The Viruoso-Upchurch Learning Centre
Micato-AmericaShare was humbled to accept a remarkable donation from our friends at Virtuoso —a gift that was then generously matched by Jessica and Matthew Upchurch. These funds have been put toward the construction of a much-needed special needs classroom for the children of the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
Construction of what will be known as The Virtuoso-Upchurch Learning Centre is in full swing. The slideshow below chronicles the progress of this wonderful endeavor.
The Good News
In the heart of Mukuru and just around the corner from the Micato-AmericaShare Harambee Community Centre, the Kwa Njenga Primary School was founded in 1994 and today swells with a population of more than 2,000 students. With only rudimentary facilities, too few teachers, and insufficient supplies for its overcrowded classrooms, the school’s educators nonetheless recognized the need to introduce a Special Needs unit for students between the ages of 5-14 who are autistic or mentally challenged.
Currently there are 36 children enrolled in this unit. Once these students acquire the necessary basic skills, they will be integrated into the traditional school system to continue their education. Those who do not qualify will remain in the special unit to learn vocational skills that they can use in life.
Due to the very limited resources available to the school, students with special needs have no option but to share facilities designed for all students. Their makeshift classroom is temporary, constructed from corrugated iron sheets, and devoid of special equipment or design that can accommodate the students’ needs.
With no spare classrooms available, Kwa Njenga is faced with the non-optimal circumstance of grouping the autistic and mentally challenged students in a single room. Further, an increasing demand for special education in Mukuru means that in the next year, the school needs to increase its special needs unit from 36 to 60 children. The school is rapidly, critically running out of room.
When the Virtuoso-Upchurch Learning Centre is completed, the extra-large classroom will comfortably accommodate the newly-expanded special needs unit and will be designed with a movable partition to cater to the separate needs of mentally challenged and austistic students. Further, the autistic students will have special seats and desks designed for their needs. The Learning Centre will also be equipped with all the necessary tools to facilitate the students’ learning and skills-building. What the school would have at one time considered unattainable luxuries—from simple teaching aids like number charts and wall clocks to more specialized speech-aid and physical development materials—will now be readily available to these students and their teachers.
On behalf of the teachers of the Kwa Njenga Primary school as well as its special needs students and their families, Micato-AmericaShare extends its profound thanks to Virtuoso and the Upchurch family for imparting this precious gift.