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A Problem Shared Is A Problem Solved

A Problem Shared Is A Problem Solved



It is not uncommon in rural Kilifi for girls to leave school before they join high school, to either get married or to perform domestic duties, this is because most families can barely make ends meet. This situation almost became the permanent reality for 23-year-old Margret Charo Chula the sixth sibling of her parents’ nine children.
When Margret was in the 6th grade, her mother, who was the family’s bread winner’s health started to deteriorate. This was due firewood smoke that she inhaled over the years while selling viazi karai (fried potatoes) to get by. Margret said when she saw her mom cough blood, she knew she will not be going to high school and her education was about to be cut short. It was at this point that she reached out to the area Community Health Volunteer who gave her a form to fill in order to get a scholarship under the Wasichana Wote Wasome project, which is now the Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu project under Kesho Kenya Non-Government Organisation.
Unfortunately for Margret, a few days after she filled the forms and was waiting for feedback, the situation at home became unbearable and they had to move to Watamu to live with her older brother and she lost contact with the community health volunteer.

In Watamu, she would go to different salons looking to make ends meet. She would wash towels, sweep and run many other errands. This was the beginning of her passion for hairdressing. She would request the ladies at the different salons to teach how to braid and do manicures and pedicures.
Margret then decided she wanted to own a salon.
“I started praying to God to give me the means to own a salon. But I also knew faith without action would not give me a salon,” said Margret

With her mind set on her new dream, she started working on making it a reality.  Margret decided to work as a house help to raise money the funds that would enable her to open her own  salon. She made enough to join a proper hairdressing school in Malindi.  She was so good at making hair that the school decided to employ her. This did not stop her from praying for her miracle. She did not want to be employed; Margret still wanted to own her own salon.

As luck had it, one day her brother’s wife who is a community health volunteer at Kesho Kenya saw Margret’s name on the WWW’s beneficiaries list and reached out to the organisation.

Kesho Kenya through its WWW project reached out to Margret.  They offered her a scholarship, to help her pay for her hairdressing school, but she had already completed paying her fees and was about to graduate. The executive director then decided to visit her and follow up on her progress. It was during this visit that Margret expressed her dream of owning her own salon.

After months of praying and working hard Margret’s dream became a reality.  The WWW project had purchased items for their beneficiaries to start income generation projects and Margret’s name was added the list.

Margret now owns her own salon. She says on a good day she earns close to Ksh 2000. She is now able to send money home to her parents, pay her rent, feed herself and even put Ksh 200 aside on a daily basis as her savings.

“I’d like to thank Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu for the support. To you it might be a small gesture, but to girls like me out here you are giving hope, you are making a difference. I would also like to urge my fellow youth not to shy away from asking for assistance, a problem shared is a problem solved. If I didn’t share my situation, I would never have known about WWW and I would not have my own salon.” Said Margret

World Down syndrome Day: What Inclusion in Education Means to Us

World Down syndrome Day: What Inclusion in Education Means to Us

The 21st of March may pass for just any other day for the majority of people across the world, yet it is a day that we are all called upon to celebrate diversity; and affirm our commitment(s) to the cause of the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, specifically those with Down syndrome. It is a day where voices are amplified, commitments made, concerted efforts, discussions, and actions towards promoting inclusion catalyzed.

Down syndrome is a congenital condition characterized by a distinctive pattern of physical characteristics including a flattened skull, pronounced folds of skin in the inner corners of the eyes, a large tongue, and short stature, and by some degree of limitation of intellectual ability, social and practical skills. Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability and may involve delayed growth, additional health problems, difficulties in carrying out activities of daily living, as well as intellectual deficits (Chapman and Hesketh, 2000).

The general principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) call for “full and effective participation and inclusion in society” and “Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity”

The theme of this year’s World Down Syndrome Day provides us an opportunity for us to reflect on what Inclusion Means to Us. Globally the spotlight is cast on pausing and having a reflective moment on what inclusion means in a bid to ensure that we are on track in promoting the rights of persons with Down syndrome.

While the call to action puts the onus on all of us to undertake actions geared towards promoting the inclusion of persons with Down syndrome, it is worth acknowledging that the issue is not a homogenous one. Critically evaluating the vulnerabilities that certain groups such as children with Down syndrome face is required.

Children with Down syndrome do not benefit from full and effective participation and inclusion in society. While there may be many reasons for this, it is worth noting that one of the reasons is that there has always been a lack of agreed understanding about what inclusion is, and what inclusive systems look like in practice, more so in the education field.

In day-to-day life do children with Down syndrome take part in activities learning and play in school, and in public life, alongside other children? Are they included? Do they have the same opportunities as their counterparts/peers without disabilities? Do they face barriers? Do they participate in inclusive activities? Or are they segregated?

With funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), through the grant agent Oxfam IBIS under the Education Out Loud (EOL) program, Kesho Kenya is implementing a project focusing on the awareness gap, and the disconnect between inclusive education policies and implementation called Pamodzi For Inclusive Education in South- East Africa.

This is supporting one of the Education Out Loud Operational Components on creating a stronger global and transnational enabling environment for national civil society advocacy and transparency efforts.

Taking an advocacy approach we are sparking conversations on inclusive education policies, and catalyzing actions geared towards bridging the gap between existing policy frameworks in inclusive education and their implementation.



I had almost given up on schooling when WWW came to my rescue.

I had almost given up on schooling when WWW came to my rescue.

“My name is Saumu Kalimbo. I am a form three student at Kiwandani Secondary School. I am very grateful; to the Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu project that has been paying my school fees since I joined form one through the bursaries that I have been receiving. I come from a very large family and with this comes a lot of financial constraints.  I have ten siblings and I am the lastborn. Only one of my siblings, my brother, was able to complete high school. While the rest, particularly the girls, were not able to complete their primary education. My brother managed to complete his secondary education by getting help from well-wishers.

My mother died when I was very young, and my alcoholic father does not have a stable source of income.

My school fees struggle began when I was in primary school. It was very disheartening to get sent home due to the lack of fees while my classmates stayed in school continuing with the syllabus. This continued until the headteacher took notice of my plight. She then made my education her priority. The headteacher ensured I completed my primary education by personally paying my school fees.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of my school fees situation. I got called to join a good boarding school but had to drop out after enrolling due to an accumulated school fees balance. I tried to seek help from different avenues. I reached out to my siblings but they were not able to assist. I got so frustrated I contemplated running away to Watamu town to look for any means possible to fend for myself.

Later I convinced my sister to accompany me to a nearby children’s home to look for support. It was there that I was referred to Kesho Kenya.

Kesho Kenya took me in. Through their Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu project, they enrolled me back into school, something I was giving up hope in. Yes, I may lack a few basic things such as revision books, uniforms, and remedial class tuition fees but the biggest burden is off my shoulders, and for this, I am beyond grateful. The other things can always be acquired over time and I am fortunate to have understanding friends. They know my situation and they share where they can.

Once I complete my secondary school education, I want to be a lawyer. I believe that I have the necessary skills it takes to be one. I am articulate, and I have the confidence to speak in front of a large crowd of people. I served as the head girl of this school for three years.

That was since I joined in form one up until form three when they appointed another to give me time to study for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE)

I want to encourage other children from needy and vulnerable backgrounds. Sometimes the road to success is very hard. As a girl child, education is our right just as it is for any other child.  But we sometimes experience a lot of challenges. You don’t need to be married off in order to access education like the rest. We need to work harder than most to achieve our dreams and change the narrative. Thanks to WWW I am more motivated, I have a bright future ahead of me, I will press harder to motivate other girls, and I will be my older siblings’ role model.

To WWW I offer my sincere gratitude and I’d like to recommend you visit regularly, this really motivates me to work harder and to prove to you that you did not make a mistake choosing to educate me.”

Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu Project (WWW) was incepted in 2017 with the aim of improving the learning and transition of girls through three pathways; Pathway 1 (PW1): Primary to Secondary Pathway 2 (PW2): Primary to Alternative Pathway (AP) Pathway 3 (PW3): Catch-up classes for re-entry to education. The project works with 55 primary schools, 4 VTCs, and 11 Secondary Schools in Kilifi County. To date, 1555 girls have been supported through the distribution of bursaries.


Using Artistic Skills to Mentor Young People

Using Artistic Skills to Mentor Young People

It was heart-breaking for Madam Lydia, a teacher at Canon Mweri Mixed School  to see school going students loitering in the streets and beaches of Malindi during the corona pandemic. Moreover, young girls were more prone to exploitation because of the biting poverty and idleness. This situation prompted her to set up a youth integrity club at the community level using the knowledge she had gained from the SHINE (Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality in Education) project in her school.

Being an artist, she decided to transfer her skills to keep young people engaged as well as to help them get some income. She brought together 20 young people and she taught them how to paint on coconut shells. She also opened her home to the youth and trained them on entrepreneurship. One of the practical skills they learnt was baking. This was an exciting activity for the youth who started baking and selling pastries in their neighbourhoods.  The club members were also involved in tree planting and beach clean-up activities where they brought together other young people in the area.

On seeing such good efforts by the youth, community members donated books to the integrity club. Young people would come to read the books to keep them busy during the extended school closure. This community library is growing and Madam Lydia plans to set up another library in the school compound since schools have resumed. She hopes that this trend can be replicated in other schools around Malindi.

