What we do
Kenya is a favourite destination for tourists wanting to enjoy a safari adventure or to relax on the white beaches of the Indian Ocean. Its national parks include the legendry Masai Mara, famous for the Maasai tribes people and the wildlife, including the annual migration of wildebeest.
However this beautiful country has been scarred by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. UNICEF (2012) estimates that 2.6 million children in Kenya are orphans, 1 million of whom have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related complications.
TaC has been working since 2007 in Nyanza Province in the west of Kenya. The province is a beautiful fertile area of small towns and villages, and the city of Kisumu on the shore of Lake Victoria. The main source of income in the region is fishing and subsistence farming.
In 2017, TaC supports 82 orphaned and vulnerable children from Siaya county, Nyanza province, in secondary education. But the need is great. Siaya county has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Kenya with a hyper-endemic HIV prevalence rate of 23.7%* in a population of 480,000.
Most orphaned children are taken in by extended family members. However, the large number of orphaned and vulnerable children is overwhelming this traditional copying mechanism. Often elderly female guardians become the heads of these households but with no income to provide for essential food, clothing and school fees. In some cases, older siblings have to take on this role.
Some children can be forced by circumstance to engage in income generating activities such as petty businesses and, in the extreme, girls are forced into sexual exploitation and early marriage and boys into crime. This increases their risk of HIV exposure and substance abuse. In addition, these children may have to live with social stigmatisation.
In 2003, the Government of Kenya declared universal free primary education and the enrolment rate has significantly increased. However, children in these divisions still have limited access due to lack of basic utilities like clothes, food and other dignity materials, particularly for girls, who often drop out of school. Of those who complete their primary education, few make it to secondary school because they lack the necessary fees.
The project makes secondary education a reality for many needy boys and girls. It is managed by the TaC Kenya affiliate in Nairobi and by local committees in Ukwala and Usigu districts. The committees comprise of respected members of the local communities; all are unpaid volunteers.
Every year, TaC selects new beneficiaries to start secondary school, based on their academic potential and economic as well as social situation. The TaC beneficiaries attend regular boarding schools in the national system which are assessed by TaC for the quality of their education. We pay the students’ school fees, provide uniforms and supply a little pocket money for them to buy toiletries and other essentials, and provide a medical check during the annual gathering of all beneficiaries.
During the year, the children are visited and their progress is monitored. When they have health issues or other difficulties, we work closely with the school to help resolve the situation.
In December, TaC holds an annual student gathering to bring together all the children for three to four days of teaching, encouragement and counselling. In particular, we educate the children about health issues and relationships and help prepare them for life after secondary school.
Almost all of our former beneficiaries successfully completed their education and were awarded good grades in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam. Many had such excellent marks that they went on to study at university with a government grant. Some have joined the workforce. And some already employ others. We are very proud of their achievements.
Our former beneficiaries have formed an active group of ‘TaC alumni’ to stay in touch with each other and network with volunteers, friends and donors. Their lives have been transformed by the opportunities that education has provided them. We trust that they will continue to grow as responsible members of their families and of their communities, giving back to others.
* Kenya HIV Prevention Revolution Road Map – Ministry of Health – 2014