Kibera Slum, Nairobi, 6:30am. First light, and children like Brian here pour out of their mud and corrugated iron shacks, step across rivers of sewage and pick their way through the narrow alleys of the slum. Their stomachs are empty, but they are happy. They are on their way to Green Pastures School.
Kibera is now Africa's largest slum. Here hundreds of thousands of children are without access to a decent education. Green Pastures was started in 1994 by Margaret Mutinda, and in spite of a severe lack of resources, gained itself a strong reputation and began to attract families from outside the slum. Fees from them kept the school going, and when we met them in 2005 it was clear that here was a school with real potential, but which had to turn away many needy children whose families had no money to pay fees. Thus in spite of its success, Green Pastures was not achieving its goal of educating the very poor. The introduction of Giraffe Project sponsorships in 2006 changed all that.
Today nearly 200 children are supported by sponsorships, and they and others receive school meals. This fully registered primary school now has over 450 children. Giraffe Project funds have purchased an additional building and a good supply of textbooks, and ensures lunch provision for all the children. They funded the construction of a security wall, water storage tanks, and a rainwater capture project, and donations of library books and computers have really enhanced learning.
In 2008 the first ever year 8, or 'candidate class' took their national exams (the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education or KCPE) and all 15 passed into secondary boarding schools on Giraffe Project sponsorships. Results in 2009 placed the school in the top 20 in Nairobi (not the country). In 2011, Green Pastures ranked 5th in Nairobi and 56th in the entire country.
We believe this will continue to be a centre of excellence and a beacon of hope in the heart of the slum, and an example of what can be achieved in the face of grinding poverty.