By JOAN BARSULAI
When little Fanuel Ochieng moved to Kibera slums two years ago, his life was in disarray.
His father was ill and bed-ridden. He had no relative upcountry to take care of him. His father was then forced to take him to Kibera slums to live with his aunty, who was already raising nine other children in a small ramshackle shanty. The nine-year-old boy was frail and pale looking for lack of access to basic needs such as food and medicine.
It was not until he joined Spurgeon Primary School that everything took a turn for the better. Shortly after starting school, an account was set up to cater for the remainder of his primary education. He then signed up for ballet dance classes that are offered at the school every Wednesday after classes.
Life began to return to the boy’s face. He regained confidence and a spring in his steps. Now every Wednesday, Fanuel can be seen prancing around excitedly in his ballet uniform and gracefully dancing with his ballet mates to classic tunes from an old radio at the corner of the ballet class.
The Spurgeons School, a non-formal charity primary school based in Kibera, is one of the schools that Anno’s Africa, a non-governmental organisation, sought to link up with to provide a series of workshops for the children.
The charity was set up in memory of Anno Birkin a young gifted writer and musician who died in a car crash in 2001. It was founded by his parents with the aim of offering less privileged children some of the creative opportunities that Anno himself enjoyed. The Anno’s program provides five major disciplines namely; art, drama, music, dance and circus skills.
The school’s director, Oscar Kwama, says the school targets children with special needs. “This school caters to orphans and vulnerable children, especially children with sick parents, as well as children who live in abject poverty. That, for us, is the basis for admission,” he says.
The director adds that most of these children are not gifted academically and because of extenuating circumstances that surround their young lives, they do not perform well in school. It is against this backdrop that Anno’s Africa has come to their rescue.
The extracurricular activities and training offered by Anno’s gives these children a shot at a better life, because a majority of the children, although having performed fairly well in primary school, do not make it to secondary school because they are unable to find sponsors for their secondary education.