My Freshman Experience at Starehe Girls’ Centre & School

My Freshman Experience at Starehe Girls’ Centre & School

Written by Michelle Adhiambo

It has been an exciting year as a first time high school student at Starehe Girls’ Centre. I remember joining form one as a naive young girl who doesn’t know anyone in the school. I can say that it has been a short year whose days have gone very fast. Sometimes I feel like I was just admitted to the school yesterday. This gives me motivation for the following three years that time flies fast so I have to make a move now.

It did not take time for me to make new friends, as students there are very friendly and nice. I also met different teachers who teach different subjects unlike primary school where one teacher can even teach all subjects!

Learning twelve subjects is interesting but at the same time difficult for me. At first it was difficult to balance my revision timetable but our teachers guided us. The challenge is that I am not able to always follow the timetable. This is because either the assignment is a lot or teachers come to teach during prep time.

This is me, with Fatuma, Lucy and my sister Mackline

The school feels great because it is diverse. Students in the school are picked from all the 47 counties of Kenya. We usually share a lot together and get to learn from each other. The environment is also clean and green with monkeys around swinging from tree to tree and it is friendly for learning.

The climate there is a challenge to me. The mornings are always cold and most of the times it rains heavily. I have had common cold a few times while in school.

It is important for me to study at Starehe because the school is molding my behavior and character. It is also raising me up to be a disciplined person in future. We are often guided and counseled by different people including Starehe alumni, teachers and invited speakers who I don’t take for granted. There are also many opportunities for every student to explore.

I have built good relationships with my classmates and dorm mates. We love each other and assist each other in academics. We live in peace and harmony as sisters and even crack jokes together. Some of them are very understanding.

The subjects that I am best in are German, Agriculture, Computer and Chemistry. I was position one in my stream and position three in all the form one classes. I have been improving in my performance because I work closely with my teachers and classmates. German has been my favorite. Sometime this year when we were home for a break, I had the opportunity to speak German with Mama Hanne. I still don’t know a lot but I am very eager to learn

Although I have faced ups and downs while at the school, I have overcome them because of the love and care we are shown. I am certain that great things are in store for me only if I work smart and put God first in my journey to success. The quote, “The past is my heritage, the present is my responsibility and the future is my challenge”, strengthens me and gives me hope. What I have learnt is that nothing is impossible if you set a goal, focus on it and work on it.

Local Community Steps Up and Steps In

Local Community Steps Up and Steps In

Written by Lucy Nyambura, HHFL Operations Manager

Ever since we began our operations in 2006, the entire budget has been funded from our network of donors spread across Canada and North America, Europe and the Middle East.

We have enjoyed random local support especially with food stuffs for our children’s nutrition, but this is the 1st time ever we received local funding to educate our children.

In July this year(2019) we received an invitation to apply for funding from the Karen Country Club following a charity golf tournament that they held at the club. This was through Hanne and Ted, our founders, who also happen to be members of the country club. We did the paperwork that was required and crossed our fingers for the response.

Fate was good to us, and later on that month, we got informed that we had qualified for some funding to cater for fees for two of our students.

This is indeed a milestone we want to proudly share with our entire community both online and offline. It is a step in the right direction, and a very promising indication that local people too care, and are doing something for the betterment of the universe in supporting needy children.

We are not the only organization that benefited from the proceedings, and for this reason we recognize the role played by the country club in helping us reach our mandate of educating orphaned and vulnerable children from the Lenana slums here in Nairobi, and in so doing lift them above abject poverty.

It is a commendable response on the ground, and we hope to have more local individual and corporate involvement with our work. We welcome well wishers who are ready to believe in our dream to join hands with us in furthering our will to transform and empower Kenyan youth with quality education

HHFL Primary School Kids Experience a New Dawn at ‘New School’

HHFL Primary School Kids Experience a New Dawn at ‘New School’

Written by Lucy, HHFL Operations Manager

Hanne Howard Fund Lenana has been a story that began out of the blue; just a spontaneous situation that arose from Hanne & Ted’s curiosity to have a feel of what life is like in a Kenyan slum back in 2005. Their encounter with a badly stricken HIV girl on her grandmother’s back opened their hands to this phenomenal establishment that has continued to grow and churn more and more grads. Initially, it was all about feeding the malnourished children, and providing them a place they could be occupied with some art and crafts. Hanne and Ted’s concern was however beyond this. They needed to equip the children with a decent education that would save the children from the slum woes forever.

