Nobelity Project

For the first time in history, humankind has the knowledge and ability to overcome challenges related to health, nutrition, water, education and other issues that stand in the way of a more peaceful and sustainable world. We believe that each of us truly can make a difference. We have the will, and we are the way.
Sep 25, 2015

Triumphant Success at Mahiga Hope High School!

As we retire our wonderful 1000 Voices for Hope campaign, I feel that it's important to highlight the great successes that have achieved at Mahiga Hope High School. This is Turk Pipkin writing, project leader and the co-founder of The Nobelity Project. Ten years ago, when I first came to Kenya at the invitation of Nobel laureaute Wangari Maathai, I took a side trip to the remote community of Mahiga to plant trees with the kids at Mahiga Primary.

In the decade to come those first tiny seedlings have grown into 30- and 40-foot-tall trees, and the skinny kids in tattered clothes who helped me plant them have grown into educated high school graduates, many of whom are excelling at colleges and universities.

Mahiga Primary had no water and we partnered with the community to build a solar-powered, UV-purified rainwater system that still functions perfectly today. The power enabled us to build a computer lab and a library.

The area had no high school within practical walking distance, so we partnered again, working with the parents and staff to build a mondern high school, significant portions of which were funded through 1000 Voices for Hope. Willie Nelson was our first donor, an auspicous beginning. Hundreds of donors followed his lead on the Global Giving platform, and at events and schools far and wide. 

Our idea for a RainWater Court that would serve as a basketball court, meeting space and giant rainwater system won an international design competition, and Nike and Architecture for Humanity partnered with us to build it. The community wanted to dream big with us, and we envisioned a double-stream school. Eight classrooms, science labs, a library and computer lab, an efficient kitchen and a dining hall, football fields, gardens and more.

Construction at Mahiga Hope High School is now complete, including all of those infrastructure components and more. The first class of nine students has grown to an enrollment of 200 (650 on the full campus from ECD through grade 12).  In addition to the academic studies, Mahiga Hope has championship boys and girls athletics teams, and championsip music and dance troupes. 

Mahiga Hope has already graduated three classes of Seniors. Many of those have moved on to college and University, Many have already found gainful employment. There example inspired neighboring communities, and we have now partnered to build two additional high schools that are also turning out students with good educations and promising futures.

Our motto was "Education Shouldn't End after the 8th Grade!" Each of these graduate students is an example of what can be achieved across the globe when every student in every land receives a full high school education. There are large education gaps across the developing world, and at home in the U.S. where we live as well. Our mission is to bridge those gaps. And all of you have been the key to building those bridges at Mahiga.

Though the 1000 Voices campaign on Global Giving is concluding, we hope you'll continue to engage with Mahiga and our many other partner schools thru our website at www.nobelity.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Spread the word! Hope lives, and only those willing to work for a better world, can turn Hope in to Reality.

With love from all the students at Mahiga, and all of the Nobelity Project team!

Turk (and Christy) Pipkin

Mahiga Hope Girls Dance and Music Troupe
Mahiga Hope Girls Dance and Music Troupe
Magi Girls Basketball teammembers
Magi Girls Basketball teammembers
College Bound Scholars from Mahiga Hope High
College Bound Scholars from Mahiga Hope High

Links:

Jul 10, 2015

Inspiring Results from Preschool to College

Turk as substitute teacher at Muthuini Preschool
Turk as substitute teacher at Muthuini Preschool

For much of July, a team from Nobelity Project is visiting schools across a wide swatch of Kenya to inaugurate our recently completed classroom construction and water projects, to plan future work and to meet with staff, students and teachers at 18 of our current school partners. Founders Turk and Christy Pipkin - along with Board President Eric Webber, our architect Greg Elsner and other supporters - are finding the best results of our many years of work in Kenya.

A decade ago when we started partnering with rural Kenyan schools, the first goal was to build clean water systems and reduce water-borne illnesses that often caused 50% absenteeism. Today, with all 31 schools where we've worked having clean water, we see attendance approaching 100%.

