In the wake of a European referendum, the realisation that life in other parts of the world does indeed go on can be a bit of a shock… but here it is, the good, the bad and the amazing. New jobs, renovated dorms, people flinging themselves from planes (those are all the good bits!) alongside failed crops, food shortages and the stirrings of political unrest…
With technology drawing us all ever closer together, at Rafiki HQ we celebrate alongside our Scholars and volunteer Country Committees all the success stories and opportunities seized, just as much as we share the concerns and fears of wider geo-political events. And together we thank you for your part in all of this as one of our supporters – without you, there would be a little less good in the world to report.
We love staying in touch with our Scholars, even after they graduate, and this is getting easier as more get connected to the various social media networks. Our Director was delighted to discover, via LinkedIn, that Daudi, one of our Kenyan graduates, has secured a fantastic job as an Accounts Executive at a leading advertising agency. Without our support, Daudi would never have been able to get the qualifications required for such a role.
Daudi's LinkedIn photo
We were also delighted to hear from Gabriel, via Facebook, that he has found a job inspecting projects for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in his home constituency. Many of our Scholars have also received funding from CDF for parts of their education and we are particularly excited that Gabriel is able to make a difference, through this role, in his own community.
Please join us in congratulating Daudi & Gabriel on their new roles!
We are delighted that the restoration of the girls' dormitory at our link school - Kamuganguzi Janan Lewan Memorial (KJLM) Secondary School - near Kabale has now been completed thanks to a grant from the One World Group Oxted. Rafiki Thabo received a request for help from the school just before Christmas following a traumatic incident involving some students who have long journeys to their homes. We were able to interview several of the girls who are now using the dormitory and all have been delighted by the transformation it has made to their safety and ability to study. Rose (14 years old) has been living in the dormitory for a term and in her words she is delighted because she can “read at any time because at home we don’t have electricity” Her home is at the top of the mountain, “it's very tiresome to climb that mountain, but here it's flat!” All the girls express how delighted and thankful they are - Rose sums this up with her infectious laughter and declaration “I feel good!” Watch her interview here.
We continue to support 'Eat Well to Learn', our school meals programme, at KJLM School and are working with the school to build a piggery to make the programme more sustainable and generate much needed income for the school.
Outside of dorm - before
Outside of dorm - after
Inside of dorm - before
Inside of dorm - after
We are also delighted to be supporting 55 young people in Uganda to complete their secondary and/or higher education. Read more about our work in Uganda here.
June and July are the coldest months in Lesotho. After the warm wet summer months it is time to harvest the maize, the staple food of the country. This year, however, things are different. The rains didn't come when they should have in October to December last year - and only a little came in January. This meant that crops couldn't be planted and there will be no harvest. As a result, the price of food has rocketed and people will have no food in their fields. Things are only going to get worse.
Rafiki Thabo supports disadvantaged young people through their secondary and higher education in the Ha Fusi region. Our link school, Ha Fusi Secondary School, provides all students with a lunch-time meal so at least we know that these children are getting at least one proper meal each day. With our help, the school has established a chicken coop and a fish pond to ensure the children get a more nutritious meal.
Food shortages are not the only problems in Lesotho. After last year's election, there has been a period of political instability. There have been problems within the army since the election last year when a senior officer was killed. Supporters of the previous government have had to flee for their safety.
We are proud to have been able to help 2 sisters in Lesotho to further their education by paying their exam fees. The girls' father is in the army but has had to go into hiding since last year since he supported the "wrong side". Mr Ramaqele, our committee chair in Lesotho, alerted us to the girls' situation & we were happy to help support these girls so that they can continue at school and hopefully make good educational progress in the future.
We are delighted to welcome George Wakio onto our Kenya committee - particularly as he is also one of our Rafiki Scholars!
George sadly lost both his parents when he was young and was the only one of his 3 siblings to make it to secondary school - thanks to the support of the Kazi Mingi Foundation, with whom we merged in 2015. George worked hard through secondary school and passed his final exams in 2009. He assumed that was the end of his academic journey as he had no means of paying further tuition fees. However, in 2010 he applied for, and was offered a place on, a degree course in Education at Kenyatta University. He couldn't afford to pay the fees so deferred his place for two years to try and get together enough money, from casual jobs, and from friends and well-wishers. George's church also fundraised for him and
raised enough money for him to begin university so he was delighted to finally enroll in January 2012. He completed two semesters but was then forced to stop studying again because of lack of fees. He applied to us and we have been pleased to support George through his BA in Education and are delighted that he has returned to his former school, ACK St. Bartholomew's (our link secondary school in Kenya), to teach IT.
