November 7, 2012A 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!
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:
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.
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?
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 !
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,
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