Word spread around about the work that she was doing with the young people and the club received support in the form of sanitary towels for the girls. She has been distributing the towels to 15 girls who she had identified. A while ago, she received menstrual cups from a community member and with schools having resumed, she distributed to students in her school.

In December of this year, together with the integrity club members, they plan to hold a fashion show and already one hotel owner has agreed to give the venue for free. They plan to use the show as a platform to boost the self-esteem of young people as well as to instil moral values.

SHINE ! Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality in Education

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (E.A.C.C) of Kenya, a body mandated to fight corruption in Kenya launched Integrity Clubs in collaboration with the Ministry of Education on the 17th of November 2010. The Ministry of Education released a circular in 2013 requesting all schools and colleges through the Ministry of Education to establish Integrity Clubs for the purpose of training youth to be men and women of Integrity.

To support the implementation of this policy, Kesho Kenya together with KWEA CBO have been carrying out a project known as SHINE; Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality in Education (SHINE).

Using the Community Integrity Building Model, SHINE project has worked with 152 public secondary schools in Kwale and Kilifi County. The objective has been to get students to act with, and demand integrity through constructive and collaborative approach. Through this model, the students identify problems within their setting and collaboratively work with stakeholders find amicable solutions.


Life in a Charitable Children Institution

Life in a Charitable Children Institution

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be raised in a Charitable Children’s Institution (CCI)? We spoke with Mary, who spent 14 years in a CCI, about her good, bad, and sometimes traumatic experiences, as well as how they affect her current life as a young woman.

Why were you taken to the Charitable Children’s Institution?

I was born in Kitui town but grew up in a CCI in the coastal region. I was brought up there since I was two years old and forced to leave when I was sixteen. My father died after suffering a stroke and my mother’s death followed soon thereafter. My three siblings and I were left in the care of my grandmother, a drunkard and she couldn’t take care of us. Our eldest sibling who was fifteen years got married and the rest of us were sent to the CCI.

What was your experience like living in the CCI? What did you like?

We lived together as one large family interacting with people of different ethnic backgrounds spoke the same language and got somewhere to call home.

Also, we concentrated entirely on our studies because the institution was very strict and there was that competitiveness among each other to do better to get rewarded at the end of the term. In addition, the staff would check our homework daily. 



What were negative experiences?

If you made a mistake for instance extended your playing time unknowingly, you would face the music one would be asked to cut firewood for a whole month and carry it using a wheelbarrow, if the time elapsed without having completed the punishment you would be added another tough task to perform. 

Furthermore, a parent has unconditional love for their children, so if they make mistakes, there is room to punish and forgive, whereas in the CCI, if you make a mistake, you are issued three warning letters, sent to the reforms section, then sent out of the institution and into the streets. We were expected to be perfect there, which is not the case in children.

Some staff had their relatives living in the CCI so when it came to resolving an issue that had arisen in the institution they treated the matter unjustly to favor their own.

Did the children in your CCI have all they needed?

We sometimes went without basic necessities like clothes or shoes because the institution only provided them once a year since it waited until there was enough to go around. We were only given food while in the institution, but if we left to go to school, we remained hungry for the rest of the day despite only having a cup of porridge in the morning. We were also expected not to borrow from anyone the lunch that we did not have but stay hungry the entire day. However, that changed once the institution was under new management.

Due to limited resources available in the institution once one completed primary education we were all sent to the same nearby secondary school despite having scored good marks in the national exams. This demoralized most of us from working hard because no matter the marks you scored the choice of a secondary school was the same.

What was the most traumatic moments you had?

A member of the institution’s management was interested in having an affair with me. He’d follow me around the home and inappropriately touch me. Because such relationships were discouraged, I took the initiative and reported the case to other staff. It was later discovered that I was not the only girl who had raised such a concern. However, since the accused person was in management the issue was discarded and the staff that was on my side were either fired or demoted.  My fate and that of the other girls’ stay at the institution was ended. This meant that even our education sponsorship was terminated. I fought back and was able to contact the director, who agreed to pay my school fees even though I would not be staying at the institution. However, for the others, that was the end of it.

You were in a Christian-sponsored institution…

Yes. We were forced to accept it regardless of their other religious beliefs once accepted. Even though I was born into an Islamic family, I was forced to become a Christian. Some were even coerced into changing their names to Christian ones.

Were you able to keep in touch with the rest of your family during the 14 years in a CCI?

My eldest sibling who got married only came to visit us twice ever since we went to the CCI because the institution is very far away from our upcountry home. Some of my relatives I have, I only know them by their names but can’t recognize them even if I saw them pass by on the road. I have an aunt also who lives nearby but she never visited us completely only her children came to visit one time during my entire stay.

