‘Education transforms the total person’ – the words of our Kenya Programme Manager Liverson rang true time and time again as I met scholars that Rafiki Thabo has supported on a recent visit. Young men and women who, with a meaningful educational qualification behind them, rightly believe they have the world at their fingertips. Many were already working -
as teachers, a midwife, an accountant – jobs that they simply would not have without the intervention of Rafiki Thabo in supporting their fees. It’s inspiring stuff, and thanks lie with you for your support and engagement. We as trustees have been bowled over by the number of events, initiatives and contacts made over the past year, from the work of our terrific interns through the summer to the persistent pursuit of additional eateries by Liam of Experience Chipping Norton for the Rafiki Sandwich project – concerts, half-marathons, talks and assemblies – the list goes on. On behalf of the trustees and all the students, thank you everyone.
Jon writes..... 'I had the privilege of spending a week in Kenya this autumn, visiting our in-country committee and some of the many scholars we support. It was inspiring to see how much of a difference Rafiki Thabo has made to individuals’ lives: I could read in the body language alone the confidence and self-worth that gaining an education - and the opportunities that come with it - had made. Some of the scholars seemed to have grown 2 foot since I met them first two years ago! Again and again, scholars past and present talked of the transformation that having their fees paid made: a door opened, a weight lifted, a dream realised.
Jon with Rafiki scholars Gabriel (left) & Nicholas
I appreciated more than ever before that Rafiki’s impact doesn’t stop with the individual scholar supported. Pride and self-worth are hard things to put a monetary value on, but talking to scholars' mothers and fathers who have struggled against terrible odds – often as a single parent – to educate their children, these were the words that kept surfacing. Having a son or daughter achieve an educational qualification and gain professional employment is a huge thing, a status-changing event. Many Rafiki scholars are now the sole wage-earner in their family, contributing to the wider family budget and supporting younger siblings through school, thus changing the lives of their whole family for ever. Strategically, plans are afoot for an ever-more active and engaged alumni organisation, with completed Rafiki scholars feeding back into the programme to inspire and contribute to the education of present scholars. The committee is welcoming George Wakio (a Rafiki scholar himself, who was previously supported through St Bartholomew’s secondary school by the Kazi Mingi Foundation and is now teaching at the school whilst completing his degree) to assist in the administration of distributing fees for 59 students at 15 different institutions each term/semester. This is no mean feat and our grateful thanks go to each of the committee members for all the work that they do voluntarily to select, mentor and monitor all the scholars. Without them, Rafiki Thabo would be a much less targeted, efficient and high-impact organisation. It’s an exciting time in Kenya, you can sense the opportunity in the air as the economy expands and infrastructures improve. A Rafiki scholar is well placed to be part of this – life is not easy but with an education, one is at least equipped to participate in the wider economy and society and based on the scholars I met, participate they will!'
During our visit to Uganda in 2014, our committee raised concerns that many girls were missing school for a week every month as they could not afford sanitary towels. We therefore looked for ways to address this problem and were delighted to receive a grant from the Gilchrist Educational Trust to provide training to 200 girls from Kamuganguzi Janan Lewan Memorial (KJLM) Secondary School on reproductive health and sanitary kit construction.
Girls at KJLM School learning to make washable sanitary towels
The training was delivered in July by a local partner, Days for Girls Uganda. To their and our surprise, 158 boys also took part in the training as they wanted to be able to help their mothers and sisters manage their menstruation better! Some of the teachers also attended the training.
The training course was extremely well received by all participants. The girls have now been equipped with washable sanitary kits which will make them more able and likely to attend school when they are menstruating. This will mean they are more likely to complete their secondary education. There are countless benefits of educating girls, including: increased job opportunities, leading to increased household income; later marriage; greater empowerment; and healthier and better educated children.
Benon, the Headmaster of the school and Chair of our Uganda Committee, told us:
‘the training went on very well and the impact is already evident…… I am receiving … overwhelming appreciation from students, staff and parents. Several parents have come to my office to tell me how their daughters are appreciating and pledging not to miss any school day as a result of menstruation. The community around have seen it for the first time and the mayor of the town council approached me asking how we managed to help our girls. He has received a report from parents who have students in our school.’
We are very grateful to Benon, the Gilchrist Educational Trust & Days for Girls Uganda for making this exciting project possible. We are now hoping to roll out the training to other schools in Kabale district and beyond!
In 2013, the Southern Africa Church Development Trust (SACDT) gave us a grant to arrange for electricity to be connected from the main road to Fusi Secondary School (a distance of about 2 miles). Elizabeth, one of our trustees, visited the school in March 2015 to see the electricity “in action” and the great benefits gained by the school. She also discovered that the villagers had managed to obtain a grant (possibly from the EU) to extend the electricity supply to Ha Fusi village (a further mile or so) and she even saw the junction boxes being installed.
Junction boxes being installed in Ha Fusi village
Pupils at Fusi Primary School
Unfortunately, the second extension only reached as far as the residents' homes and the primary school was not included. This meant that Fusi Primary School was the only building in the village without electricity. The Principal had tried to persuade the community to include the primary school but to no avail. Elizabeth therefore suggested that she get a quotation from the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) for connecting the supply to the school.
