Njeri Kimemia – Vitabu vyetu

Do you have any idea what the sustainable development goals are? One of them revolves around education. One team from Kenya is working on promoting some of its targets which include:

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
  • By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.

Njeri is one of the members of Vitabu Vyetu. This is what she had to say;

What is the motivation behind Vitabu Vyetu ?

Vitabu Vyetu is an initiative with a mission to see that every child receives a good and quality education in line with the Global 2015 sustainable development goals as well as improving the reading culture amongst children seeing as they are the future generation. It is a non-profitable organization that was founded in 2013 by a team of young women. Our efforts towards reaching out to the various marginalized schools in counties all over Kenya.

classroom activity
classroom activity

For the past two years our initiative has taken and improved the lives of many children by seeing the fulfillment of getting kids in school, keeping them there and we are certain it will see them achieve their dreams.We later expanded our scope to 3 main pillars namely education, mentorship and economic sustainability.

Our mission is to ensure that every child is able to gain access to basic educational needs and that they can be able to read, write and comprehend information given to them. We have a team compromising of brilliant youth; a main team of five and 16 reading assistants at the moment.

the team
the team

Some of your activities revolve around SDG 4 of providing quality education. How has the journey been so far? Do people even know what SDGs are?

We start libraries and reading clubs as our own way of solving this problem in Kenya and eventually in Africa as a whole .This is because reading and basic arithmetic are fundamental blocks of learning without these children cannot make progress in school.

Through our reading club and library projects we have been able to create a lasting culture that ensures we are able to continuously help our beneficiaries.

Child learning how to read
Child learning arithmetics

Since 2013 we have been able to have projects in 3 counties reaching 13 schools where we either established or refurbished a library.Examples are LainiSaba Community Library, SOS Primary School, Iten, Lamaon and Lamariny Primary Schools.

Apart from this, we started a pilot project on the Reading Club Program in our 5 centers. In this program we started with 97 students who had difficulties with reading, writing basic literature and words of which by now 69 students are able to read and write complete sentences and paragraphs.

Some of the challenges we have is people have lack of awareness on the importance of education i.e SDG’s and lack of funds to provide educational needs and start up libraries

Who are your partners and what activities have you done together?

We have partnered with several organisations for instance Food for Education where we run a campaign ‘40foraplate’.We were feeding children a plate for lunch to ensure that they don’t miss class and a chance to education.

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Feeding children

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We have also partnered with Ficha Uchi where we were advocating and campaigning to ensure that children have proper uniform and don’t attend classes with tattered clothes as this is a problem for most and it causes children to drop out of school.

You have done various projects that have really impacted youngsters. Which ones were the most interesting?

The most interesting project so far is our Reading Club Program. Utilizing the havens we help create is amazing. The most fulfilling moments are when I see a smile in a child knowing that he or she can finally spell, pronounce and read fluently and more so have reading abilities, that completes  our vision which is to ERADICATE ILLITERACY.

What is the Maktaba Agenda?

Maktaba Agenda is a campaign that Vitabu Vyetu foundation runs with the focus of filling libraries i.e. community libraries or school libraries with books. We run it through our social media platforms and rally people to donate old or new books.

Vitabu Vyetu encourages volunteering in its activities. What impact has volunteering had on what you do and the society in general?

We have a volunteering program that started with only 3 volunteers to working with a total of 116 volunteers till date. Our volunteers are trained to become reading assistants for our reading programs. Through them we have been able to move a step closer to our ultimate goal of reducing illiteracy levels. We have been able to strengthen social connections as well as build strong safe, cohesive relationships with the communities we work with.

It has helped us to foster great trust among people we work with and develop norms of solidarity and reciprocity that are essential for stability. Volunteers make it possible for us to identify and have a better assessed understanding of social problems.

reading activity
reading activity

Do you have any mentorship activities?

Yes we do. At Vitabu Vyetu, we have a programme that is in its second year. We mentor a girl’s center known as Kibera Girls Center where we run three major activities through the year and walk with the girls from the beginning to the end.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is an alarming rise in cases of people suffering from cancer. How have you used your Pinktober sessions to educate the community?

Pinktober Campaign runs every year in October  with the view of educating people about cancer where we have partnered with an organization called HELD SISTER where together we educate the community on what is cancer awareness and prevention, importance of nutrition and fitness in cancer prevention management to promote family health.

Who is Njeri? (your role in the organization, your hobbies, motivation, passion, personal challenges and successes)

I am a social entrepreneur, co-founder and communications manager at Vitabu Vyetu foundation. My concentration has been on youth, children and education

I am also the co-founder of Amber Communication where we specialize in helping brands, small and medium sized enterprises as well as personal and corporate  entities connect with their audience throughout full spectrum of brand communication.

My hobbies are: I love books! I’m a book hog because I believe books have a smell and its divine. I love baking. it’s one of my pastime favorite as well as travelling which allows me to see new environments.

My motivation comes from knowing that I have changed, transformed and made one’s life better. Making a difference in a young person’s life, knowing that I have given them hope to live another day.

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What quote would you like to leave to anyone reading this story?

¬’When the day is gone, peace is knowing you’ve done your part, joy is knowing you’ve done your best and fulfillment is knowing you’ve touched lives.’ – by Gibson Anduvate

¬ We are all blessed with doing something right whatever it may be. Let us all do it to perfection. For example, if you’re a writer and a good writer at it ..Let it be known you were the best.

¬ Finally, I always live by service above self.

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