Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Many Ways to Make a Difference

There are times when I am so touched by how many people find a unique way to participate in our work. The matching challenge from Newman's Own Foundation is really an invitation to all of our supporters to get creative and help us maximize our impact.

I was really touched and inspired by this story from one of our amazing supporters (and a sponsor of a student at the Kibera School for Girls), Chad Smith. Read what Chad has to say, and perhaps get inspired with ideas of your own!

"Last year our neighborhood created a luminary walk at Christmas time. Candles are placedin little white lunch bags which line the sidewalks. As the sun sets, the candles are lit and the illumined bags trace the sidewalks with light. It is a beautiful sight. A dozen neighbors or so go around caroling and the evening concludes by gathering for wassail, hot cocoa and desserts. It all makes for a lovely evening.
This year instead of only taking in a beautiful experience, the neighborhood wanted to do something beautiful as well. Each house chipped in for the cost of the luminaries, but in addition, agreed to give to a community development project. One of the neighbors came across an article in a magazine this past summer about work being done in one of the largest slums in the world and submitted we give to the project. $500 dollars was raised for Shining Hope through the luminary walk.

Instead of only taking in a beautiful experience, a little neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs was able to reach out half way around the world and do something beautiful."
-Chad Smith

Thank you so much to you Chad, and to your community. Our work is really only as strong as the grassroots movement of support that we are building. $50,000 ---- here we come (but only with your help!!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Newman's Own Foundation hosts a $50,000 matching campaign for us -- Now through the end of January!

Every day at our projects in Kibera is filled with significant victories—a clinic opening, a new boarding facility for students like five-year-old Sarah who was abandoned by her parents, a student reading for the first time. We want to express our gratitude to you for helping us to make these moments, and many others, possible. We asked a mother of a student at our school if she had a message that we could share and she said this: “Tell them that they have given me the best gift possible—just by caring about Shining Hope for Communities they have given me hope that tomorrow will be better than today, because today is already better than yesterday.”

We need your help to continue making a profound difference in the lives of our students, their families, and the residents of Kibera, Kenya—Africa’s largest slum. Our work is not possible without your support.

This holiday season Newman’s Own Foundation is hosting a $50,000 matching campaign! Help us make this match!

This means that every dollar you donate to Shining Hope for Communities this December and January will be doubled, allowing your gift to go twice as far. You can track our campaign's progress on the homepage of our website by clicking here!

Every dollar counts—$5 feeds an entire class of students for an entire day, $25 feeds an entire class for a week, $250 provides all of our students and staff with a daily meal for a month. Please give now to give the most. You can make a donation online by clicking here or by mail to Shining Hope for Communities, 14 Red Glen Road, Middletown, CT 06457.

Peace and best wishes for a happy holiday season,
Jessica Posner & Kennedy Odede & the whole SHC Team

P.S. Please consider helping our campaign by forwarding this information on to friends, family, and anyone else who might be interested. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World Aids Day in Kibera, 2010

Today, December 1st, is World Aids Day, and the community of Kibera came together to commemorate. The Community Health Workers of the JJJ Clinic and members of SHOFCO joined a Kibera-wide parade, marching to music from the Kenyan Police Band. The CHWs handed out fliers advertising the clinic and its services as they marched, and passed out condoms to all who asked.

We stood out in our bright blue t-shirts as we carried our makeshift banner at the front of the line, leading the parade to the final rally at the railroad tracks.

This World Aids Day theme was "Universal Access and Human Rights," and everyone in attendance resolved to help embody this theme.

Today, we urge everyone to remember that the fight against HIV/AIDS is far from over, even if it sometimes feels far from home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic is Now Open!

The Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic opened its doors to the community last week! With the opening, all 67 students from the Kibera School for Girls came for a special clinic, so that our clinicians can get to know and follow the health of all of the girls.

The Community Health Workers have been spreading the word, recruiting patients throughout Kibera to come receive personalized and quality care -- and there has been fantastic feedback! One of our patients told us she came because she had heard that "such good services were being offered at this clinic."

The last few days have proved the need for a clinic here. Our clinicians have already stitched up a gash in a patient's face, treated over 10 cases of malaria, and followed up with the sickest of our patients.

We are excited to see what an impact the clinic will have and are proud of all of our Kenyan staff for making this abstract idea a reality!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our new boarding facility - Margaret's Safe Place - is now open!

