Kijiji Cha Upendo Children over the August school holiday received an interesting visitor, Laura Rossal from Canada who came in to spend some time with them. This was interesting time since over the holiday children stay idle and some easily get influenced by their peers to engage in social ills such as drug abuse and petty crimes. Most caregivers engage in various businesses which take most of their time in order to provide food and other basic household needs and therefore may not have time to keep check on the children. School holidays therefore remain a great challenge to caregivers, especially in a slum environment like Kibera.
Laura had her schedule full on arrival. First, he engaged the children in Painting, mainly creative painting. This being a rather not so common concept to the children, Laura began by familiarizing the children with the painting materials such as drawing pads, pastels, watercolor, brush. She then took them through panting procedures. The learning was interesting since it mainly focused on the children’s creative instincts.
With her guidance, the children painted pictures of their choice and shared with their friends. The pictures ranged from beautiful houses, cars and pets. There was no grading, each painting was beautiful and unique and Laura kept motivating them to do their best. The learning atmosphere was different from the one the children are used to. There was cool music playing in the background, something new to the children because their idea of learning was that of a teacher giving instructions and commanding them to carry out some activities. This was entirely different and engaging.
Since the number of children that took part in the art was big, for personal attention, they were divided in two groups each session. While Laura would be handling one group in the morning for art, Tracy a former beneficiary and a Volunteer of Kijiji now, would be handling the other group on Computer Lessons.
During the classes, Laura also asked the students to write letters to their peers that she would bring with her back to Canada and create pen pals. This, Laura advised them, would increase their interaction and improve their writing skills as they will be exchanging letters regularly on interesting topics both at school and home. Moreover, the children also got a chance to show their talents which ranged from dancing, singing, reciting poems and storytelling, the whole process was so colourful and engaging.
Laura also took her time to visit the children in different schools to share with them and the teachers. She learnt how the Non Formal education system works in the slums as an alternative to formal education which most caregivers within the slum community may not afford. She also visited the homes and businesses of some of the caregivers to motivate and encourage them on with raising the OVCs.
Finally, towards the end of the session, the children together with Laura and KCU staff toured Mt. Longonot in Naivasha. It was so delightful and informational since most of them had learnt about the mountain in class but never had a chance to tour and try hiking up the 3km high mountain. Surprisingly nearly all of them made it to the crater point and celebrated the achievement. They returned home late in the evening exhausted and having learnt what they never thought could happen.
KCU remains grateful for the consequential visit by Laura, engaging each of us in a special way and leaving a lasting memory to the KCU family. The children appreciated a chance to study something new in very engaging way and a special trip to hike up the mountain. We wish to continue with the program since this was a better way to engage the children over the holiday who would otherwise be engaging in behaviors that would have negatively affected their lives.