Tusaidie Watoto, Kibra is facing a huge challenge. For some years the Government has been threatening to widen the railway line which runs through the slum and taking down any buildings within a distance of the line. Tusaidie is only yards from the present line and has been told that about 33% of their compound will be taken, including the pit latrines and a good part of the church which is also the baby class! Subsequently they have been told that they will be given good notice and assistance in finding a new plot. If this works out, it will be a blessing in disguise as the plot is far too small for the 70 nursery children and all the primary children who come daily for feeding and those at secondary school who attend during holidays. It will be very expensive to replace the classrooms and provide the extra facilities they need to have in such a large and effective programme.
The children continue to do well as they move on to primary and secondary schools, and the Alumni members have each appointed themselves as the ‘named person’ to mentor a number of younger children. Eric, the chairman of the group is mentoring 22, including a high proportion of girls because there has been a shortage of girls going further in education. They are often the ones who are sent by their mother’s to collect water, cook and clean and then have to care for their siblings when their parents die or become too ill to care for them.
The challenges the children face must seem insurmountable to them at times. Many are total orphans (that is both parents have died) and may be taken care of by an older sibling or another relative, who will probably have their own children to feed and get through school. The problems for the families are compounded when the orphan does well and gets offered a place at an expensive secondary school. Cynthia and Brian each got a high score at the end of primary school and were invited to National Schools; the most expensive! However, their extended family has tried hard to supplement the grant Karibuni makes and at the end of the first term both got straight A’s. They are now struggling to raise the rest of the year’s fees and have made a plea to Karibuni for further assistance.