All of our programs are focused on helping children and young adults attain the means to succeed. Our programs build on each other. Without the food we provide at a young age, children will not be able to develop properly and go to school. With nutrition they are able to stay in school in order to get rewarding jobs, and eventually to sustain their own family. With this as our strategy, our programs adapt over time based on what challenges the Kenyan youth are facing.
We have roughly divided our programs into age groups to show what we focus on at each age. Ages mentioned are an indication.
This age is vital for early childhood development. Good nutrition is extremely important, as is the ability to play, discover, and be creative and carefree. Many children in this age group have a single parent who is trying to support their family, but struggles due to lack of financial stability. We help with one of the highest costs of parents of this age group by providing free porridge in the morning, and a balanced and nutritious hot lunch at school. Since government schools in Kenya are almost free, by giving porridge and lunch we take a huge burden off parents. The stability this brings is what children need to live a carefree life. At the same time, nutrition helps them to develop in a healthy way and gives them energy to play and discover in a safe environment.
Age 9-13: second part of primary school
Many teenagers in Kenya dropout of school in this period of their life. Struggling parents are often trying to feed large families. Many teenagers feel forced to work, beg, or steal at an early age, to be able to contribute to feeding their family. However, once they are used to this lifestyle it is challenging for them to go back to school. We focus on giving these teenagers a daily healthy meal in school and organizing group counselling sessions in school in order for them to stay on the right track. When their parents are given support to keep them in school, almost all of them do!
Age 14-18 secondary school
Without programs like ours, many teenagers, especially girls, will have dropped out of school by this age, with high rates of teenage pregnancy. For many, if they finish class 8, it will be considered the end of their schooling and time to work. 1 in 2 students start secondary school, though many fewer finish. Many times the parent or guardian has had very minimal education, often only finishing class 3 from primary school. As a result, it is challenging for them to to support their children. For this reason, from secondary school onwards we take on a more individual approach. We become like guardians of these teenagers, helping them in a way their parents aren’t able to.
In order to do this, we help place students in boarding schools, where they will have an easier time focusing on school around like minded classmates. Without the distractions from harsh surroundings, and where it is often hard to do homework without electricity, they are able to thrive. BFI pays for the school, books, transport and other costs involved.
During the holidays the pupils go home and come for their holiday forums. We organize forums with individual and group counselling sessions, for students and their parents. Professional counsellors guide pupils and their parents through dealing with personal and academic issues. In personal sessions the focus is on what the pupil is struggling on or how he/she can excel better. The parent sessions are focused on enlightening parents on what their children are going through and how they can support them in the best way and maintain the respect of being their parent. Poverty is mainly in the mind and that is what is changing in this age period. Many pupils have changed completely after they finish secondary school. Due to the counselling sessions they free in their mind and embrace the knowledge that there are a lot of possibilities for them in this life. The goal of these sessions is to instill the knowledge that they can lead fulfilling lives. and that their background does not impede them from success.
Age 19-23 college
Though it is still not easy, the chance to create a stable life for yourself in Kenya is dramatically increased with a secondary school degree. The kenyan population grows with more than 2% per year, all of whom need a place to live, electricity, healthcare, and transportation.
Our college age program enables students to take tests to match them with a useful and fulfilling career that they are excited about. In order for our students to have good opportunities, we also analyze the job market to see where the current and future demand lies. There is a great demand for skilled workers in Kenya like electricians, welders, nurses, barbers, pharmacists and accountants.
During their studies, we encourage and help them to find internships, extra online courses, and side jobs that are study related. Due to this, many of our students graduate with work experience and are ready for the job market – some even establish a business after they finish their study. In order for college students to succeed] we fund their study, housing, food, and transport costs. Students will be living on/around campus or they will travel every day to school depending on their study and home situation.
Finally, college age students continue to receive group and individual counselling and sessions. These sessions help them in their current situation and prepare them for their working life.
Age 24- and up – career
A new generation is entering the job market. Our skilled former students are looking for jobs and are ready to start their career. As they progress in our program they receive an increasing amount of responsibility and BFI supports them more as a consultant. We encourage them to support themselves and give back to the organisation, to allow children who were in their place before to have the same opportunities they did. Our team has become such an important part of their lives and we will always be there for them if they have any questions. Finishing a study while coming from poor backgrounds, they sometimes have questions that are not answerable by their families nor by their fellow former students who come from wealthier backgrounds. For this reason, BFI holds a yearly meeting where former students can get together and share their challenges and successes.
After starting a career many former students find a husband or wife, get married and have children. A new generation has been born, one that doesn’t have to fight against poverty.