A Letter From An Intern In The Field

Insights from intern, Christine Stenton, after her time with Village of Love:

Christine(far right) plans with Village of Love volunteers how she will spend her time during her week long stay.

“For the past 5 months I have been living and working in Uganda as a Grassroots Capacity Building and Impact intern for the Canadian African Partnership Network and its partner CAP/AIDS Uganda. Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, and spend a week working with Kijiji Cha Upendo – a community-based organization and partner to the CAP Network that is located in the informal settlement of Kibera.

“I’ve seen first-hand how Kijiji Cha Upendo’s commitment to households of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) has a positive impact not only on the caregivers and children they support, but also the Kibera community at large.

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"They have given me a voice"

“They have given me a voice, and sure I will use it to bring change in my community.”  Tracy Khakali expresses her deep gratitude for how Kijiji Cha Upendo has opened doors for her. Now about to enter her third year of accountancy studies, Tracy would never have imagined such an opportunity could be hers.

Fifth born in a family of seven children, she was brought up by her late single mother from the age of seven.  “It was a very long journey, fraught with difficulties” she says. Her mother, a vegetable vendor, struggled very hard to make ends meet.  She would wake up very early in the morning to go to the wholesale market to buy goods to sell. She would task one of their elder brothers or sisters to prepare them for school, that is, if school fees were available. More often than not they could not attend school for lack of fees or school supplies. 

Tracy was always an excellent student, however.  At the end of primary school, in the national exams, she attained good enough grades to admit her to one of the best provincial schools, but unfortunately, she did not have the school fees.  For two years Tracy stayed home as her mother struggled to raise money for her fees.

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Volunteer reports back after visit to Village of Love

Sarh Foster, Village of Love Canda volunteer, with Leonora Obara, Project Officer for kijiji Cha upendo (Village of Love) in Kibera.My trip to Kibera was a great learning experience for me. For the past year, I have been volunteering in Toronto, Canada, for a group called Village of Love Canada ( whose purpose is to raise funds for a grassroots NGO in Kibera, called Kijiji Cha Upendo (Village of Love, in Swahili).

Kibera is located in Nairobi, Kenya, and is the largest urban slum in all of Africa. Sadly, within Kibera there are roughly 20,000 orphans trying to survive and get by. Many families and widows take in orphans so they aren’t left alone to live in the streets, turning to crime and prostitution.

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"Tiny Project, Big Impact!"

Yasmin (left) and Fatima in high spirits as Village of Love volunteers visit them to take a picture marking this watershed moment in Yasmin’s life. Tiny project, big impact.” These are Andrew’ words as he proudly relates the latest accomplishments of children in the Village of Love.

It seems the exam results have now come back for six children, who have been waiting anxiously to learn whether they will be admitted to High School. The answer is in the affirmative. Andrew is especially proud of two children.

Josephine Namayi Auma, daughter of Eunice Nambusi, achieved the highest marks and has been admitted to a prestigious Girls High School through a SHOFCO scholarship. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for a child whose mother, just a few years ago, was struggling to keep her children in school.

Andrew is also celebrating Yasmin’s results, albeit the lowest mark. Coming from a nomadic community where school attendance was not valued, she was initially diffident about attending school. Now, however, she is actually embarking on a high school education, and deliriously happy to have the opportunity, both to study and to be at the same school as her sister, Fatima!

Every achievement of these youngsters not only sets their feet on a path to a better life, but it also provides a role model for younger children in the community. They see that it is possible to succeed, and they try harder to emulate this success.

Andrew writes, “We derive lots of satisfaction from such exemplary occurrences… Happy girls they are…..very happy to be in school - and in one school for that matter. Tiny project Big Impact! Please allow me to blow our trumpet once!”

Well done, Andrew! Well done, Village of Love! And well done, Yasmin, Josephine and all the others who are working so hard to achieve a better life.