Pastor Gilbert Ochieng updates us on a program in Kenya that is having huge successes.
PASTORAL CARE PROGRAM PROGRESS REPORT
Dear Friends, Happy New Year 2021 to you all and hope you had a wonderful festive season together with your friends and family. Schools resumed for all our children on the 4th of January 2021. On the first day of school, we reported a 98% turnout of our pupils across our three school projects. This happened while many public and private schools across the country were recording as low as 45% pupil turnout in the first week of schools reopening. The Ministry of Education in the country attributed the low turnout to high levels of school dropouts brought about by teenage pregnancies, depression, and drug abuse.
Dear friends, the positive outcome of our children reporting back to school in large numbers is not a coincidence. These are the results of your dedication to supporting the pastoral care program to help our children deal with their mental and physical issues. As a result, our children have remained focused on building their future through education.
On the first week of schools reopening across the country, we have witnessed in the local news of teenage boys and girls carrying crude weapons to schools to perform murder acts against their teachers and parents. This trend is growing at an alarming rate and those children involved have testified to have depression and self-esteem issues that compel them to do such 2 things. Many teachers across schools in the country have filed reports of receiving threats from their pupils and noticing tremendous behavioral change since the pandemic.
Dear friends, our children have reported to school in large numbers and are on their best behavior because of the positive atmosphere that they experienced throughout the Pastoral care program in 2020 during the pandemic.
November and December 2020 Sessions.
We had four pastoral care meetings in November and December with our children being facilitated by our counselor, Mrs. Lydia Ngigi. We spent time with our children and followed up on the main issues highlighted in their personal journals. These issues included;
1. Handling abusive parents
This is an issue that was raised in many boys' journals. They emotionally expressed being mistreated by parents, they were being shouted at, beaten, not allowed to play, overburden with chores, and being called names they didn’t like. Mrs. Lydia called upon all the boys and demonstrated to them how to handle abusive parents using positive energy and response to their parents 'abusive behavior. The boys were more than happy to get this eye-opening knowledge from the counselor.
2. Drug Abuse
Our counselor continued to guide our children on how to respond to temptations from other people to indulge in drug abuse. She also continued to create awareness of the negative implication of indulging in such activities at a young age. During the Christmas Party of 2020 that coincided with the last program session of December 2020, an exjuvenile teenage boy called Stephen was invited to talk to the children. He motivated them with his personal experience. "My name is Daniel. I was born and raised here in Mikindani, Mombasa in a low-income family of 11 members. Life was really difficult growing up due to our large family. At some point, I got frustrated and decided to join a gang of teenage boys from my slum village. We got ourselves involved in drug abuse, sexual activities, and robbing civilians 5 of valuables. It did not last long before I was arrested and put in the Shimo La Tewa Borstal Institute for three years.
I served my 3-year sentence and thank God for Pastor Gilbert who gave us spiritual guidance during my time in prison which really helped me reform. I am now a free boy and really look forward to doing good for society. I, therefore, advise you to talk to your elders about your mental issues so that you can be helped and not find yourself in the same situation I was in." Pastor Gilbert was part of the Board of members in charge of releasing Reformed Juveniles. He voted for Daniel's freedom after being convinced he had reformed. Daniel is now back to living with his family in Mikindani and is also part of the Star of Hope Kenya family which is helping him integrate back to society. Daniel is involved in maintenance work at our school projects through which he earns a living.
With the knowledge that our children come from very destitute backgrounds, the counselor continued to build on the area of building self-confidence in our children whom some feel not good enough because of their backgrounds.
The counselor reminded them of how much Christ and the Star of Hope family loves and cares for them and so are their parents and God.
MOVING FORWARD INTO 2021 Since all school operations have officially resumed in 2021, we have organized to have 2 meetings every month for the pastoral care program in Mikindani and Jimba. We look forward to continuing to provide guidance and self-care packages to our children in 2021. This program has become a vital part of our children's well-being during this pandemic period. We thank you so much for your awesome support in this program.
God Bless You. Gilbert Ochieng, Operations Director - Star of Hope Kenya.