dire reading gaps that hinder them from thriving to full academic potential. It is on this basis that we applied for the Tusome Youth Groups Grant. For the last one-year, we have been implementing the project in 10 public primary schools in Kilifi County. Over the years we have been working closely with various institutions and organizations that support education within Kilifi.
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Kesho Kenya and Tusome project
We are glad of the progress and impact of the Tusome project in schools and our community outreach program. It has helped us scale up literacy support activities without incurring further costs and also reaching out to children that are not direct beneficiaries of the Tusome project. Parents appreciate the time children spend at the library or MTG and the Kesho resource center as it comforts them to know that their children are safe and are engaging in meaningful activities with a positive impact to their education and life. We are looking forward to diversify our literacy support activities to reach out to Kilifi and beyond.
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Esther Dzendere is a woman who never gives up. Who would have thought that she would be fulfilling her heart’s desire in her thirties… The saying better late than never fits in this context. Although who said, there is a time frame in acquiring education and one is late when they get to a certain age?
She is such a multi-tasker as she looks after her ailing mum, takes care of her family, goes to work and still finds time to attend adult literacy classes at Kesho Kenya for two hours a day. With her hands this full, Esther still managed to be the best student and was awarded for being the best overall learner during the World Literacy Day celebrations for adult literacy.
“It is God’s doing for me to be position one as I would sometimes miss classes for about a week if work overwhelms and i’ve got limited time to finish up. Im very much grateful to Kesho Kenya for the unending support they have offered me.”
After Esther lost her father at a tender age and mother fell ill making her unstable to work, she lost all hope in acquiring education. She and her siblings had to dropout of school, find work so as to make ends meet. She always wished she could read and write since she would then be in a position to manage her own business, keep records and give the correct change to customers. When she heard Kesho Kenya offers adult literacy classes, she seized the opportunity by enrolling.
Currently in class four, Esther can read the Bible and newsletters from her children’s schools. She can analyse her children’s school report forms and benefits from the Kesho Kenya Street Business School program where she acquires entrepreneurial skills. Her wish is to sit for the primary school national examinations and that is why she is working tooth and nail to make her dream come true.
The Adult literacy programme began in 2015 and has to date had a total of 106 students with 4 of them doing the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCPE) in 2017. Intake runs throughout the year at absolutely no cost as the tutoring is done individually for about two hours a day on weekdays.
The Basic Education program officer says that the Adult Literacy Program has created a positive image for Kesho Kenya to the community as some benefited from it and has had great impact on boosting literacy numbers in Kilifi County. This has enabled them get lucrative employments and be able to manage their own businesses.
Kesho is providing basic literacy skills for those unable to read and write, dropped out of primary school due to poverty by providing avenues that are accessible to all. When one is literate, one can solely access services being offered in the community without having to ask for assistance. Private candidates who want to study for the national exams can visit our resource centre and access revision materials.
am Kambi Kaingu and this is my story…
I emanated into this world in 1999.The knowledge that was imparted on me was that a common mistake that people make when trying to design something complete foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.This made me grow up as a young man composed of respect to all.
At my early age, i found everyone trying to accomplish something big,not realising that life is made up of little things.i grew up knowing that the secret to happiness is to do what you like and the secret to success is to like what you do.
In the year 2005, I was enrolled to Bogamachuko primary school where I started my education at the age of six years.I began my education with a success bhang knowing that we are all here for some special reason and I stopped being a prisoner of my past which was a very humble background.
I lived my primary school life as if I would die the next day and dreamt of success as if I would live forever. This was what kept me ahead of the pack. I believed in myself to an extent that everyone believed in me.
Towards my final year in primary, I faced many challenges which did not Paralyze me instead helped me discover the real me. I did not let bad days kernel feel like I had a bad life. Although I schooled with guys who seemed to be older than me, I knew that success would not be achieved by the size of my body or brain rather butches size of my thoughts and I always did something that would inch me closer to a better tomorrow.
Knowing that to get through the hardest journey we need to take only one step at a time but we must keep on stepping, I did not stop the waves instead I learnt to surf and finally scored 408 marks in my KCPE exam in 2013.
Remembering that life is always up and down, I didn’t worry when I had no school fees for my secondary education because my next placement was in the Alliance high school. I knew I had entered a dance floor where opportunities would dance with me.
When I almost gave up that I would join alliance, miraculously i got sponsorship from kesho Kenya. Kesho organization took me through high school and I underwent many trainings organized by Kesho such as leadership, first aid, child protection, reproductive health, career and many others. I got to learn that although we might face challenges, problems are with everyone, it is on us to become the victims or overcome the situation and become successful.
