Imagine waking up to a bone-shattering cold at 5 o’clock am with no breakfast to warm you up. Next, you proceed to perform various chores—under the moonlight—ranging from fetching water, washing dishes, and preparing your siblings, if any, for school. You have the same routine five out of seven days every week for the 37-week academic year. Such is the life for many students who hail from Gombe Village in Siaya County, Kenya. Most families in this area are poverty stricken and the children face a myriad of challenges that may impede their efforts as they try to get quality and life-changing education. As they grow up it typically does not get any easier, as the challenges only intensify, along with the curveballs of adolescence and eventually the dawn of adulthood and parenthood. This has unfortunately become a vicious cycle that ends up consuming the dreams of even the most brilliant of individuals.
Fortunately, there is hope—at least for the residents of Gombe Village. A project by one Solomon Juma, aka TK, and Mr. Daniel Ochieng’ Oduor, aims at restoring hope for this village and its surroundings. Juma is an enthusiastic young man, brought up by a single mother in the slum of Kibera, who has made a name for himself as an entrepreneur and as an underground gospel artist. He has also ministered to children and completed outreach programs since 2012.
Oduor has had a desire to work with children since his own childhood. This dream culminated when he lost his father in 1997 just as he was about to finish his secondary education, then two years later losing his mother. Being the eldest son among six siblings, most of the responsibility fell on him. During his current pursuit as a teacher, he has taught in two schools in Kibera, both working in support of orphans. He has had the opportunity to work closely with children’s programs for the past sixteen years. He coordinates networking services for his school with organizations such as Daraja, World Reader, and Polycom.
Goshen Kids Center is the brainchild of the two individuals above. Though called a kids center, the project offers more than a rescue for Kenyan children. The kids center supports orphans and children from poor backgrounds. They have a vision that involves building a school that will provide quality education to the less fortunate from Gombe and environs by providing education at a minimal cost and with the help of well-wishers and friends. They also have a girls’ mentorship program in which they seek to illuminate the path of young girls through mentorship from peers and other important stakeholders. This program seeks to restore the hopes of girls who may have been diverted from the road to success due to pregnancy. Mostly, they give up on their dreams and cease to pursue their interests. Through this program the partners seek to help young women achieve their goals after childbirth.
They also plan on having a women’s empowerment program in which they will impart skills on the mothers and women in the community so as to help increase their income and improve their livelihood. So far, they have done community entry through two missions in which they interacted and became part of the community to help understand their motivations. Thus far, the community has been welcoming and they are willing to take part in the project. They are important especially because they provide benefits such as social security for the project. They will provide project ambassadors and they will be volunteers when manual labor is needed. The network within the village will also be helpful in identification of who the real beneficiaries of the project should be.
By: Lisa Oloo
Lisa Oloo is a writer who loves to live life and experience hope in its purest form. She thrives in having the voice of Africa heard and is a champion for positivity. She writes with the objective of reaching out to the masses and inspiring change in the world.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Oloo.