Monday, 23 September 2013

Working Together - Supporting Education in Kenya

The first two classrooms at the Namboani RC Secondary School for Girls. Notice the water harvesting tanks which collect the rainwater from the roof in the rainy seasons for use in the dry seasons
Jan and John Gribben of St Michael’s Parish, High Salvington have been helping young people in Kimilili, Western Province, Kenya for the last 15 years and on Sunday 22 July a number of their supporters enjoyed a cup of tea and a piece of cake in their back garden. Guest of honour was Mr Peter Wafula Situma, the headmaster of Kimilili RC Primary School for Boys.

Jan and John have visited Kimilili District many times and have been pleased to see the progress made by the primary and secondary schools in that area and even more pleased to have been able to contribute to that progress through the charity that they formed, The Kimilili Trust.

The current projects – all proposed by local people in Kenya and with substantial contributions made by them – include helping a Catholic primary school and starting a new secondary school for girls in Namboani near Kimilili. The new secondary school was needed because five years ago the local mixed secondary school stopped admitting girls who were left with a 14 km walk to the next school. Jan and John were in Namboani when this was announced and were asked to help. The local MP bought a field. The Catholic Church agreed to sponsor the school. The villagers started felling trees and making bricks. The Kimilili Trust contributed money for roofing, windows and doors, desks and chairs, equipment and books, tools for agriculture and all the other things that a school needs. 

Working together a new secondary school is now in operation with approaching 300 students, 5 classrooms (one currently being lent by the primary school), a library and computer room just finished but needing more books and equipment, electricity on site awaiting connection, building materials bought for a dining room and kitchen and a laboratory up and running thanks to a substantial contribution from Chatsmore Catholic High School. A dormitory is the next priority as many girls are still walking in from great distances. In the primary school a library is being planned and another A & B diocesan school – St John’s Catholic Primary School in Horsham – has just made a donation to help provide books.

Over the years The Kimilili Trust has helped to fund several nursery schools, either from scratch or assisting with renovation, assisted with many school building projects in primary schools and helped with a number of water harvesting schemes collecting rainwater for use during the dry season. Most schools have no running water and few have electricity. This concentration on schools is appreciated by the young people themselves who prize what their schools can offer them, saying “education is the key”.

For the last few years the parish priest of the Catholic parish of St Leo the Great has arranged a Christmas meal for all the needy children of the town. The Kimilili Trust has funded this meal using money raised by the sale of flowers at various churches. The parish of St Leo the Great has also organised a scheme for helping elderly women bringing up orphaned children. This scheme, also funded by The Kimilili Trust has, to date, lent laying chickens to over 400 such family groups. As eggs are hatched the loans are re-paid with hatchlings which are then grown on by a local vet to be lent in their turn, after inoculation, to other needy women.

Funding for all this comes from many sources but mainly from West Sussex organisations and individuals. In the diocese, apart from the two schools named above, assistance has been given from time to time by organisations such as KSC and people connected with St Mary’s Worthing, St Richard’s Chichester, Our Lady of Consolation & St Francis, West Grinstead, Corpus Christi, Henfield and Jan and John’s home parish of St Michael’s High Salvington where parishioners have been exceptionally generous. Rotary, Royal British Legion and Womens’ Institutes have also helped as have several churches and organisations from other Christian traditions.

Jan and John visit Kimilili regularly and at their own expense to ensure that all the money sent is properly used. Administration costs are met by the committee which runs the charity thus ensuring that every penny donated to the Trust goes to a project. Anyone wishing to contact Jan or John to make a donation or arrange a talk can do so via their e-mail (harambee is a Swahili word which carries the meaning “let’s do this together”).

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