Population:40.5 millionLiteracy Rate:87%Religion: Roman Catholic (23.3%)
The Salesians are combating poverty with education and nutrition in Kenya, where 90% of poor children fail to complete basic schooling and 25% are acutely malnourished. The needs are particularly great among the 81,000 refugees from 12 countries who rely on the Salesians for many basic necessities.
Build Shelters for Homeless
In Kenya, homeless youth join “Bosco Boys” programs dedicated to creating positive change. Three centers provide services for youth at different stages.
- Bosco Boys Kariua runs a nursery school and weekend program where street children gather for sporting events and to wash their clothes.
- Bosco Boys Langata is a rehabilitation center where new boys can overcome addictions and behaviors learned on the street.
- Bosco Boys Kuwinda provides education and training opportunities for street children, as well as poor children from the neighborhood.
At each, boys prepare for the new life ahead of them.
More Missions in Kenya
While Kenya has free and compulsory education, poor children still cannot afford to attend school – and 9 out of 10 children from poor households fail to complete their basic education, according to UNICEF.
However, through Salesian Missions programs, students in need find opportunities for learning:
- At-risk children have access to primary education.
- Youth take part in enrichment activities such as young journalists and the environment club.
- Refugees obtain vocational skills which leads to sustainable livelihoods.
Even teachers take part in learning – receiving training in classroom management, teacher effectiveness, educational leadership and new learning theories.
In Kenya, peer education is an effective tool for reaching youth with key disease prevention messages. As part of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the “Life Choices” program focuses on abstinence and faithfulness. Gender is also an important component, including focus on sexual violence. The program extends to youth centers, schools, orphans and vulnerable children centers and in community/social outreach programs. More than 40,000 youth have learned about HIV/AIDS prevention through the program.
In Kenya, street children improve their lives through a holistic programming approach that incorporates sporting activities. At the Don Bosco Boys center in Kariua, in the heart of Nairobi, a weekend program brings street children together for sporting events and to meet basic needs. At the center in Kuwinda, boys participate in the sports club and acrobats club in addition to academic classes. These sports activities build self-esteem and a sense of belonging, as well as promote healthy lifestyles.
In Kenya, Salesians have been training refugees for more than 10 years, providing them with short-term and long-term courses in skills training. With jobs, refugees can earn a decent income upon their return to their homes or in their host countries. Salesian Missions is currently working with 81, 207 refugees in the Kakuma, Kenya refugee camp, providing basic education and health services, along with social services. The refugees originate from twelve countries namely: Somalia (43,980), Sudan (25,579), Ethiopia (6,180),Democratic Republic of Congo (3,582) Uganda (507), Rwanda (395), Burundi (803), Congo Brazzaville (45), Eritrea (112), Tanzania (21), Djibouti (2), and Zimbabwe (1).
In Kenya, approximately 12,000 children and youth are being served at vocational institutions and schools. For example, in the Bosco Boys program, youth receive training in trades such as carpentry, tailoring, mechanics and tailoring. In addition to class activities, the students take orders from customers and receive payment for jobs well done. In this way, they are not only learning but they are also contributing to the ongoing success of their school.
At the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, girls and women receive training opportunities and learn about the important role they play in society and the community. The microfinance program funded by UNHCR and Caritas Italiana offers graduates, women and other refugees an opportunity to establish small business ventures using skills learned.
The microfinance program is not currently active. The refugees that were enrolled into these programs have resettled back to respected countries. (Per Fr. George, Director for Office of Development in Kenya)
In Kenya, malnutrition rates are critical and in some districts, a quarter of all children are acutely malnourished, according to UNICEF.
At Salesian Missions centers, nutritious meals are part of a comprehensive program for vulnerable children. In addition to food, they receive shelter, counseling and education to help rebuild their lives. To date, nearly 2,000 street children have been served with a focus on long-term success. Today, there are nine boys studying at university and 64 working in various companies. Others are beginning their studies in primary and secondary schools – and still more are waiting to join the successful “Bosco Boys” program.
In Kenya, homeless youth join “Bosco Boys” programs dedicated to creating positive change. These centers include a wide range of activities for youth, including:
- Bosco Scouts: Fifty boys and girls enjoy camp, build leadership skills and help maintain discipline with the other children.
- Young Journalists: Youth publish “The Eye Opener” magazine for students and staff.
- We Care Club: Students focus on taking care of the property, as well as the houses.
- Environment Club: Members take care of a nursery and plants – watering, weeding and nurturing.
Through these and other activities, youth are empowered to learn new skills and seek new opportunities.
As part of the “Empowerment Programme,” youth obtain training in life skills and effective leadership to prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders and citizens. The program also seeks to improve the link between training employment – enhancing the opportunities for youth. This program is part of the vocational/ jobs skills training program that is being implemented in Kenya.
The Salesian life skills training curriculum incorporate life skills and human development into all of their training programs, so that students not only leave with job skills, but also with self-esteem, confidence, and self-respect, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will succeed in improving their lives. This is somewhat unique to the Salesian preventive education system.
In Kenya, agricultural training has made a significant difference at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. There, food security is enhanced by the demonstration farm which enables training in agriculture skills. It also produces fresh fruit and vegetables which improve the amount of food available to the refugees and inhabitants of the camp.
Agricultural skills are also an important component at the Bosco Boys Kuwinda facility. There, students receive training with livestock including poultry, cows and pigs, as well as in the vegetable gardens. Eggs and meat are sold from the farm to help support the project. All the milk produced is consumed by the community. In 2004, a donor assisted in the set-up of a bio-gas plant using cow dung.
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Sandra Kuck has graciously donated this limited-edition print “Kissing Kitty” in order to help raise funds for our missions projects around the world.