Rafiki Ya Maisha

We founded Rafiki Ya Maisha to provide vocational training to unemployed young people & women in need, who have no secondary education nor access to trade schools in rural Western Kenya. This forgotten group of youths gets material assistance for acquiring life skills through our small college in Chepkanga. This village empowerment endeavor has components in conservation, health, culture, micro-finance, counseling, brick making. We are building a larger polytechnic center to serve Sergoit area.
Aug 17, 2012

POSTCARD: Project Site Visit

Shonali and Aliza with founder Claire Mathijsen.
Shonali and Aliza with founder Claire Mathijsen.

Shonali Banerjee and Aliza Appelbaum are In-The-Field Representatives for GlobalGiving.  They are visiting projects in Morocco, Spain and France.  Here is their most recent "postcard" from France: 

On Tuesday August 14, 2012, Aliza and I had the great pleasure of meeting with Claire Mathijsen, founder of Rafiki Ya Maisha.  After living in Kenya with her family during the 1980s, Claire understood the need for more schools in rural Kenya. Though she and her family are now based in Paris, Claire created Rafiki Ya Maisha ("Friends for life" in Swahili), to help fund the creation of schools and educational workshops where rural Kenyan children can learn practical life skills in adition to pursuing their education.  
We sat down with Claire to discuss her successes, but also the challenges of maintaining a project like this from abroad.  Claire and her family have invested a great deal in the organization, within the realm of Rafiki Ya Maisha and private donations, visits to the schools and local community in Kenya and recruiting volunteers for the project.  
Claire was thrilled to announce that the organization had secured a 5-acre plot of land to build a new school, whereas previously they'd only had one acre.  She also confided that she and on-site project manager Elizabeth are in contact with several influential leaders within the Kenyan educational system, all of whom are on board with the Rafiki Ya Maisha projects. 

From what Aliza and I heard from Claire, we are confident that she and Rafiki Ya Maisha have all of the right wheels in motion.  We could see her obvious frustrations with the slow rate of progress when dealing with Kenyan bureaucracy, but that she and Elizabeth remain confident and upbeat while progressing forward with the school.  Although we (sadly!) coulnd't be in Kenya to visit the project itself, Claire paints a wonderful picture of the rural Kenyan site, the students benefitting from the school and how a community that previously had little to no educational infrastructure now has created numerous schools and educated hundreds of students in just a few short years.  We were very impressed with Rafiki Ya Maisha and look forward to hearing many more success stories from Claire in the near future. 

Jun 25, 2012

Enrollment increase & Visit of Architects

First site visit with Architects
First site visit with Architects

The 100 student mark

Yes! We are proud to announce that 104 students are currently enrolled at the Sergoek Youth Polytechnic, up from 22 in September when the school opened.

55 one-year students just finished a 1 month internship, or 'attachment' in Kenyan terminology, with various companies/businesses in Eldoret town during their spring break. This work experience will enhance future employment possibilities and introduce the students to the realities of the working world.

Inter-Polytechnic soccer champions

The inter-polytechnic soccer tournament pitted our students from Sergoek Polytechnic against 7 other polytechnic teams. Our boys' team came back with the trophy for the pride and joy of all. The students feel strengthened and bonded by this feat and the community is ever more convinced that their youth can make them all look great.

Architects first site visit

On April 19, 2012 our two architects travelled from Nairobi to Chepkanga for their 1st site visit to the school plot. Rafiki Ya Maisha representatives, community leaders and the school manager met to discuss the future layout of the school buildings with the architects. Already designed and planned, the Brick-making workshop will be the first building to be erected.

Let's listen to Joyce, age 26

Joyce K. was recently orphaned when both of her parents died in the last 3 years. Without resources, Joyce left Marakwet County (130 miles from Chepkanga) to come and live with her aunt in a neighboring village."My aunt decided to take me to Sergoek Youth Polytechnic in Chepkanga to enroll me in the Hair Dressing course. I joined the college this year with many difficulties. My aunt depends on farming only and this makes it difficult for her to give me daily transport to and from school. "

Safely settled in her new home, Joyce's story illustrates the lack of ressources available for young peole in a subsistance level economy. Travelling 15 kms back and forth daily to get her training, she is a case in point for our project. We need a school with boarding facilities.

How does Joyce manage? "I have decided to be working on somebody's farm during the weekends so as to be paid and the money I will be using for daily transportation."

What is Joyce's dream? "I am learning harder so that I will be able to open my own business after the course. I hope to be independent in the future."

 How will she realize this dream? She feels enormously encouraged by you. She writes: "Thanks to our Sponsors for the free machines they are providing us with, making our learning so easy and also lowering our fees payment."

Do you think you can help Joyce reach her goal?

There are other girls and boys like Joyce courageously trying to move beyond their fate. You can help them by supporting RAFIKI YA MAISHA and this rural educational opportunity. You and her can make Africa different. Right?

Claire Mathijsen

 

 

 

Arch.Caroline Burer, Claire Mathijsen & plans
Arch.Caroline Burer, Claire Mathijsen & plans
A happy student in class
A happy student in class
Mar 27, 2012

more students, new land, great prospects !

New sign post for new site
New sign post for new site

The Polytechnic is bustling with students and activities: 76 students are currently registered at the Sergoek Polytechnic. 6 workshops with 1sr year and 2nd year instructors are operational. The flag mast is in place, 2 desks build by the Carpentry students adorn the staff room and the volley ball pitch is full during recess.

Highlights: Entrepreuneurship modules taught by 2 young teachers offer Business and Marketing basics to the students. They are taught the tools they need to set up a private business or how to search the internet for jobs after their training is over.

Apart from Computer Studies and Hairdressing, most classes are taught with little or no materials. The Catering and Food Technology students need to borrow pots from the neighboring farm ladies to do their cooking. Yet the students are full of enthusiasm.

The new 5 acre plot, located 2 miles down the road, was recently fenced and is ready for groundbreaking. The piece of land, more deeply set into the rural area, abounds with primary and secondary schools all eager to send their students to the future polytechnic. The brick factory will move to the new site in order to start making the bricks for the permanent building. An architect has been hired to oversee the construction work. She is a Kenyan "daughter" of the Chepkanga village who works from her Nairobi based firm and holds the respect of the community.

The construction is slated to start as soon as the Board of Governors of the Polytechnic has officially been elected. This will trigger the co-financing from the Kenyan government which in turn will allow us to co-sponsor!

New development: Rafiki Ya Maisha is pleased to announce that we will be working in close cooperation with Dr. Susan Chebet's program "Tumndo Ne Leel", an association mobilized in creating a new coming of age concept for initiating girls without circumcision, while upholding community values and traditions.

Our educational and gender equality project is totally alligned with the Millenium goals for developing countries and benefits from much awareness and press coverage in Kenya. Yet we are still very far from our target goal. We still need to raise over $53.000 Dollars.

We have considerable unmet needs. Your help is critical in achieving them.

We've come this far and can go further, faster, with your continued financial support !

Claire Mathijsen

Cooking class in temporary building
Cooking class in temporary building
Happy tailoring students
Happy tailoring students
Big handclap for the sponsors
Big handclap for the sponsors

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