More than one million people live in Nairobi’s squatter community of Kibera, including 30,000 orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Recently, Chicago Public Media spoke with Jesuit Father Global Terry Charlton, co-founder of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a unique Catholic high school designed specifically for young people affected by HIV and AIDS in the Kibera slums.
In 2001, as Charlton visited people suffering from AIDS, he kept hearing a repeated concerns for the children of those suffering, primarily about the child’s ongoing education.
“There is free universal primary education in Kenya, but all secondary education, including at the government schools is for a cost, and a cost that would be far beyond the means of these people mired in poverty because of their illness, not able to hold jobs and that sort of thing. So in 2003 our school decided to sponsor 12 of their children for freshman year of high school,” said Father Charlton.
Working to help more children in the same situation, Charlton opened a school for 25 students in 2004. Through the support of many people from around the World, plus a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Government, they have been able to build a school that now accommodates 280 students.