First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Friday toured the interior of Kibera and commissioned a Girls' School funded by Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a Non-Governmental Organization based in Nairobi.
The school, situated in the Gatwekera area of Kibera, is geared towards empowering the girl child through education in the informal settlement.
The First Lady observed that the Kibera Girls School, established in 2009, is an institution, which has turned out to be a true model for learning in the country.
“I congratulate you for ranking among the top three schools in the area in the past years. I also congratulate the first graduating class of girls students of 2017 for their remarkable Standard 8 performance last year,” said the First Lady.
She pointed out that the commissioning of the school is one of the opportunities aimed at giving the girl child a better future.
SHOFCO also operates similar schools in, Mathare, Mukuru,Kawangware and Bangladesh slums in Nairobi.
The First Lady, however, noted that much more needed to be done as there were still barriers holding back girls from exploiting their God given talents.
“Too often, we hear stories where our daughters are not given equal chances. And so today I am grateful to be here not only because I fully support all you have done, but because I truly believe that you have embraced the effort to empower our girls and protect them from social exclusion,” said the First Lady.
She called on Kenyans to rededicate their efforts in educating girls by looking for ways of expanding institutions to enable girls continue with learning especially those whose education has been delayed or disrupted.
“Let me also encourage our girls here to make the most of this opportunity to nurture talent and reach for the stars,” she said.
Adding, “So many of your sisters longed for this opportunity, but did not find it; now that it has come to you, strive for excellence in your academic work, and in developing your character too. So that you will become the woman you were meant to be."
The First Lady, who was accompanied by US Ambassador Robert Godec, alighted at Olympic Primary and walked for about 2.5 km through the narrow paths of the slums amid cheers from the local community.
The founders of SHOFCO Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner Odede conducted the First Lady on a tour of various programmers provided by their organization including an aerial water piping system at the Gatwere view point.
The First Lady was so impressed with the services offered by the organization that she enrolled to be one of its members.
As a new member and partner of SHOFCO, the First Lady donated a Beyond Zero Mobile Clinic and a laboratory to supplement medical services offered by the organization.
“I am impressed by the services offered here that I have enrolled as SHOFCO member,” said the First Lady.
She said the laboratory would help curb the outbreak of diseases and supplement the diagnostic equipment of the organization.
She applauded the founders of SHOFCO for their selfless service and commitment to helping urban slum communities in Nairobi.
“I have seen first-hand how your work with the communities of Kibera - as well as the neighbouring communities of Mathare, Mukuru and Bangladesh has borne fruit,” said the First Lady.
She said SHOFCO has transformed the lives of many youth by investing in their future through the Innovation, ICT and Reading centres which are located in the slums.
The First Lady said many lives of slum dwellers have been changed by SHOFCO programmes, including empowering men and women financially and ensuring improved access to health services and water.
“Your work in promoting self-reliance for women and men through the financial empowerment programme and equally, in improving access to health has left thousands of people financially stable and healthier," said the First Lady.
Public Service, Youth and Gender Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia commended the founders for establishing a school which gives girls the opportunity to improve their quality of life.
She said the skills the girls are acquiring in the school will entrench self-confidence, self-awareness and positive relationships in a safe and secure environment, helping them to impact their communities positively and further their own personal development.
Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the innovative aerial water system being managed by SHOFCO is an example of how communities can transform their lives by identifying the needs.
Mr Odede, the founder of SHOFCO, narrated his life story of growing up in Kibera slums and how the challenges of life made him resolve to transform the lives of slum dwellers.
“It's not about blaming but about having a dream,” said Mr Odede.
Other speakers included Early Learning and Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and the US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec.