Video: hundreds of Kenyans march through Kibera to stand #UpForSchool

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

A World at School’s Claire Wilkinson and James Cox were in Kenya for an inspirational #UpForSchool event. Words by Claire, video by James.

Last week I joined nearly 1000 people gathered in Kenya’s largest urban slum Kibera to stand #UpForSchool. The local NGO Shining Hope for Communities and its founder Kennedy Odede mobilised the sprawling community to come together, rise up and demand their voices were heard by world leaders, calling for action for the 58 million children around the world currently not in school and learning. 

Over the past two months, Kennedy and his school Kibera School for Girls paved the way to secure 8500 signatures by reaching out to the local community, parents, teachers and pupils to send a message that in every corner of the world people are demanding action.

SHFOCO wanted to mark this moment and celebrate this amazing achievement with an event and a march through the slums, visually and verbally standing up for school.

Crowds started to gather hours before the start of the march at Kibera School for Girls, people eager to be a part of this moment. School teachers, parents, pupils and members of the local community were excitedly geared up for the day, clearly a moment they had been waiting for.

There was a desperate scramble for #UpForSchool T-shirts before the event and banners were being prepared until the last moment. The band arrived to give some energy to the troops and the march began, a huge crowd cheering as they walked through the winding streets past stalls, houses with people watching from the sidelines cheering all the way.

It was quite amazing to see everyone from six to 60 all coming together with such spirit, and belief that with this action from all they could truly have hope in achieving a shared goal to provide a better life for their children, friends and their future.

The atmosphere was electric and it was a moment I willl not forgot. It was a moment that should not be ignored. As the march concluded in the “kamukunji” – the gathering – many of the younger girls from the school were already sitting patiently waiting for the performances and speeches to begin. About 1000 people gathered in this spot, with more and more joining as the event went on.

There were numerous performances from children and young people from the local community. From a play about the need to educate women and to challenge a traditional male perception, a nailbiting acrobatics session and some nine-year-old rap artists flexing their vocal cords, all displayed the amazing talent that is bursting out of this community, desperate to be harnessed and developed. 

In the midst of this were the inspiring speeches about why the #UpForSchool campaign inspired so many in Kibera, why education is so vital for young people and why educating a girl can change the whole family’s pathway, benefiting them economically and providing them with the chance for a better future for all the family.

Kennedy wrapped up the event with his own inspiring story. He bought his mother on to the stage to thank her for pushing him and believing in an education as a way to break free and why he is therefore building on this message in everything he does.

He then handed in 8500 signatures in a ring binder, each page with 15 signatures from five to 15-year-olds to teachers, parents, communities – all voices sitting together on a page asking for change, as an example to inspire others, wherever they may live to join this movement and ensure this change does happen.

You can make your voice heard too by signing the #UpForSchool Petition now. And you can read more about the Kibera event and see more pictures here.

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