Welcome to another Rafiki Newsletter – that it is already time to send another update bears testament to the fact that there has been so much going on this year! As a group of trustees, we continue to be amazed and inspired by the transformative stories that we hear back from our student beneficiaries, but also by the generosity of individuals here in the UK who, through donating time, money and energy,
enable that change to happen. A big thank you to Janet for pulling it all together, and from me personally to everyone who sponsored my Marathon attempt at the end of April. I had a good run on the day, finishing without any major incidents in 4 hours and 6 minutes – cheered along the way by the knowledge that so many people were backing my efforts. Not promising to do it again mind! Happy reading, and best wishes for the summer, Jon
Our Kenya programme continues to go from strength to strength - with the addition of 26 students who were previously being supported by the Kazi Mingi Foundation (KMF) we are now supporting 62 students to further their education. We also have a growing Rafiki Thabo alumni of 25 graduates who are forming their own alumni network, Blessed to Bless (B2B) to bring about change in their local communities and wider society. Congratulations to Grace, Charity & Jacqueline, our 3 most recent graduates!
This growth in student numbers has meant we have also needed to grow our committee in Kenya. We are delighted to welcome 2 new committee members, Erasto Mghalu who is dealing with finance matters and Reverend Criswel Mwachia who now manages all applications.They join Reverend Gibson Mwanganyi, Bishop Liverson Mng’onda & Miriam Mng’onda. Our in-country committees are vital to the success of our work and we are so grateful for all they do for us - on a voluntary basis. They are, quite literally, our eyes and ears on the ground.
Looking ahead to spring 2016, a team of 7 staff members from our corporate partners Nicholsons has been selected to go out to Kenya and visit ACK St. Bartholomews School. KMF has supported the school from its outset 10 years ago so we are delighted that a Nicholsons team will have the chance to further strengthen the links with the school. We are very grateful to Nicholsons for their support of this initiative and to us as a charity more widely.
As always, we are immensely grateful for all the hard work that the Ugandan committee do in Kabale on behalf of Rafiki Thabo. Our students have been working hard and we are excited that some have graduated this year including Isaac and Ambrose (pictured here). We are encouraged by the variety of courses that Rafiki students are able to do, including more vocational courses such as nursing, plumbing and hotel management. We eagerly await the result of our Senior 6 (A-level equivalent) students and wish them all the best as they decide what to do next.
We are delighted to have been awarded a grant by the Gilchrist Educational Trust to provide training for 200 girls at Kamuganguzi Janan Lewan Memorial Secondary School on reproductive health and to make washable sanitary kits. During our recent visit, the 3 headmasters on our Uganda committee told us that they were seeing girls missing school for a week a month - or dropping out completely - because they couldn't afford to buy sanitary towels. This is a huge problem that many girls across the developing world face and is a significant barrier to their education. We are excited to be working in partnership with Days for Girls, a US organisation with an office in Uganda, who will deliver the training on our behalf in the very near future.
Elizabeth Dunford spent two years in 2009/2010 working as a volunteer at Fusi Secondary School in Lesotho. In March 2015, she made a return visit to see how the school was faring. She writes:
I was very excited to be visiting my “second home” after a few years. It was good to visit familiar places and meet up with old friends, but, most of all, I was excited to see how my school was getting on. Obviously, I had kept in touch with progress, but there is nothing quite like that first hand experience. It was wonderful to see the classrooms donated by the Japanese and promised during my stay are now built and in full use by the students. I was made extremely welcome by staff and students alike – I gave them pens and pencils from friends at my church, and they gave me songs and dances.
I was able to meet all the students who are being supported by Rafiki Thabo, most of whom have now left Fusi and are studying at high school. It was particularly uplifting to meet Nthatuoa, who I taught in her first year at Fusi, and who is now applying to university with the hope of becoming a doctor. You can read more about Nthatuoa below.
Fusi school has now applied to become a high school so, if successful, it will be even more accessible to local students to continue their studies. The students all appeared to be well-motivated and are grateful that, with the support of Rafiki Thabo, their dreams of a high school - or even a university - education may become a reality.