As of yesterday, five of our students have officially moved into Margaret's Safe Place -- our new boarding facility housing our most vulnerable girls. They are living there with our school's wonderful social worker. The girls have been eagerly anticipating moving into the house all week. According to her kindergarten teacher Julia, one of the girls kept asking, "Is it Wednesday yet??"

After school let out, the girls walked to the house with teacher Julia, our administrator, our social worker, and several of our American volunteers. We were struck by how few belongings they had -- one of our volunteers realized she had more in her day's backpack than these girls had in the world. The walk over was very sweet; the girls held hands the whole way there, and we could see the start of a lovely new family dynamic. When they arrived, we gave them a tour of the house, including their new backyard with banana trees! Teacher Julia is seen here helping the girls feel comfortable in their new home.

The girls excitedly ran up the stairs and discovered their names on their doors:

... and they were thrilled about their new rooms with bunk beds, flip-flops ("slippers"), toothbrushes and toothpaste, towels, and of course... beanie babies!

Once they had settled down about their new "slippers," the girls were enchanted by the window. They are not accustomed to having more than one level in a home, and are definitely not used to a room with a view. They stood in front of the window for several minutes pointing out anything they could see.

The girls are so happy to be living with their friends - it is such a wonderful environment for them. They quickly figured out that they can play together whenever they want now, and they didn't waste any time! They had a blast running around in the front yard:

Once the girls had seen their new house, we sat down at the living room table to have a little soda to celebrate their big move. We are incredibly grateful to Margaret and Bob Patricelli for giving these girls a beautiful, safe home!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Girls Went Shoe Shopping!

Last Wednesday, our students at the Kibera School for Girls got a very special treat. Not only did they get to go on a field trip to town, but they also got to take home a brand new pair of shoes and three pairs of red socks (to match their pull-overs)!

This special day, sponsored by our generous supporter Eric Weider, put a gigantic smile on each girl's face. They will proudly wear these shoes every single day, and we cannot thank Eric enough for such a thoughtful gift!

Several of our girls had never before seen downtown Nairobi, and none of them had ever owned brand new shoes. An anecdote from the day -- several girls had never looked in a mirror before, so they had a great time checking themselves out and making faces at the Bata store's mirrors!

Who doesn't love shoe shopping?

Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Gadget" - a Gift from the EDC

The Kibera School for Girls has a new favorite piece of technology -- nicknamed, "The Gadget."

The Education Development Center (EDC) has generously donated this mini-projector (actually called a "razorBee") to our school, along with technical support and training, as part of its worldwide testing to see if it can be useful in marginalized schools which do not have reliable power sources. As "the gadget" is updated, the EDC will provide us with newer and better versions! Our SHOFCO Coordinator, Peter, has accompanied our teachers for several weeks to receive weekend training on how to use "the gadget," and how to download videos and programs for it. Now our teachers can show videos of anything they can imagine!

Our students' favorite video on "the gadget" so far is a song that teaches them about the 5 senses. Watch the video below for a clip of them singing their new favorite song!

Thank you, EDC!!

Sex-Ed Classes with our SHOFCO Girls

The shocking statistic that 66% of girls in Kibera trade sex-for-food to survive, some as early as age six, is devastating enough on paper. But the lived-reality of the rampant violence against women and girls that Shining Hope works with necessitates action. That's why this June, Shining Hope took on a new initiative: to provide the young female participants of the SHOFCO youth programming with the tools to protect their physical and emotional sexual health.

In addition to weekly soccer practice, for the past few months, over 20 SHOFCO junior girls (under 18) have been coming together on Sunday afternoons in the Shining Hope Community Center for facilitated workshops addressing all physical and emotional issues associated with growing up: puberty, menstruation, sexually-transmitted infections, contraception, sexual assault prevention and response, and self-esteem. In these interactive workshops, the girls have gotten the opportunity to create and discuss tough relationship scenarios, learn about different methods of protection, play games, and ask "anonymous questions." In addition, these workshops have been included monthly sanitary napkin distribution and weekly snacks.

Yesterday, we took a mini-field trip with the girls group to Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi for an afternoon of outdoor games and team-building. It was so much fun!

In the near future, we plan to host high-school peer-facilitators from Kibera trained in health education, and a guest speaker--a survivor of sexual assault from Kibera. In the more distant future, we hope to expand this program to provide more resources for these incredibly at-risk teens: our wish list includes annual school uniform distribution, art-therapy, and more field trips. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sally and Betsy's Book Party Raised Over $700!

