St Bernadette & St Mary’s School is now fully operational with 298 pupils. We sometimes take for granted our lives here in the Western World, in Kenya it is very different matter. Here is the story of a young girl Aisha Ali who attends our school, she lives in poverty but it was only after she did not return to school after the mid-term break that we discovered the full extent of her circumstances and the difficult conditions at home.
Aisha Ali is the forth and the last born in the family of the late Mzee Ali Mwakusema and a class five student at St. Bernadette`s and St. Mary`s. The family members are Zainabu Ali, Salma Ali, Sophia Ali and Aisha Ali. In 2009 her father passed away and thats is when the trouble really began.


In Kenya when a man dies, his brother inherits the family and is supposed to provide for them, unfortunately this does not happen in many cases. Aisha’s father had two brothers and one sister, as he was not on good terms with his brothers they decided they would not provide for the widow and her four children. Although Aisha’s aunt did try to assist it was impossible and the three older children dropped out of school helping on the farm in exchange for food and a roof above their heads. In December 2011 the uncles then decided that they would arrange marriages for the young girls but the mother & auntie disagreed with this. She was then thrown off the family compound with Aisha’s mother and the four children. Having nowhere to live the women set about build a house from mud and managed to construct a one bedroomed house, its nothing like we are used to living in but the normal for people living in the surrounding area of the Orphanage & School.

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They approached the village elders for advice as they were destitue. They were amazed to learn the family land had been sold by their uncles and the had nothing. One of the older girls after getting a job as a house girl in Mtwapa fell pregnant and instead of providing for the family arrived back to the village with a baby. All this time Aisha was trying to concentrate on her studies whilst often just surviving on the cup of porridge she gets every morning at 10am at school. Families of young village girls often try to marry them off in order to receive a dowry and this could very easily happen to her any day.

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In order to ensure that she continues with her studies George our social worker will closely monitor her studies and home life along with Mr Franklin our PTA Chairperson making weekly checks as we know the importance of education otherwise Aisha will end up in an arranged marriage as a 2nd or 3rd wife to an older man having babies every year. The poor people in Kenya have virtually no rights with land being grabbed daily but for women it is even worse and often the only way out is a marriage where you are just a baby making machine. When you see this kind of reality you cannot help but feel that we live in a cruel, ill divided world and reiterates our beliefs in education as way to make change for future generations.

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