June 18, 2021
Covid-19 has rolled across the globe. The ongoing impacts and need to adjust to the pandemic differ so differently in so many places. This conversation is with the Progamme Manager at Nairobi, Kenya-based Ngong Road Children's Foundation. This organization supports students who live in the slums and come from home afflicted by HIV/AIDS to transform their lives through education, thanks to sponsorship and support by U.S.-based Friends of Ngong Road.
Students restarted school on May 1st after being locked down for the past year. With a barely negligible (under 5%) share of the population getting the vaccine, the school experience is very different and educational challenges persist. Moreover, the Kenyan economy continues to struggle. Graduates and alumni are facing challenges as the pandemic struck the economy hard.
For more information about the organization, go to ngongroad.org
November 24, 2020
Friends of Ngong Road has ambitious plans to double their impact in transforming lives of children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya by 2025.
To achieve this, Charlie Levine just joined the team as the new Development Director. We had a nice conversation about what attracted him to the organization, and how his unique background as an engineer and an attorney, and his personal sense of purpose will compliment this organization continues to make such a difference.
For more information about Friends of Ngong Road, visit ngongroad.org
October 28, 2020
These days, we're all finding new ways to stay connected. Friends of Ngong Road sponsors have traditionally exchanged written letters with their students. But today, a newly created technology, the Student Portal, is making those connections much easier, faster and convenient.
In this episode, we talk with 20 year old post secondary student Perpetual Wanjiku and her sponsor Jeri Pearcy, about their relationship over the past decade, and how they are using and would like to use the Student Portal to stay connected, especially during these times of the global pandemic.
August 25, 2020
In Episode 14, we had a conversation about the study process and first set of findings from the Ngong Road Children's Foundation conducting its ongoing "Covid-19 Family Tracking Report".
In this episode, I talk with Mary, a Senior Case Manager who has the relationships with the families to firsthand collect the information. We talk about a single student, Rodney, and his family and the challenges of living amidst Covid-19 in the slums of Nairobi. Rodney's mother's source of income was cut off due to the shutdown, resulting of the family without notice being suddenly and locked out of their home, scratching together resources to put a roof over the family's head.
For more about the organization focused on this organization, go to www.ngongroad.org.
August 18, 2020
Students who receive education and surrounding support through Friends of Ngong Road (FONR) and their affiliate Ngong Road Children's Foundation (NRCF) are not attending school, unable to attend Saturday Program, and are shut out of the Computer Lab during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the physically separated, FONR and NRCF established a family tracking system to keep in touch, collect important information, and provide a way for the organization to monitor family health, economic, education and well-being. The data is being used to anticipate and respond to quickly changing needs. Michon Garrett, Information Systems and Business Manager spoke about the initiative and its use as a critical tool for managing in a remote setting.
July 20, 2020
Kelvin is Programe Manager at Nairobi, Kenya's Ngong Road Children's Foundation (NRCF) where they serve more than 500 children to attend school and gain an education to transform their lives. The children, sponsored by Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Friends of Ngong Road (FONR), come from families whose lives were lost or afflicted by HIV/AIDS and live in the slums.
The COVID-19 global pandemic is beginning its surge in this part of the world, and after a number of preventive measures, the Kenyan government annouced on July 7th, that primary and secondary schools would remain closed through the end of 2020.
Amidst these changes, NRCA and FONR continue to serve the children and families through online learning support, food relief, and important Life Skills and Sexual and Reproductive Health programs. This update would be of direct interest to the hundreds of sponsors and supporters of FONR, but also to anyone open to gaining perspective of how the global pandemic is affecting a population who lives in extreme poverty, dense living conditions where social distancing is of limited possibility, where access to quality medical care is barely an option, and where families are untenably forced to choose between remaining isolated to protect from potential of becoming contagious with the need to shop for food to get through another day.
For more information go to www.ngongroad.org #fonr-covid
June 26, 2020
The numbers of Coronavirus cases reached an all time high in Kenya. The nation is managing a shutdown. And graduates of secondary and post-secondary education supported by Ngong Road Children's Foundation and sponsored by Friends of Ngong Road are navigating the launching of their young adult lives.
