Build Skills with "lost" Youth in Kenya

Dec 27, 2011

3 new workshops open!

new teachers and students
new teachers and students

The Sergoek Vocational training center in Chepkanga opened with 3 new workshops in September!

Students can now learn Carpentry and Joinery, Electrical and Electronic Technology and Food Processing Technology for the first time in the area. A fourth government sponsored instructor is teaching Fashion and Design. These courses come in addition to the existing workshops in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy and Computer Technology sponsorsed by RAFIKI YA MAISHA instructors. We now offer a total of 6 training workshops to students.

The interesting feature here is that we have one girl studying with the boys in the Electrical and Electronic Workshop and one boy who signed up with Hairderssing and Beauty Therapy. These gender lines are easily crossed in our Western societies, but they represent real inroads in rural Kenya.

Two youth prefects began participating in the RAFIKI board meetings and the Youth Officer for the Ministry of Youth Affairs is implementing the new courses with energy. The French government has pledged funds for the building of the new structure for the coming year.

The fact remains that the students are learning in 2 different temporary locations. One of the temporary structures  lacks windows and doors for 2 of the 4 classrooms. Unusually heavy rains in Kenya this year have not made this comfortable for teachers and students. Rain combined with an altitude of 7000ft made both accessibility and temperature a prolonged challenge.

In 2012, we'll start building the permanent structure on the newly alloted 5acre piece of land. Our main focus here is to find trained volunteers for the positions of  (a) engineer/architect (b) principal and (c) business consultant. With your continued assistance, we will find these professionals, organize new sports tournaments, systematize the brick making, recruit new student volunteers and continue to encourage gender equality.

Many best wishes to all in the New Year.

Thank You for helping us build a world beyond poverty,

Claire Mathijsen

Female student in Electrical workshop
Female student in Electrical workshop
Sep 30, 2011

Youth, Gender and Soccer in Chepkanga - September 2011

the riveting final
the riveting final


"Youth - Gender - Soccer" or "How to find the Lost Youth".

The torrential rains held back on that mid-August Sunday afternoon in Chepkanga. The finals of the youth soccer tournament took place free of mud - a miracle of the rainy season. After scoreless overtime and sudden death penalty kicks, with excitement coursing through our veins, we felt the heightened interest of the youth for what we had to say. This was RAFIKI YA MAISHA's great opportunity to advertize the village polytechnic.

This year's tournament galvanized the youth and the community and thrilled our young volunteer organizers.

2 youth representatives came forward to fill seats on the Board of RAFIKI YA MAISHA and 28 new students signed up for training courses. The freshly arrrived government instructors offered Food Processing, Fashion Design, Information Technology, Electric and Electronic Technology courses along with general education classes.

We also learned a lesson about gender equality on the soccer field that Sunday. One of the two girls' teams had not showed up to play the scheduled game thereby making one team the winner by default. A question came up : if the girls had not played hard to earn the prize, why should they receive the coveted jerseys & shorts ? "A ball could do as a prize. And afterall, we played more games under harsh weather conditions and could use a full uniform", argued the boys.  After much debate between the girl athletes, their male coach and us, it was decided that the girls needed encouragement as well as the right to safekeep their very own uniforms !

Idle boys drift to the pool houses and bars and can rally around soccer easily. Idle girls mostly stay home and are harder to reach. Our pictures show how successful our 2d annual tounament was and our story tells how it marked a place for the girls in the community.

The temproray building on the site is still unfinfished, the road remains impassable during the rains and the land swap has only just been concluded. Yet the center has opened with a new beginning.

Thank You for helping us reach this point. Thank You for anything that you can do to help us further our building and our educational mission. The happpy smiles of the players say Thank You ! too.

the chief
the chief's speach to the youth
the winning girls
the winning girls' team
the winning boys
the winning boys' team
Jul 1, 2011

Important news on the RAFIKI front - June 2011

How can I share major news with you in a few short paragraphs ? So many foundation stones of our RAFIKI YA MAISHA project have fallen into place in the past 3 months, that a book would seem more adapted to share all the joy and the news !

Samwel, a 17 yr old student in Hair Dressing & Beauty Therapy at our Chepkanga college, thanks you all for supporting her in her studies. She writes : « Imagine we are paying very little but getting a lot of knowledge ». Like the 6 new computer students, 3 fellow hair-dressing students including 1 young man, and 5 other students in the Tailoring workshop, she feels that without your support she would never be where she is today, learning new skills.

«  I enjoy being in an institution registered by the government » Samwel adds. Big news : a recent stakeholder in our Polytechnic project, the Kenyan government started investing conretely. We were registered last year, and just a few days ago on June 26th, the first government appointed instructors arrived. We have grown from a village polytechnic to a government sponsored institution able to attract a growing number of young people.

There is great news on the practical side too. Our first small building built in 2009 and the temporary structure of 4 classrooms put up last year were situated on a 1 acre plot. Our very supportive local MP, Member of Parliament, contributed massively to our development in early March. She gave us 5 additional acres of land to be swapped with a kind neighbouring farmer willing to relocate. The enlarged  6 acre piece of land will allow our future Polytechnic school to offer in a rural area the same opportunities the larger polytechnic schools offer in urban settings.

Thanks to your contributions, we have opened the way in leaps and bounds to more youths. With your help, students like Samwel can look forward to aquiring professional skills in a new structure. More funding is necessary to erect the full sized building, but with your collaboration, you help us believe more than ever that this is possible. So Thank You ! or in Kalenjin, our local vernacular, Kongoi !

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