Mobilising support example:
Gentle pressure - major result
|Shammah Children Centre
SummaryShammah Children's Centre Kangundo started in 2008 with a few children, but quickly outgrew its small rented space. The next building they rented proved inadequate: next to a busy market where drug dealers were also present. Moreover, the building was derelict. It was eventually closed down by the authorities. Fortunately, with the help of partners, the Centre had been able to buy land to build its own school building. While construction was still going on, the parents and children successfully lobbied the authorities to allow them to use the school, even though it was not yet ready.
Shammah Children Centre is a school located near Kangundo market. The founder, Florence Mwikali Mweu, an experienced nursery school teacher, started in 2008 with only four children whose parents had died of HIV/AIDS and were raised by their grandparents. Before the first month ended, more than thirty children, mostly orphaned, had reported. Now a big problem arose: where to keep the big number of children coming to school, for Florence had rented only a small room; moreover the children were hungry and malnourished. Luckily she could rent a former shop in an old building and wellwishers helped with food. However, several years later, these new rooms were overcrowded once again and sanitation was also becoming a real problem. There were only two toilets for 242 children. The authorities threatened to close the school.
That is when Shammah started searching for funds and approaching people and organisations to help move the school to a new place. FAPADAG, Shammah's Dutch partner and support group raised funds for the purchase of a piece of land on which Shammah started building, while they and their partners raised funds to continue.
This is Florence's story on what happened next:
"The children came every day to check on the progress of their new school. Parents were volunteering together with the children. The building was far from complete when parents said that they needed to come and remove all the shattering stuff so as to let the children start learning even if the building was not complete. By then the schools had reopened after the COVID-19 lockdown and most of Shammah's children didn’t go to school any more. I watched the parents and children doing the clearing of the first rooms and they were determined to occupy the rooms just the way they were. Parents went to the authorities who had closed the former school and said they could not afford to take their children to other schools and they needed permission to use the incomplete building while construction was going on. The authorities didn’t agree with the parents because it is illegal for learning to take place in a construction site, but they kept on going there every day until the authorities heard their cry and promised to come to the site and see what could be done so as to allow the learners to use the premises. The day the authorities had agreed to come to the site, children came as well with their parents ready to learn. At that time there were no toilets nor blackboards in place and here the children and parents were ready for the school. We had a short meeting with the authorities and they advised us on things to be done first and then they could allow the learners to use the premises with close monitoring. We completed some rooms and toilets and learning started as we continued constructing. It was joy for me to see the children learning who had already lost hope of learning. We continued with the construction until it was complete and the school was admitting children every day despite of the construction going on. The only thing that had to wait until the holidays was the installation of the roof. That was too dangerous to do while the building was full of pupils and teachers. Our permanent own building is now contributing to the sustainability of the school. We can now offer full primary education and we have the ambition to create a fully equiped vocational training centre on the second floor."
How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
Most of parents and guardians are not financially stable due to unemployment. They bring in to school the little they can afford and sometimes they fail to bring anything. However, Shammah is trying to remove the mentality of poverty out of their lives and help them to do an income generating activity, to earn a living and contribute to the school, for instance through soap making and gardening.
The beneficiaries were therefore very much involved already and more than willing to do more when the construction of the new school ran into trouble. Now that construction has been completed, many of the parents feel responsible for the building they helped establish and keep an eye on the building.
- Provide a permanent and conducive environment for effective learning.
- Provide quality education to the learners.
- Register with the Ministry of Education and acquire an examination centre and get support from the ministry .
- Provide proper sanitation to the learners.
- Provide life skills leading to job creation and job opportunities for children and adults.
A school building with two floors, offering full primary education and in the future also vocational training.