The Grand Opening of Mahiga Hope High School on October 1 was a tremendous celebration with The Nobelity Project's Turk and Christy Pipkin, Architecture for Humanity's Greg Elsner and Michael Jones, and over a 1,000 members of the local community who turned out to see the area's first high school.
Greg Elsner has spent over a year living in Mahiga, but his work on the award-winning RainWater Court was not completed until the mounting of the backboards and rims the evening before the big event. Ready for basketball and for the performances on the new stage, the court's 30,000 liter storage tanks were ready for the first rain.
The giant crowd was entertained by two school choirs, by local women performing traditional dances, and by the performance of new school song by the high school students, along with their inspiring poem about education, "Now or Never." The shows were followed by ribbon-cuttings of the new classrooms, the computer lab and library, which now has over 2,500 volumes in circulation for primary and secondary students, and for others in the community.
Our new kitchen - with high-efficiency wood stoves saving 70% from former wood construction while protecting the cooks from harmful smoke - helped to turn out food for the entire crowd. I've seen great development work in 20 countries on five continents, but this was the most inspiring day of my life, culminating with the first rain on the roof and in the gutters and tanks of the court!
And that was just the beginning. On Sunday, we welcomed a great performance by the deaf acrobatic troupe Sarakasi, who travelled many hours from Nairobi. Also coming from Nairobi were the men's and women's STORMS professional basketball teams who conducted a long b-ball clinic with our students, followed by scrimmage play between the pros, the championship St. Mary's High School team from Nyeri, and our less-polished but surprisingly good Mahiga girls and boys teams. I played a few points myself for Mahiga, and the crowd was LOUD for the home team. As the girls team scrimmaged against the lady pros, a true miracle happened - the thunder roared and the skies opened up - a torrential downpour that lasted nearly an hour and which put over 15,000 liters of clean drinking water into the courts big tanks.
We are deeply indebted for Nike GameChangers, Architecture for Humanity, the community of Mahiga and all of the Nobelity Project's supporters who have made this school a reality. AND WE STILL NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
We also broke ground on the new science lab building - with physics, chemistry and biology labs - and an extensive gardens and orchard that will help provide food for the school kitchen. Beginning in January, Mahiga Hope High School will have the full support of the Kieni West Education District as a full, four-year high school. Your donations have changed the life of so many in this wonderful community, and completing the school will make it into a shining beacon of education for generations to come.
Turk Pipkin, The Nobelity Project, www.nobelity.org
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