Project #5764

Green Education Center for Kenyan Street Children

by Jitegemee

It was around this time last year that many of you joined the Jitegemee family.  During the time since you joined us on our journey to make the new school a reality, we've passed a lot of milestones.  The most recent of these was the signing of our lease by the Kenyan commissioner of lands, paving the way for us to begin building on the new site.  This is a huge hurdle to get over, and one that many people worked hard to help us clear.  This news comes at a great time, as members of our board prepare to head to Machakos during the first week of August to meet with the building architect and the School Design Planning Committee.  We look forward to reporting back on the trip when we return in mid-August.

In the meantime, please enjoy the most recent issue of our newsletter, which contains stories from our first intern, Calum Bowden, and one of our students, Meshack Wambua Nzioka.  Once again, thank your for your support and being apart of our family!



For the past few years we have had the opportunity to partner with students and faculty in the Master of International Affairs program at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).  During this period we have benefited from the great work of students and faculty in the program, as they have repeatedly traveled to Machakos to conduct interviews and surveys aimed at providing impact assessments of various aspects of our programs.  Their work has been a vital resource as we continue to grow our services and refine our approaches to educating and rehabilitating students.

This year the SIPA team performed the first ever outside evaluation of Jitegemee's Formal Schooling Program.  The team conducted a comprehensive impact assessment of the program, with an emphasis on health and social outcomes for participating primary school students and their families.  The initial findings of the evaluation were very encouraging:

"We found that the Formal Schooling Program leads to both positive overall health and social outcomes. One of the major contributing factors to improving students’ health is the feeding program, which provides free lunch on a daily basis during the week. In addition, regular check-ups from the Jitegemee doctor and access to medication have had a large impact on both students and their families. With regard to social outcomes, we concluded how Jitegemee’s financial support – especially in terms of providing uniforms and shoes - has helped the students to feel like they belong among their peers, allowing them to focus more on their studies and less on social stresses. The financial support has also had a major impact on families, enabling parents to put the money they save toward other household expenses, as well as to better outfit the students’ siblings for school.

We also found additional positive financial, educational, health and interpersonal relationship outcomes based on the four areas of impact that we identified during Phase II, and determined that Jitegemee’s impact on relationships was the area where there was the most room for improvement."

We are sincerely grateful to the SIPA students and faculty for all of their hard work.  Their recommendations for improvement will help guide us as we continue to build a better Jitegemee for our students.  When you get a chance, please read the attached report in full.

Thank you for your continued support of Jitegemee!

Calum and Jitegemee Students
Calum and Jitegemee Students

Read below for the latest on the ground update from our intern, Calum.  He's been doing some great work with the students at Jitegemee.  Also, consider donating to help support the completion of the new "green" educational center on March 16th, via GlobalGiving.  GlobalGiving will be matching all donations at 30% on this day, so your contribution will go even further!  Thank you for all your support thus far.

After my hottest week in Machakos, it rained. Really rained. It started Sunday afternoon and it actually only stopped raining earlier today. Now there is heavy mud everywhere, or “ndaka” in Kikamba, which a man in the matatu told me I had collected lots of on my shoes .

Unfortunately the rain has come several weeks too late to save the crops. But a few weeks ago my family was able to harvest a massive sack of beans and some thumb-sized bananas from their shamba farm. Many of Jitegemee’s families are hit hard by the increasingly unpredictable rains so it was a good time to talk about protecting the environment with the students.

Two Saturdays ago, all of the primary school students came to the center. We talked about what the term environment means, the interdependent nature of ecosystems, and why it’s important to protect it. I tried hard to make it relevant to their lives. Not just “recycle used peanut butter jars and decorate them for fun” as my Google search had suggested. I wanted the students to understand that pollution and dwindling natural resources pose a serious threat for our generation. If we throw our litter on the ground, livestock/a small child could mistake it for food and choke on it. We could further pollute the water. Climate change affects the rains. We will eventually run out of fossil fuels.

With Jitegemee about to start the construction of a new, “green” center, we wanted the students to understand that it doesn’t mean it will be painted that color, as one primary school student suggested. The new building will have solar panels for electricity, a solar hot water heater for cooking, toilets that use little/no water, a roof designed to collect water, and a large shamba.

I organized 3 activities: an environmental scavenger hunt, the “taka taka challenge!” (just a rubbish pickup), and some typing and drawing activities on the computers. The kids excitedly ran around the center looking for the different things I had asked for. One group even found a turkey, which I didn’t think lived in Kenya, let alone Jitegemee’s grounds.



As mentioned on our Twitter feed and Facebook page (you are following those aren't you? :)) Jitegemee welcomed its first intern to Machakos a little over a month ago.  Calum is taking a gap year to travel the world, experience life, and hopefully make a difference along the way.  We're happy to have him working with our students and staff at Jitegemee, and we are excited to hear about his time there.  Throughout the course of his stay we will occasionally be sending you updates from his blog "Merry Go Round."  Below is the first such post, ENJOY!

