Mathare Youth Talented Organization

Subtitle

The school and church in Nyironge

With the closest school from the community a good hour-walk away and parents often struggling so much financially that they cannot afford school fees, there was a great need for a place that could allow children of the area to be educated. This is what led Ben to start this project. His family gave him his support: his grandfather donated a big piece of land and his uncle financial support. This is what made possible the construction of the church, which officiates every Sunday morning and becomes the classroom for pre-school during the week. Classes 1, 2 and 3 study outside, under a temporary shed. A toilet was also built recently, for the church and the school.


When the project was still at its inception, Ben met Pastor Joshua Uhuru through a family member. The two men quickly realised they had the same vision and passion to help the community, and Joshua agreed to be a volunteer teacher at the school. Joshua then met Pastor Samuel Kibore, who had been called to work in Bondo, and Samuel is now teaching as well and officiating with Joshua on Sundays.


This year the two pastors also started a group to help widows in the community. Adding to the grief of their husbands, those women face severe financial challenges and have to support their children alone. 


We are working to make this initiative grow: we are trying to get subsequent funding to build a proper school that would welcome pupils up to class 8, be a boarding school that could welcome orphans from the slums, and have a farming section to make the school self-sufficient as well as teach children and people from the community to grow fruits and vegetables and rear cattle. We also have hopes that this school could be a learning centre for the whole community in the long term. 



Key people involved with the project

Joshua Uhuru: Pastor, head teacher and the school, and his wife Alice

Joshua and Alice are Luhyas (the region is in its majority populated by Luos) from Western Kenya, a town called Vihiga. They got married in 1989 and moved to where they live now in 2000. They met in Nairobi through a friend, at that time Alice was staying with her sister. Joshua was taking care of someone's property, and passionate about gardening and farming, he planted trees, flowers, fruits and vegetables... The owner was so satisfied with the job that he offered the land they now built their house on. On this land they grow many fruits and vegetables that Alice sells in the market. 

Joshua met Ben through his cousin who asked him for a hand when building his house, and he decided to help the project: first as a pastor for the church, and he now teaches there, CRE and Kiswahili. Alice helps a lot as well, trying to provide learning materials, spending time with the children and cleaning the premises. They are both very committed to that work and pray every day that it will grow.

 

Samuel Kibore: Pastor and teacher

Samuel is from the Kisii area. He was called to be a pastor in Bondo two years ago. Before that, he worked for the government for two years, as an editing clerk with the Ministry of Finance and Planning in Nairobi, but his job was terminated.

In Bondo he met Joshua, who was looking for someone to help him with the church, as it is easier with two pastors rather than one. Samuel decided to teach at the school as well, as he has that passion and incredible level of dedication. Being a volunteer is not easy though, he struggles to make hands meet and food is sometimes a challenge. But he is happy to make that commitment and has great confidence in this school and community's future. 

 

Joshua Minyama Nyironge: Lab technician at the hospital in Sirare, supporter of the school

Joshua is Ben's uncle, and has always been on his side and supporting him with his community work. When Ben came with this idea of doing something for the village, Joshua also fully supported him, and has since contributed in many ways. He contributed financially to building the church: he paid the surveyors before building and chipped in during the building process. He gives a lot of his time to the school: he helped build the outside classroom and spends some time there, teaching when someone is missing for example. He often brings medicine, drugs for non serious cases and provides care to children that are not seriously sick. 

Joshua has 11 children. He has that drive to help his family and community. He has that long-term vision and will remain involved with this project as long as it lives. 

 

Widows group

Joshua and his wife have started a group with widows in the area to try to help them going through the various challenges they meet, often serious. 

Jane Atieno Opande

Jane lost her husband a few years ago, who used to be a teacher. She has 9 children and the three youngest children now go to the school. She is struggling to feed them and herself, her diet is anything but balanced. She tries to a bit of farming and has some chickens, but she sells everything she produces to buy the simplest things such as flour to cook or soap. She cannot afford the school fees for her children, nor does anyone even has a blanket in the house. Jane is also HIV positive, she receives the treatment but you need a balanced diet to handle it. 

Jane has been growing tobacco for some years, which used to be a good cash crop. It is a very hard job, that is now paying less and less, as the tobacco company is planning to leave the area. This is hard to handle for many farmers in the community, as the production of almost everything else has been wiped out and many people completely switched to tobacco. They now have to readapt to a new situation, which is extremely difficult without money to invest or training on how to do something else. 

 

Monica Adhiambo

Monica is a member of the church and four of her seven children go to the school. Her husband used to provide for the family, now that he passed away she has to find ways to feed, clothe and pay for medication for her children. They all sleep in the same small room, on the floor, and the house is too small for this family. Monica once tried to make a living in town, working casual jobs, but it was too hard. Now she does a bit of farming and survives on that.

 

 

 

Joyce Aouma Okumu

Joyce's husband passed away in 2001. She has four children, the oldest is 15 and the youngest only two weeks old. Her kids go to school. She does farming on a small scale: she grows maize, beans, skumawiki. She is struggling to dig her land without cows, she needs four but doesn't even have one. So she just does it manually, which is a very hard job. She wants to start a business selling items from Nairobi such as plates, cups and other things that are not found in Migori, but she cannot afford the first investment.

Joyce misses her husband a lot, they were enjoying life together, and he was helping out.

One of her daughters is in standard 8 and she is worried about the school fees next year to go to secondary school.