Let’s “karibu” new tools to beat ESL!

Karibu is the word for Welcome in Kiswahili (do not mistake with Swahili, which refers to a community of people, but not the language) and I “karibu” new learnings, emotions, relationships and memories after my job shadowing experience in Kenya, more precisely in Kisumu, the third most populated city in the country, located in the West and bathed by Victoria Lake (sounds good, right?).

In Kenya, Kiswahili and English coexist in harmony, it is kind of hypnotizing to see how conversations between people go from one language to the other and how they adapt to integrate you in the conversation (I’m not going to lie, this reminded me so much to my two homes, Galicia where I grew up and Catalonia where I am based, and those thoughts made me smile many times, actually a lot). I “karibu” language diversity!

I struggled a lot to decide on what to focus for this text and which topics, experiences and specific projects I would like to share with you, but then I said to myself, why should I choose? Just as my head is a melting pot of emotions, this article can become a melting pot of worth shareable materials! I “karibu” a bit of organized mess!

Early school leaving (ESL) is the main topic of Edu Action 2.0. (the name of the project I was job shadowing for) and obviously the first information I wanted to gather was: what are the main causes for ESL in Kenya? As an answer to that question I could find out that child marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV and poverty were among the main factors that led into ESL. I am sure that you would “karibu” some of the strategies they use to fight ESL. Be patient, I will get into it eventually.

If we look into the germs for ESL in Kenya we can see that they have a bigger impact on the female population, rather than the male population. What a surprise, right? Just to give you some figures; according to the Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey 2014 (KDHS) 43,3% of young girls suffer from child marriages while 1,6% of young boys face the same issue. If we look into teen pregnancy, what do you think the percentage is? Sorry, I don’t have the figures but the answer I got is that most of times when a girl gets pregnant, the boy vanishes with zero responsibilities. Therefore, one girl at a very young age ends up with a baby to provide for, resulting into ESL. I do not “karibu” how unequal societies around the world are.

So what is going on in Kenya to prevent ESL? A LOT! This month we (my co job shadower, Kelly from Estonia, and me) could visit a big range of different projects and initiatives planned by the hosting organization Resource Hub for Development (RHD) more precisely by Reagan (how could I get this far in the article without mentioning him?). I “karibu” Reagan for giving us the warmest “karibu” ever.

We spent most of our time getting to know the work that NIGEE (Nyanza Initiative for Girls’ Education and Empowerment) carries out with young girls in the slums of Kisumu and also in some rural areas of the county. We also had a chance to spend one week in Ujima Foundation which offers skills set training for young orphans and vulnerable youth (mostly girls). As you can see, most of the projects we got involved in were aimed for the girls. And what about the boys? I was wondering, and maybe you are wondering too. Well, I am hopeful that you “karibu” more input on this in the next paragraph.

I think I felt like writing this article today, because for the first time in Kenya I had a chance to interact with a group of young boys. I visited the Kisumu Slum Soccer Kids project which uses football as a tool for teaching soft skills such as teamwork, dealing with pressure or facing stressful situations. This project also involves girls, but I decided to spend my time with the boys to get a new perspective. I have been asking a lot about the work that is being done with the male population in Kenya and as a response I usually got that most of the projects are aimed for the girls as they are the ones facing the biggest challenges. I “karibu” absolute truths.

I heard a lot the expression of “empowering young girls” which I believe is very needed, but what happened with boys? If boys are left out while girls are getting empowered the breach is expanding. I shared these worries with youth workers I met during this month and most of them shared the same concerns. Education needs to start at an early age and it needs to involve everyone. I also find interesting that although most of projects aim to achieve gender equality and to offer equal opportunities I did not hear the word feminism once. This stick in my thoughts for the whole month. I “karibu” a feminist world!

I believe I should finish this article but I could be writing way more. This month here was very useful for me personally and professionally. It gave me a wide perspective on ESL in Kenya and it helped me to understand and compare with my home country. I definitely experienced some amazing good practices that can be replicated everywhere and I am looking forward to it.

“Asante” (Thank you).

Luís, Spain

Job shadowing in Kenya