In Kenya, poverty is still rampant as 35% of people live below the poverty line, which is $1.90 per day. This figure is even higher for children at 42%. While 93% of children attend primary school, there are still 7% who don’t go to school. This group is often the most vulnerable, and we are here to support them.

In the larger Thika region, many parents cannot afford to send their children to school to learn. Some children are left alone or have to work dangerous jobs to help their families make ends meet. Parents send their children to work as day labourers, also known as “casual labourers,” which is risky for the children and also means that they cannot attend school.

By providing these children with school meals, parents have a direct incentive to send their children to school instead of making them work. This results in less stress for parents who don’t have to worry about how to feed their children. As a result, they can focus on the future and have the opportunity to take back control of their lives.

Hunger can lead to poor concentration in class, which can affect a child’s ability to learn. A good meal twice a day can help solve this problem as children who are not hungry are more active, absorb lesson material better, and interact more with peers and teachers. In the Thika region, many children suffer from a growth disorder due to a lack of proper nutrients, which can have long-lasting developmental effects and health consequences.

School meals help prevent stunting and provide a healthy foundation. Stunting puts children at higher risk of death and long-term diseases and infections, but it is preventable by consuming sufficient healthy food, such as school meals. In regions where school meals are provided, the attendance rate is higher.

Children receive breakfast and lunch in a container that they carry from home. They receive one large portion of food, which is enough to feed any siblings or parents who stayed at home. When possible, parents contribute a symbolic amount to the costs, so that they can experience dignity in the process. When this is not possible for parents, they are not obliged to do so. The breakfast and lunch are cooked in large pots in the schools and distributed at fixed times during break-time.

School meals are cost-effective, and for every euro invested in school meals, Kenya sees a 9-fold lifetime return on investment.

Macheo has recently created a 9-minute video that showcases our school feeding work, which can be watched here.

It is our wish in 2024 to assist 4,500 children with lunch at school, 6,000 children with breakfast (porridge) and assist parents of 2,500 children through a Conditional Cash Transfer they can use to join a school feeding program, provided by the government of Kenya or by another NGO, where avialable.

Macheo has been carrying out this intervention since 2006 and has continuously evaluated and improved the intervention.

Julie’s story

Julie (not her real name), now 13 years old, is the firstborn in a family with five siblings. She and her siblings stay with their mother and stepfather in the camps of a coffee plantation.

The school of Julie identified her to need the help of Macheo.

She is in class six of her primary school. She got identified because she was unwell, so the social worker referred Julie to the health intervention. The health intervention advised her to take a pregnancy test. The test came out positive, and Julie now got referred to the teen mom intervention. After some examinations, the doctors figured she was around six months pregnant. No one knew where the man responsible for her pregnancy was, and no one could trace him.

Before her pregnancy, Julie her home situation was already bad. Her stepfather was abusing her and her mother a lot. The stepfather got even more abusive after he found out about her pregnancy. The abuse made Julie, her mother and her siblings leave to another (safer) house. In this house, Julie shared a mattress with her five siblings. This mattress was old and tiny. Through the IPLC intervention, her family got two mattresses and some blankets. The mattress was not only given to provide comfort for her family, but also to decrease the significant risk of pneumonia.

After the traumatic abuse of the stepfather, Julie and her mom received counselling through the mental health intervention. The counselling helps them both a lot to process the traumatic events.

To make sure Julie and her baby will not have more difficulties during the first 1000 crucial days, Julie started her process at the prenatal clinic. The prenatal clinic will make sure Julie and her baby will progress well during the last few months of her pregnancy. Julie also registered for Linda’s mama insurance.

Now, Julie is still attending school under the supervision of the interventions and her teachers.

Julie her mother used to be a casual labourer around the coffee plantation, so having a steady income was difficult. Most of the time, there was no work for her. Because of the Coronavirus, the job shortage in Kenya is even more massive than before. Macheo empowered her mom with a greengrocery so that she can support Julie and her baby with enough food and the baby’s needs. Julie is progressing well, and she is now waiting for her newborn.

The unit costs in Assisting Teenage Mothers

Macheo has been working with unit costs since 2019 and this has really many benefits, it helps us to get a better understanding of our costs compared to our impact. It has also really raised the cost awareness of Macheo’s staff, leading to gains in efficiency, thus enabling us to help more children with the available resources.
In this unit costs we have calculated all necessary costs, for 1 teenage mother and her (unborn) baby.

Macheo can help 1 teenage mother for Kenyan Shilling 10,552 (87 euro)

The unit costs to assist one teenage mother is budgeted in 2022 to be 10,552 Kenyan Shilling.
in the graph above you can see how this amount of 10,552 is divided over different accounts.
Biggest portion (28%) is going to “education & training” which is about teaching vocational skills that can help the girls earn an income or the costs to finish formal primary or secondary education, the 17% needed for “nutrition and food” is support for the baby in case it needs formula milk (which is very expensive in Kenya).
“Empowerment” takes on average 14% of the costs and contains the costs of starting up a business if they choose not to go back to school.
The “community work” costs (17%) are the costs needed for identification of the girls and to assess their needs, so that Macheo makes the right choices and refers to the right interventions.
The 7% for “health” is normal health issues that might arise, the Government of Kenya pays the costs of delivery in public hospitals.

Other services the teenage mothers might need, such as counselling for example, are provided for from different interventions Macheo offers.

Monitoring & evaluation

First step in measuring the difference we make to the children who need our help is to choose who will benefit most from the help we can offer. This choice is being made by holistic social workers who identify the need, look at root cause and refer the children and/or caretakers to help from Macheo colleagues, the Government, or others who are able and willing to help.
The identified needs and root causes are captured in Macheo’s (anonymized) database.
When referred internally our specialist colleagues start with a baseline measurement on the Key Performance Indicators of their specific intervention. During the process they track progress towards this and when completed they rate the clients again. This shows the difference the intervention made. All data is collected through apps on mobile phones and displayed in dashboard, such as the one below, which is specifically for this intervention:

(please note that this is an extract of the full dashboard January-April 2022)

Since these challenges are often complicated, one child or caregiver could receive multiple interventions. After all interventions are completed the holistic social workers comes back to the family and repeats the intake needs assessment. The difference between the first and final needs assessment shows whether the interventions had the desired impact on children’s well-being.


We hope you will join us in enabling Macheo to help more children and/or caregivers who need assistance through Assisting Teenage Mothers. Macheo reports in April, August and December/January.


Macheo has 1 great colleague working with full dedication in this intervention. She is under the management of Ibrahim Hassan, whose personal story can be read here.

Ibrahim Hassan

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