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.
Nov 28, 2012

Groundbreaking for the New School Building

Mr. Julien Marx and officials at present site
Mr. Julien Marx and officials at present site

November 7, 2012
A much awaited event took place: the 1st stone for the permanent structure on the new plot was put in the ground.
The French diplomat from the French Embassy in Nairobi was our guest of honor. Mr. Julien Marx was greeted by all the members of the community:
The principal of Rift Valley Vocational Technical Training Institute (RVTTI), the regional director of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the District Officer from Mininistry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the District Officer from the District Commissioner's Office, the regional director from the Ministry of Works, the Bishop's Development director, father Okoth and his manager for Polytechnics in the region, the architect, the headmasters & headmistresses of area schools, the Board members of Rafiki Ya Maisha in Kenya, the Board Of Governors of the Polytechnic, members of the Eldoret business community, several area counselors and chiefs, women's groups, swarms of school children, middle school students, our Polytechnic teachers, students and former students, friends and many elders.
A call from the Minister for Higher Education Science and Technology, held back in Zambia that day, made our day complete.
The actual school welcomed the guests with a tour of the improved facilities. Test books arrived, a cupboard and school desks were built, the catering students learn with pots/pans/plates/cutlery and the hairdressing students now have dummies with hair on them to practice hair plaiting. After songs by the younger children, the guests moved to the new site, 3 miles by road. The two hundred guests from all walks of life were delighted.
Pictures speak louder than words. They capture perfectly the ceremonial and official nature of this defining moment.
Construction on the permanent buiding should start in the very near future. Stay tuned.
It was a truly wonderful day and you helped us make it perfect. Thank you!


Claire Mathijsen


Tree planting with Mr. Edwin Tarno (RVTTI)
Tree planting with Mr. Edwin Tarno (RVTTI)
Bricklaying and Blessing of the new site
Bricklaying and Blessing of the new site
Student songs & dances
Student songs & dances
Claire Mathijsen, main speaker
Claire Mathijsen, main speaker
School children celebrate the event
School children celebrate the event

Links:

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

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