By Caleb Mwamisi
There is not a school that would boast the same level of physical structures within proximity of Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums in Nairobi. St. Michael’s is a school encapsulated in the Mukuru Promotion Centre -MPC which works with the people of Mukuru slums to boost access to social, healthcare and welfare services. The Sisters of Mercy set the school up in 2007 for both boys and girls. It stands out as a colossus of hope for the poor environs and thousands of underprivileged young people have gone through it becoming productive members of society. From a wider perspective, MPC provides a positive environment for youth and their families through the sectors of education, health, rehabilitation of street children, sponsorship programs, skills development, and social work. The idea of St. Michael’s was to provide nominal but quality education for children with special needs; orphans, of single parents/guardians, those living with disabilities, and those from very poor backgrounds.
On 5 December 2020, as the AJAN team disembarks from the taxi and saunters into the airy hall, buoyant energy is palpable and the principal, Mr. Jasper Obiri ushers us in. The students are elated to receive trainers from AJAN and the Mercy Education Office- MEO team the organizers of the event. About 50 students were in attendance and about 50 were missing for one reason or another. To facilitate free expression and proper interaction of the students with the visiting teams, teachers gladly went about other business away from the hall.
Fr. Ismael Matambura passionately kicked off the day by reminding and seeking to enable the young people to understand that they are all special creatures of God, and with a special purpose on earth which God expects all to attain. He embarked on helping them cultivate the right attitude towards God, others, and life. Janet, of MEO, followed to indulge the students in the subject of sexuality, a subject that led to a discussion about pornography and other vices young people often fall into if not careful, well-informed, or with the right mindset. The day was getting richer, and after break AJAN trainer Rosemary took up the role of engaging the students in directing sexuality further.
A group session where students dissected and presented on various questions which trainers drafted followed, and in this the students demonstrated powerful presentation skills and some humor. A question-answer session happened in the afternoon as a myriad of questions which students anonymously posed provided fodder for a powerful engagement as the trainers helped the students to find answers through avid reflection and reasoning. A healing session in the afternoon, which sought to reconcile the students with God and enabled them to forget any personal hurts, ensued as Fr. Ismael burnt confidential notes the students had written through a reflection of their individual pasts as a new beginning was declared for them. A glorious day indeed that we will all live to remember with gratitude to our God.