Spring is upon us and the new year is already in full swing – as you will see below reading through everything that is going on from the recent events to an exciting merger with Kazi Mingi Foundation.
I am particularly aware of the passing of time… each day brings the London Marathon a step closer and my panic levels increase accordingly! However, I am excited to be raising money for Rafiki Thabo and as I plug away on the training runs, I remind myself that my battle to run 26.2 miles is really nothing in comparison to the struggle many of the Rafiki beneficiaries to get an education – and if they can do it, so can I! If you can help me on my way, please do sponsor on the link below, I’d be really grateful – and I’ll let you know how I got on next time!
Rafiki Thabo Foundation and Kazi Mingi Foundation join forces
We are delighted to announce that Rafiki Thabo Foundation has merged with another UK charity, the Kazi Mingi Foundation (KMF), with the operations of KMF now falling under Rafiki's administration. This exciting development represents the natural 'next step' for both organisations, bearing witness to a remarkable journey of more than 17 years of facilitating education in Africa.
The connection between KMF and Rafiki Thabo came via St Bartholomew's School, Kenya in 2013. KMF had been responsible for the development of the school's infrastructure, financing the vision held by the local community for the establishment of a boy's secondary school in the Voi area. The Principle at St. Bartholomew's school in 2013 was Rev. Liverson Mng'onda, the very same Liverson who runs Rafiki Thabo's Kenyan committee.
With this common link recognised, it immediately became apparent to the trustees of both KMF and Rafiki that there was immense synergy between the organisations, and that by combining their work, optimal use of energies and resources could be made. The overlap went beyond shared contacts and charitable objectives; having completed the development of St Bartholomew's, KMF had begun sponsoring boys from deprived backgrounds to attend the school... some of whom, including Arnold, whose story is included below, had then gone on to receive funding from Rafiki Thabo to continue their education at university level!
Discussions have been ongoing since 2013, but with the merger now in place, we will all continue to work together to ensure a smooth handover of KMF’s operations to Rafiki Thabo. We are committed to continuing to support the secondary education of the boys already being sponsored by KMF and, whilst hopefully the change won't even be noticed, we would like to offer a heartfelt welcome to all the boys transferring across to Rafiki Thabo Foundation.
It is also a real joy to welcome all those supporters of KMF who have decided to join us on this exciting journey; the name has changed, the mission has expanded slightly but ultimately you are still making the same tangible and transformative difference to the lives of individuals in Africa, by providing opportunity through education. On behalf of all our students, at St Bartholomew's and beyond, thank you.
Our students are continuing to do well and 9 have now graduated from university and are starting to form an alumni network. Congratulations to Isaac, Chris and Ambrose who graduated in the autumn of 2014. Isaac was selected to be trained, and then train other young people, in mushroom growing to increase food security and generate an income. Chris is working for a horticultural consulting company helping farmers to increase crop production in his community and has also undergone police officer training. Ambrose hopes to 'teach others how to use the environment without damaging it, to protect it, plant trees and improve the environment.'
We are continually grateful to the committee for their amazing work and are excited by some of the ideas we are discussing with them about how we can best support the students. It is well documented that access to education for girls can be particularly challenging as they face many obstacles, including not being able to afford sanitary towels. This causes some girls to drop out of school entirely, others to miss a week of school every month and therefore fall behind in their studies, and other to find other means of coping with their periods, such as using old rags, ash, straw etc. We are encouraged that the committee want to address this and are exploring possible partnerships with organisations in Uganda that are also trying to tackle this problem. In partnership with the committee we are also still hoping to raise funds to complete some of the buildings that are desperately needed in rural schools to deal with the increasing numbers of students and boarders.
Once again, in January, we eagerly awaited the Junior Certificate results from Fusi Secondary School hoping that students would achieve at least a 2nd class, the standard required for admission to High School. When they were issued, there was great delight in another year of excellent achievement by the twenty two students who entered. For the third consecutive year, a student has gained a merit, a standard virtually unheard of in a rural school. There were three first classes and all but one of the remaining students gained a second class.
We are delighted to hear that the principal has recommended eleven students to further their studies with the support of Rafiki Thabo. There are also five students continuing their High School studies.
Later in January, the results of the High School final examinations were issued and our two ex-Fusi students, Nthatuoa and Morake, both did well and now hope to enrol at university. Nthatuoa, who was our first merit student at Fusi, has achieved one of the top marks in the country and hopes to study medicine: it is so heart-warming to think that this dream a few years ago is close to becoming a reality.
The fish pond at Fusi School being dug
Morake also wants to continue his studies in science.
