Songa Mbele na Masomo (‘Go Ahead with Education’) is an Informal Education Centre for disadvantaged children from the Mukuru Slum area in South B, Nairobi. They assist children who have fallen behind in their education; those who have dropped out of school, who never joined in the first place, and those who missed out due to barriers associated with physical and mental disabilities. The centre’s objective is to re-integrate its pupils into mainstream education.

Having founded many schools in Mukuru the Sisters of Mercy noticed an increasing number of pupils were dropping out and some children not joining at all (mostly due to the lack money for fees). It was for this reason that they first established this informal educational day centre.

Songa mBele began to work with children with disabilities in February 2011, following the request from APDK (Association for Physically Disabled in Kenya). The very first class had 5 participants, by 2014 there were 30. There is no other school in Mukuru like it. A parents group has also been set up, who help out at the centre and part-take in various workshops on assisting their children.

“Through the centre we have also changed the lives of many parents who felt stigmatized, despised and abandoned. We do it using simple tactics of love, care and support.”

The Centre integrated 24 children  into mainstream or specialized schools in January 2015

Projects

Education

This unit provides support for children with physical and intellectual disabilities including Downs Syndrome, Cerebal Palsy, Autism and learning difficulties. The average age is between 1 and 10 years. It’s activities are carried out in collaboration with a team of Special Education Professionals. The centre provides diverse educational learning to different levels of disability, nutritional meals twice daily through the ‘Feeding Program’, a hygiene program, and medical support and assistance to improve the health and well-being of children with disabilities. They also hold training workshops for parents/ guardians on how to look after children with disabilities. This sort of centre not only provides much needed services, it also challenges cultural stigma and isolation.

Since its beginning, 144 children have gone through this school. In 2015, there are 30 children. When children leave this school they go on to other institutions such as Special Education Professionals, Government Institutions dealing with specific conditions, Kibera school for the deaf, Waithaka school for mentally challenged, Kambui school for the deaf and mainstreams school in the surrounding area like St Catherine’s Primary School.

Parents also participate, with the number of those wanting to get involved showing a positive increase over the years. They attend meetings and workshops, and provide some services such as assisting with feeding children at lunch time. In 2014 approximately 50 children were in the Special Education Unit with 30-40 parents attending.

The Coaching Unit prepares children for mainstream education. Poverty causes many children to fall behind in their education. This project provides group and one-to-one tuition to make sure that everyone can go to school. Since 2010 138 students have passed through the school

Health

  • diverse educational learning to different levels of disability

  • nutritional balanced meals twice daily through the ‘Feeding Program’

  • hygiene program to reduce complications from poor hygiene.

  • medical support and assistance to improve the health and well-being of the disabled children

  • social support is provided through home-visits and careful monitoring of each child’s situation

Africa Direct & Songa mBele na Masomo

2014 Building

a New Special Education Unit was completed

With Co-funding from Electric Aid and great fundraising from our own Inishown members

Purchasing materials

for the Special Education Unit

because of the great fundraising our Inishown Members achieved