The Nobelity Project team had a long tour through our Kenya school projects in June and July. Executive Director Christy Pipkin and her co-founder Turk Pipkin were joined by board members Joey Martin and Dan King. We had great visits at every school, but as usual, Mahiga Hope High School - where all of our Kenyan education work began - was a highlight.
Mahiga Secondary is adjacent to Mahiga Primary and Preschool, so we of course took the full tour - from the preschool and playground to a camping demonstration by the schools' boy and girl scouts (international youth scounting was born in this area), then on to the ten primary classrooms and library. After years of working at Mahiga, we've finally approved the renovations of the last three primary classrooms that were still in a somewhat sub-standard condition. These were old stone classrooms - much better than the wooden classrooms which we've all replaced, but these three were in need of new doors, windows and plaster, and all of that work is now under way.
On the secondary side, we visited the sewing and chemisty classes, a few classrooms, then moved to the RainWater Court for a schoolwide assembly and performances by the school's award-winning dance and music troops. Last year's top scoring boy and girl also received the new laptops which will be a big help as they move on to college. Christy and I received a lot of thank you's for all the amazing work that's been accomplished here - for the great new facilities, and for playing a part in creating an ambitious and prideful school that is changing the lives of hundreds of great kids. Sometimes the thank you's are directed personally to us, or to The Nobelity Project in general, but we never forget that the thanks from these students, this faculty and the community are for everyone who's played a part in our being friends and partners with Mahiga Hope High School - a place where hope lives in every student.
So thanks to one and all. Onward and upward. Education for All.
Turk Pipkin, The Nobelity Project, www.nobelity.org
- If you'd like a dvd of our award-winning film Building Hope - the Story of Mahiga Hope High School - send us a note on FB or through our website. We'll be happy to get one to you.
Among the joys of working with a great community partner are the reports that come in with good news – big and small - that often seems to follow so directly on previous work with the school.
As for the big news – principal Jane Wairimu reports that Mahiga is now in the top ten high schools in the district. Kenyan Secondary schools are divided into two main categories... private (PV) and public (PB). The Public Day schools are categorized with boarding and without. Among 18 Public Secondaries without boarding facilities, Mahiga Hope High School is now rated #2. This is fantastic news and we want to congratulate all the staff and students on first place results in Mathematics, English and Geography, and second place in Business and Biology.
“On behalf of all the Mahiga Hope Family, I most sincerely thank all of you for the continued support you have given us,” Jane Wairimu reports. ”We promise to move Mahiga to greater heights and we are proud to be associated with you.
One of our long-term goals with the community is to build teacher housing and girls and boys dorms that will further elevate the level of education in this growing rural location.
On the small news side – when we were working with the community to complete the high school, we built a kitchen with high-efficiency wood stoves that are now serving healthy meals for nearly 700 kids from preschool to grade 12. We also built a new dining hall but didn’t have funds for dining tables and chairs, so it was a delight to also receive these pics of the new dining hall furniture the school managed to purchase this year.
Christy and I and a team of Nobelity Project Board Members and supporters will be visiting Mahiga and a dozen other partner schools in Kenya in a few weeks. Please check with us here, on facebook and at nobelity.org for reports.
When I arrived at Mahiga Hope High School in January, I was blown away by all the amazing changes at the school. The classrooms were filled with hundreds of students, the new greenhouse was filled with 1000s of tomatoes, and staff and students were filled with hope.
We never had a budget for landscaping at the school - sounds like a small issue but during the rainy season that meant lots of mud being tracked into all those beautiful stone classrooms. The students solved that problem by building sidewalks and planting flowers. And there amid the roses, was a hand lettered sign that seemed to sum up their can-do attitude, "From Zero to Hero". I'd have never thought of these kids as zeros, but one of the boys told me he'd always thought he had "zero chance of going to high school." At least until Mahiga Hope.
As all the final touches come together at the high school, we've partnered with the school on an incentive to motivate kids to study harder and aim higher. Our Bicycles for Scholars program rewards the top-scoring girl and boy student in 9th, 10th and 11 grades with a new bicycle. These are great bikes purchased from World Bicycle Relief (who assembles them in Kenya). And yes, after the bike reward competiton was announced, scores went up! Presenting the bikes at a school-wide ceremony was a real delight. And when our graduating seniors final scores are announced soon, the top graduating boy and girl will receive new laptops, just what they need for a future college career.
As Mahiga Hope High School grows, we are planning with the commnity and the Board of Governors on future improvements which we all hope will ultimately include teacher housing and a girls and boys dorm, both essentials for a remote school in a rural area.
Thanks for your support. You've created a lot of hope, and helped bring a lot of kids from zero chance of attending high school to dreams of college and beyond.
Education is the way.
This fall Mahiga Hope High School expanded their gardening program to include the construction and operation of a large greenhouse. With your help,The Nobelity Project provided the seed money to help the school qualify for a grant for the construction and training at the school. Students are learning skills that will not only benefit the school now but will enhance their earning potential after they graduate. Vegetables are finding their way into the school kitchen, which increases nutritional value and reduces food costs. Extra produce will be sold in the community to help meet budgetary needs at the school, which is always a challenge. A very successful project!
We are excited about all the changes at the Mahiga Hope schools and so grateful to all of our supporters. School performance is rising right alongside the improvement in nutrition and facilities. Access to the library and new textbooks has made a real difference that we are seeing in test scores. Study materials are always in short supply, as are funds for tutors and additonal instruction. But the kids are proud of their school and work very hard to do their best. It is wonderful to see the change in a few short years--giving us all hope.
Thank you for making it happen!
The Nobelity Project Kenya Schools Tour of 2013 rocked! After visiting 10 of our partner schools and seeing new classrooms, libraries, water systems and more, we arrived at Mahiga Hope High School where your donation is still making a difference every day.
For me, coming back to Mahiga feels like coming home. It is were our work in Kenya began and where your support of this community has inspired not only hope, but has created a path to a better future for their children. Our days were spent working with staff & school administrators, and celebrating with parents & students, but every "thank you" we received we promised to bring back home to you.
During a visit with some donors and friends, I was rushing across the school grounds, and glanced back over my shoulder to see not just a collection of buildings, but a school - bustling with activities, energy and pride. Turk says "It all started with a tree" but in 5 years look at what it has become:
Highlights from 2013: •School ranked 12th out of 24 in the region on national exams. For a new school that is a huge accomplishment! •Science Labs are currently under expansion to accommodate for testing and improvement in scores •Traditional music and dance teams swept competition awards •Boys and girls sports teams advanced to regional finals •Trade skills classes (sewing and crafts) teaching applicable skills have a waiting list. More sewing machines needed! •Gardens are producing skilled agricultural students and food for the kitchens •Largest incoming freshman class so far--the incentive of a high school education is improving the primary school scores as well •And we are incredibly proud that we have graduates going onto college studies.
We could use some support for the expansion of the skills classes so these kids graduate with some earning capacity. And as always there are students whose families just cannot meet the fees for them to attend and textbooks are in short supply. Your donations through the Global Giving 1000 Voices for Hope campaign will go directly to these much needed programs.
What seemed a dream just a few years ago is now a living, breathing, productive and happy school. And as I walked out of the gates for the trip home I made sure to read the new school motto once again: "Hope shines forth and lights the world."
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