“My child in class eight made a mistake in school with his classmate. When we were called by the teachers, the other parent was up in arms over the mistake his child had done. He did not want his child to be chased away from school but when he was told it was inevitable, he kicked his child hard and told him to find a new home. I was calm and collected and talked to the teachers who agreed not to send my child home but punish him in school”, these are the words of Faisal Abdi.
Faisal is a beneficiary of Families Matter training program, conducted by the Uzima Foundation in Kibera Slums in which he has benefitted twice. He is a father of four children the eldest is 17 years and the youngest four years. He has seconded many other parents to the program which he feels is worthwhile, timely and a necessity to many parents especially in Kibera slums where he says “there is so much rot because of immorality, lack of family values and unity and disrespect”.
The training that he benefited from empowers parents to positively communicate to their children of between ages 9 to 17 on critical information about sexuality. While the program assists parents in ways of engaging their children on the need to delay sexual encounter because of the risks involved, there are broader family and societal values impacted to trainees. For instance, values like communication, grooming and proper parenting form core part knowledge instilled in trainees.
Furthermore, in these times when economic hardship has meant that not all people can be educated formally, it offers alternative knowledge and life skills that positively impacts trainees. Parents can better have an interest in their children and monitor their habits to ensure deviant behavior is curtailed at the earliest opportunity.
Attitudinal and regressive cultural practices are also arrested through sharing of experiences hence learning and acknowledging that parenting challenges are common and there are better ways of dealing with them that make everyone happy and responsive to the other. Khadija Abdi, a current trainee says “the training reduces cultural primitivity. This is compounded with the reality that some families may have one parent hence the single parent is both the father and mother.”
Faisal says in the current society, many parents do not know how to talk to their children and this has increased cases of child abuse. The training he asserts “helps reduce the parental self-imposed censure to communicate with the fellow parents and children.” He has helped a family who had no hope for the future find reason to smile through linking them with organizations that have taken the children to school. He says it is the compassion he developed in the training and gives him better hindsight of society and the need for positive thinking.
Grace Nagudi, is the single mother whose children are now in school thanks to Faisal’s efforts. She says “I am very grateful and can now afford a smile because my children are in school. I did not tell Faisal to assist me but somehow he was carrying enough to consider assisting me”. The two were former neighbors but now leave far from each other albeit within Kibera.
Faisal is however angered by some behaviors he sees in the slums. Alcoholism has taken toll in the area and left children at the mercy of their neighbors. Other parents are negligent on the roles they are supposed to play. This has resulted in men with ulterior motives to take advantage of young girls who lack guidance through using incentives like food. “I feel so ashamed when I see a 50 year old man hoodwinking a 14 year old girl into thinking the man has her best interest. The result is increased HIV transmission, early pregnancies and school drop outs. It is even more appalling when these young girls bring the children to their parents’ homes which make the situation worse.”
The sadness is Faisal face makes a case for more engagement with the Families Matter program. He talks with a wrinkled face expressing like the natural ones of an old person as he tries to suggest that much needs to be done. Albeit happy that he has managed to hold his family together and they are united, he says “I am not happy that many of my neighbors’ families and children are disunited and lack focus. They all need to join the program and will forever enjoy its fruits”.