I sat for my KCSE exam in 2017 and scored an A-(minus). I had a goal to build my life. Remember there is always a little more toothpaste in the tube and always think about it. In my school life, I knew that I didn’t require to be great to start but I needed to start to be great.
I now expect to join the university of Nairobi to persue a degree in actuarial science and this is after knowing that I would never leave where I was unless I decided where I wanted to be. I grew up as a LUO that is a young man ready to Learn, Understanding and Obedient.
Lastly it is always better to live for one year as a tiger than live for a century as a sheep. Always try to learn something about everything and everything about something. YOU NEVER FAIL UNTIL YOU STOP TRYING.
Author: Kambi Kaingu
As we cross over into the second half of the year, its time to look back and see what Kesho has achieved as from January-June of 2018.
- Street Business School Training (SBS)
Our SBS has brought together cluster groups and parents as we train them on how to create a business that will earn them income.
- Employability Skills Training
As much as we want our beneficiaries to shine in their academics, Kesho recognises more than just academics. We have educated high school students and youth on interview etiquette and office dress code, cover letters and CV writing; ready to tackle the rest of 2018 and their futures.
- Tusome Project
This project has boomed in 2018. Kesho facilitators have educated standard three students; supporting them to improve their reading skills. By this, they are able to learn new vocabularies and thus able to express themselves well in English and Kiswahili.
- First Aid Training
This training is a life saving basic skill that we wish as many of our students and others to have. At Kesho, we want to save as well as enrich lives.
- Leadership training
Some are born leaders, while others acquire the skills to become leaders. This year we have mentored some of our young generation on how to become a good leader. Encouraging them to take part in leadership activities in school and back at the community.
- Sports Day
Work without play makes Jack a dull boy and that is why this year we decided to have a sports day where children had an opportunity to showcase their talents. We took note of these talents and are working in the best way possible to nurture them for the rest of the year and moving into 2019.
- Career Day
We all have people we look up to in life and wish to be like them in future. We have brought professionals to our career day, asking them to talk to our students on their careers and how our students can progress themselves. This motivates them to work harder.
- Malala Documentary
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani female activist and Nobel peace prizewinner who fights for girls’ rights. We showed her documentary to our children to inspire them to fight for their rights, erase community’s myths and misconceptions and acquire moral values.
- Safe Guarding
We sensitised children, parents and community at large on the importance of having a safer environment. Children are able to help prevent bullying in schools or radicalisation and neglect. At Kesho we put children first. Everyone at Kesho also went on a team building activity, building trust and cohesion among staff members.
As we move into the second half of the year, we approach the August holidays. Here we will deliver activities to engage primary, secondary students and youth on a diverse range of topics.
10. Whats next for 2018?
Join us this August and walk our talk in ensuring that children don’t stay idle at home but acquire life-based skills and grow morally in to being very important people in the society!
Meet Rachel Mbuche Kiti, a first born in a humble family of 6 siblings in Kilifi County who against all odds has awed many by her tremendous achievement and outstanding results which have offered her an opportunity to better her community. As the African proverb goes, ‘If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation’.
Rachel went to Kiwandani Primary School and attained 368 marks in her KCPE in 2012 but her family could not afford to take her to Secondary school. Lucky for her Kesho offered her sponsorship and was able to join Bahari Girls Secondary School. Rachael was determined to succeed and therefore worked industriously and managed to score an A- with 78 points in the 2016 KCSE exam. She was the top female student in Kilifi County and that earned her an internship program under Equity Leaders Program at Equity Bank for a period of 8 months. How lucky.
Being a Kesho beneficiary, she acquired several basic life skills from the enrichment programs and trainings she underwent and were organized by Kesho. On March 2017, Kesho introduced her to Zawadi Africa Educational Fund which is an organization that empowers exceptional girl students in Africa to secure college opportunities abroad. Kesho Kenya guided her through the applications and college selections in USA and managed to secure placement at Hillsdale College in Michigan State on April 2018. Rachael is to join in August 2018 and you can bet she is super excited to be in a new environment, a dream that would never have been reality were it not for Kesho Kenya.
‘’Thank you Kesho Kenya Organisation, Zawadi Africa Educational Fund, my family, friends and Bahari Girls community for your mentorship and endless support. I am really grateful. The future is bright for all of us. May the Almighty bless you abundantly.’’
Kesho is proud to have walked with Rachael and helped nurture her into being all rounded and a woman of substance. Don’t stop dreaming remember the sky is a viewing point and not just the limit.
Authors; Lilian Mbula