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."
In early June we’ll be returning to Kenya to check up on many of the 20 school projects supported by The Nobelity Project and our donors (like you). We’ll cover a few thousand kilometers on dusty bumpy roads but when we finally drive through the new gates of Mahiga Hope High School, it’s going to feel like coming home.
Mahiga is where The Nobelity Project was begun – our roots are planted there beneath the shade of thousands of new trees – and Mahiga is where our minds and our hearts constantly wander back. This will be our first visit since our “pioneers” have graduated, so there will be many new faces. But in those faces we will see reflections of those that paved the way for them, just as in our faces they will see reflections of yours.
The school is on solid ground now, with good enrollment even while struggling to make ends meet. The education district is adding teachers as the population grows, but many parents have a hard time meeting the tuition requirements. While the school grows ever closer to full self-sufficiency, we continue to rely on our supporters and on the school’s staff to identify the critical needs – more textbooks, an additional teacher or two, and kids who make good grades while falling behind in tuition.
One of the projects we are anxious to see is a new greenhouse. We provided a small part of the funding for this commercial and educational project that we hope will provide some long-term health benefits and income for the school. The gardens at the school already provide hundreds of pounds of greens and other fresh vegetables each month for the school kitchen. And of course we are always happy to watch the kids dive into the library books that we have been able to send from the US and to purchase in the country.
But one of the moments I most love when we visit is when the children sing. We call this campaign 1000 Voices for Hope because over 1000 people joined together to support this community in extending an education for these children after the 8th grade. Your voice has been heard, and these students and their families continue to sing their thanks, their voices rising up to the rafters of the Rainwater Court and echoing the promise ahead for every child.
It's been a little over four years since I celebrated a new water system with the students and families of Mahiga Primary School. Four years since learning that the graduating 8th grade students at Mahiga Primary had no high school to attend. Four years since the community asked me and The Nobelity Project to help them realize a very big dream.
Four years later, the students of the first Senior class at Mahiga Hope High School have just completed their high school educations. I think that's worth celebrating; worth extending our thanks to everyone who's supported the effort, and worth congratulating all the students who have worked so hard.
And still the school moves forward. Already classes for the new year are beginning. As usual, enrollment has grown. The Kenyan Education District has provided two more teachers which is a big step. But there is much left to be done. A growing school has a growing need for textbooks, and the school could use a little help in purchasing those.
Also, our 1000 Books for Hope campaign - round II - was a great success. We now have 13,000 books - fiction and nonfiction for all ages - headed on an ocean container to Kenya for a dozen school libraries. Many of these books are going to Mahiga, which means we also need bookshelves to hold them.
This is a big year for Global education intiatives. The growing movement for universal primary education is making progress around the world, and the story of Mahiga Hope High School is adding to the momentum for Universal Secondary Education. We hope you can support our work at Mahiga, and elsewhere, through continuing donations, and by purchasing the dvd and the book that tells the story. Building Hope - the story of Mahiga Hope High School is now available. You can learn more at www.nobelity.org.
And thanks again for your support through Global Giving!
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