Our dear friend and board member Betsy threw a party last weekend for her sister Sally Koslow's new book - With Friends Like These - and the proceeds went directly to the Kibera School for Girls!

By donating the books and inviting 15 close friends over, Betsy and Sally raised over $700 in one day!

Sally did a book reading, a discussion of the writing process, and led a discussion about friendship in general. Betsy gave a short talk about the Kibera School for Girls and everyone was excited to help our project.

For more information about Sally Koslow's work, please click here. Thank you so much, Betsy and Sally!!!

If you are interested in hosting an event to help us fundraise, please contact Leah:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SHOFCO Clean-Up in Kibera!

This past weekend, our SHOFCO Youths organized a wildly successful "Kibera Clean-Up" based at our new Shining Hope Community Center. Over 200 Kibera residents turned out for the event, and the mood was fun and upbeat. Everyone was excited to be cleaning up the neighborhood!

Participants received lunch in our Community Center as well as a bright blue Shining Hope for Communities t-shirt. The shirts have our new logo on the front and Kennedy's original SHOFCO logo (from 2005!) on the back. We plan to host Clean-Ups twice a month to encourage community involvement and unity.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic of Kibera

The Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic of Kibera needs your help! Do you work for or know someone who is connected to a hospital, a health facility, pharmaceutical company or a clinic? Do you have connections to a medical laboratory, or even a lab equipment provider? We are looking for in-kind laboratory equipment donations so that we can provide on-site diagnoses for our patients…but we can’t do it without you! Please, spread the word, and help us connect with a hospital or other facility that can provide the following equipment to help thousands of patients in Kibera. Consult our wish list below for guidance, and we thank you in advance for your support.

Wish List:

- Haematology analyzer: 18 parameter, specific feature, Neutrophils and Lymphocytes absolute and relative count

- Semi Automated Clinical Chemistry analyzer: Over 30 clinical chemistry analytes

- Bio-Ocular Microscope

- Autoclave

- Centrifuge, 4-6 tubes

- Incubator, 28 Litres

- Waterbath

- Hot air Oven

- Roller Mixture

- Serology Shaker

Please email Health Services Director, Ilana Nelson-Greenberg,, with any questions, or if you are able to help!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Groundbreaking Study Released Today

Groundbreaking study released today: for every year of primary education that women receive the under 5 mortality rate drops 10%!

Groundbreaking findings are released today in a study in The Lancet. Researchers found that:

For every year of education that women in developing countries get the under five mortality rate drops 10%!

The mother’s education has a greater impact on child survival than economic household characteristics or increasing income.

Mother’s education is a more decisive influence than the education of the father.

The impact goes beyond just the children of an educated woman: the study found that children of poorly educated mothers are also less likely to die in areas where overall female educational attainment is higher.

Read the articles here:

Then follow us on twitter @hope2shine and become a fan on facebook!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Wish-List!

Have you been looking for a way to make a donation directly to our projects in Kibera?

We have a new Wish List through that allows you to do so from the comfort of your computer! To browse, simply click here.

Please consider donating today. But because shipping to Nairobi is tricky, so before you purchase, please let Development Director Leah Lucid ( know about your order.

For a more complete wish list, please visit our website by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jessica Gordon volunteered with us in Kibera yesterday!

We had a special volunteer, Jessica Gordon, come visit us in Kibera yesterday! Jessica was a Community Health Worker (CHW) in the Peace Corps in Madagascar a few years ago, and joined us before going back to visit her friends there. She led a workshop with our CHWs about her time doing health work in the Peace Corps, and taught creative theater games to our 1st and 2nd graders at the Kibera School for Girls. It was a wonderful treat. Thank you, Jessica!

KSG went on a field trip to see animals this week!!

The Kibera School for Girls went on an amazing field trip Tuesday to see animals in four different locations! The trip was sponsored by the Giraffe Centre and our Programs Director Ari Tolman's family in honor of Ari's birthday (also Tuesday).

The trip started with the arrival of the huge Giraffe Centre bus to Kibera. With everyone watching, our adorable girls excitedly filed onto the bus in their beautiful uniforms. Many of them had never been on a bus before, and were more excited about the bus ride than the animals! So sweet. We did have several cases of carsickness, but that was to be expected...

Our first stop was the Giraffe Centre, where each girl got to feed the giraffes and even kiss them if they were brave enough! Then they attentively watched a video about wild animals in Africa.

