It is very important that children have the opportunity for an education, especially orphaned children, who are often lacking in self esteem. In school they gain skills and confidence and begin to dream of becoming someone who can make a contribution to the community.
In 2003, the Kenyan government announced free Primary Education. Students flocked to enroll, overwhelming the system, necessitating large classes- up to 70 students in a classroom. Many schools charge unauthorised fees, while children without pencils, notebooks and uniforms are turned away. This is very challenging for families living in poverty. School supplies and uniform can cost $120 a year per child. Fees are charged for secondary schools, costing an average of $600 a year.
KIJIJI CHA UPENDO KEEPS CHILDREN IN SCHOOL
KCU provides micro-loans that boost orphan caregivers’ small businesses. Many are able to put the extra income generated towards school supplies and keep their children in Primary School.
In addition, Kijiji Cha Upendo supplements the parents efforts by providing cheques for school fees that enable the children to stay in Secondary School.
When children have the security of knowing that they will not be sent home for lack of fees, they can settle down to study. With regular school attendance, the children’s grades have improved across the board. Three students have scored well enough in their final exams to qualify for College.
ONE GIRL’S STORY
Tracy Kakhali was one of the first students whose school fees Kijiji Cha Upendo paid. She was an “A” student, who worked very hard and dreamed of becoming an accountant.
Tragedy struck, however, in her final year of High School. Her mother died, leaving Tracy to care for her younger siblings and keep the family business going. The community and Kijiji cha Upendo volunteers came around her, but burdened by the combination of grief and heavy family responsibilities Tracy managed to score only a C in her final exams, not the A that she needed to apply for a government scholarship. It did, however, allow her to enter college, and it was her great good fortune to find a sponsor.
Tracy is now happily pursuing first year studies in accountancy.