Heart-Mind Well-Being Around the World: Chema Vision School in Kibera

Angela Low facilitating the online Heart-Mind Workshop to educators at Chema Vision School.

While social distancing has been an unwelcome and ongoing effect of the pandemic, discovering new ways to bridge the gap of global distance through technology has been a redemptive quality of the past year. Last summer, our team had the exciting opportunity to present our Heart-Mind Foundational Workshop online to educators at Chema Vision School in Kenya. Mary Muthini, Director and Co-Founder of the school, was eager to bring this professional learning opportunity to her staff after she heard about Heart-Mind workshops from Julian Prolman, who supports the school with proceeds from his fashion company, Ministry of Tomorrow.

Chema Vision School is located at the centre of Kibera, one of the largest impoverished urban areas in Africa. It serves some of Kibera’s most vulnerable children, including orphans and children of single parents without the income to pay for school fees. With a population of 250,000, Kibera suffers from inadequate housing, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and other impacts of extreme poverty.

In 2009, Mary was inspired to start the school with co-founder Joseph Cheruiyot, so that marginalized children could have the chance for a better future, along with a healthy daily meal. “Food is a very important requirement because you cannot teach hungry children. A well-fed child will concentrate better in class,” said Mary. Using their small savings, together Mary and Joseph started the school from scratch, renting a space and buying stationary and recruiting students door to door. Their goal was to give disadvantaged children access to quality education.

Today, 155 students are enrolled at the school. One of the most critical features of Chema is guidance and counseling sessions for the children, with an emphasis on sexual education for girls. Girls living in poverty are disproportionately pushed to early marriage and prostitution, and Chema seeks to change that. “We provide vital information at the different stages of adolescence so girls can take control of their lives,” adds Mary.


Facilitated by Angela Low, 12 educators participated in the workshop, which explored secure attachment, adult well-being, stress management, and grounding techniques that can be shared with students, such as the Fountain Breath. While basic human needs such as healthy food, clean water, and sanitation form the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for good reason, and the causes of poverty and global inequality need to be addressed–the fundamental impulse of caring adults to nurture the social and emotional well-being of young people is universal. The workshop emphasized ways that educators can help their students feel secure and calm in their lives, be alert and engaged with the world around them, solve problems peacefully, get along with others and to be compassionate and kind–positive qualities that are part of human nature, and that we can nurture. With knowledge and wisdom of the needs inherent within their own community and distinct classrooms, the teachers at Chema Vision School were excited to learn new strategies that they could impart to their students. 

In Mary’s words, “The Heart-Mind Workshop had a huge impact on the children's social and emotional development in regard to how they perceive things around them and how they solve their problems. The teachers have been applying the knowledge they gained from the workshop. Breathing in and out, taking a glass of water when irritated has become part of our day to day lives. We learnt how to create security for children through our tone, words, and actions as this makes them feel safe in our hands and the world too.”


Mary shared the story of a student who was suffering from the traumatic effects of domestic violence. She worked together with his teacher to ensure that the student was supported with skills to help manage his anxiety, anger, and fear. She describes a shift in the boy, towards becoming more “hopeful, optimistic and independent.”

It was our great honour to be able to learn from and offer this workshop to the dedicated, passionate, and hardworking teachers at Chema Vision School, who bring Heart-Mind well-being to the lives of students with challenging circumstances on a regular basis. Learn more about the school and its teachers in this video.


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