Keeping Kenyan Kids in School!

Jun 6, 2014

Our Children's Garden is raising test scores!

Ritchie's rescued children


Our Children’s Garden in Mtito Andei is not only convincing parents to send their children back to school, it is saving lives!

The story of Muuo

Finding himself in a life or death struggle at home, twelve year old Muuo took it on himself to run away to the small town of Emali where he hoped he find some small jobs. He decided to hide himself in a Mombasa-bound container. Unbeknownst to Muuo, the lorry driver decided to rest for a few hours in  Mtito Andei, one of the poorest towns in Kenya.Fortunately for Muoo, it is the site of our Children’s Garden at Matulani Elementary School.Muoo alighted from the lorry in middle of the night and he was noticed by a night watchmen who questioned him. Muuo explained that he was desperate, hungry and he had nowhere to go.The kind night watchman took Muoo immediately to a very poor, local rescue center for children. He couldn’t be taken to school without a local sponsor and there was no food at the center. Once again, Muoo took it on himself to walk to Matulani Elementary School after he heard a rumor from other hungry runaways the school had a successful lunch program. Upon arrival at the school, he told his story and he received a school uniform. Muoo is now eating a daily lunch and Global Roots is paying his school fees!Ritchie Mutua of Global Roots met Muuo the first time at Matulani and he tried to interview him but Muuo wept too much. On a second occasion, with the confidence afforded by a full belly and new clothes, Muuo told us his story.Muuo is from Kati Komu — a village far from Mtito. He was raised by his grandparents after his dying mother abandoned him seven years ago. His grandparents, however, have fallen on hard times and they, too, are unable to care for him. Muuo’s human survival instincts kicked in when he knew deep down he would starve to death if he stayed at home.Now all he wants is to find a way to care for his grand parents!Muuo is a beautiful boy and he is the reason we do what we do. That our garden saved his life is a testament to grassroots aid work!

Please visit our website to watch a video interview with Muuo

2014 spring update

Because Mtito Andei is one of the most corrupt environments on the planet we must move forward from year to year with a great deal of due diligence, oversight and transparency. Celebrating our successes too much could divert our attention from the constant forces of corruption in one of Kenya’s most forsaken areas.

We are pleased, however, to finally have solid evidence that our school lunch program at Matulani Elementary School has raised test scores. Please see attached spread sheet.

The following is an oversight report from our lead transparency officer in Kenya.

“The attached document is my take on the Matulani school grades metrics as per the data provided by the headmaster. 

The analysis is based only on the Primary School section and compares the academic performance of the first school term of this year with that of the last term in 2013.

The headmaster tells me that the total number of students enrolled at any given time tends to fluctuate from school term to term, in particular to the classes below Standard 7 due to the transient nature of the employment of some of the students’ parents. The proximity of the school to the Mombasa highway means that a good number of school parents derive their income from business or occupations related to the road and so they do tend to pack up and leave to follow other opportunities or jobs in towns situated along the road.

The enrollment of students in the nursery section has however increased by 38% from the end of last year. There are now 33 nursery students, up from 24.

An orphaned boy (Muoo) has also been enrolled as the school and is being housed by well wishers. He originally comes from a location approximately 100 kms from the school. When local residents became aware of his status, Matulani was made the school of choice for his placement due to its feeding program.

Cases of truancy have also reduced.The headmaster states that 90% of the students attend school on a regular basis. The 10% no-shows usually include the more sickly, H.I.V infected students.

The headmaster has also issued bylaws and opened up a register through which parents are encouraged to regularly visit the school, tour the gardens and to record their comments and suggestions. He is trying to get the school community to take more ownership of the project.

The student body usually spends their mid-morning break of 30 minutes a day working in the chicken shed changing the drinking water and looking for newly laid eggs.

In the afternoon, students will also assist in the gardens with harvesting vegetables and weeding where necessary. The headmaster intends to use them to help him clear more land for additional planting over the coming weeks.

The chickens are laying an average of 3 eggs a day, but now that the plastering work at the original chicken house has been completed, the chicken will be moved there from their current temporary home and he expects the chicken's productivity to improve. The room they are kept in at the moment is close to the classrooms and he thinks the noise and commotion from the students has been stressing some of the chicken.

I also spoke to the Chairman about the organizing committee. He echoed the headmaster's sentiments that all is going smoothly with the project. He repeated the headmaster's concern about the high water bill and their intention to install a water drip system. The Chairman divulged to me that World Vision has donated a water tank to the school and they intend to use it to store water for the drip system. I had already discussed with the headmaster that he would have to source funding for this initiative from the monthly allowance the school receives and I am glad to hear that they are making progress to achieving this objective.

The headmaster and the chairman are eager to open up an bank account and appoint signatories for more transparent handling of the monthly allowance. I would however suggest that we wait until your visit in July. It will give you the opportunity to meet these other members of the committee personally so that you can make your own assessment of their characters. Your presence will also provide the necessary 'gravitas' over formalization of their management roles.