Next we boarded the bus again to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, where the girls got to watch young elephants drinking milk from giant-sized baby bottles!

After that, we boarded the bus again to head over to Momba Village for a yummy lunch and to see crocodiles. One hilarious moment was when the tour guide jokingly pretended to throw a baby crocodile into the huddled group of girls. The girls quickly ran away in a panic with a chorus of high-pitched screams until they were convinced that he was only joking.

While there, our girls noticed their moon-bounce castle from far away and started jumping in place on the grass to show how much they wanted a turn in it.
After seeing the crocodiles, we couldn't resist giving them a surprise treat of jumping in the moon-bounce castle -- they had a blast!

Our last stop was the animal orphanage within Nairobi National Park, where our students got to see lions, leopards, cheetahs, ostriches, baboons, and more! We then returned to Kibera feeling tired and happy. It was truly a special day.

Throughout the trip, we were proud of how well-behaved our girls were -- especially since the Giraffe Centre usually only allows students over the age of 10. And most importantly, the girls were incredibly happy!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Professor McAlear Visits the Kibera School for Girls

The Kibera School for Girls had a very special visit this month from Wesleyan University’s Professor Mike McAlear and two of his sons, Matthew and Thomas! Professor McAlear gave a wonderful, interactive lecture to our girls about the water cycle in Africa. His lecture included an experiment with test tubes he brought for the school (along with a whole suitcase of donated goods). Matthew and Thomas were also put to work in our school library. We cannot thank Professor McAlear and his sons enough for their generous donation of supplies, time, and energy!

Opening Ceremony of our Shining Hope Community Center and Bio-Latrine Center!

We officially opened both our new Shining Hope Community Center and our Bio-Latrine Center this week! The opening ceremony included songs from the students at the Kibera School for Girls, speeches from Kennedy and Jessica, and speeches of gratitude from community members. A Senior Representative from Umande Trust - the organization who built the technology for the Bio-Latrine Center - also spoke. We provided food and drinks, as well as balloons for kids in the neighborhood! It was a truly happy occasion.

The Community Center will house a public library and computer center, is currently where our Community Health Workers are being trained until the JJJ Clinic opens, and has a large multi-purpose room that is already being used for community meetings, celebrations, and the SHOFCO Women’s Empowerment Project (SWEP). We are so excited to see what other creative uses our Community Center will get!

The Bio-Latrine Center houses our beautiful new pit latrines and showers, located adjacent to the Kibera School for Girls. Its technology converts waste into methane gas, which can then be harvested for use. There is also a hand-washing station and a water tank attached to the Bio-Latrine Center. The Bio-Latrine would not exist without the generous support of the Platkin-Teutsch family. We would also like to thank the Newman's Own Foundation for supporting the expansion of this project.

We plan to have clean, filtered water technology as the next step to this project!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Video from Kibera World Cup

Check out our newly released video from Shining Hope's 1st Annual Kibera World Cup, held earlier this summer. To watch, click here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kennedy is in the New York Times today!

Kennedy Odede, our Co-founder and Executive Director, wrote an op-ed "Slumdog Tourism," which was published in the New York Times today (Tuesday, August 10th).

In his article, Kennedy brings to light many of the issues surrounding slum tourism from the residents' perspective -- based on his personal experience. His article provides a unique opportunity to share the largely unheard opinion of people from Kibera, Africa's largest slum, with one of the most widely read newspapers in the United States.

Please join us in celebrating Kennedy's accomplishment by reading his Op-Ed here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Peaceful Voting for Kenya Referendum

We are all very happy to say that the voting this Wednesday was peaceful here in Kenya.

Thank you for your concern!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Referendum Vote Tomorrow, August 4

We are holding all of Kenya in our thoughts tomorrow during the vote for the constitution referendum. We have hope for peaceful, respectful voting nationwide.

For general information about the referendum, Click Here.

We sincerely do not anticipate any problems here in Nairobi or Kibera, and we will update you again after the voting results are released to let you know everything is alright.

Sending love and peace,
Shining Hope for Communities

Friday, July 30, 2010

Progress Report: the Johanna Justin-Jinich Clinic

We are incredibly excited about the progress of the Johanna Justin-Jinich clinic! The first floor of the two-story structure is complete, and workers (many of whom are school dads) will be starting on the second floor next week. The clinic will be outfitted with a friendly waiting room, examining rooms, maternal care, a laboratory and a pharmacy.

