Its on a Wednesday morning hours as the cold chilly weather seems to take a toll on everyone as people seen walking along parts of the slum are warmly dressed with heavy jackets and scarves. As I walk through the slum, many local residents are busy with their day to day tasks as a way to get the day’s income. My walk from Olympic to Mashimoni takes roughly 30 minutes.
My mission today is to visit one of the local primary schools called Magoso. As I enter the school premises, I find some of the girls in brown sleeveless uniforms rehearsing for the up-coming music festivals slotted for this term. I am welcomed by the head teacher whom calls the patron of the Talking Box Club, madam Maureen Awour. The Talking Box is a box for pupils to lodge written messages about issues that they cannot share openly with either parent or a guardian.
|Madam Maureen with students Berlyl, Linn and Valerie|
And what are the main issues that affect girls? I posed this question to Madam Maureen. "We found out that girls are not ready to tell us their problems and we saw the need for them to write their issues on pieces of paper so as it helps us solve the problems they encounter. In most cases they are shy to tell us teachers directly," she says.
|The Talking Box|
Jane Anyango,founder of the Talking Box says they discovered that girls had many unresolved issues when they used to hold local forums, and even at such forums many of the girls feared to talk their issues out openly. "We could not accommodate all the girls so that’s how we came up with this concept," she tells me.
|Jane Anyango, Founder of Polycom Development Projects|
I managed to talk to a few of the pupils from Magoso primary about why they think it’s important make use of the talking box. One of the girls was happy that the talking box helped them since they didn’t have sanitary pads. "Once we wrote it down, a good Samaritan was able to donate them to our school," she tells me.
|An example of one of the notes in the box|
Girls especially face extra obstacles to education, these range from lack of sanitation facilities and sanitary napkins to teenage pregnancy, according to a 2008 report by the Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Kenya.
The Talking Box Program now runs it in 12 schools, all of which are in Kibera. The program also plans to open a counseling center as a way to give a listening ear to girls and will also target boys in the near future.