While most Kenyans were enjoying Madaraka Day on Saturday, a group on volunteers from Ficha Uchi Initiative were in Mathare slums to donate school uniforms to children from underprivileged families.
The 200 students who benefitted from the gesture were from Maji Mazuri Primary School, Destiny Primary School, Lea Learning Centre and St James Primary School.
The campaign is a nationwide exercise that aims at restoring the dignity of school-going pupils who feel embarrassed in their torn uniforms.
The campaign identifies pupils with badly torn uniforms countrywide and restores their dignity by giving them complete uniform makeover.
During any of their events, the team prepares meals for the children as the tailors make the uniform on the spot.
Because of the number of uniforms to be made, measurements of all the children benefiting from the uniform are taken, then the cloths are delivered after two weeks.
In Mathare, the students and all the volunteers also planted trees along the polluted Mathare River.
A total of 30 trees were planted, which the student adopted and promised to look after.
The Ficha Uchi campaign is fully funded by members and donor contributions in the form of fabrics and sewing materials after which they engage local tailors endorsed by parents and teachers who then help stitch the uniforms at half price.
The program, which was started four years ago by Billian Ojiwa, has so far donated 4,860 school uniforms to 49 schools across the country.
Mr Ojiwa was orphaned at 14 and grew up in poverty, and his star started shining when he moved to Mathare to help his aunt run a restaurant.
It is in Mathare that he started the Billian Music Family, an initiative that helps children record and market their music.
He later started the Ficha Uchi Initiative after a parent asked him to help buy school uniform for her daughter in 2013.
“The Ficha Uchi Campaign started when a parent approached me to assist four girls who had torn school uniforms. After visiting that school, I realised that this was a problem that many children were going through. The shame of going to school with torn clothes made them anti-social,” recalls Ojiwa.
“They wouldn’t play with other children and barely spoke in class. As a result, I mobilized people to support my idea. I encouraged the parents who were tailors in the school to make uniforms. I then mobilized more people to donate fabrics and all the materials needed to make the uniforms. We encouraged people to take photos of children with torn uniform and post on social media to raise awareness,” he further narrates.
The campaign has been working with celebrities such as Holy Dave, Sage, Adele Onyango and the former Prime Minister’s daughter Rosemary Odinga to create awareness and raise funds for more uniforms.
Ojiwa says the group will call the project a success once they hit the one million uniforms through the support of well wishers.
Their next event will be in Isiolo County in September and the team is targeting to reach 300 student in 6 schools.