In Kenya like many developing countries providing holistic ECD interventions remains a major challenge for children under eight years. Yet, a child’s development is greatly shaped by the environment they grow in. They need a stable environment that is sensitive to their needs emotionally supportive and stimulating. Currently most children are affected by poverty and some of their basic requirements are not a priority. To some parents, food, clothing and shelter are considered enough. However, is it?
Mrs. Lily Oyare, the founder of Little Rock ECD centre noticed a gap in the knowledge of parents living in one of the largest slums in Kenya, Kibera, when it comes to their children’s needs and decided she had to do something. Having been a teacher for many years she had interacted with children and knew how important education was but most importantly knew how other aspects such as nutrition, nurturing care and positive guidance among others were equally important. Together with her team of caregivers, they have dedicated their time into giving children a better start at life and making up for lost time with those who never had the opportunity.
“It has been a long journey. We have seen great impact of our programs in these children. Little Rock is an all-inclusive centre. What that means is that we have children with special needs as well as normal kids, so our curriculum is tailored to cater to all these different needs. There are kids who joined us when they were malnourished. Others as old as two years could not move about on their own. We were afraid they wouldn’t make it but thank God and the tireless efforts of the caregivers, these kids are now thriving. Most of the issues we had to deal with are issues that could have been avoided if parents paid more attention to their children,” Ms. Evelyn the Operations Manager at Little Rock ECD Centre states.
ECD centres are doing their best to correct some mistakes committed by caregivers but how many ECD centres are there as compared to children in need? From my interactions with the Little Rock community, one thing is clear; parents need to step up. Most programs at the centre have been birthed from the need they observed on a daily basis. Poorly groomed hungry children with low self-esteem. All these are issues that parents can handle but because of their lack of awareness, their children are paying the price. We could all sit back and chastise these parents but how is that helping? What is more important at this juncture is to come up with a long lasting solution that will save the future generation.
In conclusion, we all have a role to play in shaping up the young ones. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a kid. Indeed it does, so let’s step up our game.