Empowering the Youth to care for the disadvantaged in their communities
Three letters- OVC. This is the acronym that is used to categorise children who have little or no family support. Fleshed out, OVC is Orphaned and Vulnerable Children and this is a very useful and accurate designation. Although many people like to talk about orphans and orphanages, the actual family and living situation of children in poor communities is much more complicated. Immanuel’s story illustrates this.
Immanuel (10) is a young boy who actually has two parents that are alive and live fairly close to him. But oddly enough, neither of them are actually caring for him. That responsibility is left to his two older sisters who, truth be told, aren’t that old.
In fact, one of his sisters had to drop out of school due to lack of money and the burden of her responsibilities. Immanuel and his other sister are likely soon to follow.
So the big question is, where are their parents? Well at one point they were living as one family. But their father effectively left their mother and married another wife. The mother, unwilling to stay in the husband’s home, moved out and found a rental house to stay in.
So that leaves the children in limbo, basically fending for themselves. The father lives only 1 mile away and comes almost daily with 30 Kenyan shillings (about $.40) so that the children can buy some food. The mother also comes by daily but has no money to give as she doesn’t have a job.
Unfortunately, 30 Kenyan shillings does not come close to covering the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing. And education is not a completely free affair either. In a later post we’ll break down the basic costs of living in rural Kenya.
Where does this leave Immanuel and his sisters? Not in a very good place. In such a situation, the sisters are very likely to be lured into early marriages or, even worse, into some level of prostitution or risky sexual behavior. All of them will start turning to extremely low paying manual work just to make ends meet.
They are not orphans but there is little difference at the end of the day. They are left to their own devices and are ill-equipped to actually overcome the challenges that lie ahead of them.
These are some of the OVC that KOYNET is looking to help. In this case, the sisters are acting as the caregivers as well as those who need to be cared for. Where can they access support to continue their education? Where can they get support to take care of their basic needs?
Are there organisations that offer such support and they only need to be connected to them? We don’t have the answers to these questions yet, but we hope to find them as we continue building KOYNET.