Imagine a five-year-old child growing up in the slums. Water and sanitation are scarce and so is access to educational and health facilities. From an early age, the child is deprived of many opportunities that would have shaped their destiny. According to UNICEF’s 2012 report on the state of urban children, children living in urban slums are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world.
Now, imagine an organization established for the very purpose of filling the gap and providing some of these services that child was unable to access. One such organization is the Slums Information Development and Resource Centers (SIDAREC), winner of the 2009 ONE Africa Award. The ONE Africa Award recognizes African organizations such as SIDAREC that are taking great strides in addressing poverty in its various forms across Africa.
Founded in 1997 by a group of young people from the slums of Kenya, SIDAREC focuses on uplifting the standard of living of the youth in Kenya’s informal communities by tapping into their skills and talents. SIDAREC uses innovative approaches including the use of drama, art and Ghetto 99.9 FM radio to reach residents with development-oriented information. Currently, SIDAREC operates three centers in the targeted slum areas in Mukuru kwa Njenga, Kibera and Majengo-Pumwani. They manage 5 key programs namely Community Media, Libraries and ICT, Early Childhood Education (ECD), Reproductive Health and Sexuality, Women and Girls Rights and Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship.
ONE Africa Award changing lives in the slums
When SIDAREC won the ONE Africa Award, they had one ECD centre running. The Award received helped establish a second centre at Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums – an area where SIDAREC had been running an HIV intervention program in partnership with the University of Nairobi Research Team. The ONE Africa Award enabled SIDAREC to set up temporary learning structures, buy books, and other learning materials, tables, and chairs. The Award helped them recruit ECD teachers and sustain their monthly pay for two years, set-up a kitchen and maintain a feeding program that has helped sustain children at school in a safe environment. They were also able to recruit cooks among the parents of existing learners who were paid a monthly stipend.
Through the ONE Africa Award funds, a SIDAREC education strategic plan was developed which led to the launch of a primary school that saw the first recruits starting work in January 2015. The idea of a primary school was necessitated by the realization that after ECD many children never went beyond this stage as the only government primary was over enrolled. Topline School currently has grades 1 to 3 pupils moving forward in coming years.
“Our mission to keep children out of the streets would have been futile if we did not follow them up after early learning to ensure they continued with education hence the need to have our own primary school,” said Lucy Mathai SIDAREC Project Director.
The Award enabled SIDAREC to recruit and pay qualified caregivers as well as develop an ECD learning curriculum in line with the national education standard. The funds enabled SIDAREC to employ an education consultant who helped the organization develop a child-protection policy document.
Through the ONE Africa Award many youth below 25 years, were trained in information communication and technology, which included basic computer interface that allowed them to interact with the system to discover opportunities. To achieve any MDG requires a consultative effort that includes all key stakeholders. Through the program, educative forums for parents and guardians of both children and youth were held in succession. They were trained on children’s rights, child-care and support, hygiene and nutrition.
The ONE Africa Award funds enabled the initiation of a loaning scheme for mothers where they received a start-up capital to start a small business to enable them feed, clothe and meet other basic needs for their children. This initiative has developed into a now popular- Mashinani Social Enterprise Program (MSEP), which we are currently searching for partners to inject more capital in order to grow it further.
Do you know of an organization that is doing great work to address poverty in their community? Invite them to apply by following this 2015 ONE Africa Award link.
Deadline is August 28, 2015.