Thursday, January 24, 2008

Strife in Kenya : An Update from Red Rose Teachers - Jan 24, 2008

The teachers at Red Rose wanted to share the following letters to update their friends and supporters about the situation in Kenya and the impacts of the conflict on the school at the beginning of a new school year. On Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th, there were a total of 35 kids back at Red Rose, including 23 orphans on sponsorship. Many families are still displaced, unable to come back with the difficult transportation siuation, or in hiding until they feel things are safe again. Two of the twins who we were sponsoring last year lost their mom, and are in the care of their uncle in another part of Nairobi. We hope they can find someone in Kibera to take care of them so they can continue at Red Rose. -- Ken

Dear Friends,
Happy New Year. It is my hope that the year started very well, hoping that you are going on very well in your daily activities. It was fine also to us here in Kenya despite of the chaos, which happened during the general election.

Most of our school children together with their parents were affected. Due to the burning and looting of the houses, many children and parents were displaced and feared death and became refugees in the near by Agricultural Show Grounds at Jmahuri Park. Some of them have not come back to the school to date.

The school was opened on 14th January with only 15 pupils. That was actually a fair turnout according to the situation here in Kibera. By the 21st of January the number of children coming to school increased to 25 pupils. The more peace returns to the community, the more the number of children we get everyday. It is my prayer that we get peace in Kenya so that things return to normal.

As the nursery class teacher, so far only four children have been able to come back to my class. This is because when the chaos began some of them went up-country and others were displaced. It is my wish that you do not forget us at this time and continue to support us the way you did last year. The teachers, the school and the children, we are all very thankful for your help and we are hoping for blessings from God.
Thank you,
Teacher Musau.

Below is a picture of Teacher Musau and some of the pupils from the nursery class.

Dear Friends and Sponsors, Happy New Year!

I thank the Almighty God for enabling us to see the New Year. The violence that has rocked the country since the December 27th 2007 general elections has left us counting losses and blessings. Many houses in Kibera were burnt down and I was not lucky because my house was broken into and most valuables taken while I was away at my rural home. I am currently putting up with my cousin just until I recover then I can fix myself up.

We could not reopen the school as planned on 7th January 2008 due to the chaos and ongoing violence, but at least we were able to open on the 14th January 2008. We had a very low turnout of pupils since most parents and families still felt that the political unrest in the country puts the children’s security at risk. Some families were displaced and have to rely on relief food until they find a new place to stay. Some parents and families who could opted to take their children back to their rural homes away from this mayhem.

For now class two has 6 pupils already returned out of the 11 that were in class one last year. I am quite unsure of the 5 pupils including 2 orphans who have not turned up yet. At the moment learning has began to take root though finishing this terms work as required by the syllabus might be impossible because of the on and off trend caused by political mass action demonstrations that are called by politicians almost every week.

My request to you this year is that please try your best to help Red Rose and continue contributing so as to be able to keep the school running well. This has been a very difficult month. Due to the violence, we often have to spend the whole day in the house. Life has become very expensive in Kibera after a majority of the shops were looted and burnt down.

Our sponsors, I am very grateful for the great work you are doing to uplift the standards of learning and living of the pupils and teachers respectively. May God bless you.

Thank you Very much
Teacher Rose Nancy Mureka
Below is a picture of teacher Rose with the students from Class Two.

Dear Friends of Red Rose -

Happy New Year to you from class one pupils.

So far, 7 children have reported (6 boys and 1 girls), 2 girls have not yet reported due to displacement. The pupils who have reported are beginning the introduction to each subject in our curriculum. I have moved up one class with the children from last year’s preunit to class one.

I am not settled emotionally because of what I experienced after last year’s election. My neighborhood is one of the areas that was the worst affected in the post election clashes, and we lost many things such as our TV, DVD player, and radio when the house was looted. Through the will of God, I pray that I will get others.

Though there is still some tension in Kibera, learning is going on at Red Rose. Please pray for us always. God bless you always
Thank you.
Sofia Mukatia.
Below is a picture of Teacher Sofia in her class

Dear friends, sponsors, donors:
Happy New Year from the baby class children and teacher. I hope you are doing well. We had a very nice December holiday, but after the election life changed for worse due to the chaos which are still ongoing. We thank God because we are still alive. When we reopened this term our children’s turnout was very poor, we had only 15 children last week. We found out most of them were displaced and are just reporting back slowly.

During the elections, I had gone upcountry and when I came back I found my house was looted so life has become very difficult. I was forced to move to another house where there is security at least and the rent there is very expensive the economy has changed very abruptly so life is not all that cheap. We pray to God to keep on taking care of us and the children at Red Rose.

May God bless you
Teacher Salome.

Below is a picture of Teacher Salome with her pupils. Dear Sponsors and Friends,
I hope you had a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Even though it was chaos here, we are really glad and thank God for the life we have still even after seeing all that has happened around me. We opened school on the 14th January with a poor turn out of pupils. This was because some families’ houses had been burnt to the ground, others looted and others had to move out of Kibera because of fear.

Most children here who are present to this date (23rd January) are newcomers who were looking for the chance to at least start getting an education and found that chance at Red Rose. Very many of our old pupils are either in refugee camps awaiting aid, as most have no homes. Some have been moved upcountry by family and relatives to start a new life away from the hardship in Kibera.

Those parents whose livelihoods came from buying and selling foodstuffs, cloths, shoes etc are now without these self-employed jobs as the largest market (Toi Market) in Kibera was burnt down and these goods stolen. As much as we pray and believe that everything will go back to normal, we still have our own doubts. What is certain is that this term the education of these children plus many more will be disrupted. We are going to do our best at Red Rose to help the children and try to get them back on their feet.

Lastly I take this humble opportunity to say thank you once again for the endless efforts you have been putting on behalf og this school and I pray God may grant you more in return. God bless you all!
Teacher Sylvia
Baby Class.

Below is Teacher Sylvia with Triza Chebet, one of the new pupils sponsored at Red Rose through the Children of Kibera Foundation .

Dear Friends,
Greetings in the name of the Almighty God. We are fine and doing well. We opened the school on the 14th January 2008, although most of the children are really affected by what happened in Kenya.

In the pre-unit class, we have 10 children and expect a few more. Some children not come back yet because their houses were looted and burnt. Anyway we are happy because we are all alive and nobody was shot by the police or died in the fighting. On the most part, learning has picked up as normal as possible. As a class teacher for the pre-unit, I am really doing a lot of counseling for the children whose houses were burnt. Because their minds are not settled they are remembering what happened and how their houses were burnt. It is really bad.

It is not only the children who were affected, even the teachers were because we all stay in Kibera. The life I am living is not good. I was forced to move from where I was staying to a secure place. House rent has been doubled. The prices of basic commodities have been hiked. Getting food is a problem. Please continue to support and pray for us.
May God bless you,
Teacher Emily Mudavadi
Below is Teacher Emily in her class.

Dear Friends,
Following the announcing of the presidential results on 30th December last year, I have carried out an investigation on how the election crisis affected the lives of children, women and the community staying around here. Here is what I found out in the last three weeks.

To begin with, many children were really affected especially those who were staying in kibera. Many houses were burnt down and it forced the children to flee away with the parents to look for their safety. For example at Red Rose, there are some pupils who have not yet reported to school due to the fact they do not have a place to settle as their homes were completely burnt down. Most of the parents are camping with their children at Jamhuri Show Ground for fear of being attacked again by the gangs of young men involved in most of the violence.

Secondly, there was high rate of looting. According to the investigation that I carried out, I found that most of the families were left with nothing following the looting of their properties with the demonstrators who were opposing the outcome of the election results. Toi Market, where Red Rose mainly relied on for buying vegetables and other kinds of food was completely burnt down so it is very difficult to access to other markets that are selling vegetables which are very far from the school.

In addition to that, due to insecurity reasons most of the children at Red Rose are still escorted by their parents to school. This is due to the fact that most of them cannot afford to pay a fee for a private school van that takes little children to different schools in some parts of Kibera. I would appeal to the government to ensure that security is restored back to order so that all children can come back to school without any fear. I would also wish to appeal to sponsors if possible they can help the pupils who were seriously affected during the election violence so that they resume back to their normal life.

Charles O. Omondi
Class Four Teacher.
Below is Teacher Charles

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Strife in Kenya - January 2008 Update

Dear Friends -
So far, it has not been a happy new year in Kibera. The communities surrounding the Red Rose School and where many of our children, their guardians, and families live have been the epicentre of some of the worst violence currently rocking Kenya.

For an update on the situation in Kibera and at Red Rose, please listen to this interview we had on NPR on January 3rd. The story also has a link to a blog entry and a haunting gallery of photos by children in Kibera.

We also were on the WUSA New Channel 9 TV Station Thursday night. It's a good report you can read and watch the video clip on the top right hand side of the page.

The Children of Kibera Foundation is a registered non-profit organization in Washington DC which has taken on Red Rose as its main project. If you would like to join our efforts to continue helping the Red Rose School or other children in Kibera, please do not hesitate to contact us by email -- childrenofkibera [AT] . Contributions to support our efforts can be sent by check to
"Children of Kibera Foundation"
4701 Alton Place, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Since 2006, many friends of Red Rose have taken care of 90 orphans and vulnerable children in Kibera. Your generosity and support has been transformative for the children and their teachers. Although the violence destroys the community today, we can support the next phase of healing, reconciliation, and rebuilding in Kibera. We know we are going to be called upon to once again step up in love and charity, to give of our time, skills, and resources to spread awareness about the beautiful children of Kibera. We need all your support in order to take care of as many of Kibera's children as we can by providing them a school environment where they can learn, eat, sing, play, make art, dance, make friends, dream big dreams, and simply be kids like kids anywhere else in the world. Even the simplest of gifts will help us to make an extraordinary difference -- click here to see a fact sheet about the impact donations of all sizes can make in Kibera.

Pray for peace in Kenya. Keep the children of Kibera in your thoughts, and please join us in helping take action to improve their lives.

Ken Okoth