In our target communities, families live on under $1 a day due to a lack of employment opportunities. This financial deficit causes physical deprivations including: an inability to pay school fees, malnourishment, poor healthcare, financially forced child prostitution and a lack of assets.
Social businesses, like greenhouses and chicken farms, aim to meet a social need; in this case, a lack of employment and limited access to education. By providing employment to adults through sustainable social businesses, Uhuru is able to equip its employees to overcome their deprivations. Employment allows parents to provide for their family’s needs, therefore cultivating dignity and self-worth. Further, the profits from these businesses also pour into Uhuru Child schools, making them self-sustaining.
In Kenya, the demand for education is greater than the secondary schools are able to supply. The government only provides free education through secondary school but students still pay school fees for uniforms and books. High schools are often private and extremely expensive. Therefore, education is often out of reach for most Kenyans.
+ In 2011, there were approximately 27,489 primary schools in the country but only 7,308 secondary schools. With such a high demand for secondary education, these schools can charge high rates that make education for impoverished children unattainable.
+ The government provides a free primary school education, but most secondary schools are private.
+ The majority of classrooms in secondary school are full of wealthy children who were sent to private primary school.
+ According to a UNESCO report from July 2010, 10 percent of children attend private primary school, while 90 percent attend public primary school. What is most alarming is that 85 percent of the available seats in secondary school are filled by the children who went to private primary school, a mere 10 percent of the total primary school population. The remaining 15 percent of the spots are filled by children who went to public primary school and could afford the expensive tuition.
Uhuru Child’s model allows our schools to provide quality education to impoverished children who cannot pay expensive tuition. There are two core ways to make these schools sustainable:
+ Social Business Profits: By investing the profits from our social businesses into schools, we create sustainable institutions that have both high quality facilities and educators.
+ Subsidized Costs: Providing excellent education gives Uhuru the ability to charge wealthy parents competitive private school fees, therefore subsidizing the cost of education for children in need. We aim to enroll 80 percent poor students and 20 percent wealthy.
As we create sustainable businesses and provide education, we’ve learned that poverty extends past physical needs and also includes emotional and relational needs. Brain Fickkert, author of When Helping Hurts writes, “While poor people mention having a lack of material things, they tend to describe their condition in far more psychological and social terms…poor people typically talk in terms of shame, inferiority, powerlessness, humiliation, hopelessness, depression, fear, social isolation and voicelessness.”
In response, we began our Christian discipleship program to equip leaders of each community to address these pressing issues because we believe relationships are the foundation to development. Uhuru Child Discipleship programs include teen mentoring, women empowerment and leadership training for men. For example, many need counseling because they have lived through and lost family members during tribal warfare. Others have asked for mentoring as they learn to forgive and move forward from the trauma they experienced. Through mentoring programs, we openly discuss each of these topics.