Strathallan School’s Kenya Project celebrates ten years – and £100,000 raised this year.
The project, which has been running since the 2009/10 academic year, raises funds, awareness, and volunteering with sister projects in Nairobi and Kenya’s Rift Valley.
The pupil-led initiative has brought about pop-up tuck shops and the Kenya Café at school events, patriotic face-painting on rugby international days, and the hugely successful Tasty Tuesdays, which alone has seen over 22 000 bacon rolls served and £15,000 raised in the last decade.
The funds raised have supported a huge range of projects, purchasing new mattresses, trainers and hockey sticks, rainwater harvesting equipment, chickens, goats, and vegetables, but the school’s support in Kenya goes much further, with sponsorship and volunteering changing the lives of children and families in some of the country’s poorest communities.
Working with Kenya Children’s Homes, Strathallan pupils and staff have worked to rebuild two playparks and completely re-equip nursery facilities at the KCH Orphanage.
The school’s Connect Micro Finance Business Loan Fund, raised and maintained through pupil-led fundraising, holds £5000 capital to support young people leaving the orphanage in setting up their own micro businesses. Access to these funds has supported unemployed youngsters to thrive and become employers or finance themselves through College and on to University.
Each year, Strathallan pupils spend time in Kenya volunteering at the coal face of the projects their fundraising activities have been supporting.
The Suswa Soila Maasai girls rescue centre in the Rift Valley is home to around 75 girls aged between 7 and 15 years old who, via skilful negotiation with tribal elders, are liberated from early marriage and FGM in favour of being educated. Strathallan volunteers spend a week in Maasai Land, living in school with the girls, promoting STEM activities including building rubber band cars, newspaper tube bridges and geodesic domes.
Much of the time is spent playing sports with the girls, swapping songs and dances – the school always takes bagpipes along – and sitting with the girls, listening to their aspirations and supporting their academic work.
Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, the Kibera slum is the biggest in Africa, and one of the biggest in the world, housing 250 000 men, women and children.
In 2010, supported by the Gloag Foundation, Strathallan’s Kenya Project set out to run a two-week summer camp at the Mashimoni Squatters Primary School.
Over the last ten years, the project evolved from the original programme of sports, arts and crafts, bible classes and a toddler group that also included meals and a nurse health check, and Strathallan’s Kenya Project has now sponsored forty children in the greatest need. Covering their entire schooling, books, uniform, food and medical expenses, this commitment equates to 400 years of Primary School education that would not have happened without the school’s support.
The project also worked to improve the facilities at the school: installing transparent panels and solar lighting and paying unofficial rent until the school was demolished in July 2018 (along with the homes of over 30 000 people) to make room for a new road development. Strathallan’s team of volunteers then helped with re-schooling the children who were displaced, including placing some at the Jonathan Gloag Academy and the Soila Maasai Girls School in the Rift Valley.
In November this year, the school has welcomed Dalmas Bukasu Atsowa, one of the boys displaced by the demolition of Mashimoni Squatters Primary School. Now 15-years-old and Head Boy at Jonathan Gloag Academy, Dalmas has been sponsored through the Strathallan Kenya Project since the age of five. Having completed his High School Entrance Exams, Dalmas is visiting Strathallan’s Perthshire campus for the second half of the autumn term.
This week, he received his KCPE (High School Entry Exam) results, in which he placed within the top 2.5% of 1.08 million candidates across the nation. His next step is to try to get into the right State National High School when he goes back to Kenya at the end of the year. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Strathallan pupils, and the generosity of the community – the school is confident they can support Dalmas in this important next step.
The Kenya Project is the brainchild of Strathallan’s Deputy Head (Pastoral), David Barnes.
Mr Barnes said: ‘I am so proud of the efforts that Strathallan pupils continue to put in to support this vital work in some of Kenya’s poorest communities. Whether they’re serving up bacon rolls in the Perthshire rain or teaching 600 Kenyan children how to toss a caber in the Kibera slum, their energy, positivity and enthusiasm is unending and totally contagious.’
More information on Strathallan’s Kenya Project can be found on their website at: https://www.strathallan.co.uk/news/2019/11/25/the-kenya-project/
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