Under their(Hanne & Ted) guidance, we have tried a number of schools since we began funding the kids’ education, and each step leads us to a new realization of just how much potential our children have.

In May 2019, we made another milestone by moving 12 of our primary school children into a new school. This is a matter that has been in our hands for a while now and we are glad we eventually did it. The structure of our programme is that all the primary school children attend the same day school.  For this change, however, we had to put in consideration a number of factors – key being facilities and standard. We began the year with 20 primary school children, with 6 being in 8th grade, a very crucial year as it marks the end of their primary school curriculum.

We resolved to move 12 children into the new school and left the 6 to complete the year in the old school, as such a disruption could be a disfavor to them before they adapt to the change. This was after each of them was subjected to a rigorous interview to determine their capability in handling their respective class workload. There were a few of the children that did not make the cut, and an amicable solution was to have them resit their previous class. As a donor organization, we go beyond funding. We commit ourselves to doing our due diligence in creating a relationship and regular contact with the schools where our children go. 

We are very glad to report that the new school community has been very friendly and supportive to our children, especially with the fact that we moved our kids mid year. All the students have been very positive of the change and they love the school. The school year ends in November, so we are looking forward to a new academic period.

Denzel in his class – He is learning the new competence based curriculum being introduced by the government

In the latest evaluation, all the kids have made a great leap in their grades, to which we attribute the close relationship we have with the school, and the conducive learning environment in the new school

Empowering Girls with Tech

Empowering Girls with Tech

Written by Snorine, HHFL high school girl

Technology refers to tools and machines that maybe used to solve real-world problems.

Let’s think of the world without the technology. A walk back to about fifty years ago to a life with little or no technology that we are using today. Things were mostly done with the bare hands; required more human power and it must have taken so long to finish tasks. You can imagine a world or life where you just eat, take a bath and sleep. I mean doing the same thing over and over again. Fast forward to today! We can not fit in that kind of world now. Thanks to the massive application of technology in our daily lives.

People’s innovation is growing faster as the world grows smaller with the invention of technology. There is always an easier way of doing things.

Let’s imagine the world fifty years to come. How will it be then?The world has already changed massively because of technology. Just imagine how much we rely on technology now than we did 50 years ago. The rate of technological advancement in today’s world is unimaginable. In 50 years to come it will be a totally different world. If let’s say we use a time machine to travel forward. It could already be a virtual world where everything is done in the virtual space. Let’s wait and see if we still get to live that far.

For many years technology has favored men more than women. We see that most of the big machines e.g., the plane engines, motor engines and so on are operated by men. Most pilots are men. The men have a higher advantage in the technology industries than women, but some organizations have come up with programs that empower women and the girl child to free access to technology. These organizations can help break down the barriers preventing girls from accessing technology through training, mentoring and jobs.

The HHFL girls got the opportunity to be part of the many girls learning IT. Akirachix has been offering us an opportunity to attend bootcamps and Geek Girls Festivals.

 

This was the end of 3D printing class back in August. The kids designed the items: Pots, eye glasses, home tables, cars and and printed them

 

Signing in the attendance sheet for the GGFEST in April 2019

In addition, this year some of us were lucky to learn about AI (the Artificial Intelligence and machine learning). We were invited to a workshop by TeensinAIAfrica. I personally was one of them. I got the chance to learn more than I knew. To be frank I never knew what Python programming was and also what Azure and Microsoft workshop was. It took me three days to be introduced to and work with all these programmes. We were dealing with three global life issues, this was: Quality education, Good health and well- being, Climate action. With these three cases, we were to come up with an idea of how we can help the government solve the problems within our communities.

For the research to happen, we were put into different groups since we were so many. My group was named Samurai and it group number four. We were dealing with strategy number four which was quality education. We were to use everything we were taught. My team narrowed the problmes down to the teacher- student ratio. This is seen as a problem to many schools in our country, where you find some schools having more than  teachers while in others schools there is teacher scarcity. With this problem we were able to come up with a ratio chart where we involved the government as share holder, while the teachers and students as the ones affected.

