The Kids Project
Providing privileged services to kids living with their incarcerated mothers
My mum is a prison warden so my sisters and I grew out our entire nascent years in Prison Warden’s camps. Living in these camps and constantly seeing inmates moving around -helping out with chores, tending to farms, etc- made them a very integral part of our community; and many of them, my sisters and I, remember very fondly.
Even then, my interest in kids living with their incarcerated mothers only very recently became clear to me. Back then, we would see some women inmates with toddlers and barely gave it any thought. A couple of years ago though, when I was back home for Christmas, I saw this again and asked my mum about it. It’s then that I learned that when a woman is incarcerated and has with her a child under the age of 4, she’s asked to bring the child with her unless a relative can tend to them, and if none is willing, then they’re sent to a home after age 4.
As my interest piqued, I asked my mum whether I could pay the kids a visit on Christmas. On our first visit, a smaller group of my friends sent in contributions to buy food for a typical Kenyan Christmas. Whilst that was fun and highly appreciated, we soon realized that a more year-round solution would go a long way.
Phase 1: Spreading the Christmas Cheer
Christmas as kids, as most of us Kenyans remember it, had one single formula; you had a new dress, you went to church bright and early for Christmas service (and also to show off and check out your friend’s new clothes), then you got back home to a feast so huge you couldn’t eat for days after that, and then finally, you’d go out to play with your friends. It was quite a production and we loved it!
Kids living in prisons barely have any of this so we decided to make an attempt at creating a Christmas as fun and memorable for them as we could.
So I took you my friends to the task to help me on this project which we presented on Christmas day along with some new Christmas dresses and some stuffed toys. We had such a fun afternoon with it.
Phase 2: Re-imagining Play
At the heart of it, kids want to be kids regardless of the place.
The prison and its environs are home to the kids born by parents who have been incarcerated. This means play is limited by what they can access at a critical stage of their development.
Building a playground was an idea that would be both fun for Christmas whilst also lasting year-round.
We presented a few playground equipments to start us off. The results were heartwarming. The kids went from being scared of using the swings to braving it on their own.
This will also serve new kids who come in regardless of age or gender for years to come.
Project Extention: Kids Educational Kits
We would very much like to continue doing this.
We have identified a couple of things we could do going forth such as; replicating this project to more and more prisons in the country and having itemized donations towards education kits for every individual child such as coloring books and art supplies.