There is now an electricity supply to the school (funded by the Southern Africa Church Development Trust) and so it has an IT suite in full working order. There is a dedicated IT teacher and there is a promise of an internet connection very soon. It is particularly pleasing that the electricity supply has now been extended to the village, paid for by the local community with some help from a different NGO: we saw men at work connecting the houses. This has meant a great deal to the community and people are very grateful to the school for enabling it to happen. The school has chickens and pigs. Eggs are served to the students and the excess is sold in the village. The school also has a bullock which was given at the end of the year in lieu of fees!
Fusi school continues to achieve amazing results. This year, it had the second best results in the district at the Junior certificate level and therefore received a trophy at the annual awards ceremony. Outstanding students are also awarded medals: the students in this picture both got As in maths & the girl got a merit overall & an A in science.
Another of our trustees, Andy, writes: 'Time flies. It doesn't seem long ago that I was last in Lesotho with a group of students from Cokethorpe School, and yet, in just a months time, I will be taking to the air again with 11 Sixth Form students. Our destination is Ha Fusi Secondary School where we will be doing some tree planting and painting some classrooms whilst also getting to know the area around Teyateyaneng. There will be a full write-up in our next newsletter!'
At the end of 2009, Fusi Primary School pupil Nthatuoa gained one of the top marks in Lesotho for her Primary certificate. The principal was concerned that Nthatuoa's family could not afford secondary education for her and asked Rafiki Thabo for assistance. We were pleased to offer a scholarship, and Nthatuoa continued to do well and achieved a Merit after three years at Fusi Secondary School. She was supported by us through High School and once again achieved a top mark in the country. She writes:
'I really appreciate your support because I am one of the top achievers in my country. I did not think I was going to be able to achieve this if you did not support me. You have always been there for my studies for this past 5 years and I am grateful for that.' Nthatuoa hopes to become a doctor and has applied to university for the foundation Science degree. What an achievement for someone whose family could not even afford to send her to secondary school! You can hear Nthatuoa talking with Elizabeth Dunford about her aspirations here.
Updates from Rafiki HQ
Planning for the future
We are delighted to have recently finalised our strategy for 2015-2020. We are feeling excited by all the possibilities the next 5 years hold & by our plans to further increase access to education in Africa. Here's a word cloud of our strategy to give you a flavour of what it's all about. If you would like to receive a copy of the strategic plan please contact us.
The Rafiki Sandwich
We have recently launched the Rafiki Sandwich project to raise funds for 'Eat Well to Learn', our school meals programme in Uganda. Through this programme, we provide a hot meal for 70 of the poorest students at Kamuganguzi Janan Lewan Memorial School. Each school meal costs 35p. Working with a local business network, Experience Chipping Norton, we are encouraging cafes and restaurants to either introduce a Rafiki Sandwich, of which 35p is donated to us to pay for a school meal in Uganda, or to ask their customers to add a voluntary donation to their bill. We already have 3 eateries signed up with many more showing an interest.
This project needn't be limited to Chipping Norton! Why not approach your local cafe, pub or restaurant & see if they want to be part of this amazing project?
We have been busy holding lots of fundraising events since our last newsletter. Recent events include running the children's activities at the Churchill Village Festival, weekly cake sales at Kingham Primary School, a clothes swap & pampering evening and a Pampered Chef evening. Jon also raised over £3,000 for us by running the London marathon - amazing!
Clothes swap in Churchill, April 2015
We are looking forward to the following events we are planning:
Kingham 12K Run, 28th June - 50% of the proceeds will go to us!
Taking part in the Chipping Norton Christmas Food Festival on 5th December
A Burns Night Supper in Aynho on 22nd January 2016
Please come along and support us!
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!
Welsh holiday cottage
As we finally enjoy the onset of summer here in the UK, why not treat yourself to a break in a holiday cottage on the West Wales Coast – in return for a donation to Rafiki Thabo Foundation?
The cottage sleeps six and has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge diner, bathroom & garden. There are many local tourist attractions including lovely sandy beaches. The nearest town is Cardigan which has a wide range of shops & facilities.
You can have a great holiday while also making a tremendous difference to young people’s lives in Africa! For more information click here.
And finally.... we are looking for a summer intern......
Are you - or do you know - a student or graduate wondering what to do over the long summer break? Why not join us for an internship & get the chance to use your skills to help us change lives in Africa & gain some new skills & experience for your CV? Find out more here.
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