Without some form of basic education, many street children have no hope for the future and end up dying on the pavement, victims of drugs, violent crime, and disease. Jitegemee reaches out to street children and helps them return to school,Â giving them their childhoodsâ€”and futuresâ€”back.
WeÂ are committed to helping street children overcome all the obstacles that interfere with their success in schoolâ€”hunger, a lack of money for books or school fees, embarrassment about inadequate clothing and shoes, and/or inadequate or non-existent social support.Â Jitegemee strives to pay for each year of a childâ€™s education, for as many levels as the child can attain.
At a cost of roughly $100 per child per year, Jitegemee provides books, school uniforms, shoes, food, school and exam fees,Â tutoring, and emergency medical care for former street children in elementary school. Many students are performing at the top of their class. At a cost of roughly $500 per child per year, Jitegemee provides board, school fees, and tutoring for Jitegemee scholars who have earned admittance to the regionâ€™sÂ first- and second-tier secondary schools.
When Kenya introduced free and compulsory education for children under the age of 14 inÂ 2003, manyÂ drop-in centers for street childrenÂ closed, leaving no place for children over 14 to eat lunch and spend their days. Many of these older children, too old for primary school, were forced back into the streets to face a bleak future.
Recognizing that vulnerable childrenÂ were falling through the cracks,Â Jitegemee dramatically expanded our vocational program to support more teenage street children in becomingÂ self-sufficient.Â Our vocational training program, comprised of three phases, has achieved impressive results:
- Some 80 percent of our vocational graduates earn money from their trades.
- About two-thirdsÂ ofÂ our graduates are now the primary breadwinners inÂ their homes.
Jitegemeeâ€™s vocational students start with a six-month pre-vocational rehabilitation program.Â The curriculum covers basic math and literacy, business education, communication skills, and self-esteem and â€œliving valuesâ€ education. The program emphasizes punctuality, honesty, cleanliness, and the importance of giving back to the community. The first phase ends with a week-long workshop for vocational students and their guardians that introduces them to a variety of trades. The workshops are conducted by qualified tradespeople with the assistance of the Undugu Society of Kenya, a well-respected organization with a successful vocational program in Nairobi.
In phase two, Jitegemee’s vocational students are placed in a one- to two-year apprenticeship program where they learn a life-changing trade of their choosing, such as carpentry, welding, electronics, hair-dressing, and tailoring. As apprentices to local tradespeople, students learn their trade and the folkways that govern professional behavior. Many students also earn a commission. During this phase,Â the vocational students continue to meet every day for a hearty lunch, as well weekly with Jitegemee staff for continued business skills training, â€œliving valuesâ€ education, computer training, and social support. At the conclusion of phase two, Jitegemee provides additional tuition to students who are ready to take the Government Trade Examination, level 3, and covers the cost of any examination fees.
Once the apprenticeshipÂ is completed, Jitegemee provides vocational graduates with the helpÂ they need to go into business for themselves. Each graduate receives a set of start-up tools, and as they begin to earn money from their trades, Jitegemee staff members assist them with savingÂ money to purchase their own tools. When they are established in their trades, theyÂ teach the skills they have mastered to the next generation of Jitegemee vocational students.
JitegemeeÂ is determinedÂ to provide theÂ social support our studentsÂ wereÂ deprived of when they ended upÂ in the streets.Â This social support is critical to keeping themÂ in school even in the most difficult of circumstances. It includesÂ a sense of belonging, genuine caring among community members, a sense of pride and self-accomplishment, and mutual respect and acceptance.
Jitegemee’s programming focuses on building social support and self-esteem by giving themÂ the opportunity toÂ give back to their communities and other destitute children. Students are frequently asked to reflect on how they contribute, and what would enable them to play a larger role in helping others.
Other ways Jitegemee provides social support include:
- Providing daily breakfast and lunch where students can come together as a community.
- Hosting an Annual Childrenâ€™s Day to recognize our students’ achievements.
- OfferingÂ tutoringÂ after school and during school breaks.
- Providing guidance and counseling.
- OrganizingÂ internships for secondary students during school breaks at local hospitals, businesses, and government offices.
- Organizing motivational speakers and visitors to inspire students to dream big.
- Providing HIV/AIDS education, yearly medical screening, and emergency health care.
- OrganizingÂ educational field trips to national sights across Kenya, includingÂ overnight camping trips to Mombasa, Nakuru, and Naivasha, introducing them to Kenyaâ€™s natural wonders.
- An Annual Alumni Day for graduates of the program to reconnect with Jitegemee students and each other.
In addition, Jitegemee works with parents, guardians, and families to plan income-generating activities, such as cooperative farming, and poultry production.Â Jitegemee also works with parents, guardians, and familiesÂ toÂ develop a healthier, more positive environment for youth.