Change is difficult.
As humans, we are accustomed to what we know. The unfamiliar is often an uncomfortable territory whether it involves a person, a place, or an experience. We often forget that change is a sign of growth. And growth, growth is definitely a cause to celebrate. It shows that somewhere along the way, we were able to align our thoughts with our actions and produce results. The path to whatever your version of success is often not easy, but this makes the realization of your goals all the more sweet.
Somewhere along the way, we were able to align our thoughts with our actions and produce results.
AHI is at that point. That point where we realize that we have accomplished what we set out to do. But we have grown so attached that letting go is difficult, heartbreaking even. 2 years ago, we met the children of Frank Education Centre (FEC). After working with St. Catherine’s – Mukuru the year before that, FEC was a beautiful new start. We had grown enough as an organization to understand what our boundaries were, and we were pleased to meet an institution which could flourish within these boundaries.
So even though we hadn’t quite cracked the code of this ‘bridging the gap’ thing that we were always talking about, we endeavored to keep going and prayed that at some point, our purpose would reveal itself to us. All we had was a burning desire to give hope to children where before, there was only hardship and disappointments in their future. We went about setting up libraries, sewing uniforms, and donating sanitary towels. We brought in foreign teaching assistants and recruited a few Form 4 leavers to supplement the few teachers at the school. We tried everything, but nothing quite seemed to have the impact that we were looking for.
Then one day it occurred to us. Sustainability, or lack of it, was the problem with AHI and its well-meaning activities. It wasn’t enough to set up a library and bring in teaching assistants if we couldn’t sustain the programs’ long term. After a while, the school would be back for more support. And that is when we had our light bulb moment.
In order to continuously improve the quality of education provided in schools within the slum, and other impoverished backgrounds, we had to set up projects which could continue sustaining the schools and act as enablers to meet their core educational needs.
To say we were overjoyed and relieved would be a serious injustice to all the feelings that the team felt at that moment. We had finally cracked the AHI code and everything seemed to be coming together.
It is from this background that we set up 3 sustainability projects within FEC: a sewing workshop; a bakery; and a beadwork project. The bakery, in all honesty did not go as well as we had planned. And after trying to modify the business model a couple of times without much success, we realized that we had to let it go. The beadwork project was a lot more fun because the kids could actually participate in it and our wonderful project lead, Nyambura, taught them a lot more about art and creativity than we had bargained for. Unfortunately, the market for our beautiful products was scarce and we are currently in the process of sourcing for markets. However, we hit the jackpot with the sewing workshop. We were able to give a few parents steady sources of income and the profit after expenses was channeled into meeting the needs of the school.
By the end of 2015, as a result of AHIs projects in FEC, the following key milestones had been achieved:
- Lorraine, the top KCPE 2015 student in FEC, attained 403/500 marks. She was called to a national school in Nyanza province and is being sponsored by one of the members of #teamAHI all through Form 1 to Form 4.
- The mean grade of the students has improved by approximately 25 points between KCPE 2014 and KCPE 2015.
- A thriving sewing workshop has been set up which has 5 sewing machines and is based in Kawangware, about half an hour from FEC.
These are just a few of the highlights of 2015, we could go on and on.
And it is with the realization that we have done all that we can, that we bid FEC farewell. Under the stewardship of the school head teacher and director, we pray that the good work that has begun shall continue for the sake of the children that we fell in love with.
In 2016, we are upping our game. 3 new schools for the year 2016. At this point we can only name two of those schools:
- AGAPE Hope for Kibera
- HOYWIK school
Both these schools are based in Nairobi and over the course of the next week, we shall be sharing more details about these schools. Based on the lessons we have learnt with FEC, we hope to make an even bigger impact on these new schools. We realize that we have set extremely ambitious goals for #teamAHI but believe that with your support, we will achieve what we have set out to do. For now, we wish FEC well, and look forward to the future. A bright future that we hope you will enjoy being a part of 🙂