With more kids in primary, a lack of secondary schools still prevented many kids from attendance beyond the 8th grade, and we were inspired to begin building high schools to bridge the gaps. Today Mahiga Hope High School, Simbara Secondary and Laburra Secondary are full high schools with high enrollment. High school graduation was the goal, but now we have many high school graduates  - many of them on partial sponsorships from The Nobelity Project - who are excelling in Colleges and Universities.

Despite our successes at 30+ Kenyan schools, there are many challenges left. On our first visit yesterday to Mweiga Primary, we found 630 kids jammed into dark classrooms, many of them mud-floored that were built in 1955. We'd need a big partner to address the full infrastructure problem here, but a great first step would be to remedy the preschool jam where 90 kids are jammed into a tiny wooden buiding.

Greg Elsner and I have created an innovative stone and metal two-grade preschool that is colorful, well-lit ,insulated against the elements and cost-effective to design (around $15,000 USD). We've already built a dozen new preschools using this design -  or in areas with extreme weather, a full stone design. Kids in these preschools are excited about learning and they are learning fast. With each new ribbon we cut, I'm more convinced that these early learners will one day be the leaders of a prosperous and peaceful Kenya.

Check out these report photos of our latest preschool openings and perhaps you'll be inspired to help us build more.

This is not always easy work but it is work that we believe in with all our hearts. With every smile, with every bright eye, with every song, I am reminded of simple truths that can carry us all forward. Education is the key. Education is the way. Education is the future we seek. Education is love.

Thanks for being part of this journey. As our friend and Kenyan staffer Joseph Mutongu told me long ago, "I don't have land. I don't have money. The only thing I can give to my kids is an education."

Ribbon-cutting at Muthuini Preschool
Ribbon-cutting at Muthuini Preschool
The New Amboni Preschool
The New Amboni Preschool
Walls going up on remote Alamach Preschool
Walls going up on remote Alamach Preschool
May 27, 2015

Congrats to 45 Mahiga Hope 2014 Graduates!

Championship Mahiga girls and boys basketball team
Championship Mahiga girls and boys basketball team

What an inspiring year at Mahiga Hope High School. The 2014 KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) scores are in for 25 girls and 20 boys who completed Form 4 / 12th grade. Average scores were up 6% for the year, a wonderful gain worth celebrating. The KCSE is a very difficult test - comparable to the SAT or ACT exams in the U.S., and these students have worked hard to score higher and make the grades necessary to go on to college, University, or to enter the job market.

In late June, we'll be presenting new laptops to the top-scoring boy and girl at Mahiga Form 4 (and also at Ol Moran Secondary, Simbara Secondary and Laburra Secondary). Those laptops awards have been a great incentive (as have the bikes for top scoring boys and girls in Form 1, 2 and 3). And the laptops will be important tools for upcoming University studies. 

When Wangari MaathaI first invited me to the Aberdares soon after she received the Nobel Peace Prize, my first school visit was to Mahiga Primary - mud floors, slat walls, wind and rain coming in. There was one high school a two-hour walk away and very few students in this area were enrolled in any secondary school. Working with the local communities, we helped to build Mahiga Hope High School, Simbara Secondary and Laburra Secondary. 

These three high schools - and the preschools and primary schools that feed students up this education ladder - have thousands of kids enrolled - all of them working hard to build a better future for themselves, their families, their communities and the nation.

Our work at Mahiga and elsewhere in the area continues with materials support for textbooks, with planning for future teacher housing, incentive programs, and college sponsorships. Thanks to everyone who's supported The Nobelity Project and Mahiga Hope High School! If you want real inspiration, make a donation on Global Giving and send us an email requesting a gift dvd of our award-winning feature doc, Building Hope. 

If you know teachers who'd like a special classroom edition dvd with online education materials, those are free of charge for every teacher who requests a copy. Just email us at info@nobelity.org.

Let's keep Building Hope!

Top scoring boys and girls in Forms 1, 2 and 3
Top scoring boys and girls in Forms 1, 2 and 3
 
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