The Mwelu Foundation library – located adjacent to our office space on the edge of Mathare slums – offers a safe space for our members to come from school and revise free of charge. The library officially opened on the 27th April 2011 and is already playing a significant role in the education of young people in Mathare.
The library is stocked with the books required by the Kenyan academic system as well as general knowledge books. We have rechargeable lighting so that students can continue to study when there is no electricity. In addition to providing facilities to our members, we have partnered with local schools, who’s pupils also have access to the library.
As a Foundation we recognize the importance of a sound education that needs to be nurtured in and out of school. We are very optimistic about the library and know that it will be a safe space for Mathare children to increase their knowledge and help them prepare for a sound future.
The library also provides the home to our Livelihoods programme. The programme, run by Rachael Ouko, educates children in Mathare on reproductive health issues and other life skills. To avoid problems such as domestic violence, prostitution, alcoholism and crime, children must have a basic set of skills and education in order to make better decisions and to help them achieve their goals. We also believe that this will help children achieve higher attendance rates at school and hence achieve a better all-round education.
A typical two hour weekly session follows the following structure. The facilitator introduces the topic for the session through a short presentation highlighting the main issues and facts. The children are then split into groups to discuss the issue amongst themselves. They are encouraged to talk about their own experiences and discuss practical solutions to the problems. The groups each present what they have discussed to the rest of the class, either through a spoken presentation or by acting out a role-play. The facilitator then summarises the lessons learned during the session to help provide the children with clear changes they can make to the lives of themselves and their families.
Example topics include morality, decision making, assertiveness, communication, use of contraceptives and HIV/AIDS education.
Other activities include both a poetry group and a music club. These activities have identified talents in the upcoming generation of leaders.
In future we plan to procure more books and set up a public speaking forum for students in Mathare. If you are interested in more information on the library or have an offer of support please contact us.