We designed a solution using Azure programme that we thought might be helpful to the government in ensuring that all children accessed quality education without any discrimination. We mostly pressed on the girl child access to the machines and the quality education as well. With the points and the research we had, together with our teamwork, we managed to be the winner.

This gave me the enthusiasm of learning more about the machines and the technology in general. I am certain that with more exposure, we are on the runway to great discoveries

Directly supporting programmes that work to improve literacy and education is one way to help girls reach their potential. If a girl cannot read or write, she will be held back from using new technologies and realizing their full potential.

Celebrating Alumni Excellence – Sharon Akinyi

Celebrating Alumni Excellence – Sharon Akinyi

Written by Isaiah Kirieri, HHFL IT & Communications Admin

We are glad to share with the world about one of our elder girls, Sharon Akinyi. On 8th November, she graduated from the Kenya Institute of Management, having scored second class honors upper category for a business management diploma. I managed to grab some time from her busy schedule in the late hours of her graduation ceremony and here is the interview:

Please tell us who Sharon is:

My name is Sharon Akinyi, a mother of 1 son. I work at Mkopa Solar company as a collection agent.

Today looks like such a beautiful day. What is happening?

I graduated today with a diploma in business management. I have just eaten, so don’t worry if you see me being uneasy. My stomach is full and it has been a day of festivities

How has the journey been so far?

It has not been easy. I work during the day, then I have evening classes. At home there is a boy who needs my time again; so it is not easy but here I am

How do you manage to balance your time between family, work and classes?

It is tricky. But one thing I know is: Whenever it is time to work, I give it my all because I have KPI’s and work targets. When it is work time between 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM I give it my shot because I know that at the end of the quarter I will have to go through the targets that I have been given and I must achieve them. So after work at 5.00PM, I rush to class until 8.00 PM. Immediately I leave my classroom, motherhood is back! I am rushing home to do homework with my baby and make sure that his school uniform is ready for the next day. He tells me what his day has been like. After that I have to retire to bed, unless I have exams the next day which means I have to do some quick revision. I have never slept earlier than 10.00PM. It is a busy life but I am happy

Sharon and son

How does it feel like to have family celebrate your graduation with you?

It was a very nice day. We are 8 siblings and you can just imagine the joy that was being spread among us and the love. My grandma reminded me not to forget this day, so I had to make sure that she travels and she has been here, very settled. My mum has been around with her friends..more than 10 of them

Sharon with mum and her friends

Any message for your siblings at Hanne Howard Fund?

First thing, of course you know I love you guys. I love you very much and remember if you have any targets or anything you want in life, no matter how tricky it is, just find a way to maneuver through it. It is only you who can do it. Nobody else can do that for you. It is not just in academics. It may be work, family. You just have to learn to create time for all your needs .

How have you been funding your Business Management and CPA courses?

I think God has been on my side. It is hard to get a job. I got my first job in 2014 June, shortly after completing high school in 2013. Through the savings I make from my job, that is how I have been funding my CPA course, that is, the 1st three sections. It has been very hectic, so I had to take a breather with another course – Business Management. I have graduated today, and I will be preparing to go back to school and complete the remaining 3 sections.

Catch the full interview on our Youtube channel:

2019 Kenya Cup Championship – Sport for Charity

2019 Kenya Cup Championship – Sport for Charity

Written by Ted Horton, HHF Canada BOD Chairperson

There is an expression (“Third Time Lucky”). After 2 rain delays, Steve Groh, the stalwart organizer and backbone of the Kenya Cup for the past 10 years hit a home run.  

Last Saturday, on a picture perfect Fall day in Toronto, it finally all came together. “ Grip” was the last team standing after 32 teams had battled it out over 3 days.

2019 Kenya Cup_Steve Groh

We owe a huge thank you to Steve for another successful tournament.

The Kenya Cup is our major annual Canadian fundraiser. It has provided critically needed funds for post-secondary education and has made it possible for many of our young Kenyans to get a good education on the road to self sufficiency.

Brian Wechuli – Another Proof that HHFL Delivers

Brian Wechuli – Another Proof that HHFL Delivers

Written by Ted Horton, HHF Canada BOD chairperson

Many of you know Brian Wechuli, one of our proud success stories. 

