Wednesday, December 06, 2017

How One Extraordinary Teacher Brought Hope to a Slum

If you walk into Mathare Community Outreach (MCO) Joy Primary School in Mathare Slum during break time, you will hear laughter and excitement coming from children playing in the hilly and uneven grounds of the school. You will see shiny, blue-painted, iron sheet walled classrooms with newly cemented floors.

However, this was not the case a few months ago. Some classrooms had gaping holes on the roof where rain would fall onto the floor. Deteriorating iron sheets with jagged edges caused cuts and injuries. The uneven dirt grounds were a constant source of dust and mudslides.

One teacher, in particular, Joseph Vetelo Makau, had been most affected by the uneven grounds in the compound because of his physical disability. When he heard about the upcoming renovation, he took an active role in ensuring that the school would be well renovated so that both children and people living with disabilities would feel safe, and could comfortably move around the grounds.


MCO Joy teacher Joseph Makau pictured here with several students before the start of class.

“I want my students to enjoy their learning experience," he said. "I desire to see the doors, roofs and walls repaired. I am glad I am part of the process. I want students to find safety here at MCO Joy,” says Joseph.

Joseph was so dedicated to the project that he passed up an opportunity to go home and spend time with his family over the school holiday to ensure the repairs were ongoing. And every day for almost two weeks Joseph faithfully came to school to monitor progress. He also ensured that building supplies were secure during the evenings.

Joseph is no ordinary teacher. To say he has lived a life with struggle is an understatement. Raised in Kitui, a village in the outskirts of Nairobi, he has overcome many obstacles.

“I was born into a poor family and I am a polio survivor," he said. He also lost his father when we was very young.

"Though the disease has left me disabled, I have worked hard to provide for my five handsome boys and my wife,” said Joseph.

Over time he has risen through the ranks from an untrained teacher to a college-trained educator.

“I have been at MCO Joy for 15 years now," he said. "I love and feel fulfilled when I teach children... and I always want to instill the importance of teamwork here at MCO Joy.”

With MCO Joy restored, it is now a safe haven for students and teachers, away from the sprawling slum's dangerous environment littered with crime, refuse and open sewers.

Thanks to generous Allies like you, children living in the extreme poverty of the Mathare Slum are experiencing the Hope of Christ.