Tumshangilie Mtoto Marks a Mile­stone

Diplomat East Africa - - Table of Contents -

Mark­ing its 20th An­niver­sary, the cen­tre for re­ha­bil­i­tated streets chil­dren moves from Kiba­gare slums to Lore­sho as it comes of age. BRIAN MUREITHI re­ports

Pomp, colour, song and dance char­ac­terised the Tumshangilie mtoto (Re­joice for Chil­dren) cen­tre in Nairobi as it moved from the con­gested Kibarage slums in Kangemi to the up­mar­ket Lore­sho sub­urb as it marked its 20th an­niver­sary.

The foun­da­tion is sup­ported by lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional char­ity groups from Ger­many, USA, Italy and other coun­tries.

'Tumshangalie Mtoto' is an in­sti­tu­tion ded­i­cated to as­sist­ing and re­form­ing street chil­dren who are of­ten abused and con­demned by the so­ci­ety as they roam about in the streets liv­ing in squalor with no ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, support or a sense of be­long­ing.

In July 1994, 15 street chil­dren who had been coached by award win­ning Kenyan ac­tress Anne Wan­jugu, per­formed for the first time be­fore a full ca­pac­ity au­di­ence of United Na­tions of­fi­cials at the Kenya Na­tional The­atre. The per­for­mance was so elec­tri­fy­ing that they re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion. This was the name Tumshangilieni (re­joice in Kiswahili) was coined and it be­came the ti­tle of the foun­da­tion.

Since then, has shown the trans­form­ing power of care and re­alised the Ob­jec­tives and Rights of the Child by of­fer­ing nearly 300 for­mer street chil­dren a se­cure home, coun­selling, health care, ed­u­ca­tion and out­reach pro­grammes.

It is still im­mersed in the per­form­ing arts which has been a pow­er­ful tool to ad­dress the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of street chil­dren. Through cre­ative pub­lic per­for­mances, the chil­dren have charmed au­di­ences through­out Kenya and as far afield as Zim­babwe, Ger­many, Bangkok, Italy, Greece and the USA with their tal­ents and raised aware­ness about the predica­ment of those still liv­ing on the streets.

Tumshangilieni’s

in­struc­tors follow the Kenya Cer­tifi­cate of Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum on lo­ca­tion from baby class through Class VIII. Some of its charges at­tend sec­ondary schools. Nine are presently in univer­si­ties (20 have grad­u­ated from col­leges and univer­si­ties), 22 are in vo­ca­tional train­ing and 10 in the Out­reach pro­grammes that pro­vides poor chil­dren who re­side with their guardians in the slums with schools fees, uni­forms and books, and oth­ers with vo­ca­tional skills train­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the school’s di­rec­tor, Mr Japheth Njenga, the foun­da­tion has pro­gres­sively grown over the years and its com­mit­ment to ex­pand and trans­form the lives of more street chil­dren re­mains its long term en­deav­our. Its shift from the slums to a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment in the up­mar­ket Lore­sho neigh­bour­hood is seen as a ma­jor achieve­ment for the cen­tre

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