Hearing first-hand the voices of Rafiki Scholars expressing the transformative effect access to education has made in their lives is incredibly moving and in this newsletter we hear from Solomon who writes: “All my tears have been wiped away: now I have hope for the future. I would like to thank Rafiki Thabo for settling all my worries and bringing a smile to my face.”
These are not false words but harsh realities – without education, there is little hope. True poverty is not only the absence of material things, it is also the shame and sense of inferiority that comes from being powerless to do anything about it (World Bank ‘Voices of the Poor’). Through your generosity, Rafiki Scholars are given the chance to change their future – on behalf of each of them, thank you so much for your support.
Jon writes: I had the immense privilege of visiting Kenya again in January, this time in the capacity of my day-job, introducing a team from Nicholsons to ACK St Bartholomew’s School where they worked with the staff and students for a week to construct a tree nursery. It was by all accounts an amazing experience – such a warm welcome and a real connection (as well as many a Facebook one!) was made that I know will continue to touch the lives of our team for many years to come.
(L to R) Dan, Principle Evans (St Barts), Owen, (crouching), Tom (driver), Deputy Principle Moshi, Bishop Liverson, Connor, Jess, Mike, Ruby
Jon & children watering newly planted trees
The tree nursery will grow indigenous trees from seeds collected from surrounding trees by the students at St Barts, becoming part of the curriculum that teaches about preserving and enhancing the shared environment. It should also provide a small income stream for the school - each tree seedling sells for around 20 Kenyan Shillings (14p).
Besides the tree nursery, Liverson (chair of the Kenya Committee) showed us several other projects that are running, but that the community would like Rafiki Thabo to consider joining them with, so as to expand the provision. These included a special needs unit at a rural primary school, a clinic in an isolated valley and a pre-school setting on the edge of Sofia, a slum in Voi. The core concern of Rafiki Thabo remains to support students through education (we are now supporting 83 Rafiki Scholars in Kenya), but as trustees, we recognise education doesn’t exist in a vacuum and where it is possible to source funding for a more holistic approach, we consider any proposal put forward by our committees. Such a partnership is really exciting – here’s to what the future holds!
Just before Christmas our Uganda committee asked us to consider funding the renovation of the girls' dormitory at one of our schools following a traumatic incident involving two girls who have long journeys to and from school. We are delighted to have secured funding from the One World Group Oxted to renovate the dormitory. The renovations, which include a new roof, doors and windows, have started - as shown in the 'before' and 'during' photos - and are due to be completed soon. This means there will be a safe place for girls to board at the school, rather than making risky journeys to and from school.
We are delighted that one of our Rafiki graduates, Flavia, got married in February 2016. Flavia lost both parents at a young age and we are proud to have supported her to complete her secondary and university education - she graduated with a degree in Mass Communication last summer. We are so happy that Flavia has been able to choose to marry who she wants to, when she is ready to, rather than being forced into an early marriage: research has shown that girls with higher levels of education are less likely to get married at an early age (Education for All, UNICEF).
Flavia asked Benon, the chair of our Uganda committee, to give her away, in recognition of the role that Rafiki Thabo has played in her life. Many other Rafiki students attended the celebrations and by all accounts it was a wonderful day!
School students this year were delayed in starting their studies in 2016 due to elections taking place on 18th February. Sadly, Uganda faced a lot of unrest leading up to the election and there have been reports of tear gas being used in Kampala and violence against opposition candidates. Museveni has secured another term in office despite international criticism of the election process and evidence of corruption. We hope that peace is restored and all our students remain safe and are able to continue their studies throughout the country.
Our last newsletter included the exciting news that an electricity supply was being connected to Fusi Primary School. We are delighted to report that the project has been completed and the pictures show how excited the students are to have lighting in their classrooms. There was even enough money to buy a photocopier for the school. The primary school staff wrote: 'It is with utmost pleasure thank you for the help you granted to us Fusi Primary staff and learners. It is due to this help that most of the educational needs are met. More importantly, our educational environment is now able to cater for and entice new learners.'