The principal, Mr Ramaqele, has been developing new projects at the school. There are now pigs and chickens kept to supplement school meals as well as generate some extra income. They have also dug a fish pond, but there are some leaks to sort out before it is functioning properly. Elizabeth Dunford, who worked as a volunteer at the school in 2009/10 is currently visiting Ha Fusi with her husband, David. She is enjoying meeting old friends and colleagues, but also new staff and students. She looks forward to returning with personal reports and photos.
Arnold's father died when he was 2. His mother was forced to leave Arnold and his sister with her parents so she could find work to support the family. But tragedy struck when Arnold was in his 4th year of primary school: his mother and his sister both died within a week of each other. Then his grandparents both died when he was about to finish primary school. He thought about dropping out of school and finding a job but luckily his aunt stepped in and encouraged him to keep going with his education. Despite everything that had happened to him, Arnold was the top student at his school in his final exams.
Arnold could not afford school fees, or even a uniform, for secondary school. But then he heard about ACK St. Bartholomew's School and was sponsored by the Kazi Mingi Foundation to study there. He did well enough in his final exams to be offered a place at Mount Kenya University - but he and his aunt soon realised they would not be able to afford the fees. Arnold tried but failed to find a job to pay for his fees and he held a fundraising event - but still had nowhere near enough money to even pay for the first semester: time was running out. A well-wisher then gave him enough money to complete the first semester. But he was forced to stop studying again and do casual work to try to raise enough money for the next semester.
Then Arnold heard about Rafiki Thabo Foundation, applied, and was delighted to be accepted. He is now studying towards a BA in Business Management at Mount Kenya University. He is determined to give something back to his society when he graduates. He writes:
'Ever since I was in secondary school, I have been determined to save my society and make it a better place. I helped three other students from my village to get sponsored at A.C.K Saint Bartholomew. When I have graduated and get a job, I want to start an NGO to help local youth – I want to rehabilitate those who are addicted to drugs, by educating them on farming methods. This will keep them busy and provide them with employment. I also want to provide a free education to orphans and vulnerable children. My main goal, however, is to become a Member of Parliament so that I can change the lives of my people and help my society.'
We wish Arnold every success in his studies - and are so excited by his plans to make a difference in future!
Updates from Rafiki HQ
Capturing our impact
Our recent impact project has proved what we had suspected: with your support, we are having an amazing impact – not just on the lives of the individual students but also on their households/families, local communities and their wider societies.
Our impact report contains some amazing statistics, including:
79% of our graduates are working - all but one of these are in paid jobs that they would not have got without their degree
29% of our graduates are the only person in their household who has a job
64% of the respondents who are still studying live in a household where nobody has a job
33% of our graduates are the first person in their household to complete secondary education and 76% are the first to complete polytechnic/university education. 95% of our current students are from a household where no one has completed polytechnic/university education.
Read our impact report here & stories of the impact we are having on some of the students we support here.
Looking for businesses to work with
Do you work for a company which wants to set itself apart from its competitors by working with a charity? Do you want your company to be part of the transformative work we are doing in Africa? Good news – we are always looking for new companies to work with and would love to work with you! Read more, and download our new Corporate Pack here.
We have been busy holding and planning lots of fundraising events since our last newsletter. Recent events include a cake sale and home clothes day at Cokethorpe School, bucket shaking at the Cotswold Table farmers market, a 'Pampered Chef' party, and 'Dreams Rising', an evening of wonderful harp music performed by Zanna, one of our trustees.
We are looking forward to the following events in the coming months:
A clothes swap, pampering & shopping evening - and a children's clothes & toys sale - on 24th April in Churchill, Oxfordshire. Further details here
Our chair of Trustees, Jon, is running the London Marathon to raise funds for Rafiki. Please sponsor him here
Rafiki supporters Leo & Sam are paddling 125 miles from Devizes to London in a wobbly kayak on 4th April to raise funds for us. Please sponsor them here.
Running the children's activities at the Churchill Village Festival on 14th June
The Kingham 12K Run on 27th June in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
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!
We are delighted to be selling some beautiful Kenyan bags, batiks and jewellery in our online shop. There is an exciting story behind these goods:
They were bought in Kenya by Nicholas, one of the students Rafiki has supported. Nicholas wanted to give something back to Rafiki so he has sent them to us so we can sell them to raise funds. Nicholas used some money he had to invest in a clothes business – he made a small profit. He also bought some unprocessed honey which he processed and sold for a profit. He then used the money he had raised from these ventures to buy these goods from parents of children with cerebral palsy who make them to raise money for their families.
Look out for more exciting items appearing in our shop during 2015 and remember that every purchase makes an important contribution to our work to increase the life opportunities of the young people we support in Africa. Happy shopping – with a conscience!
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