Hanne and I had a good chat with Brian this week at Java. Java is a growing Kenyan- based coffee house chain.  Brian is married to Sandra with a 7 month old daughter Charlotte. Brian is the son of Mama Brian who is an HIV survivor. She was on death’s doorstep when Brian with his 2 younger brothers in tow arrived one day in 2006 at the project pleading for help for his mum. We took them all in and also looked after/supported his mama, who today is healthy and leading a “normal” life. 

Brian is actually 1 of 5 HHFL “kids” who work for Java, acquiring skills and saving money for higher education. Brian’s next rung up is an ass’t barisita. We met his manager that same day and she told us that he was definitely management material. Good stuff!

Fast forward, I stumbled across an old /worn HHFL pamphlet in my passport folder this morning. I carried it for the past 14 years to use it to explain to Kenyan Customs Officials what were we doing in Kenya/ why we were always loaded down with luggage for the project. and why we shouldn’t be asked to pay duty. I must say it worked over the years but I always dreaded the prospect of being fleeced at the border by these guys, and so Hanne took over that discussion and when she spoke of doing the Lord’s work, it became smooth sailing.

Brian in his younger years is in the back row 3rd from left. 

Indabax TeensinAI Africa Hackathon

Indabax TeensinAI Africa Hackathon

Written by HHFL high school girls

We have been home since the beginning of the month of August. This is usually the shortest school holiday. It does not even last a month. Being home means the world to us. While other kids close school and spent their time with their parents or guardians, home to us means being at HHFL, or The Project as we all have come to call it over time. This is where we are kept busy from Monday to Saturday with extra curricular activities running from 8.00 in the morning till 5.00 in the evening

Our holiday was extended by a week to allow the national census exercise to take place when we were at home. During this week, we received an invitation from Akirachix to attend a tech workshop.

The workshop was named TeensinAI Hackathon and it was being held from 28th -30th August at Kenyatta University. We were all excited to be going. This was a chance to learn more of what we have been learning by attending the bootcamps and Geek Girls Festivals at Akirachix.

Eight of us were able to attend: Mackline Anyango, Snorine Lihavi, Fatuma Nassir, Leah Wanja, Janet Letoto,  Michelle Kivikwa, Michelle Adhiambo and Teresiah Wamaitha. It was 1st time for many of us to visit Kenyatta university which is about 2hrs away from our home.

At the University, we met other teenagers who had signed up for the hackathon, and we met a wonderful team of trainers comprised of students from different universities. We were introduced to the goal of the hackathon which was to help us think of ways we can solve our community problems using AI-artificial intelligence. We were taught about Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which the United Nations has embraced to change the world by 2030

We were then divided into eight groups, where each group was to work on a project around the SDGs. The following is what we did:

Snorine & Leah

 We were with other teenagers who are not from Hanne Howard. The name of our team was Samurai. We worked on SDG 4 which is about Quality Education whose dimensions include Equity and Sustainability. We explored the problems that affect quality education and narrowed them down to Teacher-Student Ratio. Our persona in this case was the teacher, and the user of our AI model would be the government since it is the one that employs teachers.

We needed to find a solution that will help the government monitor the teacher/student ratio. We used AI to create a medium that would connect all schools for access by the government. We developed a model with machine learning using Microsoft Azure to monitor student/teacher ratio.

Michelle K & Wamaitha

We were also working around SDG number four which is about Quality Education. We defined what quality education is and what affects it. We narrowed challenges to school dropouts. Looking at the effects we identified drug abuse and poverty as some of the causes. We made a journey map of an orphan who has siblings. An orphanage adopts him, takes him to school and he is later in a position to support his siblings. Our group was not able to make a model

Mackline, Fatuma

Our group worked on SDG number 3, which is about Good health and well-being. We narrowed our focus into sickle Cell anemia, which is a disease that affects young kids mostly from age 4

We were working on a model to help doctors use machine learning to solve sickle cell anemia problem. We learned about a case of one doctor in Tanzania who found a cure for her daughter who was suffering from the disease. She is looking for a solution so that no children are born with sickle cell anemia. We worked using Microsoft Azure

Fatuma, Janet, Michelle

Our group worked on SDG 13, which is about Climate action. We were taught about the different Types of machine learning

We narrowed down our attention to air pollution and we looked at the stakeholders, causes and effects. We narrowed effects down to car fumes and exhaust from factories. We searched for a case study of a trader who sells his goods by the roadside in a busy highway. He once got sick from fumes and was hospitalized and cured. His name is Elvis. We made a journey map of his daily activities

The solution was to come up with an exhaust filter that can prevent the harmful gases from being released into the air from vehicles.

