Henfield Storage has donated £2,000 towards the completion of two classrooms at Sasenyi Primary School, near Voi, Kenya.
One of our staff and his family visited the school during August 2009 to do some volunteering work, and quickly realised that money was needed to finish classrooms which had been left unfinished for years. Some money was collected, including that from Henfield, to buy hardware and materials from the local stores, as well as to pay for some local builders to lead the construction effort. The two classrooms were completed before the start of the www school year in September, and consequently two more teachers have been provided by the government.
Later in 2009, we raised another £10,000 to provide desks, more classrooms and plumbing for water catchment and hygiene purposes. The money was collected by the boys of Lanesborough School in Guildford, with matching funds donated by Microsoft and Camps International. Finally, with the help of parents from the school and a very successful auction, we raised a further £30,000, to provide more classrooms, water tanks, toilets and books.
Please see our justgiving page for more information on past projects or to contribute to the ongoing progress at Sasenyi School.
Sasenyi is a very poor village in southern Kenya. The villagers live in mud and dung-walled and grass-roofed huts, and have few if any possessions to speak of. This region is semi-arid at the best of times, and as you may have seen, East Africa has recently suffered extreme drought. The rivers have dried up, the arable crops are all dead, and the boreholes are salted up to more than 1000 times our recommended level of magnesium in water. Nevertheless, village life continues, though the hardships are evident. Water has to be carried from 20km away and nearly all food comes from charitable donations (we saw a number of sacks from the UK!).
The village school, however, seems to be thriving. Primary education in Kenya became freely available to all early in the last decade, so there are many children of all ages (up to 20 years old!) going through the education system. At Sasenyi, there are 650 children coming from a catchment area with a radius of 7km. The village has 13 classrooms including the two we helped to finish, but only 10 of them are safe (others at risk of collapse due to poor construction and erosion) so the government only provides 10 teachers – this means an average class size of about 65, though some will be approaching 100. The school day is long – 7.30am to 5pm, and the kids walk up to 7km to get there. Since this is a wildlife sanctuary, and there are LOTS of elephants, the kids have to keep their eyes open for herds on their way to and from school! The children seem to learn pretty much the same sort of stuff that our children do – the standard of knowledge is not noticeably different. They learn in three languages – the local tribal language, Luo (which is generally not written down), Kiswaheli and English. The academic results are better than the average for the area, even though the village is much poorer than some others. The discipline is remarkable, though concentration apparently drops in late morning because many children are only fed at school, at lunchtime – there is often nothing available at home for breakfast or dinner.
It’s difficult not to want to help these people. They lead such a hard life, but their attitude is fantastic. Everyone smiles a lot, and there seem to be few if any complaints. All the children want to learn – they know that it’s their only route out of poverty. We can support their education and help with water management at the same time. We have a strong link with Camp Kenya, part of Camps International, a UK-based charitable trust which assists with development in various ways in this part of Kenya and several other areas too. We rely on Camp Kenya to supervise construction.
We have raised funds for the following projects:
Many thanks for taking the time to read this; please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to help us raise further funds.