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: