11 January 2024

A meeting with Joab on socio-educational projects in Kenya

A year and a half after our last meeting, it was very exciting to host Joab Omoto again. He is our contact person in Kenya for distance support and for the project dedicated to the training of underage mothers in Mathare

The time we spent together was an important opportunity for discussion and exchange open to all the donors who make these projects possible.

Joab recalled that the socio-educational distance support project was born in 2006, when Valter Baldaccini, during one of his trips to Kenya, was struck by the many boys and girls who spent the whole day on the streets. He approached one of the mothers and asked her why her children were not in school, and she replied that she did not have the money to send them there. From there Valter Baldaccini, aware that education is the only possible way to change the lives of those who find themselves most in difficulty, started the project which in recent years has already allowed over 100 boys and girls to receive education.

In 2024, 36 boys and girls will attend school thanks to the donors of the Valter Baldaccini Foundation. The donations allow us to pay for the school fees, uniforms, textbooks, and food for these students.

Joab told us that the Mathare slum is currently being transformed. Wealthy Nairobians are buying up much of the land occupied by the slum dwellers and the most tangible consequence is that now more people are concentrated in less available space: Mathare is overcrowded.

Faced with this situation, Joab and his collaborators are encouraging those who can do so to leave the slums. They suggest moving to countryside villages, where the cost of living is lower, job opportunities are greater and where there is access to water. There are also no problems with insecurity, crime, addiction, and prostitution.

For many of the boys and girls involved in the project, remaining in the slum is not safe and this negatively affects both their learning and academic performance. The best path for them is to relocate to neighboring villages or enter a boarding school, where they spend the entire school year.

The group of the young mothers involved in the project, which will celebrate its fourth anniversary this year, also fits into this complex scenario. The mothers of Mathare are girls in their early teens who became mothers following difficult situations, such as forced prostitution, experiences of violence or deception linked to false marital promises. The project aims to offer them a new perspective on life through training and support. For a year, three times a week, fifteen girls meet and receive psychological help, shopping opportunities and they attend a craft workshop to produce local artefacts.

Many times, the path of all these boys and girls is arduous. There are failures, but there are also many beautiful stories, like that of Simon, who one of our donors accompanied throughout his tortuous school journey. At the end of primary school, which lasts eight years in Kenya, Simon attended a course to become a mechanic. When he started working he realized that it wasn't his path and he committed himself to learning how to repair car electronics. Today, Simon runs a small garage where he works with two employees and where he also passes on his skills in the trade to others.

It seems like just a small drop, but thanks to education this boy's life was saved. And what's more beautiful than this?
 

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