George writes: 'I want to sincerely thank the Foundation for restoring hope and future in my life. Without your support, I could not have proceeded with my academic ambitions.... In future, I am planning to start up a foundation that will also assist those who are unable to go to school due to financial and family problems.’
We'd like to also thank George for all his hard work on the committee so far! Our committees really are our 'eyes and ears' on the ground and our work would not be possible without them.
This year, we are celebrating 10 years of supporting education projects in Africa. In that time we have achieved an enormous amount and have transformed so many lives in Africa through education:
We are excited to think of all the wonderful things we will achieve over the next 10 years! We are still deciding how to celebrate this milestone - watch this space for further details.....
Skydiving World Record Attempt
7 brave souls took to the skies in June to skydive for Rafiki Thabo Foundation as part of a World Record Attempt. We'd like to thank Jon Squires and Ben Newton from Experience Chipping Norton (ECN), Mike Lee, Stuart Wilkins & Dan Jeffrey from Nicholsons, and Caroline Vane & Damien Randell from Vodafone for taking the plunge for us!
So why on earth did they do it?
Mike writes: 'I chose to do the skydive after returning from Voi, where I spent the week at St Bartholomew' s with a team from Nicholsons. After meeting the children that receive help from the charity first hand I just couldn't believe how amazing they are and how little some had. On my return to the UK I wanted to do something to raise as much money as I could and when offered the opportunity to jump out of a plane, I thought it was a 'no brainer'.
Ben says: 'Rafiki Thabo is a great charity that makes a powerful difference thousands of miles away. I'd be lying if I said it wasn’t also down to the jump - something I’ve always wanted to do - but it was great to also be able to raise money for a great cause.'
So far the team has raised over £2,500 for us - enough to pay for the entire secondary education for 2 children in Kenya - and the money's still coming in!
How about doing something crazy - or not so crazy - for Rafiki Thabo? Download our fundraising pack now!
Stuart from Nicholsons - ready to go!
Ben, Manager of Sainsburys, Chipping Norton
Caroline & Damien from Vodafone - post jump!
Looking for new schools to work with in 2016/17
We love working with schools as it gives us the opportunity to teach the next generation more about Africa and to change the often negative perceptions that people have about this amazing continent. We have enjoyed an active link with Cokethorpe School and Kingham Primary School for several years and have recently started working with Hanborough Manor School.
Pupils at Kingham Primary School enjoying an African dance workshop
We can offer a whole range of activities to partner schools. We have developed some lesson plans for schools to use, we can come and deliver assemblies, and run a variety of Africa-themed workshops. In return, the schools kindly fundraise for us. Some schools have non-uniform days for us, others have sold cakes and/or ice-creams, filled boxes they had decorated in an African style with coins for Harvest Festival, Cokethorpe has run a rag week for us..... the possibilities are endless! Cokethorpe School also send a group of sixth-formers out to our link school in Lesotho - enabling them to experience first hand life on the ground in Africa and to work on a project there.
Hanborough Manor School has raised over £1,000 for us this academic year! We are so grateful to all the staff and pupils at the school for this incredible total - it will pay for the entire secondary school education of a child in Uganda!
We are always looking for new schools to work with. Please visit our schools page for further information and download our free schools pack.
Welsh holiday cottage
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.
We are so grateful to all our supporters who have done something amazing for us so far in 2016. In addition to our 'super 7' skydivers (see above), we would like to thank Chris Chapman and a team from Nicholsons for completing the Blenheim Triathlon for us in June, Liz Doyle for organising a mini-fundraiser for us in May and Owen Haydn who is doing several Obstacle Course Races for us throughout 2016. We'd also like to wish Jenifer Shepherd & Alex Raha the very best of British as they ride the Prudential Ride London 100 for us in July!
In May, we held our annual clothes sale & pampering evening in Churchill, Oxfordshire and were delighted to raise over £650. Trustee Zanna also gave a very moving talk about our work supporting girls' education in Uganda.
We also really enjoyed running the children's activities at the Churchill Vintage & Classic Car Show, with the support of 1st Kingham Brownies. Many thanks to all those who came along to support us.