Due to Coronavirus, schools in Kenya closed with only 2 days warning. Daraja students come from impoverished families who have very limited access to technology—most don’t even have electricity in their homes. So, the Daraja team has had to come up with some unique distance-learning solutions.
A CREATIVE SOLUTION In a single day, teachers worked quickly to put together homework that the girls could carry home, along with their textbooks. Now teachers regularly send questions over WhatsApp (a free messaging service) for the girls to work on. Each week, different departments take the lead in focusing on their subject. Teachers are also available over WhatsApp if the girls have questions or want extra study material.
Dean of Academics Mercy Gichohi says, “My challenge is to reach all the girls in every class—especially those who are not able to access a phone at all. We are working with what we have though, and we are making progress.” Daraja is working to secure 32 basic smartphones for those girls whose parents and relatives don’t have one to borrow. These $60 phones are simple but can access WhatsApp and the internet. To make this happen, many Kenyan friends have donated their Safaricom reward points (called Bonga points) that can go towards phone purchases. 22 Thousand points will buy a phone, and Daraja has already received over 120,000 from friends and supporters!
Those without Bonga points who would like to support the purchase of smartphones can donate online.
WELLNESS CHECKS Dean Mercy has organized all of the girls into groups of 10. Each group is assigned to a staff member who not only follows up on their school work, but who also checks on their wellbeing. Because the food supply chain is short and easily disrupted, we anticipate that food security issues may arise. We are on standby to support the students and their families to make sure everyone remains healthy and safe.
Thankfully, Daraja parents participated in a special training earlier this year that taught them how to care for a traumatized child. Each Daraja girl has gone through some level of trauma due to poverty. Daraja staff are staying available to parents who have questions or who need support as they implement their learning during this time of crisis.
If you have any questions about how Daraja students are being supported during the school’s closure, please reach out to us! We are partners in this work together!