Following my fabulous trip to Cambodia last year to work on projects with our chosen charity B1G1, I was delighted to get the opportunity to take part in another incredible journey, this time to Nairobi, Kenya with my colleague Elke Kramer, who manages the German office.
Aberdare Rangers Primary School
On the first day of our amazing tour we met the 1080 students at the Aberdare Rangers Primary School near Nakuru, funded by the not-for-profit organisation ‘So They Can’. In 2009 ‘So They Can’ negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenyan Government to establish and operate the school as a private/public partnership, a first of its kind for the Kenyan Government. ‘So They Can’ funds 85% of the school and they run a nutritional programme that provides all of the students with two hot meals a day, designed to fulfil their daily nutritional requirements. For many, this is the only food they will receive.
The students are selected based on a set criteria, designed to determine the poorest children. They were such lovely, happy children, so grateful for the support they have been given. The school is the highest performing in the area with 100% of the students graduating, moving on to secondary school.
The school started with just one class 9 years ago and now has 30 classrooms! Due to the school’s success the plan is to support other public primary schools in the wider Nakuru district and seeing how much the children have benefited from ‘So They Can’s’ help and support I really hope this happens.
New Canaan Village
We also spent time at New Canaan Village, connecting with its people and children whose lives have been transformed by the amazing work of B1G1 and ‘So They Can’. The people that live at the New Canaan Village fled there looking for peace, following post-election riots.
In 2011 ‘So They Can’ opened a medical clinic in conjunction with the Kenyan Ministry of Health. The health clinic serves the wider local community of 20,000 people, including all students from Aberdare Ranges Primary School. The clinic is very important because one of the village’s main struggles is clean water. Since the clinic was set up, the health of the community has significantly improved.
Most people in the community are also unemployed. As a result, a business school was set-up to alleviate the poverty that exists in the village. The business school teaches skills to the poorest women in the community and empowers them to take out microfinance loans to start their own businesses, generate income and improve the standard of living for their families. The women have to take 8 hours of business classes in order to be considered for a loan and are trained on not only business skills, but life skills and healthcare. So far 380 have been trained – a great achievement.
We also visited an orphan village, which was extremely moving. The children are orphaned due to their parents being killed in riots and also as a result of AIDS. ‘So They Can’ have established family based care for orphans and children, whose parents are not able to take care of them. There are 15 homes so far, where 1 mother, employed by ‘So They Can’ looks after 8 children.
We had an eye-opening first day and were overwhelmed by the positivity of everyone we met.