In this episode, our conversation is with Emmanuel Mukusa, Alumni Coordinator with NRCF. He provides an update and insight to the challenges, support and resilency in this time and place.
June 15, 2020
Had an insightful conversation with James Kyalo. He works as an IT Assistant at Ngong Road Children's Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya where he's the junction point between students, the organization, and schools getting assignments through to students during the school shutdown while the government imposed COVID-19 restricts are keeping the public safe.
In addition to his responsibilities, James brings the perspective of being one of the very first children sponsored by Friends of Ngong Road, and thereby being one the senior met alumni of the organization.
May 25, 2020
So you're you've come from the slums of Nairobi, been fortunate enough to get a sponsorship that allowed you to attend primary and secondary school and now you've made your way to post-secondary education, in a technical institute, college or university. But then the pandemic strikes. And you find yourself back home, back to helping your family, doing what you can to help your family survive, helping tutor your younger siblings. And, you're trying to complete your studies, online, or in some cases without online tools at your home because your home has limited if any electricity.
These are the students Joy Obiya, Senior Case Manager in the Post Secondary Department at Ngong Road Children's Foundation is working with everyday, as they muddle through the daily challenges piled on by the COVID-19 on a already vulnerable population.
Take a listen to how this organization is helping navigate students though today's pandemic. More information is here: www.ngongroad.org.
And here is a link to a video referenced in the conversation: https://youtu.be/LA_grheJorQ
May 20, 2020
Had a Zoom conversation with Leonard Ngangs who from Nairobi, discussed the efforts, challenges and experiences of shooting street photography in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya amidst the limitations and conditions of COVID-19.
Leo is an alumni of Ngong Road Children's Foundation and was sponsored as a student by Friends of Ngong Road. He completed post secondary education in Information, Communications and Technology and specialized in photography. In February, 2020, Leo and I spent several hours together establishing ways we could work together so that Friends of Ngong Road could have a photographer available to support the communications needs for Friends of Ngong Road. Little did we know back then that in just a few short months, we would be working together on assignments that focused on the lifestyle changes in today's health and economic global pandemic.
This podcast was edited to accompany a photo slide show and my questions and side of the conversation were omitted in the production. We hope this works. For the full slide show, go to @SteveKotvisPhotography on Facebook.
May 4, 2020
Mary Wanjuri is a Senior Case Worker for secondary school aged students at Ngong Road Children's Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya. This organization was established by and is supported by Minneapolis, U.S.-based Friends of Ngong Road for the purpose of transforming lives of children living in the slums through sponsoring education and supporting essential needs. The schools continue to be shut down, as well are many businesses, in the context of the pandemic COVID-19 virus, and the organization maintains its operations, focused on the shifting needs of sponsored students and their families.
April 27, 2020
This episode is a conversation with Tutunda (Tunda) Lepore, Senior Case Manager, Primary School Students at Ngong Road Children's Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya.
Tunda discusses the progress of the Food from Friends program, the ongoing support caseworkers are providing to ensure that families are not displaced from their residents because they are unable to pay rent during the government shutdown, and the challenges of students progressing with their education to prepare for the end of year tests that are still scheduled. These tests are critical for students completing primary school, who in a rigid school system, are paramount to determining the qualification for what high school they may be admitted to next following year.
April 20, 2020
This week, we have a conversation with Kelvin Thuku, Programme Manager at Ngong Road Children's Foundation (NRCF) in Nairobi, Kenya. This conversion falls on the footsteps of a podcast published just a week ago, from a sit down conversation in February. But how quickly things have changed for all of us. Today, instead of managing the Computer Lab, Kelvin's title and role has been elevated, and his focus these days is on addressing the immediate needs of students supported by Friends of Ngong Road through the "Food from Friends" initiative.
So today's episode starts by Kelvin helping describe the conditions in Nairobi's slums in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the work of NRCF to address those pressing needs.
For more information and regular updates on the status of the pandemic in Nairobi's slums as experienced by students and their families sponsored and supported by FONR, go to www.ngongroad.org.
In the next few weeks, the Illumini podcast plan to conduct more conversations with NRCF case workers working with primary, secondary, and post-secondary aged students.
