Parent, Project Participant
The Kibera School for Girls has helped me so much. I see a very big change in my daughter. My child speaks English. She is now doing even better than her brother who is in 2nd grade, although she is just in pre-school. Even her brother is boasting about how well his sister is doing. I know that in time, my daughter will go far. Her father is also so happy to see how well she is doing in school. When she is sick—she is treated at the hospital free of charge. Even my entire family can afford to pay to go to the hospital. It is amazing to feel that if you become sick your health is not out of your control. We also have a nice toilet here that is very clean, thanks to the school. The school has also provided more support than I can say. My child is only four and she was raped. The school helped me so much. There was no other place to go. I had no one else who cared and who could listen. Even without the school, I would have been too scared to speak. The school stayed with me until my child received treatment and we got legal help. Without the school, her assailant would never have been arrested and I would have not had the strength to continue the fight. I am so thankful to Jessica and Ken and pray that they will have the strength to continue.
Chair of the KSG Parents Board, Project Participant
The Kibera School for Girls has changed my life and the life of my daughter. I could never afford to pay to send my child to school—but I always prayed that I would find a way. Even when my children are sick, before I could not afford anything— but now I can pay for the hospital. Even the SHOFCO youth are making a change in the community. They are showing us all that people can change their own lives. SHOFCO gives the community knowledge and power. SHOFCO is the most compassionate and helpful organization that I have ever seen.
Parent, Community Health Worker, Project Participant
I am writing this as a woman who was born and lived my entire life in the poverty of the Kibera Slum of Kenya. I think that beginning with my own experience makes clear why Shining Hope for Communities is unique and urgently needed in my community.
I was born the first girl in a family of eleven children. Early in my life, I was made to know that girl children are worthless and a burden to the society. My father terribly abused my mother, and even in my adult years, I can still remember those screams. I tried to stay out of the way, raising my younger brothers and watching as my parents struggled through their poverty to take the boys to a school. Each day I would watch with longing as my brothers walked to their school, all I wanted was to learn. Finally, I convinced my father to take me to school. His commitment only lasted a month. I wanted to do well, but no one expected anything of me as a woman so it was difficult. By further bad luck, I was soon with a child on my own at age sixteen because I had no food in my house and so I was made to find men to help me to survive. My baby was a girl and her name is Mwongeli. From the moment she was born I made a secret promise in my heart. I kneeled down and I prayed hard and said “Please God, I have one wish in my poor life. Please, let this child go to school so that she may go ahead of where I have reached in my life, ahead, ahead, ahead.” I am saying this to you now because by a miracle God has kept his covenant with me. My daughter, Mwongeli, is now a student at The Kibera School for Girls. Mwongeli’s life will be very different than mine as the first girl in our family to ever go to school.
The Kibera School for Girls is special in many ways. It is the only free school for girls that I have even heard of in Kenya. But there is something more. At the school, there is also a center for the community with needed resources like computer, books, health education sessions, and vegetable garden open to all community members. I can say that these offerings have really transformed my life, beyond the impact of providing my daughter with education. At the community center, I am learning to read, and I also got instruction and supplies to start a vegetable garden of my own. I started to make my own business of selling these vegetables in October, and that ability made my life much better because now I am the one providing my family with the income, which I am so proud about. I also later got a job as a Community Health Worker at the Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic. This gave me both an income, as well as knowledge and respect in my community. This has really changed how my husband behaves towards me, and towards Pius. My husband was a hard man who abused me much. But after I started putting food on the table, he did less. After some time of seeing me learn the gardening and watching Mwongeli move so fast in her class work than the neighbor boys, he decided he one day went to see what was going on at the compound. Now my husband is learning the computer and got a small job helping to build the toilet structure. My husband now says that good treats come with educating girl children, and because he is the last person I could ever think to say this, I can say that this idea will change lives in many ways in my struggling home community.
From my position on the parent board of the Kibera School for Girls, which advises the management of the school and makes our own ideas, I can tell you that when Shining Hope for Communities succeeds, so do we as a community—we want to be as much part of that success as possible.
Parent, Staff Member, Project Participant
My name is Kepha Otieno, I am an elder in the Kibera community. I speak in heavy support of Shining Hope for Communities.
Shining Hope for Communities is the most important organization I have seen in my forty years of life in Kibera. I can say myself, that sometimes I have not supported the girls education. My own daughters I did not send to school because the financial situation we found ourselves in. Before The Kibera School for Girls opened I had a traditionist mentality towards women issue. Then I asked Kennedy why his school for girls would help Kibera people, as there are more than women who are in need. Even me, I go hungry many days and I have not had the education that would get me jobs. Kennedy invited me to come see. I became impressed and got the chance to learn some basic computer. I go to the only clean toilet through the community center, which because my toilet is shared by 300 people and fill with the disease this somehow saves my life. There is a health center. I can say this community center has made me to support the girls education. I even think my wife is important because through the women’s issue I can also get health care. Now my daughter is a student at The Kibera School for Girls, and she is doing so well. I am so proud of her. Now I also have a job working at the garden and at the school.
I would like you to know that here in Kibera, we are dying each day, women, men, and children. Life in Kibera is hell on earth. Please know, if you give Shining Hope for Communities the resources, you give us Kibera people hope. You give us a reason to keep on living despite dying being easier. You make us see that if we can be given this chance, the world can change because even Kennedy himself came from nothing to something. That can show us that all people, men, and women in Kibera, can also do like Shining Hope and change.