Responding to a Gap in Children's Basic Needs

Children are among significant vulnerable groups that require a lot of protection to realize their full potential. Their experiences of poverty and vulnerability are multidimensional and differ from those of adults. They undergo complex physical, psychological and intellectual development as they grow and are often more vulnerable to malnutrition, disease, abuse and exploitation. In our interaction with families in Kenya, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire, we have realized that the most vulnerable children are those that live in extreme poverty, are affected by chronic illness, those living without adequate adult support like in households with chronically ill parents; those that live in households that have experienced recent deaths of parents and those living in households headed by grandparents or in child headed households.

It pains to see bright children putting gloomy faces and showing lack of self-esteem as they walk in tattered school uniforms due to poverty. Most parts of the rural areas where we work are characterized by increasing numbers of vulnerabilities with children requiring care and support beyond what their caregivers can provide. After an extensive assessment to understand the extent of vulnerability, we identified Vincent (not real name), a standard seven pupil as one of the pupils living in an extreme condition hence requiring immediate intervention. He is among the orphaned children living under the care of their grandmothers and whom we intervened to support through provision of school uniforms and solar lamps. Vincent says, “Life had been very difficult and I never imagined that I could ever look as smart as other pupils in our school. Back at home, we only have a smoke-emitting lantern lamp and in most cases we can hardly afford kerosene. This makes it difficult for me to study at home or even do my homework and in turn impacts on my performance negatively”. Vincent is happy to have acquired a new uniform and a solar lamp. He expressed his immeasurable excitement and gave us an assurance that he will work harder in class as a means of shaping his future.

We rolled out scholastic support to vulnerable children and families with an aim of restoring children’s educational goals. Vincent's case is a justification that through provision of scholastic support, we have made significant impacts by lighting the future of vulnerable children. We are still determined to help fill the gaps in care and support through provision of school uniforms, solar lamps, sanitary towel and other forms of scholastic support to vulnerable children to boost their confidence in school and give them an opportunity to study when back at home. We believe that it does not take much to put a smile on a child's face and that supporting a child in need is equated to raising a future generation.