Report from Richie Mutua. Global Roots Lead Outreach Officer, Mtito Andei.

The two children below joined Matulani primary school after the lunch program was introduced. They explained to me why they chose to come to Matulani without even the company of their guardian. Their mother got married to an old man at Matulani village and he never bothered to take them to school. In the evenings they would mix with other kids from Matulani at local playgrounds. It's by this mingling that Kyania and Maswili learned about the food at Matulani. Amazingly, they came to learn morning without books, guardian and uniform. Please have a keen look at their clothing. This is not school uniform but they school has taken them the way they are. We continue to appreciate Global Roots for helping Kenyan kids return BACK to school.


We thank all generous donors for your support!

The Global Roots Team, Kenya


Feb 18, 2014

Matulani garden status, HIV/Aids outreach report

A Global Roots oversight inspection crew
A Global Roots oversight inspection crew

The results our out! Our gardens and chicken eggs are helping rural children do better in the classroom. Because the children are now served lunch at school they are better able to study and therefore they are performing better on their exams. More and more local parents are hearing about our gardens and they are returning their children to school!

Before our Matulani Children's Garden: in the 2012 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam the school had 24 candidates who achieved a mean score of 241 marks, with the highest student’s score being 351 marks.

After our garden: in the 2013 exam the school had 28 students with a Mean score of 242 marks and the highest student’s score being 381 marks. This particular student has won a place at a national school, of which there are only 78 such awards in the country. The poor town of Mtito has never seen such achievement!

We are now raising funds for the running costs of our two children's gardens in Mtito Andei and we are hoping to raise funds for new gardens that will benefit young girls in the Maasai Mara region.

New development: after fits and starts our HIV/Aids outreach program is showing great results. Our local outreach officer is conducting one session a week right in the heart of Mtito Andei. It is our goal to bring the science of HIV/Aids to the local people -- including young women who were forced into a life a prostitution when they were as young as 13. These girls never had the opportunity to attend high school because they come from severaly poor families and, when left unattended in their early teens by young mothers who had to turn tricks to pay for their children, the girls got pregnant themselves, usually by young, local boys. The cycle then repeats itself when these young girls turn tricks to pay for the lives of their own children.

It is our goal to bring the science of HIV/Aids to the local people of Mtito Andei. Due to a lack of education young girls believe truck drivers who tell them that they don't need to wear condoms beause they are not of the "caste" of men who are prone to contract HIV/Aids. We teach the girls that no man is immune from contracting HIV or infecting others.

We have interviewed those who are at risk and those who are not yet sexually active and we have devised two different approaches to HIV/Aids outreach. Both approaches are hard-hitting. No adult leaves our outreach session without a complete understanding about how the HIV virus is spread or how it can be prevented. Children leave our outreach sessions more aware of the negative, manipulative forces around them. We teach hope to the children and try to convince them to stay in school and come to us if they ever need books or other school costs to be covered.

Where are the fathers?

We have learned that the fathers of the girls in Mtito Andei east are not present because the land on the east side of the Nairobi/Mombasa highway is no longer airable due to climate change. The fathers, unable to farm and also unable to engage in hunting, are drinking themselves to death on cheap, home made liquor.

There are only a few other nonprofits active in Mtito Andei because it is very difficult to show results in a place like this. We, however, won't walk away. Our local partners are working very hard and, with intense oversight and transparency, they are getting things done.

Besides our gardens, hen houses and outreach work, we will also continue to pass out entire outfits to children (the poorest children go to school in rags) and distribute solar lighting to the poorest households so that school children can do their homework for the first time.

Thanks to steady donations from Global Giving and a few foundations, we will continue our work in 2014 and hope for improve test scores and improved lives for the children on the east side of the Nairobi/Mombasa highway in arid Tsavo East.

This garden brings nutrition to 250 students
This garden brings nutrition to 250 students
HIV/Aids outreach
HIV/Aids outreach
vegetable distribution
vegetable distribution
Oct 10, 2013

Children's Gardens, hen houses, HIV/Aids outreach

our new garden at Matulani
our new garden at Matulani

We have just finished our most productive period ever in Mtito Andei, Kenya.

Over the last two months we have erected a new greenhouse that will provide fresh vegetables to over 256 more children at Matulani elementary school. We are currently growing tomatoes inside the greenhouse and kale outside. Our giant greenhouse (a 5K professional structure) is large enough to keep the elephants away. It is so large that the elephants stay away from our kale and our water supply.

One of the challenges of our new Matulani garden is the additinal cost of water. The school is connected to the city of Mtito's plumbing network so it will cost us an aditional $125 per month to irrigate the garden in the dry season. Unfortunately, the dry season in Mtito lasts for about eight months.

Our master gardener from our existing successful garden at Matangini (20 minutes away by mortorbike) is overseeing our new garden. This, however, is too much work for one gardener. We are looking to add a second master gardener and this will be an additional expense of $120 per month. Thanks to generous past donations from longtime donors Patrick Firouzian and the Trover Family Foundation of Oregon -- as well as ongoing individual donations from Global Giving (including $100 per month from Carolyn Stoebuck), this garden is funded through the end of the year!

