A trip to Kibera slum opened my eyes to a different kind of lifestyle. I was heading to a particular school that offers education and shelter to the orphans in the slum. It was raining, and the thought of stepping on sewage, and mud kept crossing my mind even before we got there. I was accompanied by my yoga Instructor, who also teaches yoga to the children of this school. Many questions kept crossing my mind while we walked through the narrow paths between the houses made with mud.
On arrival, we found the children playing in a very narrow corridor since it was a Sunday, and they didn’t have classes. They seemed happy, but all I could do was pity them. For a moment I wished I could help them. An old lady came along and welcomed us into her room. She was introduced to me as the founder of this school. Her name is Mrs. Lona, though everyone calls her ‘Cucu’, meaning grandma.
This children’s home/school was founded in 2007, and it began with one child. In a few months, the number of children increased to over 10 children. At first, Mrs. Lona managed all the expenses but as the number of children increased, it became more challenging. Because she is uneducated, her passion to see children get education kept pushing her to do more for these helpless kids. She sought help from various people, but their help was not forthcoming. She decided to come up with another way of earning money through artwork. She started making bangles, earrings and necklaces using the local beads.
To date, she has over 20 children in primary school and about 18 children in secondary school. From her expression, I could tell that this was a heavy burden. She pays their school fees; offers shelter and feeds them through her own pocket all the while taking care of their medical expenses. Well, she is just exceptional and kind. “I wish I can take my children to the university one day,” she said thoughtfully. “Most of them pass their secondary exams, but I can’t manage to take them to a college or university”.
We all face challenges in our lives and sometimes it’s difficult to handle them by ourselves. Now, imagine what Cucu goes through in this slum to educate these less fortunate kids. Some of the challenges she faces are:
- Lack of enough money to pay school fees, provide food and clothing including other necessities
- Empty promises from donors.
- The house they call home is poorly constructed and can fall apart anytime hence injuring the children. This gets worse as it rains because the water leaks into the house through the roof.
- Lack of teaching aids.
- Lack of clean water and poor sanitation.
- Inadequate marketing avenues for her artwork. She relies on people who buy them from her house. This also limits her production because of the minimal sales she makes.
Mrs. Lona’s Dream
Mrs. Lona would love to have a spacious compound where the children can play just like other kids. She would like to see all her children become successful and prominent people in the society rather than living in the same slum that they were brought up in. She also hopes that one day she can build a center where the children can practice their skills before getting jobs.
Mrs. Lona appreciates the efforts of my yoga instructor, Miss Faith Kwamboka, for her efforts in teaching the young children yoga. The children now practice yoga three times in a week, and they love it. Mrs. Lona admits that the kids are happier since yoga was introduced to them.
The aim of our program is to raise funds that can assist us provide the children’s basic needs as well as building a center they can use as a school. We plan to provide other important facilities they need to improve the quality of education.
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Chief Executive Officer,
Rank Imani Web-Yoga.