Grace Wall from Clarksbury United Methodist Church in Harmony, N.C., teaches students at New Hope Education Center how to brush and floss their teeth effectively. The primary school, run by Huruma United Methodist Church, supports orphans and other vulnerable children in the Mathare Valley slums on the eastern side of Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Gad Maiga, UM News.
By Gad Maiga
Feb. 25, 2020 | NAIROBI, Kenya (UM News)
Huruma United Methodist Church’s primary school is providing new hope and opportunities for vulnerable children living in the Mathare Valley slums on the eastern side of Nairobi.
More than half a million households reside in an area that is roughly half a square mile. Children who are not in school through eighth grade often are consumed by a culture of gangs, drugs, prostitution and other criminal activity.
Every year, about 13,000 young girls from Mathare leave school permanently due to pregnancy, according to Kenya’s Centre for the Study of Adolescence.
There are an estimated 70,000 children in the Mathare Valley, with only three to four schools to educate them, according to Collaborative Upgrading Plan research conducted by the University of Nairobi and University of California in 2011.
Since 2016, the church’s New Hope Education Center has been providing educational and psychosocial support to orphans and other vulnerable children.
Gilbert Songoi, New Hope head teacher, said the children and the school face numerous obstacles.
“Having kids attend school is a mammoth task … Most students miss classes due to bad weather and illness, lack of school fees, family reasons and work-related activities.
“Some parents sell their children’s textbooks in order to satisfy their desire for drinking, and others to buy food. Many pupils are orphans and cannot even afford basic items used in school.”
The Rev. Davies Musigo, senior pastor at Huruma United Methodist Church and the coordinator of New Hope Education Center, said the school aims to offer basic education to children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
“Last year, we rescued three street kids.