We are also happy to report that 100 healthy chicks were purchased from an excellent producer and deliverd to our new hen house Matulani. We spent $1,265 on a three month program that will end up producing 200 eggs a day for several years. The high expense is due to the costs of layers mash and the professional care fo the chicks. Chicks are very fragile and easily stressed.

After three months, 50 of our 100 chicks will be transfered to our brand new hen house at Matagnini school. The current chickens we keep at Matangini are too old to lay healthy eggs. Instead, these chickens are being fed well in anticipation of their slaughter. The meat will of course we delivered to the area's poorest families.

Our greenhouse at Matangini has been successfullly replanted and is doing wonderful.

The vegetables from our gardens and eggs from our hen houses fuel school lunch programs for 600 children who would other wise not be able to concentrate at school due to hunger! Our school lunches also convince local parents to return their children to school!

In a new program, over 30 of the poorest local children who previously dressed only in rags we given new clothes by Global Roots represenative Richtie Mutua. 15 children even got to pick out their own clothes. This is important because these children no longer have to feel inferior when they go to school.

Recently we launched an HIV/Aids campaign in Mtito Andei which will help enhance local knowledge about this disease. We have attached a photo of a recent outreach session below.

HIV/aids outreach
HIV/aids outreach
clothing delivery!
clothing delivery!
egg distribution
egg distribution
Jun 11, 2013

Children's Garden and AIDS outreach is thriving

our thriving children
our thriving children's garden

We are excited to report from down in Mtito Andei, Kenya that Global Roots has contracted Jared Busi, an American who specializes in the construction of schools, orphanages, hospital clinics and other structures for NGO's across East Africa, to install the windows and floors of the Kimer/Kamba Cultural Center in Mtito Andei. Busi is also a well builder so he will offer free advise on how we can best supply our center with fresh water.

Global Roots founder Rick Montgomery met Jared when he was working with a Maasai woman to protect Maasai girls from FGM last year. Montgomery knew right away he had found a gem in the rough. Montgomery and Busi immediately shared their stories and became fast friends. Each man has committed the last ten years of their lives to helping children with sustainable projects in tough places. Montgomery would later say that Busi is the first person he had ever met besides Patrick Firouzian (a Global Roots senior volunteer) who has traveled over Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountain range to help orphans.

Montgomery immediately started to test Busi to make sure he could provide the transparency and project oversight that Global Roots requires. Corruption is a huge problem in the world of African charity so Montgomery wanted to move slowly. After six months of chats, emails and face books posts, Global Roots assigned two 5K projects to Busi and his team. Busi leaves in a few days to lay down a second children's garden in Mtito followed by a "Girls Garden" in Maasailand. While in Mtito, Busi and his crew will spend a few days putting the final touches on the Cultural Center and devising an elephant-proof water delivery system.

The center was thatched a few months ago and should be ready for program launch this August. Everyone is excited about the center in Mtito Andei. We expect that the center, which will focus on HIV/AIDS education, will reduce the spread of HIV by 1,000 cases this year!

We are still looking for four volunteers to help teach and manage this center from September to December this year! Please email us if you're interested! -- a tax deductible donation of 5K per person will pay for your entire experience, including air fare from the USA.
Our Children's Garden and chicken egg farm at Matangini Elementary School continues to thrive and is the talk of the region.
Construction of a second chicken house at nearby Matulani school is already complete and another Children's Garden will be erected next week. This means that 250 children will be fed a balanced meal at lunch time by next September and more parents will send their children back to school.
children picking their vegetables for lunch
children picking their vegetables for lunch
Jan 25, 2013

AIDS/HIV outreach program launched

We sent a team to Mtito Andei in early January to work with Global Roots manager Ritchie Mutua Martin on the expansion of outreach activities in Mtito Andei.

This poor region of Kenya remains one of epicenters for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya. Nearly 60% of the woman here are HIV positive and because many of them are widows, they are forced to turn tricks with truck drivers who stop here over night. Mtito is located halfway between Nairobi and Mombasa and it has always served as an R&R location for truck drivers.

We have always seen the need for an HIV/AIDS education kiosk on the highway so we were pleased when a San Francisco financier agreed to raise funds for it.

Our cultural center on tribal land near Mtito will be used to train the young men who will man the kiosk.

Ritchie Mutua brings a great deal of knowledge to our outreach team because he used to do HIV/AIDS outreach in the Mtito community for the Kenyan Wildlife Service.

Besides our outreach activities, we continue to fund two children's gardens and chicken egg farms in the local area for a successful school lunch program. We also provide solar lighting to dark huts so that children from poor families can do their homework.


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Global Roots

Portland, OR, United States

Project Leader

Rick Montgomery

Seattle, WA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Keeping Kenyan Kids in School!