Home visits with our Shining Scholars!

Home visits with our Shining Scholars and Shining Scholar applicants are important to us and Michelle is making her rounds again this month. Home visits provide us a chance to spend one on one time with the Scholar and her family getting to know them even better. It also lets us continue to build that partnership with the family. It is extremely valuable time with the Scholar and her family and we appreciate each of the families that receive us!

Let’s follow Michelle! Ready? Are you wearing your walking shoes?

Michelle started out in the mid- morning for the home visits and made sure to put on her rain/mud boots since it had been raining recently. In Kibera, the narrow walkways are dirt so when it rains, it turns to mud pretty quickly. Even though the sun was shining yesterday, the ground was still wet in some areas making the terrain a challenge. In case you were wondering, getting through Kibera is done on foot for home visits since the walkways are way too narrow and steep for a motorbike. The only time a motorbike is used is on the outskirt larger paths and roads that behave like a “beltline” around the community, but otherwise while deep into Kibera, we are on foot. One other thing to note….. doing home visits is without an actual map or GPS. In this community, the homes do not have addresses of record, no numbers on the walls or doors, there are no mail boxes with numbers on them, no street or pathway names.

Wondering how we do it? Michelle grew up in Kibera so she knows her way around extremely well, but we have also been in the community learning our way around since 2013. Kibera is divided into sections so we know where each section is and make our way there first. Once in the correct section or area, we find our way to where our Scholar lives. After we have been there once, we know the way and can incorporate it into the ground map we keep in our mind. That is not all though! We also use a program to enter the point at each location for ourselves which is helpful in our planning. These push pins allow us to see where our Scholars are in relation to one another so we can then make best use of our time for rounds of home visits in the different sections. We can map out which Scholars we will see on a certain day making sure to group those who live nearest to one another.

Our first stop was to visit with Josephine and her Mum. The walk that Josephine makes to school and our Girls Empowerment is about 40 minutes one way through Kibera. Taking this walk to and from Josephine’s also let’s us better understand what she encounters along the way. For Josephine, she has to cross the river to get to school and our program, but the only real bridge over it is on the clear other side of Kibera far from where she lives. So, Josephine hops the rocks that are available or hops through the low points of the water. When it rains and that river rises, it is impossible to cross sometimes. So, let’s join Michelle as she uses those rocks.

We made it! But… did you see those? Those hoses sticking out? Those hoses are water hoses that bring in water from where the City of Nairobi stops service. “Water partners” are responsible for these hoses that bring in the water and they have filling stations on the outskirts where the hoses lead to. When we say “water partners” we mean groups of business men who often vie to be the top seller of water, sometimes even making efforts to wreck one another’s water lines. When the lines get sliced in such an effort, the river water and other contaminants can enter the hoses and it makes for unclean water at the other end. Clean water is certainly a hot commodity at times. Parents often send their children early in the morning before going to school, they line up with their jerry cans to fill with water to carry back home. Those canisters are quite heavy when filled! To fill a bucket, it is about 5 to 10 shillings (5 to 10 cents) There is no running water in the homes unless you have your own barrel.

After an uphill trek, Michelle reached Josephine and her family where she spent some quality time talking about the different programs we have available and how the Shining Scholar Sponsorship works. Josephine lives with her Mum and to help meet the needs for her family, Mum makes and sells fried potatoes (you might call them “French fries”). She makes some of the best in town too so if you are passing by, make sure to buy from Mamma Josephine! Josephine applied to be a Shining Scholar last month so she can remain in school. The amazing news is that someone stepped forward to be her sponsor this week and going into the new school year in January, she will be sponsored in school! What is most interesting is that her education sponsors have quite the experience in the food industry in their home country and felt connected with Mum and her hard work! More to come on that later!

Michelle (second from left) continued through Kibera and we also spent time with Irene, her Mum and siblings! Irene was at home with Mum and her siblings getting ready to light up their jiko (stove) to cook lunch for her family. They do the cooking outside on the side of their home here. She lights the fire and places a pot over it. There is only room for one pot at a time, but when it is finished, its quite good! Mamma Irene is really good with cooking and it is something you don't want to miss! Irene likes to help her Mum as much as she can, but Mum makes sure her studies come first. Mum’s partnership in this is key!

Michelle then made her way over to visit with Elizabeth and her Auntie to finish up our visits for the day. Three may not sound like a lot but the walk through Kibera takes a bit of time and we like to make sure our time with each family is well spent. We would like to thank Mamma Josephine, Mamma Irene and Auntie Elizabeth for receiving us for a visit! We look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Fun fact: Did you know that when referring to the parent of the children, it is Mamma _(child’s name)_? We do still make sure to use our westernized Mrs. or Mr. _last name _ in our work, but we also use what the locals use!

(In the hallway where Elizabeth lives! So colorful and pretty!)