The community health worker trainings have been going fantastically. A woman from Kibera, who has been a community health worker in Kibera for over 10 years, leads the sessions, which have covered topics ranging from HIV/AIDS and TB care to the pathology of cancer to maternal and prenatal care of pregnant women. The community health workers will provide a link between the community and the clinic, providing educational outreach, referring people to the clinic, and providing follow-up care. There will also be a specific focus on prenatal health to ensure that women have a safe and reliable place to turn during pregnancy. To learn more about the state of maternal health in Kenya, please read a recent article in The Standard (one of Kenya's national newspapers).

We are also thrilled to announce that we have hired an amazing doctor from Nairobi Women’s Hospital, who specializes in women’s health. Not only has he been helping with the development of the clinic’s programs and services, but he has been leading a few of the community health worker training sessions. We are so excited to have such a committed doctor and his expertise on board!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Research Projects

What do ostriches, pilots, water, and the heart all have in common? They are all topics our students have chosen for their summer independent research projects! Each girl has chosen a subject they will study in-depth throughout the summer, and our wonderful volunteers have been guiding them in the process. For Kindergarten and First Graders, the topics are diverse, thought-provoking, and incredibly cute. Animals are the clear favorite, ranging from lions and elephants to cows and chickens. Many are studying the environment – weather, soil, flowers, and plants. From there the topics get more abstract and zany.

Throughout the summer, students have been exploring their topics in creative and innovative ways. Students interested in pilots have been learning about flight with paper airplanes. Our animal researchers have been studying “Kaka”, the school's new kitten that will be keeping mice away from our school. Our little herbologists have been spending time in our sustainable vegetable garden, learning about the type of plants we grow as part of our feeding program.

These research projects are an essential part of the Kibera School's innovative model. By allowing the girls to explore topics on their own, we cultivate students that take an active role in their own education. Instead of forcing them to memorize requisite facts, we allow them to study what they want, which leads them to ask relevant questions about the world around them and think critically. It's also just incredibly fun!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jessica Wins the 2010 Do Something Award!

Last night Jessica Posner, Shining Hope for Communities Co-Founder and Managing Director, won the 2010 Do Something Award. and VH1 partnered to present The Do Something Awards to honor young people's commitment to social change. The final five nominees and grant recipients were announced Monday, May 24, 2010 during a star-studded event at the Apollo Theater in New York. Each nominee was honored for his or her commitment to social action with a community grant of $10,000. Of these five nominees, Do Something, Inc. selected Jessica as the grand prize winner--she received a $100,000 grant for Shining Hope for Communities during the live VH1 broadcast of the ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium.

Since 1996, has honored the nation's best world-changers, ages 25 and under. The Do Something Award is the premiere national award for social action. Nominees and winners represent the pivotal "do-ers" in their field, cause, or issue.

You can watch her victory here. We couldn't be more proud of Jessica and all of her hard work, but we can't wait to have her back in Kibera with the rest of the team.

Congratulations Jess!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Fire in Kibera

Last week a large fire broke out in Kibera right next to our school. A kerosene lamp fell over in one house, and because of Kibera's incredible density, poor ventilation, and flammable building materials, the fire quickly spread. 18 families lost their homes and all of their worldly possessions in one night. Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire, but the damage was horrific. A whole section of houses that line the path we take everyday to school was suddenly missing, leaving only a large empty field of black ash. Over the course of the week, we've watched as the determined families afflicted have struggled to rebuild their homes and their lives, despite having lost every material possession they own.

Overwhelmed by both the scope of the disaster and the resiliency of the victims, the Kibera School for Girls and SHOFCO decided to help out. George Okewa, our school administrator, and Leah Lucid, our Development Director, spearheaded a 48 hour funding drive. In just two days, we were able to raise over 1,000 dollars in private donations from the United States. With this money we were able to buy mattresses, blankets, cooking/cleaning utensils, and food for all 18 families!

This Monday we had a ceremony in front of the site to distribute the goods to the 18 families. News about the intervention had spread quickly - nearly a hundred people came to support the families and lend a hand. The ceremony was lead by the former counselor Opete, a major community leader, as well as Kennedy and Jessica. As we handed over supplies, Counselor Opete spoke about the power of working together and uniting for a good cause. As he spoke, the semi-permanent structures that serve as homes were already being rebuilt, and with our supplies each family now had a warm place to sleep and enough meals to last them a month.