April 13, 2020
Was able to spend almost two weeks in Nairobi in February, and this conversation was one of the main reasons for making the trip. This visit with Kelvin Thuku was about his establishing and running the Computer Lab at Ngong Road Children's Foundation.
How quickly things have changed. He was Programme Coordinator in February, and today, he is Programme Director, where his duties and focus have quickly shifted from computer learning to food distribution and managing the necessary adjustments of the organization amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This interview is about what was happening in February. Very soon, we'll soon be producing one about what's he's doing more recently.
April 13, 2020
Was able to sit down with Ngong Road Children's Foundation (formerly Ngong Road Children's Association) board member Judy Ngaga to talk with her about the work of the organization and how they are working to help transform lives of children living in the slums of Nairobi. NRCF was established in Nairobi, Kenya by Minneapolis, Minnesota, US-based Friends of Ngong Road.
Judy attuned the annual meeting where I was able to sit down and have conversation with her about the relationship between the two entities jointly focused on benefiting children who live in Nairobi's slums who with sponsor support are able to attend school, earn an and education, and transform their lives.
May 1, 2018
Sally Kenney is the Executive Director of the Newcomb College Institute, and a Professor of Political Science at Tulune University. She is a Friends of Ngong Road www.ngongroad.org sponsor of students, vounteeer, and board member. Sally and I met in 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya when we were each visiting our sponsored students and I was first working on developing stories for the organization.
This episode is a conversation with Sally and I had back in November while she was in Minneapolis to attend the organization's Annual Gathering. We talked about what brought Sally to this point in time with the organization, and her experienes with working with bringing Tulune University students to Kenya, and some important insights to some research her team conducted to learn more about the significance of sponsors' connections and students success.
Thanks for giving this a listen. And please comment or provide feedback if you wish. Thanks!
October 31, 2017
Maureen Mulievi is the Programme Director at Nairobi, Kenya-based Ngong Road Childrens Association (NRCA), a non-profit organization established and supporred by Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Friends of Ngong Road (FONR). The organization serves children living in abject proverty and who come from families striken by HIV/AIDS. The children are sponsored by individuals from the U.S. and around the globe who provide the funds necessary for the children to attend Nairobi schools. Detailed infoirmation about the organization is available at www.ngongroad.org.
This episode is a conversation with Maureen while she is on a visit to the U.S. to attend FONR Annual Gathering on November 13th. Maureen brings apparent energy and talents to the organization. I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I had visiting with her.
October 30, 2017
This week, The Ilumini Podcast will feature a conversation with Maureen Mulievi, Programme Director at Ngong Road Childrens Association (NRCA). Maureen joined the organization in August 2016 and with her extensive leradership background in non-profit organizations, she has helped to elevate the professionalism of operations this Kenyan-based organization that has experienced signifgicant growth over the past decade.
This interview plans to touch on some of Marureen's personal and professional background, perspectives from her past year. The conversation will include some insights in the context of this year's focus on "Ready. Willing. Able." theme. Following eposides will feature some of the Friends of Ngong Road volunteers who are bringing their time and talents to offer programming to students that is proving so valuable to helping launch theur adult lives.
Please watch for social media announcements of when this episode will be published later this week.
July 14, 2017
This is the innagral podcast of Illumini, a conversation with Paula Meyer, founder of Friends of Ngong Road (FoNR), a Minnesota-based 501(c)(3), and Ngong Road Children Association (NRCA), a registered Kenyan NGO, establsihed in 2006 that operate with the shared mission of providing education and support for impoverished Nairobi children whose families have been affected by HIV/AIDS.
This conversation is the first of a series of podcasts intended to help tell the story of the organization, and more specifically, focused over the next couple of months on an upcoming trip to Kenya to attend the camp programs.
This will be my fourth trip to Nairobi. The first three were about photography, videography, and some interviews that resulted in some of the videos and storytelling to help bring to life the very significant impact that sponsors and donors have on helping to transform lives of children living in some of most abject poverty and challenging conditions in the world.
This next trip will take me to two camps for a week, that will literally be in the field interviews of those attending camp. And of course, I'll have my camera gear close in had as well.
The podcast series is a deparure, or rather an extension of ways to help tell these stories. I hope they bring light on a reality that is admittedly hard to grapsp, much less try to express. Comments and feedback are most welcome.