Pupils at Fusi Primary School
Fusi Secondary School continues to thrive, and in 2015 achieved the third best results in the district. This is a remarkable achievement for a small village school, competing against large well-funded schools in the towns. This year's student roll is the biggest ever with 161 pupils taught in five classes. We are sponsoring a few of the students at the school and we continue to sponsor students who have graduated to high school. We are delighted that all 8 high school students we were supporting who completed school in 2015 have qualified for government sponsorship for university - they now have bright futures ahead of them thanks to your support!
Solomon has recently graduated with a Diploma in Tourism and Hotel Management in Kabale, Uganda. Rafiki Thabo started supporting his education in 2010. He writes:
‘I am the first person in my extended family to be gaining a higher education qualification – and it is all thanks to Rafiki Thabo Foundation. My parents struggled to pay my school fees as they look after our extended family and they have no assets. Although I joined secondary school I had no real hope of finishing school. My parents managed to pay for my first two years but then the money ran out. That was when I applied to Rafiki Thabo.
I was overjoyed when I heard Rafiki had agreed to support me. I finished secondary school and they then supported me to complete my Diploma in Tourism and Hotel Management. It was great doing a vocational course as it has equipped me with skills to generate an income – and I am delighted to have got a paid job just after graduating! This means I can now pay my own way and give some money back to my family.
All my tears have been wiped away: now I have hope for the future. I would like to thank Rafiki Thabo for settling all my worries and bringing a smile to my face.’
We'd like to thank all of you who supported us in any way in 2015. Together, you helped us to help more students than ever before continue with their education, enabled us to provide training to almost 200 girls to help them better manage their menstruation, and paid for a phenomenal number of school meals in Uganda! Let's make 2016 even better - together!
Taking Pictures, Changing Lives
We are so excited that Adam Dickens, professional photographer and film maker, has offered to take photos & make a short film for us in 2016. We are 1 of 6 small charities that Adam will provide thousands of images and video content to, which will transform the way we get attention, raise awareness and increase our funding. Adam has recently launched his crowdfunding campaign for this amazing project which will make a huge difference to us, and 5 other fantastic charities. Please consider being part of this amazing project by supporting Adam's campaign. You can read more & support the campaign here.
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 a few 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.
Interested in being part of this world record attempt? Download our information pack and sign up here.
Rafiki Sandwich Project
We've enjoyed so much positive publicity about our Rafiki Sandwich Project these last few weeks - from newspaper to radio & even TV! The project asks cafes & restaurants to help raise funds for our 'Eat Well to Learn' school meals programme in Uganda - it costs just 35p to buy 1 school meal. Small change to us - big change for the Ugandan pupils!
We would like to thank all the cafes, restaurants and food-related businesses in Chipping Norton who are already supporting the project - Delicacy Deli, The Old Mill cafe, Express Kebab Pizza, The Tea Set, Ticketty Shake & Womersley Foods. So far, they have raised enough to pay for more than 500 meals! We are hoping many more cafes & restaurants will sign up so we can reach the 1,000 mark soon. Please share this article with anyone you know who might be interested in joining this exciting - and life changing - project. [image courtesy of Oxford Mail]
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 star fundraisers this winter were Liz Nicholson and her wonderful team who organised an amazing Burns Night Supper and Celidh for us in January. Huge thanks to you all - the evening raised more than £10,000 which will make a huge difference to lives in Africa.
Feeling inspired? We'd 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. Why not download our fundraising pack and get fundraising for Rafiki!
Some dates for your diaries:
We'll be manning the tombola at the annual duck races, organised by Kingham & Wychwoods Rotary Club, in Kingham on Easter Monday, 28th March 2016
Come along to our pre-loved clothes sale & pampering evening in Churchill, Oxfordshire, on 7th May 2016