Was it difficult for you to reintegrate back to the community after leaving the CCI?

Yes, it was difficult for me to make new friends because, unlike there, where everything was similar, outside children come from different homes and have different behaviors. On the other hand, in the CCI everything was given to us, and now I had to learn to fend for myself outside. To meet some of my needs, I worked as a waiter after school. I went to stay with my aunt and am still living with her, but even calling her by that name is still difficult because I don’t consider her a relative. in the beginning, she was a total stranger to me.

What are your plans?

After completing my education I did not enter any higher institution of learning. However, I worked as a waiter in numerous hotels until the Corona pandemic struck and most hotels were shut down. I paid someone on an individual basis to teach me how to mend torn clothing. I’d be grateful if I could find someone who would sponsor me in pursuing that career. At the moment, I started my own business venture of selling clothes which we call Madera.

Why have you decided to join the care leavers group at Kesho Kenya?

I joined the group, which is comprised of children who were raised in CCIs, to raise awareness about how important it is for communities to stop raising children in these institutions, as I was raised in one. Through the development of support groups, we have gained psychosocial help by engaging and sharing our experiences.



What advice would you give to struggling families from your own experience?

As an individual who was raised in the CCI, I can only emphasize the importance of the family bond. It was difficult for me to see that those that were supposed to be the most important people in my life had abandoned me. I could see that their families were doing just fine. So I would be if we shared the little resources that we had even if it meant having only a cup of porridge the entire day or just Ugali and Omena to eat – but we are together with the rest of the family and other siblings. Therefore, if it is possible, help should be provided to keep children at their homes and in their community.

Changing the Way We Care is an initiative that advocates for care reforms and embraces family-based care in order to promote safe, nurturing family care for children. So far, the project has worked with seven CCIs and reached out to 76 families in order to reintegrate 69 children back into their homes. Beneficiaries also received Income Generating Activity startup capital to help them start their own businesses and sustain themselves.




Learning as an adult is nothing to be ashamed of

Learning as an adult is nothing to be ashamed of

March 8th is International Women’s Day. We choose to recognize Aisha, a 43-year old student of our Adult Literacy Class for being hardworking, outstanding, and relentless. Aisha who spoke to us says she was denied an opportunity to go to school at a tender age due to sibling rivalry. Despite these circumstances, she has risen above the obstacles and is now getting an education. Below she tells her heartwarming story. 

“For me joining the Adult literacy Class was a dream come true. I had wanted to join the class for a very long time but my plea was faced with endless obstacles. I dropped out of school in class four when I was just eleven years old. With the help of my sister, I sought Mama Zena who helped me with the enrollment process and I joined class early last year.”

Why she went back to school

“I want to get an education that will enable me to get a well-paying job. I have been doing casual jobs from a tender age whose pay was meager. I was also insulted and disrespected at the workplace. Besides, such kind of work generally makes you a slave always depending on others with nothing of your own.”

First day of class 


“On my first day of class, I came in just like a young girl who has her first day in school. I was shy and a bit nervous. I joined the other young women in the class. With time I adapted and was comfortable learning.”

Her motivation

“I desire to get educated because I was denied this opportunity when I was young. Even when the government ordered schools to be closed in March, I would come to the Kesho Kenya resource center to read by myself because even if I stay at home there is nothing am gaining. This is what wakes me up every morning to attend class without giving up. My sister also supports me at home with school work. She encourages me to keep studying to achieve my goals. I sometimes fall sick, and I have stomach ulcers. But all this does not prevent me from continuing my studies.”

Plans for the future

“I want to complete my primary school and proceed to secondary. I could even imagine proceeding up to the university level if I get the financial assistance. Thereafter, I want to empower other women to access education in my community.”

Inspirational message to other women

“I urge other women don’t wait, Seek if you want something, just like I sought for education. Be courageous because being afraid won’t help you. In addition, seek an education because, without it, life is very difficult. I wasn’t even able to load airtime on my own. Getting to a place was hectic because I couldn’t read. Thus, am very grateful to Kesho Kenya for giving me a second chance at life through education.”

Able to read and write in English

Santa, her instructor describes her as a bright, hardworking, and vibrant individual. “Amina is now able to read and write in English. Her determination to get herself a well-paying job has been her drive. Most of my students have goals that they want to accomplish.”


The Adult Literacy Class began in 2015. To date, a total of 174 learners have enrolled for class of which 12 have registered to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE ). Intake runs throughout the year. A class session begins from 9 am until 11 am. A professional instructor who is paid by the national government conduct the lessons. The tutoring is free of charge.