My name is Mary Smith and I am from England. In August/September I spent two weeks in Kenya – my first ever trip to Africa – and during that time I visited Christ’s Victory Centre which is run by my friend Austine Ngabwe.
I was made very welcome and given a tour of the school. I spoke briefly to all the classes, and also sat down with children form the three oldest classes to tell them a little about where I come from, show them some pictures, and answer their questions. They wanted to know about everything from the main industries in my city to which sports I follow (most of them seem to support Chelsea footbal club!). The school’s head boy told me about the challenges the children face – many come from familes who struggle to meet the costs of daily living, unable to provide enough food, clothing etc, let alone school supplies.
Hopefully the education they get at CVC will give some of these children a chance to go onto better lives – I met one former student (a Sudanese refugee) who is now studying hard at secondary school and wants to train as a doctor.
I also spoke to the teachers and although their lives are not easy – the school is not always able to pay them – they really do care about the children and want the best for them.
I went back on my last day in Kenya and gave out some exercise books and pencils to the children, as well as supplies for the teachers, and also bought some bags of rice and beans for school lunches.
About the school:
The school is located in the Githurai area of Nairobi. It was started in 2010 by a group of Congolese refugees who wanted to provide education to refugee children in the area who often missed out on school. Later, members of the local community approached the school and asked if their children could attend too and it was agreed that they could. They now have around 200 children both refugees (mostly Congolese and Sudanese) and Kenyans.
They run the full range of primary classes from baby class up to class 8. Every November, class 8 students take the national primary school exams that enable them to go on to secondary school, which many of them do.
Although founded on Christian principles, they take children whatever their religious beliefs. The ages of the students range from 3-20 years, as they will take those who missed out on education and need to catch up. They also provide additional support to older children who join the school speaking little or no English.
Conditions at the school are fairly basic, classrooms are quite small and crowded and are split between a rented residential building and rooms in the church next door. Long-term they would like to build somewhere of their own that better meets their needs, but at the moment they do the best they can with what they have.
They provide lunch to the children as often as they can, and occasionally breakfast as well. This is important as some of the children do not get enough to eat at home, and it also greatly aids their concentration while in school.
To make money, they keep pigs and sell the piglets. Unfortunately their adult female pig has recently died of an infection – they called the vet, but treatment was not successful. They now have to wait for some of the young ones that they were intending to sell to grow up before they can have more piglets. They also grow vegetables and make earthworm compost. They would like to expand the pig business, and investigate other business options, as they want to be able to cover their basic running costs without having to rely on outside support forever.
They receive volunteers from a local university and have also had several from abroad. They would welcome more, especially those with education experience.
Outside of school hours they run groups for young and adult refugees who live in the area, providing general support and assisting them to integrate into the local community.
Their main needs at the moment are: money to pay staff and provide food for the children, more school supplies (exercise books, pencils etc), textbooks and story books.
If you would like to donate, visit or volunteer please contact the school.
Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version.