Songa Mbele na Masomo Centre is a rehabilitation centre located in the slums of Mukuru Kabaya in South B, Nairobi. This school serves two groups of children, aged between 4 and 13:
(i) special needs children from the surrounding slums
(ii) drop outs
The presence of the school is highly crucial to that area, as without it, the special needs kids would likely remain ‘locked’ in the house all day as their parents go to work, while the drop outs (majority of whom are in this situation due to lower literacy levels compared to their peers) would most likely engage in undesirable activities for lack of anything to do; not only that, they wouldn’t have a hope of getting reinstated in the formal education system.
As such, Songa Mbele na Masomo Centre addresses these two issues very well in that:
(i) It provides a safe space where the parents of special needs children can safely leave their young ones for the day. These kids are fed and well taken care of, and as they mature, the school is able to place them in formal special needs schools all around the country.
(ii) It provides 8 to 5 classes every weekday for the drop outs. The curriculum is designed to boost the students’ literacy levels, and every year, the school is able to reinstate majority of them into the formal government education system, as it takes in new ones. For some who might be too old and too far behind to start from scratch, the school places them in technical schools where they can learn and develop skills in welding, cloth making, just to mention two. In this way, they are able to gain employment later on.
To kickstart this partnership, Star Kids held an end-of-year fun day in December 2016 at Songa Mbele as a way of introducing ourselves to the entire school population in one setting (plus, aren’t fun days such an incredible way to start anything?) Since the start of 2017, Star Kids has been holding bimonthly mentorship programs at the school, for 3 hours, on Friday afternoons. These sessions are themed, depending on the message we are trying to impart; since Songa Mbele does not fit the traditional school system, due to its equally untraditional student demographic, we employ creative methods of ensuring the message is clearly understood and the intended meaning grasped. We do this through volunteers (on average we have 5 to 6 volunteers per session) and because we deal with drop outs only, as we neither have the capacity nor resources to effectively cater to the special needs group, this means that volunteers are able to interact one-on-one with this smaller group. In this way, we have gained a deeper understanding of the needs of each student, and such insight is factored in the design of the curriculum for future sessions.
Our end goal is to ensure that as these students leave Songa Mbele every year to join formal government schools, that the lessons learned through the mentorship sessions will have a deep, fruitful and lasting impact on their future lives.