Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Programs Making a Difference for Kids in Africa

Last but not least for 2012, my family and I on Sunday visited Kibera, the largest slum in Africa (and 2ndlargest in the world after one in Mumbai), in which as many as 1.5 million people are jammed in squalor. We saw two wonderful programs that are giving hope to and making a difference for kids there, Shining Hope for Communities and Children of Kibera Foundation.

Shining Hope runs a variety of programs: health clinics, a library, computer training, clean latrines, safe water, but the best part for me was The Kibera School for Girls (see top two pictures in the collage above), which is growing to 140 girls in grades K-4 this year (from 100), giving them a great education. Below are two articles about Shining Hope by Nick Kristof as well as an ABC News segment. Jessica Posner, who just married Kennedy Odede in June, is in the top right and bottom left pictures. Email Kennedy and Jessica’s emails are: and

Here’s an excerpt from Kristof’s first column about Jessica and Kennedy Odede:

In a Mother's Day column in the spring, I suggested that readers commemorate the day not only with flowers but also with a donation to lift up women around the world. Readers showered one group that I mentioned, Mothers' Day Movement, with more than $135,000 that was forwarded to a slum empowerment group in Kenya.

Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, with some of the beneficiaries of their programs.
So while in Kenya recently, I dropped by to see what was being done with your money. In the grim alleys of the Kibera slum in the capital, Nairobi, I found a dazzling girls’ school being built with some of those donations — and, yes, I found a love story.
The saga begins with a young man named Kennedy Odede who grew up in the slum. He never received a formal education and lived homeless on the streets after the age of 10, but he was exceptionally bright and taught himself to read.

In the lower right picture is us with Ken Okoth, the founder of Children of Kibera. Here’s a friend’s description of him and CoK:

CoK is doing amazing work with young people in the slums.  They not only have a school, but an inspiring media and technology program with young people. 

Ken grew up in Kibera and received a scholarship to St. Lawrence University. SLU has been giving two students from Kenya a full ride every year since 1974 when they founded their Kenya Semester Program, now the longest running undergraduate semester program in Africa (I am an alum). 

Ken is also running for Parliament.  I recently visited with Ken with a small group in September and he gave an incredible talk about his hopes and plans for Kibera.  While the problems in Kibera are massive, Ken has a sense of purpose and enthusiasm that is inspiring.  My group was very impressed with Ken and our visit to his school and the program at Children of Kibera. 

If you are interested, I can do an email introduction, or you can just email him and mention my name.  Here is his campaign page: and here is his email:

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