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Hunger won’t bite off their dreams

By | March 25th 2009

By Harold Ayodo

Many of her classmates have dropped out of school because of hunger, but Yvonne Wakio, 11, will not let an empty belly keep her from achieving her dream.

The Standard Five pupil is determined to be an engineer. Wakio is among 170 orphans at the New Dawn Community School in Mukuru slums who are defying the odds by staying in school.

"It is hard to concentrate in class without breakfast and lunch," she says.

Always the top student in her class, she is grateful that the school occasionally offers lunch. "I concentrate better after eating lunch but even when I am hungry I prefer staying in class than playing," she says.

Her situation is similar to that of Ivy Obel, a Standard Two pupil. "There are times when I fall asleep in class especially when I skip breakfast," he says.

The school Director, Jane Omollo, says the iron-sheet school that was established in 2004 struggles to retain pupils in class. "Our pupils are poor but determined to have better futures despite shortcoming resources," Omollo says.

And the determination of the pupils, who live at Jenracy Children’s Home in the heart of the slum, impressed well-wishers. "Barclays Kenya helped us cement the floors and roof, paint the school and build latrines," Omollo says.

The home that has 40 pupils relies on Good Samaritans for food. "Learning is better when churches around donate food," she says.

Barclays Kenya Information Technology and Operations staff resolved to raise Sh2 million to support the school in an effort led by employees Anne Kihiu and Kevin Otieno.

"The determination of the pupils to stay in school in the face of hunger is a major statement," Kihiu says.

"We have planned a fund raising dinner on Friday at the Hilton Hotel to meet the financial target," she says.

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