Monday, April 8, 2013

Shining Hope in Kenya

Shining Hope for Communities combats gender inequality and extreme poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, by linking tuition-free schools for girls to accessible social services for all.” That’s how this non-profit organization founded in 2009 describes itself. It operates in the slum where one million people live without roads, electricity, or hospitals.

Founder Kennedy Odede says, “We combat intergenerational cycles of poverty and gender inequality through a holistic, community-driven approach. By concretely linking essential health and economic services to a school for girls, we demonstrate that benefiting women benefits the whole community, cultivating a community ethos that makes women respected members of society.”

One of the projects Odede has established is the Kibera School for Girls. Built by Kennedy (who himself was once homeless) and his wife, their vision is to help girls meet their hopes and dreams. One hundred of the most “at-risk” girls in Kibera attend this tuition-free school. They receive free meals, uniforms, and schools supplies, in addition to an education, but also learn self-confidence, empowerment, independence and creativity. They are dressed in bright red and blue. “I believe in myself” is a phrase the girls repeat often. Importantly, the school provides the girls with “psychosocial support to prevent further rape and abuse and address trauma.” At the Kibera school, classes are taught in English to give the students added opportunity. The premises include not only a clinic and water tower, but importantly provide 100 girls with a safe haven from the violent world outside.

Shining Hope is expanding. This year it increased enrollment from 100 to 140 girls. Long term the founders hope to build another school in another area of the Kibera slum.

Having grown up in the slum, Kennedy saw his mother and sisters’ lives ruined by poverty and abuse. He says, “I could not sit by as I saw little girls forced to trade their bodies for food. I could not stay silent while I saw such wasted human potential.”

Help support Shining Hope for Communities. There are several ways: sponsor a pupil ($30 sponsors a student’s education for one month), sponsor a staff member, make an in-kind contribution, volunteer (work during the school’s educational summer camp) or simply make a donation. Click here to provide hope.