Grassroots Rescue Centre for the Children of Nairobi's Slums
By Evanson Njeru, Founder & Executive Director, Compassion CBO
Without Help, Orphaned Girls are Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse
Many of the children living in the sprawling slums of Nairobi are left as head of families after the death of their parents due to HIV/AIDS. Girls are most vulnerable to sexual abuse like rape and are left exposed to HIV/AIDS.
Well-wishers donate food stuff to the children at Compassion Rescue Centre, which is later given to the children.
At the centre, we receive children every month and we offer primary level education to the children.
"My name is Glory Nkatha.
I am Eleven years old, and I live in Githogoro slum in Nairobi with my mother.
I joined Compassion Community Based Organisation Rescue Centre one year ago; I get educated in the centre,
Now am in class six and when I grow up, I would like to be a role model for other girls and women.”
Education and Food for Starving Children
Due to lack of space, children come in the morning but have to leave in the evening. The children are taken care of by the family unit and caregivers who always need to be supported. Many of the care givers are the aged and ailing who are left to take care of their grandsons and granddaughters after the death of their children.
We don’t own land – we rent the premises because the land within the town is very expensive. Thus, we lack space and premises to expand our centre.
Corrugated iron sheets – the material that houses in the community are made of, are also what our centres are made of.
Our centres are exposed and prone to disasters that typically affect slum areas, like fire, bad weather, and lack of sewage. It’s in these conditions that we bring hope and help to illuminate the lives of many children through education and feeding programmes to the hungry and starving children.
We do also endure serious financial crisis to keep all the learning programmes continually functioning since our organisation is run through volunteerism and we rely on individual donations locally.
More often, we lack learning materials and food stuffs to feed the children.
Despite this, the children seem happy to be in school:
“My name is Christine Adhiambo.
I am ten years old, and I live in Githogoro slum in Nairobi with my father.
I joined Compassion Community-based Organisation Rescue Centre five years ago.
I get educated in the centre, Now am in class five and when I grow up I would like to be a role model for other women and girls.
I am happy to be in school.”
“My name is Malvin Ng’ang’a.
I am 11 years old; I live in Githogoro slum in Nairobi with my mother.
I joined Compassion Community-based Organisation Rescue Centre six years ago.
I get educated in the centre. Now am in class 5 and when I grow up, I would like to be a scientist.
I am happy to be in school learning.”
Compassion's Children Centres hosts about 300 orphans and vulnerable children from different slums in Nairobi.
We feed them on daily basis, and educate them. Children come in the morning and leave in the evening because the centre does not have sleeping accommodations. Children are taken care of in family units by caregivers.
Timothy is an orphan and he is one among many children left without a single parent due to HIV/AIDS:
“I am 10 years old; I live in Githogoro slum in Nairobi with my aunt. I joined Compassion Community-based Organisation Rescue Centre two years ago.
I get educated in the centre,
Now I am in class five, and when I grow up I would like to be a pilot.
I am happy to be in school learning.”
Compassion CBO offers full primary education in the centres, to provide free primary education to all children from the nearby slums.
In Kenya, it is mandatory for every child to go to school in full school uniform.
Many children stay out of school the rest of their lives because their parents or guardian can’t afford the $10 needed to buy the school uniform.
Poor families have an average of six children per family and live in small, grim shacks in the city - 10 ft square. They earn less than $365 per year.
“My name is Mama Beatrice: Beatrice is my daughter who attends school at Compassion CBO Rescue Centre.
My husband died six years ago. I have a five month-old baby whom I got recently. We continue bearing children here in the slums even after losing our husbands because most of us don’t practice family planning.
Life here is hard and we have lost hope.
I lived with my aged mother, and with five children since the death of my husband, who took care of us. My elder daughter is in secondary school Form 2. Compassion CBO helps me educate her.
My aged mother has a grocery in Githogoro slum; most of the time, I help her sell kale to customers.
I have no work and we are a family of 10. We eat what we get from the grocery.
All my four children attend Compassion CBO rescue centre where they get primary education.”
Beneficiary of Compassion CBO
“My name is Ms Auma. I live in the slum of Githogoro.
My husband died seven years ago and I was left with seven children.
I sell charcoals in the streets and recently I gave birth to twins.
Compassion CBO Rescue Centre has helped me educate my children for elementary school. I did not go to school so I don’t know how to read and write.
There are so many women here who are not able to take children to school. Am glad that Compassion CBO is helping us here.”
Hungry Children Don't Learn Well
Schools in drought-hit areas and in slums require a feeding programme for children to keep them in school, for many can’t sit and listen when hungry.
A hungry child at home is a hungry child at school.
The interval between meals for these children is not about hours – but days.