Pockets for Pencils

Pockets for Pencils
Supplying School Uniforms to Children in Need

After volunteering in Kenya for over a month now, it's easy to see the financial burden that both school fees and the cost of uniforms have on families around the entire country. Children are constantly denied the right of education simply because they are unable to buy the clothes required to attend.       

Although numerous communities suffer from such injustice, it was the inhabitants of an IDP Camp in Gilgil who undoubtedly served as the catalyst inspiring this very project. 


Kenya was rocked with violence in the aftermath of the 2007 presidential elections. Ethnic conflict between tribes brutally forced over 250,000 people from their homes, resulting in the formation of IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camps. The majority of inhabitants are from the Kikuyu tribe- most of which were once successful, enjoying comfortable and secure lives before the imposition of their aggressors only five short year ago.

Because of this, adults place a high value on their children's education, recognizing it as a reliable source of escaping their newfound poverty.


Camps are often found in areas with poor resources, allowing little to no room for economic growth. Steady incomes are a near impossibility, as most money is made through sporadic manual labor jobs for low pay.

Tattered remnants of tarps make up the homes of most inhabitants- making disease, infection, and sickness common, while readily available healthcare is scarce.


GilGil is located in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. The beautiful green landscaping of this area is a result of daily rainfall. Weathering conditions continually affect camp members quality of life- perpetuating illness, halting work opportunities, damaging goods.


Fundraising to supply school uniforms for the IDP children to ensure them an equal opportunity for education despite their financial standing. Donations will not only directly fund the cost of clothing; they will also alleviate a substantial financial burden for entire households. Families will then be able to save more money for food, medical attention, and other resources contributing to the overall improvement of their quality of life.


It's understandable why most schools enforce strict dress codes, as it serves as an attempt to bridge the gap between the classes, forcing children to focus on their work rather than their social standing amongst peers.

However, the reality is that a requirement meant to inspire equality, backhandedly does quite the opposite.

After all, what about children (like those in the camp) who are bright enough to pass the entrance exams to Primary School, yet not wealthy enough to spend $20 on a uniform? 

They're turned away, often times without alternative institutions available, forcing them to stay home an entire YEAR until they're able to try again.

Then what? Even if they manage to scrape up the money to purchase the uniform, they are still teased due to their age difference amongst their new classmates. Sure, students might be wearing the same clothes, but I think the division of economic status is still pretty clear.  


As I would serve absolutely no justice in simply retelling the stories IDP members, their testimonies have been recorded (see video).

Understand that repeated exploitations of this camp have left them daunted, reluctant to reveal the intimacies of their lives. Outsiders would mask their self-righteous motives as acts of humble nobility, spouting empty promises of progression in exchange for their narratives. Ultimately, the community only felt the sharp sting of betrayal result from their vulnerability, as little to no development was ever seen in their quality of life. 

My aim is to redeem the voice of the IDP community, proving THEY are capable of evoking change with the infectious strength of their OWN words.


Item Size Cost ksh Cost USD
Dress (female) 24 700 ksh $8.34
26-28 750 ksh $8.93
30-32 845 ksh $10.06
34-36 980 ksh $11.67
Navy Blue Sweater (male/female) 24 705 ksh $8.40
26-28 785 ksh $9.35
30-32 915 ksh $10.90
34-36 1,070 ksh $12.75
Navy Blue Shorts (male) 20 505 ksh $6.01
22-24 515 ksh $6.14
26-28 565 ksh $6.73
White Shirts (male/female) 20 375 ksh $4.46
22-24 415 ksh $4.94
26-28 465 ksh $5.54


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    • $20 
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Kayla Nielsen 
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