Our trustees agreed to pay for this project and the Principal was absolutely delighted! We have just heard that a local electrician has completed the cabling connecting all the classrooms to the central supply box and that the LEC have now connected the school to the mains. The pupils are very excited! This will make a real difference to their education.
Cokethorpe School visit to Ha Fusi
11 students from Cokethorpe School visited Ha Fusi Secondary School in July with trustee Andy Uglow. Ntate Ramqele, the Principal, had a long list of jobs that needed to be done around the school campus, including planting 400 trees on an otherwise barren site and painting the school hall.
Cokethorpe students planting trees at Fusi School
Planting the trees in the stony terrain was quite a challenge, but, with the help of some Fusi students, the job was completed - and the hall was barely recognisable. Each afternoon there was time for a game of football and to explore the local villages. Cokethorpe students were amazed by the distance travelled each day by their Ha Fusi counterparts and left with a greater sense of gratitude for the things they had taken for granted at home.
Caroline Chepkorir is studying towards a BA in Development Studies at Mount Kenya University. Rafiki Thabo started supporting her in 2015.
Caroline comes from a family of eight children and was the first of them to go to secondary school. While she was at secondary school, Caroline’s parents could not afford her fees but she decided to go and study anyway. The school she was admitted to was a long way from home and Caroline didn’t even have the bus fare to get there – but somehow she made it.
She met with her Principal – she wanted to tell him how keen she was to learn but that she had no money for fees, uniform or boarding fees. The Principal was so moved that the school paid her boarding fees and, unbeknownst to Caroline, he persuaded a family he knew to support her through secondary school. After completing secondary school, Caroline worked as a housemaid for 10 months. She had lost all hope of continuing with her education. One day the family who had supported her through school got in touch and offered to support her to study for a Diploma in Community Development and Social Work – for which she got a distinction. She wanted to continue her studies to degree level but the family could no longer afford to support her so she stayed at home for around two years, applying for scholarships for her degree. She finally met someone who told her about Rafiki Thabo Foundation. She applied and was accepted as a Rafiki Scholar in January 2015. She is now studying at university and she feels more hope for her future than she has ever felt before. Caroline says ‘Rafiki gave me hope when all hope has gone. I would like to specialise in gender or children’s rights after my degree. I know from my own experience what children go through when they are young.’
We are teaming up with Experience Chipping Norton (ECN) to be part of a World Record breaking skydiving attempt. Why not join us for the jump? It's an opportunity to have any amazing experience, tick something off your bucket list and raise funds for young people in Africa. We only have 4 places left on our team of 10 so grab yours while you can!
More than 300 others will simultaneously jump for the charity of their choice at 8 airfields across the UK to break the record for the most tandem skydives in a 24-hour period anywhere in the world. All we ask is for you to raise £395 in sponsorship money. You get to jump for free and we will receive a donation of around £140. In addition to this, every extra pound that you raise over the minimum will come straight to us.
ECN is a local network that promotes business, tourism and community initiatives and we are one of the charities they have chosen to support. We are so grateful for all their support, which ranges from promoting our work on their website, making a short film for us, encouraging businesses to donate gifts in kind to us, and helping launch the ‘Rafiki Sandwich’ project, through which proceeds are raised by a number of food outlets in Chipping Norton to raise funds for a school meals programme in Uganda. The idea of a team taking part in this World Record Attempt came from ECN and many of its members have already signed up.
Interested in being part of this world record attempt? Download our information pack and sign up here.
Burns Night Supper
If you are within reach of Aynho, Oxfordshire, please come along to our Burns Night Supper and Ceilidh on 22nd January 2016. There will be poetry, piping, eating and dancing. We will also be holding a January Holiday Shop - a chance to lift those January blues by winning a holiday in our auction.
Ticket price is £55 which includes dinner, drinks and dancing. Contact us asap to buy tickets - they're selling fast!
Christmas Gift Cards
Why not give a gift with a difference this Christmas? Rather than yet another pair of socks or pack of smellies why not give one of our gift cards that will make a real difference to lives in Africa?
Our gift cards range from £5 to £15 and could pay for a month of school meals for a student in Uganda who would otherwise have gone to school hungry, books for a high school student in Lesotho, or a month at school for a girl in Kenya.
We have also recently restocked our online shop with some beautiful Kenyan jewellery, batiks and cloths so why not take a look at what's on offer?
We are so grateful to all our supporters - our regular donors, one-off donors, companies, churches and schools that support us, people who run, help out at or come along to, fundraising events for us, and those who take part in sponsored events for us. Without your vital support, we would not be able to keep transforming lives in Africa through education.
Our fundraising stars this autumn are Kate & Ginny (pictured above) who raised over £700 by being sponsored to run the Oxford half marathon. Thanks ladies!
Feeling inspired? We'd also love you to do a sponsored event or organise a fundraising event for Rafiki and have produced a pack full of ideas and information to help you to do so. You can download the pack here and get fundraising for Rafiki!
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