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Jul 7, 2017

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts

Thank you to GlobalGiving donors from Nancy
Thank you to GlobalGiving donors from Nancy

Today is a very special day - it is the opening of the second term at Ikirwa School. It is also special for another reason - thanks to this morning's recurrent donation, this project is now fully funded. Which means that 20 children returning from their mid-year break will be able to complete their first year at Ikirwa School.

In early June we had visited some of the families, who's children are now able to attend Ikirwa and recorded their stories. Often those stories begin with sorrow but end with a big dream. Like 7 year old Rehma, who lives with her grandmother, because her mother's new husband would not accept  a step-daughter. Rehma's biological father was an educated man, who wanted his daughter to go to school, before he passed away in an accident. Rehma's grandmother, Christina, did not let her son's dream die with him, and year after year asked Ikirwa to find her a sponsor. Asked why she was so persistent, this slight, understated woman replied "My father didn't let me go to school, he didn't think it was necessary for a girl to be educated. I will not let the same thing happen to Rema. She will grow up to be a pilot or a captain, or whatever else she decides to be."

On behalf of Rehma, Christina and 19 other families we would like to thank you for supporting the hopes and dreams of their children and bringing them one year closer to fulfilling them.

 

Ikirwa School Project team

Rema
Rema's Grandmother
May 19, 2017

One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world -- Malala Yousafzai

Rainy Recess
Rainy Recess

It's rainy season in Midawe and the mornings are dark and cold. Rowdy rounds of football and tag on the lush grass during recess give way to in-door reading and board games. There are two weeks left before the end of the first semester and mid-year break. First year students have transformed from shy kids hiding behind their desks into confident, enthusiastic participants in the learning process. Watching this transformation is one of the most rewarding experiences one may have.

During my first trip to Tanzania in 2008 I had a chance to speak with young people about their hopes and dreams. Their responses were very pragmatic. Many told me that they want to become tour guides, safari drivers, shop keepers and accountants – occupations which at the time provided the highest income potential. There were no astronauts or future presidents in the group of 9 and 10yr olds. So when Gasper and myself set out to start Ikirwa School Project we set an ambitious goal - change the way our students see the world and their place in it. We want them to dream big, set ambitious goals and give them the tools to get there, because after all, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Kelvin has been attending Ikirwa School since it opened in 2013. His father passed away when he was very young and since then he has been a man of the house. His scholarship was the first to be funded this year. For a child who had to grow up quickly, dreaming big does not come easy. Yet here he is, reaching for the sky. Kelvin has decided that he wants to become a pilot, and I can’t wait to speak with him about his plan to get there.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,

 

Maria Skuratovskaya on behalf of the board and staff of the Ikirwa School and Ikirwa School Project

Kelvin and his letter
Kelvin and his letter
Feb 23, 2017

What water is to a tree, education is to poverty

2017 Ikirwa Scholars with Gasper Mbise
2017 Ikirwa Scholars with Gasper Mbise

When Gasper Mbise and I conceived the Ikirwa School Project, we envisioned it as a venture that could run with minimal public support. Neither of us had experience or was comfortable with fundraising. Our business plan had at its heart a formula whereby if our classrooms were filled to capacity, we would be able to cover full operational expenses of the school from tuition revenues and offer 20% of our spots to families that cannot afford to pay.

Reality rarely turns out the way you lay it out on paper. A new school, with no track record cannot expect to reach capacity immediately. While convincing parents to commit their funds and children’s future to an unproven institution has been slow, we have had no trouble building a wait list of perspective students waiting for financial assistance.

Late in 2016 we have realized that some of the kids on that list have been on that list for 3 years and that while we wait for reality to catch up with the economics of our business plan, these children are missing out on education that could propel them out of poverty. This is how this campaign came about, we simply could not stand by and watch another generation of village children grow up without the tools to suceed in the modern world.  Because of our shared vision and through your generosity we have filled the spare capacity at Ikirwa School by offering most vulnerable children in the Midawe community a chance to receive and excellent education and grow out of poverty.

Most of the kids who received scholarships funded by this campaign live nearby and are known well by the school staff. A few used to come on campus after classes have already let out, peeking into building windows and asking our night watchman to let them in so that they can look at the books. Welcoming them on January 9th as Ikirwa students was a very special moment. As of today 11 girls and 6 boys, ages 4 to 8 have joined Ikirwa as new student. Two more girls, age 11, of exceptional academic aptitude, were able to continue their studies after their families could no longer afford to pay for their education.

The funds we have raised so far are sufficient to cover their tuition and meals through the end of the first term.

Throughout this year we will keep you updated on the academic progress of the kids sponsored by this campaign, their achievements and how their lives have changed since they joined our school . As of right now we can tell you that they are loving their new uniforms.

 Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,

Maria Skuratovskaya, on behalf of the board and staff of the Ikirwa School and Ikirwa School Project

students with Gasper Mbise and visiting volunteer
students with Gasper Mbise and visiting volunteer
 
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