News

Forced Evictions in Kariobangi

Around 6 a.m. on May 4, demolition crews hired by the Nairobi Water and Sewer Company began demolition of informal housing in Kariobangi displacing more than 2,000 families in the process. Fifteen Hands of Love families have been affected.

The demolition not only destroys the lives of the affected people, but it also undermines the work that Hands of Love and other organisations have been doing in the fight against coronavirus.

You have to wonder who in our unfit-for-purpose government thought it was a good idea to add this humanmade crisis to that of COVID-19.

We are doing our best to assist the affected Hands of Love families, including providing them with temporary shelter.

Erick Ojwang – A Dedicated Member of HoL Team

Ever met someone so diligent and hardworking? Well, Mr Erick, who has been working for HoL from when it started, fits that bill.

“I was among the pioneering team that started the school in 2008. We began with about 15 children” he recounts.

Erick goes about his work diligently. He is the first person to report for duty and the last to leave. During the day he is always busy rotating like a shuttlecock from one room to the other cleaning, mopping, emptying bins and performing many other duties. It is unlike him to be seated doing nothing. “I have to be the first one in school because I keep the keys to all the classrooms. Sometimes I leave for home at 5:00 pm, but other days I have to stay longer so that I can complete all my chores. I take it upon myself to ensure that the children come to a clean learning environment because I love seeing them happy and in good health,” he ventures.

Teacher Erick, as children and staff call him around the school, reckons that working at HoL has been a fantastic experience. “Through this job, I can sustain myself and my family,” he says. As busy as his days are, Erick, a dedicated father of five girls still finds time to be with his family. His daughter Berretta, a multi-talented second-grader at HoL benefited from sponsorship program by the ACAKORO Football an initiative that supports young talented soccer players. Erick always makes time to attend his daughter’s practice sessions and games.

Updates – February 24 – 29

Improved Diet

‘Tayarisha tumbo’ which means ‘get your tummies ready’ has been the new slogan for the learners after the catering team decided to take things a notch higher. Post-mid-term has been an exciting experience for the kids and staff in matters meals. We made changes to the menu and introduced new dishes. 

Fish and Ugali will be served for lunch on Tuesdays and Chapati every Thursday. Teachers were also not left behind in this. In addition to their 10 o’clock tea, they’ll each be having a piece of cake. Feedback from children and teachers is that preparation of the Meals has been excellent. To make the food more healthy vegetables such as eggplants and zucchini are used to make the food more nutritious.

Music Festival

The Kenya Music Festivals are around the corner, and preparations for the same have already kicked off. Peterson Abuga, who was the trainer last year, will be taking the participants through this year as well. Teachers Lucy and Justus will assist him. This year, the school will register to participate in Class 100 – Nursery Solo Boy/Girl (3-5 yrs) Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, Class 236 – set piece for lower primary’ Give me a Kite’ and own compositions under classes 238, 267 and 268.

Teacher’s Assessment 

On Wednesday the 26th of February, we received two assessors Kenya Institute of Special Education. They assessed special needs learners in our school gave suggestions to their teachers’ on strategies they can use to improve learners’ performance. They also commented positively on the pupils’ discipline and learning environment that is the availability of learning resources and modern classrooms.

On Thursday the 27th, the PP1 teachers were assessed as well. 

“I thank all the people who came in to support and help us during the assessment to ensure it was a success. There was a lot of teamwork and support witnessed, and I am personally so very grateful and humbled by the kind gesture,” intimated Teacher Linda Opiche, a PP1 Class teacher.

A Day at a Time: Story of a single mother who chose not to give up

When you step into her home  you may assume she is doing so well for someone who is living in Kariobangi. Scovia Chabaya, a single mother of five has also faced her own fair share of challenges.

After she had her first two children, her husband then, who was an alcoholic, was taken to a rehabilitation centre by his parents, after which she lost communication with him. As a young mother, she automatically became the sole bread winner for her family. She had to brace herself and learn how to fend for her family because her children now looked up to her for all sorts of support and providence.

As fate would have it, she met her second husband later with whom she had three more boys. He too, turned out not to be as dependable as she may have hoped.  Scovia learnt the hard way to not depend fully on anyone to feed and support her children. Vending diluted juice around Kariobangi market is what has been bringing her income lately.

Hustling can be very tricky for a nursing mother like Scovia.  Sometimes when she needs to step out to fend for her family, she risks and leaves her toddler locked in the house all alone with the TV on.

“He usually cries when he gets bored but stops as soon as he notices there is no one to attend to him,” she explains.

 On good days when she has some money, she pays her neighbour 50 shillings  ($ 0.5) to babysit him. Selling juice around Kariobangi involves a lot of walking under the scorching sun. Carrying him around alongside her goods and exposing him to the harsh conditions is something she does not find necessary. Venturing into this juice-selling business in Kariobangi has not been a walk in the park for her either.

“Doing business in Kariobangi is not easy. At times you have no choice but to sell items on credit. Most of the customers who take goods or services on credit end up not paying. This can be very discouraging since it leaves you in debt.”

Nevertheless, Scovia is a wise mother who invests the little money she saves into buying durable  household items. When you step into her home, you may easily confuse her for a rather stable resident of Kariobangi; despite the fact that she and her five kids live in a two-roomed house.

 She chooses to look at the brighter side of life and be grateful for what she has and the blessings of her dear children. Whining and feeling sorry for herself she says, won’t put food on the table at the end of the day.

” I have five beautiful children who look up to me and expect me to provide come what may. I can’t afford to let them down. Sometimes it is a struggle to get by but at the end of the day as long we are alive and kicking, I’m contented. I have learnt to take a day at a time.”

With a lot of hard work and God’s grace, she has been able to provide for her family and pay school fees for her kids. Her firstborn, Derrick Obanda in class 8 and second born, Alexia Kagendo in class 3 are luckily being supported through school by her brother. Two of her kids; Merrick Madiba in Pre-primary 2 and Levy Sankara in Pre-primary 1 go to Hands of Love Educational Centre.

Updates – February 10 – 14, 2020

Our highlights for the sixth week of the term were: Mzee Moi’s burial, Mid-term assessment, Valentines’ Day and Mid-term break. Teacher Justus Kishoiyan, being the teacher on duty, was quite engaged with the learners throughout the school days.

Learners were excited to have a break on Tuesday after it had been declared a public holiday, for the country to mourn the death of Mzee Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi. Some of the learners were able to make it to Nyayo Stadium where the State burial was to be held. They even got to share in the bread and soda which had been promised to 30,000 early birds. Parents were amazed that their kids sang along to some of the songs which were sang on that day. These are commendable efforts by Teacher Justus who teaches them these songs during Scouts meetings.

Mid-term exams commenced on Wednesday, 12th of February. A total of 8 students were absent on the first day of the exams. Approximately six learners missed the exam entirely. Nevertheless, the assessment went by quite smoothly with Mathematics being the first paper done in most classes. The new comers in PP1 were really excited about the exams being that it was their first time. All the learners were provided with brand new pencils and rubbers which they used during the exams. One challenge experienced was by Teacher Lilian who noted that most of the exams in her class took longer than the stipulated time. Her students particularly had a problem in reading and comprehending the instructions given on the exam papers. In Mathematics exam, some of learners had a challenge following the instructions given. Webstar Kabochi, who sat a special exam also didn’t quite perform as well as she may have hoped.

By Thursday afternoon, all exams had been completed. Marking and revision was done in between Thursday afternoon and Friday.  Performance was as follows:

  1. In Grade 1A, 95% of the learners scored above average with only 3 learners scoring below average.
  2. Out of 15 learners, 13 managed to score above 300 marks out of 400 in Grade 2A.
  3. The highest marks recorded in Grade 2B was 384 marks and lowest was 139 marks out of 400.
  4. Teacher Monica Amolo in Grade PP2A had her highest score being 494 and lowest 453 marks out 500.
  5. The PP1 graders also managed to perform quite well. Most of them were being assessed for the first time ever.

Teacher Pauline observed that; the learners who did not have text books did not perform so well in their assessment. Some of her students like Beretta Lesly in Grade 2A did special exams. She was graded differently from the rest because of her learning disorder. She is gifted differently and her love for co-curricular activities especially football is on another level. However, she has a dyslexic condition that has greatly affected her fluency, decoding, recall, writing and spelling skills to an extent of not being able to copy things from the white board as they appear.

Unfortunately, Joseph Lola Sanya a student with learning difficulties in Teacher Justus’ class (Grade 1A) did not sit for any of his exams because his family had to move away after being locked out of their home for failure of paying rent that had accumulated to a total of three months. In addition to that, his mother was said to have been sick and admitted at a local healthcare center.

