Designing an education 'hub' for children of low income mothers in rural and slum communities
1-5 year old children in single parent homes are particularly at risk. Single mothers go to work or look for casual labour everyday leaving the children around the home area, with neighbours etc.
The children are under-stimulated, underfed and uneducated until primary school. Physical health is a major concern, mainly due to malnourishment, but also due sanitation and lack of safety. Mental health is a concern mainly due to lack of stimulation.
Family planning is one of the key desires of the low income single mothers, but it is often difficult to access or understand. Standard drugs for treating sickness are overpriced and often counterfeit. Medical advice is usually of low quality. Nutritional content of food isn't considered.
I have spent 10 years refining the model I have applied to a Kindergarten school in a Nairobi suburb. The research comes from a decade of constant immersion and deep understanding of a community. It is the sum of conversations with single mothers, public school headmasters, teachers, hospital administrators, casual laborers, and hundreds of children that informs my approach to this massive challenge.
In communities like Gachie in a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, single motherhood is common. There are women with multiple children, sometimes from different fathers, living in extreme poverty and unable to create an environment for success for their children while juggling work and other commitments.
While parents in this community value school, our approach is to set up successful teams and operations. This includes understanding local power and trust dynamics, and creating a team that see themselves as social workers too. Success is about including mothers in the process, establishing a process for selecting children, introducing small initiatives to improve income and health practices. The school also provides a space with a nutritious snack and meal each day, and clean water and sanitation.
Through the school, the head teacher has a link into dozens of single mother households, and can approach education and services such as family planning more easily as trust has already been established.
I look forward to sharing this model as a success story later on this platform titled: 'The Baobab Kindergarten - Gachie, Nairobi'