Exploring new pathways to a brighter future
This is an exciting time for our organization. We are proud to report on the successes of the last year and the exciting plans for 2009. We continue to make significant strides in our gateway region of Bunyore Kenya and are developing unique ways of promoting cross-cultural education in the United States. We anticipate that our initiatives will help make 2009 even more fruitful for our students and communities.
A gem in our repertoire of work is Mwituha Secondary School. Photos of the schools development are visible on our website. During the past year we have expanded on the development of the school. Closed for decades, it reopened in 2006 after we restored two classrooms and invested in additional basic infra-structural needs. In 2007, we built a third classroom and the community built most of a fourth one. In 2008, we finished the fourth classroom, built a science laboratory and provided the school community with basic science equipment. Moreover, the school had begun work on the slab of an administration building. However, it remained uncompleted and the prospects of its completion by the community were remote. We stepped in and completed the administration building, which includes a teachers’ room that will be used for the time being as a fifth classroom. Consequently, the school now has the basic infrastructure to sustain it for some time. It has four classrooms, an administration building with multiple rooms, and a landmark science laboratory. In 2005, the school was non-functioning. Today it has 150+ students, and this coming December will award its first graduating class with diplomas.
Shortly we will embark upon the construction of a pioneering and progressive library and learning center for the school. We are working on architectural plans with community members in a unique forward-looking, and international cross-cultural endeavor have invited both students at Mwituha and students atThe Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL to participate in this endeavor. Students in both countries will additionally be working with local designers/architects to contribute designs for buildings and entering a contest inspired by Architecture for Humanity and other allied groups includingGlobal Nomads and sponsored by corporations such as Google. While we have budgeted the basic needs for the library and anticipate breaking ground soon, we need additional funds to cover books and unanticipated expenses. Furthermore, the school does not yet have electricity. We would like to add solar power, and need funds for that.
Beyond Mwituha, we have invested in a number of different realms of development and cross-cultural interaction. Firstly, we are working to improve sanitation resources to improve health. We built 20 toilets at two other primary schools at the end of 2008. Basic sanitation is in desperate need in these communities and studies increasingly show that steps to provide/encourage simple sanitation resources are some of the most significant steps that can be taken to improve quality of life and economic growth in communities and the world. We are exploring creative new sanitation methods including eco-san toilets, installed by a number of NGO’s in developing nations, including some in Kenya and Estamos, in Mozambique.
Secondly, in April of 2008, we held our first Forum on Kenya, in which a number of Kenyans who live in the South Florida region spoke of the politics, culture and economics of Kenya. Members of the community left enlightened by the complexity of development and cultures in Kenya. In September, we held our first Kenyan Support Reception in West Palm Beach and in November we held a similar reception in San Francisco. We anticipate holding similar forums and receptions in the future and in additional cities, such as Chicago and New York.
Furthermore, Ebusiloli, our flagship school continues to grow and expand. Scores at Ebusiloli primary school on the national exam continued to improve and the secondary school graduated more students than they have ever graduated in the past. Rhinah Ondiso, the first female alum of the school to attend the university, is presently studying in Arkansas. Look for more news about her. We hope that more Ebusiloli alums, including Kennedy Oywayo who is presently studying at Maseno University in Kenya will be studying in the United States soon. (See a listing of all of our investments in Ebusiloli here).
Please help us sustain our commitment to the communities we assist with your financial support. As a direct result of our investments, students are moving onto higher education; a school has re-emerged and grows as a center of learning; and schools are finding significant improvements in their enrollment and academic scores. Additionally, students in the US are not only exploring connections with academic peers on another continent, but participating in a “global partnership for development.” (UN Millenium Development Goal #8). Ultimately, students in western Kenya and in South Florida are learning new insights and developing a broader sense of their own place in our global community.
We are expanding opportunities for youth in western Kenya and beyond by:
- Restoring and improving basic school infrastructure
- Providing basic academic resources to students
- Financing capable orphaned students with scholarships to attend school
- Promoting health education and improved access to water resources
- Furthering environmental awareness and investing in sustainable technology
- Inspiring direct connections among Kenyan and American student communities.
Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative evolved out of a student-faculty effort in North Palm Beach, Florida and the Ebusiloli School community in western Kenya. Students at The Benjamin School and Jim Cummings, a social studies teacher, raised tens of thousands of dollars from 1998-2001, toward creating a unique partnership among American and Kenyan citizens. Projects inspired enhanced community support and enthusiasm. KKEI was founded in 2002 to expand the efforts inaugurated in the 1998-2001 era.
Board of Directors
Mark Madison, Historian, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Robert Gass, Project Officer, HIV/AIDS Care, Support, & Treatment, UNICEF
Helga Ying, Director, Worldwide Government Affairs & Public Policy, Levi Strauss & Co.
James P. Cummings, Social Studies Teacher, The Benjamin School
Mary Ditaranto, English Teacher, The Benjamin School
Ben DeVries, President, DeVries Real Estate Counselors, Inc.
James P. Cummings, President
Bruce A. Huber, Vice President