Otherwise, we wrapped up the week beautifully with Friday being Valentines’ Day. Kids were encouraged to spread joy and love to fellow learners. Some also had the privilege of using pencils that had special Valentines’ message during their examinations. Further revision on their exams was recommended to learners with the help of their parents. In addition to that, we also advised that they should be allowed to watch a lot of good kid content on TV both in English and Kiswahili, under proper parental guidance. This is important for their language development. Hopefully that will keep them busy through the mid-term break. Other than that, we wish that the learners take time to rest and spend time with their parents.

Mid-term Assessment

The mid-term exams kicked off today with 99% of learners being present for the same. We hope to have it run from Wednesday to Thursday afternoon after which marking, and revision will be done and completed by Friday.

All the learners were provided with the required stationery including pencils and eraser. We hope the good attendance will be maintained so that most if not all of them will be able to go through the assessment. The teachers approved that all the examinations were fair and were set within the covered scope of the syllabus. We expect nothing but good performance from our learners.

After completion of the midterm assessment, the learners will break for the midterm break on Friday, February 14and resume school on Monday, February 24.

Updates – January 27 – 31

January has been a good month thus far with week four being the best week. All expected learners have reported back to school and learning is running smoothly. Cases of absenteeism have drastically gone down making it easier for the teachers to achieve their set objectives on time. We may be having quite a challenge with the pre-primary 1 in matters absenteeism, but we are hopeful that come February we will have a better report.

One of our main goals this year is to make learning as fun as it can. It makes mastering of concepts easy and memorable for the kids. Tr. Justus and Tr. Lucy devised a way of making their Environmental lessons more interesting. They combined their classes Grade 1 (A) and 1(B) in teaching about SOIL as a sub-strand of ENVIRONMENT AND ITS RESOURCES. Learners seemed to enjoy the lessons as well as playing with soil at the parking lot. They wrote their names on the soil, drew themselves, drew shapes and much more on the soil as required by the syllabus. On the other hand, Tr. Linda Opiche and Tr. Monica Njeri made their Environmental studies fun by having the learners walk around the school naming the different structures like kitchen, classes, offices while also learning about the people found within those places and what they do. A couple of parents kept sending in positive feedback; mostly being impressed with how fast their children are learning.

The pre-primary 1 students enhanced their critical thinking and problem-solving skills through mastering the concept of grouping similar bottle tops and separating the ones that do not look similar. They do such activities in groups which enhances their socializing skills, working in teams and also being outspoken since working in groups entails taking in suggestions from different members to get a unified result in the end. They also learnt how to write sounds and numbers. According to Tr. Linda, the very first step in this is pencil-holding and eye-hand co-ordination of which a good number of the new learners are showing good progress.

The scout movement is doing so well. The passion and work that Tr. Justus puts into this is commendable.  The members have already memorized the scout motto, the scout oath and the Sungura Scout Law and Promise within three weeks. One can easily tell that they have familiarized with the idea, therefore, enabling them to recite lines and answer most scouting questions with ease

We experienced a minor water shortage on Wednesday, but the matter was attended to and we are hopeful that we will not have a repeat of the same.

Our environment may not always be the best for liberal existence of the kids. Especially when it comes to free socialization, interaction and playing with kids in the neighbourhood. On Friday 31St, Jonnel Macharia, a learner in Grade 2B, got into a serious accident while playing with some friends after school. His mother reported that he is suffering from very severe injuries which include: a huge lump on his head, a sore eye and severe pains in his abdomen area which make eating uncomfortable and painful for him. It is said that he may have been pushed and hit against rocks by some older boys while they were playing in the area playground. Kariobangi can be a quite ‘rough’ area sometimes. This forces most guardians to bring up their children in a hardcore manner while teaching them self-defence and how to toughen up because it is deemed necessary. The problem usually comes in where they are engaging as children or playing and they fail to know where to draw the line between what is acceptable or civil and what is on the extreme hence dangerous. Jonnel is still receiving medication and we pray that he will recover sooner.

