This trip to Kenya I am blessed to have Bridgette Boylan with me. Bridgette is one of our board members and is passionate about helping the team on the ground as they make a difference for the people of Kenya.
We are a great team as Bridgette comes prepared to serve – not to be served. She is humble and never is her trip here about her…it is always about those she comes to serve. What follows is an update she wrote her supporters. She shares what is happening here in Kenya so well.
One of the programs we have established and implemented here is called “Second Chance”. For many, it has been their only chance to get an education. In Kenya, all children can get an education through middle school for free. However, in order to attend high school – it costs, both for tuition/school fees as well as school uniforms. It is not uncommon in a developing nation as the nation does not take in enough taxes to educate all for free. So many are forced to drop out of school after 8th grade due to lack of funds. Thus, the cycle begins as lack of education leads to lack of employment which leads to poverty. So with the help of an incredible young Kenyan teacher named Sam (who had to drop out himself), we started a program whereby anyone, ages 18 to 110, could go back to school in order to get their high school certificate (or GED as we call it). I love the story told of an 47 year old woman who came to Second Chance this year in order to learn how to write and speak English. Can you imagine how this changed her life?
So one of my goals while here is to assess the space where they meet in the slum so that they can expand for additional students. It is a nice problem to have…but expansion costs money no less. Today, I met with the “fundi” or contractor to get an estimate to build walls, add mesh windows for ventilation and wire for fluorescent lighting so that classes can be extended into evening to expand on a literacy program. They took measurements, calculated square footages on the back of their hands, and quietly and methodically estimated what material and labor costs would be. I took detailed notes so that I could assess costs against funds donated. As the shilling costs escalated, I became concerned that we may not be able to do it. This would mean that we would have to turn away over 50 people in the slum waiting to come to Second Chance school and the evening literacy program. 24,930 shillings for plywood, door locks, mesh windows, 19,780 shillings for electrical wiring, fluorescent lights, 15,530 shillings for paint. I had selected sunny yellows, earthen brick and sky blue hues. My heart sank as I added up all the costs-afraid that the expansion would have to wait. Then I did the math…and begun to chuckle as I realized after the exchange it would be approximately $800 US! When was the last time you did a full room expansion for $800? As I reflect on what this will mean for so many…I am gently nudged to ponder what I spent at home in one month before I came here versus the costs needed to equip those to teach others to read, write and get an education. Hmmm….
I am so grateful that you all can play a part in educating others…even from 10, 000 miles away.
Bridgette PFC Board member Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T