By the end of the hackathon, each team was expected to present the work done for three days. Team Samurai was announced winners. We were all happy to have learned a lot for just three days and as we go back to school, we look forward to sharing this information with other students who did not get a chance to attend, and we will be learning more from our Microsoft Azure accounts.

We are very thankful to Hanne Howard Fund, Akirachix and TeensinAI Africa for giving us this opportunity

My Internship Experience at Dudutech Kenya

My Internship Experience at Dudutech Kenya

Written by Bernadette Wasike – HHFL Alumnus

It’s been 3 weeks since I reported to Dudutech after completing my BSc. Horticulture studies at Pwani University.

My first impression of the place was way further from my imagination. The environment here is very clean you can barely see any litter. They have planted lots of trees around the premises and the air is always fresh. What was way better than the environment was the staff. They are very kind and willing to assist new employees through the induction process.

Dudutech creates solutions for farmers on how to eliminate pests and diseases using biodegradable products. For the past two weeks I have been learning about the companies various products after which I will work in the sales department. It’s been an eye opening opportunity as I am learning a lot about safe agricultural products in a world where most products contain harmful chemicals. The big global debate on carbon emission and global warming can never be won if different stakeholders do not devise means of working towards reducing toxic substances being released into the environment, and I am glad to be part of an ecosystem that is creating a better world for the current and future generations.

I am
very grateful to HHFL and to Tom Mason for giving me this wonderful
opportunity. I am working very hard and determined to grow to even
greater heights

HHFL Alumni Creating Time for their Siblings

HHFL Alumni Creating Time for their  Siblings

Written by Isaiah K, HHFL’s IT & Communications Admin

Among many things that HHFL celebrates, is our ever-growing number of alumni. These are adults who have gone through the HHFL system to attaining self-reliance. Most of these are either in their 1st or 2nd jobs, while a few are still tarmacing.

The alumni are important members of the HHFL family, and they are actively involved in the day-to-day affairs of HHFL. They do find time to come back home and spend time with their younger siblings who are in schools, and such is what happened during the June school break.

Our primary school and high school kids were blessed to spend a weekend of interactive and motivational talks from their elder siblings – Steve, Daniel and Cedric. The three coincidentally found themselves in the compound after being given their off day on 8th June.

Cedric is a certified nurse working with the Lions First Eye Hospital here in Nairobi, and he is very interested with corneal harvesting. His previous assignment was with orthopedics and he learned a lot about bone injuries and treatment. He has been in the programme since 2006, receiving care and education to be the fine nurse he turned out to be. He graduated a few years back from the Presbyterian University of Eastern Africa. He attended his high school studies in Kiarithaini High Schol. During the heart-to-heart, he shared with the kids his work experiences and study tips to the high school kids in improving their grades, especially in Mathematics

Daniel Safari has been in the programme since 2012. He is a current 3rd year student at Masai Mara University. He cleared his O levels at Njumbi High School with clean grades that got him enrolled into the regular degree programs for Economics and Statistics. His hardwork earned him a partial scholarship, and we are doing our best to fund him for the remainder of his expenses. He is a smart brain, and he has enrolled for CPA studies to reduce idle time. He was impressed to hear from the primary school and high school kids about their improved grades. He encouraged them to stay focused and to choose good company in school.

Steve is an employee of Java House – a chain of restaurants that is famous for its coffees and state of the art delicacies. He began in the lower ranks of a steward, and has risen to be a valued barista. He is now in a special team that collects and tastes coffee berries from across Kenya in order to recommend the best source of Java’s coffee. He too has been in the programme since 2006, and is a graduate of Karen C Secondary School. His job skills have been acquired through practise, and he is never settling for anything less than the best. Steve reminded the juniors about the importance of practising self-respect and respect for others, and obeying the various rules/code of conduct that we encounter in our various life’s assignments.

The children had gazillion questions out of curiosity from what the big brothers were sharing with them about their jobs and personal lives. It was a very warm afternoon to all, and hopefully one that will be treasured by the younger ones as they too strive to make it in life. It is the principle of “Monkey-see, Monkey-do” and we are proud of the family ties that are never broken between HHF kids