For over a month now I’ve been working with the NGO Jitegemee in Machakos, Kenya that rehabilitates street children through formal and vocational education. I’m their first long-term volunteer and I’m working on developing a basic computer skills curriculum, a networked computer lab and a litter management program. Living with a local family has given me an opportunity to fully experience life here. They have made me feel like their son always referring to each other as “mom” and “dad”. Many of our conversations are spent comparing our cultures and asking each other questions. What I’ve found most interesting is how surprised they are when I explain how different life is back home. I remember their shock when I explained I didn’t know how to make chapatis because I don’t eat them back home. But they’ve made sure to teach me and now I’m pretty much an expert- I’ll post some instructions soon.

Over the first two week of January, we had many visitors to Jitegemee. Two Columbia graduate students studying international development came for 10 days to research the impact of the formal schooling programme. Not sure how they got anything done as we spent most of our time together dancing with all the students. Their findings fully support the huge, life changing impact that Jitegemee has on children’s lives. Just read "REFORMED", a poem written by several vocational students, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Last Friday we had three donors visit from the US who shared a day of performances and celebration with us here. Hopefully soon I will be able to find the internet power to upload some pictures.

Slowly I’ve been making progress teaching the students how to use computers. We have five (if we’re lucky and they all decide to work) in a mini-lab that is now decorated with some posters the students made about the different parts of the computer. Since the most of them had never touched one before, I start by teaching them about the parts, why its important to learn computers, and how many jobs can benefit from using them. Then we move into turning them on and off correctly, and how to hold the mouse and use the left click. My first major activity involves the paint application and they have all loved learning how to draw and color on the computer. It’s a fun way to learn about interacting with the computer using the mouse. Some of them have been able to create really detailed portraits, maps of Kenya and Africa, and 3D houses. It’s amazing to think that a week ago most of them had never used a computer before and now they’re able to do all that. This week I’ve been introducing them to the keyboard, going through what all the keys do and having the students practice using them. In the next few weeks we will continue to work on typing and formatting. I’ve also been working with the teachers on typing, word processing, powerpoint, and video editing. Hopefully by next week we will have the entire center connected to the internet so everyone can start playing with it.

For the litter project, we now have five bins for <del>taka taka</del> trash and a bottle of soap. I made some posters about keeping Jitegemee clean and healthy and put them up all over the place. I’ve started to explain it all to the students and already I’ve seen many people putting their trash into the bins instead of throwing it on the floor.And we’ve nearly finished the bottle of soap. Great success! Hopefully we’ll be able to get hand sanitizer dispensers which I think will be better for the limited water supply.

Now I’m off to Nairobi to spend the weekend with my host brother. What a crazy life!



Updated Building Sketch 1
Updated Building Sketch 1

Jitegemee Family,

On behalf of the Jitegemee board members, staff, and students, I would like to wish you a Happy Holidays!  2010 has been a tremendous year of growth for Jitegemee both in terms of finance and community.  I know many of you who are receiving this update had never even heard of Jitegemee at the beginning of this year.  However, do to your support we have been able to make tremendous strides toward or goals constructing a new school and expanding the opportunities for the street kids of Machakos, Kenya.  Because of your support we have had a record year of fundraising!

Your support has allowed us to:

  1. Accept 30 additional kids into our primary school program for the coming year, 3 times more than we have been able to accept in previous years.
  2. Purchase the land on which the school will be built (please see the attached updated sketches).
  3. Support our first official on-site intern, Calum.

Calum arrived in Machakos over the past couple of weeks, and received a warm reception from his host family.  He had the following to say about his arrival:

“…The family is extremely kind and generous and have put in great effort to make me feel comfortable. I look forward to getting to know them better and to learning Kiswahili as Francisca assures me that within two months I will be able to speak the language.  Yesterday, Mike, the teachers, and some of the kids gave me a very warm welcome to Jitegemee. Mike and I discussed the plan for my stay and I was able to share some of the ideas I have had…”

We look forward to bringing you more insights from Calum’s time at Jitegemee both here, and on our website.  We are excited about his presence there, and look forward to hearing about his contributions.

Again, none of this would be possible without supporters like you.  Thank you again, we are looking forward to an even bigger and better 2011 with you!


Clarence Wardell III

P.S. We would also like to extend a special thanks to our supporters, Elaine, Lori, Connie, and Gail, who hiked 177 miles across Wales, and got sponsors for Jitegemee for the hike.  They raised more than $3,000 through their efforts.  Thank you!

Updated Building Sketch 2 (Aerial)
Updated Building Sketch 2 (Aerial)
Hikers! Connie, Gail, Lorie, Elaine...
Hikers! Connie, Gail, Lorie, Elaine...



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Organization Information


Location: Somerville, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Clarence Wardell
Somerville, MA United States
$72,821 raised of $70,000 goal
881 donations
$0 to go
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