My Holiday in Mombasa – Isa Mohamed (Grade 2)

Hi, my name is Issa. Last year, after we closed school in October, my parents took me and my siblings to Mombasa where we spent the holiday with my extended family. Travelling from Mombasa to Nairobi can be really tiresome especially if you travel on road. If you go by bus, it will take you around 7 hours to get there.  On the flip side, the road trip is pretty adventurous and the view on the road is amazing. One major disadvantage about travelling on road during such seasons is that many cases of accidents are reported and it was quite unfortunate that I spotted an accident scene on our way there.

While in Mombasa, I would attend Madrasa as from 7 am to 1 pm after which I was free to visit the beach and explore the coast. It was amazing to see so many boats in the ocean and the life savers in their cool life jackets patrolling. I particularly loved the times when me and my friends would climb coconut trees to get coconuts which is referred to as nazi in Swahili.

Mombasa is a very beautiful place and I really enjoyed my stay especially since I was around people who spoke in fluent Swahili which is not the case here in Nairobi. On a light note though, I found the people of Mombasa to be quite vulgar with their language.

Updates January 7 – 18, 2020

Enrollment

Every new year, as we say goodbye to some of the kids, we welcome new ones. This year was a bit different in that we were not admitting a new 3-year-olds class. But we still welcomed a few new faces. 18 new students joined hands of love as  52 left to bring the total number of children enrolled to 163. All the children who joined were as a result of a partnership with ACAKORO FOOTBALL that also saw 16 Hands of Love children leave after receiving a sports scholarship. Eighteen of the children leaving were grade 2 children leaving to join grade 3 in other schools. About ten children left for various reasons, most moved out of Kariobangi and there are a few that we have not established reasons as to why they left.

Staffing 

One teacher and two volunteers left hands of love at the beginning of the year. Geraldine Kerandi who has been volunteering with us since May last year did not come back and Mama Nacho a parent who has been volunteering for a couple of years has also left. 

Mauline Kemunto, one of our best teachers left after getting hired by the government. She taught grade 2 children and was a really hardworking and committed teacher. This was evident in how well her students performed and they still speak highly of her. She loved art and last year together with Geraldine she taught the kids a Kisii folk song which they presented at the Kenya Music Festival and also to our visitors. She also taught her class embroidery and they really made beautiful ornaments. We will miss her.

New Partnerships

As already mentioned we started a partnership with ACAKORO that saw 16 of our children receive a scholarship and two children with special needs receive support join their program for children with disabilities.

Hands of Love started hosting Special Needs Education workshops which are offered by the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE). This initiative by KISE is aimed at improving access to special needs education in slum areas.

We received Ksh67,400 from the government as part of the government’s support to informal schools through a program funded by UNICEF. In addition to funds, we are expecting to receive classroom resources and sports equipment through this program. 

 Welfare

The report on Emma Nyambura is that she is catching up real first despite being away for two terms. I am grateful to her teacher for following up on her in academics and making sure to plan for visits at their home which is not so far from the school. They went out of their way to make sure that Emma was up to date with her studies.  For this very reason, Emma will not have to repeat her former class.

During the holidays, one of our children lost her elder brother who died just before the new year. This has had a very big impact on her and the teachers are doing the best they can to help her overcome this loss. 

One of the eighteen grade two children (Yahya Bariso)  who left hands of love is yet to join another school because of a lack of funds. We are doing the best we can to help him with placement but this effort is hampered by limited funding on our part.

Renovations

During the holidays, a couple of renovations were underway in the school. We are glad to report that we now have whiteboards installed and some of the classrooms repainted. Teachers are glad because this has brightened up the class environment and the kids love it. Our stairs were also upgraded from the former wooden ones to a more stable concrete make. Movement has been made easier and safer.

Kariobangi News

In the last two months, the roads, drainage and sewer lines have been rehabilitated. The street leading to our school is now fully tarmacked with a pedestrian walk. This is a welcome development which has been long overdue. The street was a mess with pools of raw sewage collecting in some areas and posing a serious health risk to the residents. 

Update on Emma Nyambura

Last year we made a special appeal for Emma a girl in our school who needed surgery to correct bowlegs. We are happy to report that Emma was successful treated at Kijabe Mission Hospital and after five months of convalescing she is now fully recovered and reported back in school.

Seeing Emma walking to school was a special moment for all of us at Hands of Love. The smile on her face, and the confidence in her gait testament to what can be achieved when we work together.

For just $1 a day, you can help us touch the lives of children like Emma, providing them with education, food and basic healthcare for a whole year. Please consider donating $365 – or any other amount.