Kenyan school children were out of school for almost a full year during the height of the pandemic. Some had little remote learning opportunities, most had none. Upon returning to school, teachers and administrators heard some sad stories from the kids, detailing what they and their families had to do to get by when there was no money to put food on the table. Below you can hear from some of the students as they explain how having a uniform has made it easier to attend school with confidence and pride.
David Omondi on THE IMPACT
During the distributions, the students shared that the school uniforms we have provided make them look neat and that they no longer come to school wearing their previously torn uniforms. Because their uniforms are brand new and smart, the girls also noted that this has given them courage to speak up in front of people, concentrate on their studies and play with freedom. Previously, being in torn school uniforms made them feel inferior and were always afraid that their peers would laugh at them.
Students also noted that because TFE is providing school uniforms, their parents have been relieved of this heavy burden. As a result, the parents have been able to save and use the money that could have been otherwise used to buy school uniforms to meet other equally pressing needs like paying school fees, buying stationery and feeding the family.
Partnering with the parents, we were able to raise about $4000 which we are using to meet the most critical needs including providing 3,600 packets of free sanitary pads to about 600 girls for the entire year, supporting school feeding programs and staff wages at Akili school as well as storytelling. Our goal is to ensure that we provide all the girls need to stay in school and learn. Something to highlight, it’s yet another thing people do not think about
Carol of Wagai Mixed Secondary School is very grateful for the uniforms and toughees (shoes!) which we have enabled her to wear for the first time in life! Toughees shoes are durable and often unaffordable for many poor families. TFE has enabled thousands of students like Carol to wear these shoes for the first time in their lives and to be equal/uniform despite their backgrounds.
Britney, a 10th grader at Wagai Mixed Sec school says she has always gone to school in torn school uniforms since her guardian cannot afford to buy her new ones. She also lacks essentials such as sanitary pads and parental care. Britney says that the new set of school uniforms has really boosted her self confidence. She notes that if girls like her can be provided with all they need, then they can study hard and greatly improve their performance and also help others in the future.
Elsa said, “I look so neat since I no longer come to school in a torn uniform. I am so glad and I am normally praying to God to make you successful the same way you have made me. I am now courageous because my uniform is new and smart. I can concentrate in class because before, when I used to come to school with a torn uniform, I could not because I knew that my classmates were laughing at me but now I am concentrating in my studies and I am really performing well. I am so confident. I can talk in front of a crowd. I don’t feel shy whenever I put on my school uniform. This has made me to have a great improvement in my languages and my teachers are happy about it. Now my parents are able to provide me and my sisters with basic needs and now we can have at least four meals a day. May God bless you. Indeed you are an angel.”
Ajwala: Life has been so challenging. Ever since my parents separated when I was three. I have indeed experienced a very tough and difficult life. Living with a single parent has been most challenging. In primary school my education was by the favor of the Almighty. I come from a humble background where even affording meals daily has always been a problem. My mother works in peoples gardens just to get us clothing, food and pay our school fees. Reading at home is hard because of lack of electricity, this has always caused me to struggle. As a young girl, affording sanitary towels has been a challenge. My mother has indeed tried to provide them and also afford something which we could be taking for only supper. Lunch has always been like luck in our family- once in a while. My life situation has encouraged me to work even harder in school. I have always yearned to perform well so that I join the University I have admired being a teacher.
Vera said “Before the uniforms were distributed I had low self esteem because my uniform was torn and the other children laughed at me. I am now gaining courage to build my self esteem so that I am able to address a crowd. I was not able to stay for what is right before, but I can now stand firmly and support myself. I also thank you for providing pants for girls (underwear). I was just wearing the school uniform”. Vera also noted that sometime back, she used to come to school in torn underwear and was always careful to sit properly or avoid playing games that needed her to run around to avoid the risk of her torn underwear being exposed and her fellow students laughing at or making fun of her. The new uniforms have restored her confidence/self esteem and given her freedom to play without worry and take the leadership position at the school where she is the deputy head girl.
Mercy said “Most girls in public school are not confident. Before I was not able to speak in front of people. This was because I had a torn uniform. I was not able to play with others because I thought the other people would laugh at me. Sometimes, I used to wear slippers while going to school. My parents were not able to buy me school shoes. When I arrived at school our teachers would take the slippers because they weren’t recommended. I would then be barefoot until game time.”
Macreen said “Before, my parents could not afford the school uniform. My parents used to work hard to purchase a uniform for me. I could miss going to school due to lack of money. My family would rather not take a single meal for me to go to school. Whenever I would go to school without money, I was sent home. My education has been running smoothly due to the support you have offered us. The uniform made my mother’s burden easier and I learn comfortably without any problems. My inspiration in life is my education. I am always working hard in my studies in order to became an important person in the nearby future (lawyer).”
Before I was given a uniform I was shy to ply with others because my uniform was torn and even my socks were torn. I used to wear rubbers while going to school because my parents were unable to buy my school uniform. I was afraid to stand and answer questions in class and this lowered my performance because when I was in class I thought my classmates were laughing at me and I used to think about myself even if the teacher was talking.