Introduction to Mama Beth’s and Kenya

Kenya has rich tradition of volunteerism with roots in the communal relationships of an African society. Harambee (pooling together of resources to provide basic services) is an expression of this tradition and the spirit of volunteerism. This tradition is the foundation of non-profit initiatives in the country such as Mama Beth’s. Mama Beth has been taking care of children who have found themselves without parents or those children whose families cannot take care of them for over 35 years. She is aging and needs help so that her legacy carries on and becomes sustainable.  Mama Beth’s works to provide scholarships for books, shoes, uniforms, and fees associated with the local school. There are 75 children currently at Mama Beth’s ages from primary through secondary school age.

Unfortunately, Kenya is still overwhelmed by problems such as food shortages, poor education, inadequate healthcare, HIV/AIDS, other diseases and slow development. In Kenya, the capacity of the state to provide basic services has been on the decline due to a slow economic growth rate. Structural adjustment programs were introduced and these subsequently reduced the government’s ability to provide services. The non-profit sector helps to fulfill some of these needs.

It is widely acknowledged that poverty is one of the main contemporary causes of child labor. Child labor is one of the threats faced by youth in the Nyanza province. Indeed, in rural Kenya, about 45% of children combine work and school, compared to about 7% of urban children. The vast majority of working children live in rural areas, with the largest population of working children being found in the Rift Valley Province,

Kijabi, its name is Maasai and means “Place of the Wind.” It stands on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, at an altitude of 2200m, about 50 kilometers north-west of the capital city of Nairobi. Kijabe has a population around 22,000.  Kijabe is quite poor and many of the children do not complete high school.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 68% of Kenyans live in rural areas. Rural areas typically presenthigher levels of poverty with inadequate basic services such as piped water, health facilities, electricity, roads, and schools. In Kenya as a whole, the percentage of children of official secondary school age who are enrolled in secondary school is 50%.  Mama Beth’s provides an opportunity to complete high school, an opportunity that these children would otherwise never have.