Happy New Year from Tenderfeet


The new school year begins in a few weeks and it is an incredibly hectic time for families across Kenya. School supplies and uniforms are often purchased now, and children are moving to the next level of their education. Some are leaving pre-primary going to primary and some are going to secondary.

We are so grateful to our donors who are assisting many needy children with school supplies and uniforms.

Speaking of uniforms, for many of us not growing up in the Kenyan system, the national school uniform requirement (tracing back to the British Colonial days) seems like a harsh and unnecessary burden to families. Every school is expected to require their students, no matter how poor, to buy a matching uniform with good quality black shoes (leather if possible). See picture to the right of two Tenderfeet girls in their uniforms (Happy and Yvonne).

On a personal note, I would be thrilled if kids weren’t required to wear uniforms. School uniforms have been a neverending source of frustration from day one. Compared to sandals and second-hand clothes, which can be bought very cheaply in Kenya, a uniform is a major expense to poor famlies. For families with more than one child, the cost of uniforms can be as much as a month’s wages!

But I have come to understand that the uniform is a deeply ingrained part of Kenyan culture that we have to live with. Although most schools for poor children, such as Tenderfeet, tend to look the other way when it comes to uniforms, such a situation is frowned upon. More strict schools — such as those attended by former Tenderfeet kids still receiving assistance — will send a child home if not wearing a uniform.

I am also mindful that to Kenyan children, a uniform (in decent condition) is a source of pride, reflecting the great importance Kenyans place on education. Kenyans also value modesty and tend to dress much more formally than people in many other countries. Sadly, for most poor children that do have uniforms, their uniforms are so tattered and threadbare that it becomes instead a source of embarrasment. So I try to remember this situation when I think about school uniforms.

Those that gave to the Christmas fund for school kits are doing a great service to deserving children. It’s not too late to help out with uniforms, you can donate here. Be sure to specify Tenderfeet and uniforms on the donation screen.

Shadrack recently had a nasty eye infection, but thanks to the Tenderfeet Emergency fund, we were able to get medication and treatment for it.

He has now recovered completely and will be going back to the Treeside school, thanks to his sponsor, Corby’s Castle.

By the way, Shadrack is wearing the T-shirt Brittany sent him last year. Brittany has been a special friend to Tenderfeet for a long time, and still helps through the Ten for Tenderfeet program.

In other news, we are glad to have new sponsor for one of Tenderfeet’s neediest children, Sharon Kwamboka. Our new sponsor is named Kevin and he lives in Toronto, Canada.

Sharon is a six-year old orphan girl who lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather is in poor health and often bedridden. The photo to the right is of Sharon and her grandfather picking up some food supplies (rice and beans) made possible through the Tenderfeet Orphans Fund. Her grandmother works whenever she can find a small job, usually washing clothes.

Sharon has been attending Tenderfeet in Kibera since the beginning of 2006. Like many Tenderfeet children, she is a victim of AIDS, which claimed the life of her mother when Sharon was very small. Fortunately, Sharon tested negative when she took the HIV test.

Thanks to the child sponsorship program, Sharon will receive assistance with food, shelter, and educational needs. The Tenderfeet sponsorship team works with each family to ensure the child is helped in the most effective way possible.

We are still looking for sponsors for some of the other especially needy children of Tenderfeet. Please visit this page for more information.

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