Joyce[1], 15, was not going to school when the social worker met her for the first time. She remained behind to look after her youngest siblings when her mother Susan went to look for jobs. Susan had moved from the western part of Kenya after the demise of her husband with high hopes of finding employment but was met with a reality of low-income and often inconsistent casual jobs.

As with the rest of her sisters, Joyce’s stay at home came with innumerable risks as a girl, especially because she is an adolescent. Abuse, child labour, sexual exploitation, and early pregnancy are some of the common outcomes for girls her age in their neighbourhood. Being a single-parent household, the family was challenged financially: food, shelter, and clothing were scarcely available to Joyce and her siblings despite the much effort Susan put into ensuring the security of the mentioned needs. What is more, the children had been moved without bringing the necessary documentation with them that would ease their transition to other schools. It became increasingly difficult for them to enroll without these documents – a situation that almost brought Susan to tears when she contemplated how much it would cost her to travel back to get them.

With emergency relief support, the family could put food on the table and buy other basic necessities as the social worker assesses the best interventions to address the root cause of their current situation. With advocacy, Joyce and her siblings got slots to join a nearby school. he social worker searched for the previous school’s name on the internet, and she finally got the contact of the head teacher, who responded positively and assisted by providing the much-needed documents for the enrollment of these wonderful children. To ensure regular school attendance and retention in school, the siblings were put on the list of most vulnerable children, which would see them benefit from school feeding. Moreover, school uniforms were provided to each one of them to seal any loophole that would keep them from going to school.

In school and some of their immediate needs taken care of, the focus shifted to handling their mental health. To help them process their grief and loss, the family was allowed to properly mourn the passing of their father. These sessions from the counselors have benefitted Joyce, who lacked confidence and seemed to be drowning in low self-esteem.

To ensure the family sustains itself independently in the future, Susan is to be empowered economically by starting a business, ensuring the family’s security and prosperity.

Recent interactions with Joyce and her siblings have made the social worker notice a positive change in them. They are now happy and have made new friends in school!
The teacher has noticed Joyce, and she describes her as a hardworking girl who is passionate about her classwork. The family is ever so grateful for the support they have received from Macheo. Joyce would like to be a doctor someday. We would love to see her dream come true. We continue to monitor the family’s progress and wish nothing but the best for them.

[1] To protect their privacy, Joyce and Susan are not their real names. Her family has given us consent to use their story.

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