The loss of a loved one is one of the greatest challenges that people face. No matter if we hail from Botswana or the Bronx, the angst of losing someone close to us can be overwhelming. Kenyan women who lose their husbands find that these challenges are further compounded by the daily struggle of making sure their children are fed, clothed and safe.
Orphaned children have their own challenges to contend with, and their survival is often related to fitting in with their peers.
As is true with most schools in Africa, Kenyan parents are required to provide their children with a school uniform. For single parents, this need often goes unmet as the cost is too much for their meager family budget.
This past year, Orphan’s Promise partnered with EC to provide orphaned students at the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya with brand new uniforms. In this blog, William Aludo, EC’s Kenya Program Coordinator provides us with insight into the identity of an orphaned child. He also writes about the positive impact that something as simple as a school uniform can have for these children who don’t want to be any different than their classmates.
Widows in Kenya face several challenges. One of the major challenges confronting them is the economic burden of providing for their orphaned children. Like all children, these orphans have need of food, shelter and clothing. Apart from “home clothing”, school-agers need a school uniform.
At Miruya Primary School in western Kenya, the full uniform includes shoes, socks and a sweater. In this poor rural community, it is common to find orphaned children going to school in their home clothing. This has been the case for several orphans in this community. Because their widowed mothers and guardians cannot afford the school uniforms, they have to attend school barefooted and in their home clothing, which are often in tatters. During the rainy season when it’s very cold, these children have no sweaters to keep themselves warm.
It is easy to spot orphaned children in a class or at school assemblies because they stand out. From observation, it is apparent that they are conscious of being the odd-ones out. Their appearance affects their self-esteem and willingness to socialize freely with the other children. Sometimes their demeanor seems to exhibit unintentional aloofness. This in turn affects their learning and participation in class. There is a definite stigma attached to their status as orphans. Everything about them says that they don’t belong.
Consequently, these orphaned students are found to register a high rate of absenteeism and often drop out of school. If an intervention is not found early enough, the eventual result is that they become members of the Miruya community who might not attain their full potential in life. This in turn, leads to a perpetuation of poverty in that community.
Today I thank God for the partnership between the Orphan’s Promise and Everyone’s Child. The funding that came from this partnership has provided full school uniforms for 25 orphans at Miruya Primary School. Vincent, Clinton, Felix, Sheryl and Bonvicar (shown above) were blessed to be the first five children to benefit from this kindness. Now instead of standing out, these children stand in school with their classmates and are proud to be identified as school children. This solution is helping to keep them in school with beautiful smiles on their faces!
If you would like to contribute to our ongoing effort to put smiles on children’s faces, please visit Everyone’s Child to make a secure donation today.