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Sep 16, 2019

Our First Graduation

Graduates and guests of honor
Graduates and guests of honor

Dear Ikirwa School Project supporter,

Greetings from the foothills of Mt. Meru, where just 24 hours ago, in a ceremony attended by 350 people, including the MP for Arumeru District as a guest of honor, we have handed out diplomas to the first Ikirwa Primary School graduates. Among them, were 4 students who could not have attended this school and reached this milestone without the help of our donor community. In liew of the formal report here is a speech that I have prepared for this momentous occasion. Thank you from the bottom of our heart. 

 

Dear students, parents, teachers, staff and distinguished guests,

Welcome, and thank you for joining us on this very special day. I am very sorry that I can’t be here in person, but my heart and mind are with you right now.

In January of 2012 we opened this school with a very simple goal – to give our students a world-class education and teach them not to be afraid of having big dreams. Our graduates today are roof that our goal is not out of reach. Graduates, most of you, were here when we first opened our doors, and if you heard this speech then, you probably wouldn’t have understood any of it. Today you are confident young women and men, who know what it means to have a goal and how to work hard to achieve it. Among you are future doctors, engineers, pilots, accountants and entrepreneurs. You are the future leaders of this nation and the of the world. You make us very proud. So what advice could I give you as you, our first born, leave Ikirwa.

First - never stop learning. Education doesn’t stop when you get your diploma. It doesn’t stop after you finish college or university either. You’re not going to get very far in life based on what you already know. You’re going to advance in life by what you’re going to learn after you leave here. Wisdom acquisition is a moral duty. It’s not just something you do to advance in life. It’s a moral duty because it’s only through continuous learning that we can add to the vast knowledge of mankind. If we stopped learning, progress in all industries—computers, finance, engineering, biology, stops as well. 

Second – be kind. Never forget that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.  The effect that you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. A mentor once told me – it’s people who will lift you to the top.

Third – work hard. But don’t do things just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you wouldn’t have anything. But if you do work that you’re proud of and don’t get the money, then at
least you’ll have your work. Everything material you gain in life – money, power, possessions - will go away, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart and what you shared with others.

Fourth - you must have some kind of vision for your life, even if you don’t know the plan. You have to have a direction in which you choose to go. That direction may change, but you always must have one even if it’s anchored to an audacious dream. That dream will be your guiding light as you make mistakes and build yourself back up from the inevitable failures. Never give up on it.

And finally - failure is inevitable, so accept it and learn from it. Failure is part of life, it’s part of every career, and you have to know how to take advantage of it.  So learn from your mistakes and use them as a building block to your next success. It is the hard days, the days that challenge you to our very core that will determine who you are. And I hope you’ll make mistakes because it means you’re out there doing something, and making the world more interesting for your having existed.

To sum it up: work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.

So, as you begin on this journey of a lifetime, don’t forget what you have learned within these walls:

Don't ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit, things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day: civility, respect, kindness, character. You’re too good for taking joy in misfortune of others, you’re too good for gossip, you’re too good for intolerance and you’re too good to think people who disagree with you are your enemy.

Don’t ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.

Don’t forget the motto of your alma mater, Ikirwa School:

What you think you create
What you feel you attract
What you imagine you become.

 

SIncerely,

Masha Skuratovskaya

Our valedictorian
Our valedictorian
Family, friends and schoolmates in attendance
Family, friends and schoolmates in attendance
Friends for life
Friends for life
Jul 3, 2019

Moving Forward

Dorm life
Dorm life

Greetings from the foothills of Mt. Meru,

 

As I write this, our final report on this project, we find ourselves in an enviable position. Not only have we completed the first dormitory on Ikirwa School campus, but that dormitory is full beyond capacity. It is the time to celebrate the realizing at last our longtime dream of becoming a boarding school. A dream that would have not become true without your help and support, our dear donors. 

Of course, we would be remiss in saying that our fight is at an end, because many challenges remain. To accommodate both boys and girls, we had to convert one of the existing classrooms into a second dormitory. To house all seven primary grades, as well as nursery school, we had to split two of the larger existing classrooms in half, limiting capacity. More importantly, our students still do not have a proper dining hall, our cook a proper kitchen. Food is cooked in a corrugated metal shack, over an open fire. Meals are served on a concrete patio under a verandah roof, with no walls to protect from the elements. 

Therefore, as we close this project we hope that you join us on the next chapter of our journey as we set out to find resource to build a dining hall and kitchen for our kids. Thank you for walking this road with us and for helping us bring our vision to reality.

 

Asante sana

Ready for paint
Ready for paint
Homework time
Homework time
Our next project - stay tuned
Our next project - stay tuned
Jun 19, 2019

To Be Resilient

Ikirwa Scholar class of 2022
Ikirwa Scholar class of 2022

Dear supporters,

 

As I write this, Ikirwa students and staff are enjoying a well-deserved mid-year break. Their dedication and hard work never seize to humble me. The results they deliver in-spite of the daily challenges that seem to come from every corner, are nothing short of amazing.

This year, climate change continued to disrupt our daily commutes with deluges and flooded roads. There were many days when day students had to walk the last up-hill kilometer to school because the road became impassible. Teachers and older boys helped carry the little ones.

Yet there were plenty of joyful moments even in the hardest of days. All students finally got uniforms dsiplaying the school logo. A sponsor's gift allowed one girl and one boy to share their birthday with their whole class, as well as a (first for many) birthday cake. The kids agreed that they could eat cake every day, but birthday hats can choke you. 

Each milestone Ikirwa School advances to, is an unchartered territory for us, its founders. Because we could not have found ourselves here without the support of our grassroots donor community, we have the responsibility to remain accountable for the results and failures of this experimental journey to build something different. Which is why it means so much to receive validation that years of effort do bring the results we hope to achieve and that our mission is carrying us forward. At the end of March, our 7th graders took a trial exam. When results came out, Ikriwa School students took the first 10 spots out 228 kids tested. It is wonderful to see that the first 2 places went to our girls. An equally wonderful to see that three out of ten are our very first Ikirwa Scholars. 

With so many conversations taking place in the Western world about what we must do to raise resilient children, I am reminded of a quote by Steve Maraboli :

Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”

As I watch our first class get ready to leave the school and go off into the big world full of dangers and possibilities, I am confident that these kids have what it takes to carry out the mission of Ikirwa School, as should you, our dear supporters, for your investment has born fruit beyond our wildest dreams. What you imagine you become.

Birthday kids (note the quote on the blackboard)
Birthday kids (note the quote on the blackboard)
Exam Results
Exam Results
 
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