Friday, 14 June 2013



Ruaraka High School is a day mixed high school which was started in 1979 by the local community. This was made possible by the donation of a two acre piece of land from the late D’Silva locally known as Baba Dogo. The parents of the school contributed sh. 400,000 for the initial construction. However the two acre plot was found to be inadequate for a secondary school necessitating acquiring of more land.
The school as the name implies is located at Ruaraka in Kasarani constituency about 7 kilometers from the city centre and adjacent to the North of Mathare Valley slums. Mathare is one of the most densely populated areas in Nairobi and the community consists mainly of poor people who among them engage in casual jobs whose income is not enough to sustain their needs.

In 1984 a seven acre plot was acquired from the Commissioner of lands initiated by late Hon. Ngumba former MP of Mathare through Harambee initiative. An architect was then engaged to design the school on this new site. Funds were raised to the tune of ksh. 1,300,000 which included the value of donated materials and services that had been invested towards the construction of the school. The school was officially opened in 1984 by Hon. Mwai Kibaki, then Vice President and currently the President of the Republic of Kenya.

By the year 1989, the school comprised of a ground floor, six classrooms, an incomplete administration block and other facilities. The buildings remained incomplete till 2007 when through the economic stimulus programme (ESP) the government provided funds to complete the construction of school buildings.

Orphans:      These are the total ex partial orphans who struggle to get the daily bread and are therefore forced to work after school on weekends and holidays so that they can have their meals and save for their education.
Other orphans live with their relatives who are unsupportive and they use them as house helps and tools for sexual satisfaction. Such children do hard labor such as fetching and selling water to the neighbors, building and construction (Mjengo) house helps, laundry for the neighbors and they are highly exploited because they are children.

Single parenthood: These children from such families help their single parents in looking for money. They end up doing the dirty work in their environs and are exposed to many dangers such as rape, sodomy, drug abuse and death.

Large families: Due to poverty in slums, families tend to be large with the daily bread coming from the casual jobs that the parents do either in the neighborhoods in the light industries in Kariobangi. Such families survive on less than a dollar a day which can not sustain all their basic needs.

Unemployed parents: Most of the slum dwellers are unemployed and they tend to survive on very little money from the rare jobs that they get. This can not be enough for food and education and therefore children end up dropping out of school due to lack of fees.
Due to the harsh conditions, these children are forced to do hard labour where they get exposed to unlawful activities such as prostitution, drugs theft and illegal gangs and they end up dropping out of school because of pregnancy, drug abuse and addiction, court judgments, shame and even death.

Below is a case study of some of the challenges students face

Wilson lives in Korogocho slums in Nairobi with his younger brother aged 12 and fends for him. Both his parents are alive but his father is estranged. His mother had to relocate up country after it was discovered that she was suffering cervical cancer. The fact that he was in school he decided to stay and complete his education.

Faced with those circumstances he has to work over his weekend at Gikomba(Open air market) where he sells novels. He also cleans around his area and is paid some money. This income pays for his rent, food and fees. Other than this, he faces a lot of insecurity as his neighborhood is made up of gangs and drugs. 
His younger bother fell victim of smoking bhang(cannabis sativa) but he managed to get him out of it through counseling. The youth around are jealous of him and have nicknamed him ‘teacher’. They have tried to entice him into drugs claiming that teachers are paid poorly and drugs pay better.  The girls around have dropped out of school and some as young as 18 years have three children.  Other than drugs careless sex is the norm of the day.

Wilson claims he is forced to look rough, dirty and sometimes has to wear a jumper to cover his school uniform just to appear defiant and please the ‘boys’ in order to avoid being attacked. Having been a member of the international climate champions clubs, he learnt the skill of gunny bag farming. He prepared his sack that was destroyed by pigs. 
However he benefited from the school sacks since he got fresh vegetables cheaply and was able to save some money. Through the clean up programs in the school, it made it easy for him to clean around his area for an income.  He also participated in cleaning up the Nairobi River. His dream is to reach out to the youths about dangers of drugs,     pre - marital sex and importance of education.


The international climate champions club is an active club in the school with an enrollment of fifty students both boys and girls. The club has to provide the students with an opportunity to take up the responsibility of protecting the environment. It has also provided an opportunity to sensitize students to plant and nurture trees and therefore participate in ‘greening’ the world. The club sessions also provide a platform for students to discuss issues affecting them as adolescents and emerging current issues.

Some of the activities are: 

 1.     Tree planting.
 This has been done through the ‘Adopt- a tree’    programme where students have planted and adopted  trees.
Emily Osundwa of Kasarani District Agricultural officer

   2.     Beautification
Flowers have been planted around the school.


   3.     Rain water harvesting
 This is trapped from the kitchen roof and used for cleaning around the school and    watering the flowers.
    4.     Multi-storey vegetable garden
 The vegetable garden has been used to demonstrate to members the use of small space to earn an income and for food security.
   5.     Small scale farming.
This is done on small plots where students have learnt to grow dry resistant crops.
These activities have enabled students to interact and acquire skills they can use after school.

Generally, the students are faced with numerous challenges especially that they come from slum areas. Issues of         pre-marital sex, drugs and gangs being prominent. The girl-child is highly affected because of this kind of environment. According her protection is protecting the world.

Story By: 

Assisting Teacher
Lilian Sayo.

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