Kenyan Schools Assisted:
- Ebusiloli Primary
- Ebusiloli Secondary
- Mwituha Secondary
- Mwituha Primary
- Ebusamba Primary
- Essaba Secondary
- Essaba Primary
- Mumboha Primary
- Esirulo Primary
- Ebbiba Primary
- Ebukuya Primary
- Essumba Primary
- Lwanda Primary
Kijana has invested in over 70 schools in Kenya over the past twenty-one years and developed unique cross-cultural connections with communities in the United States.
After official founding in September 2002, Kijana’s first major school investments took place in the fall of 2003. Ebusiloli Secondary and Primary School’s were the first recipients of major investments. They had also received significant support from 1998-2001 (during the pre-Kijana Benjamin cross-country runathon fundraiser era). Kijana funded several infrastructure projects, including improving floors, walls, classrooms, painting classrooms, acquiring books, paying for teachers salaries and more.
In 2004 and 2005, several primary schools, including Essaba, Ebukuya, Esirulo, and Mumboha were the beneficiaries of our first area expansion. In 2005 to 2006, Kijana founder, James P. Cummings was introduced to the Mwituha community and their needs. Mwituha had the remains of a defunct secondary school. Students were walking more than two hours each way to attend Ebusiloli Secondary School. We embarked upon the mission of restoring Mwituha so students could have a school near their home. Over the course of the next six years, Kijana invested annually in Mwituha, building classrooms, an administration building, a science laboratory and ultimately a unique combination library and amphitheater. Mwituha has been a self-sustaining institution for many years now, enrolling over 500 students annually and sending students to the Kenyan university system annually for quite some time.
After Mwituha, we moved to building a similar library and amphitheater at Lwanda Secondary School, in Nyanza province in an effort to expand beyond western province. Over the course of a few years, Kijana raised the money and constructed a library and amphitheater at the school. Additionally, Kijana shipped over and donated many books to the school library.
Also over the course of several years, Kijana collaborated with PeaceOneDay and organized Peace Day events at several schools.
Kijana also developed many collaborations with schools in the United States through pen-pal initiatives and other endeavors. Students in the Upper and Lower schools at The Benjamin School wrote letters to their global peers in Kenya and students from the schools wrote to them. Freshman world history students at Newburyport High School in Newburyport MA undertook a similar initiative, writing to students at Ebusiloli Secondary School. The Newburyport students also initiated a “Kash for Kenya” drive, raising several hundred dollars to assist students in Kenya.
In 2010-2011, Kijana organized a cross-cultural water education project connecting students from the Benjamin School, in North Palm Beach, FL with students from three schools in Kenya, Ebusiloli, Mwituha and Essaba. The program was developed by former Benjamin student, and Kijana volunteer, David Watterson. Mr. Watterson developed the program as part of his capstone project at The Clinton School, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He had also been a participant in a month-long expedition to South Africa, with Kijana President James P. Cummings and others in 2003, while Cummings was teaching at The Benjamin School. Cummings has also orchestrated the visits of over 70 Americans to western Kenya and the schools connected to Kijana.
2019/2020 marked the beginning of a new era for Kijana. In the fall of 2019, Kijana broke ground on the development of the Kijana Global Innovation School in Mulusi Village, near the town of Sabatia-Butere. This was after we began a new capital campaign and several major donors stepped up with major gifts allowing us to begin the next chapter. By January 2020, we had the skeletal structures of a five classroom block of classrooms and an administration building, toilets and a small playground. Fifteen students joined us in the opening of the school that January of 2020. Five teachers (including a principal, Mr. Simeon Buluku), served as founding faculty members.
Since that time, we have added a second block of five classrooms, a kitchen, more toilets, a two-story junior secondary building, solar power, significant beautification and resource development of the classrooms and buildings, expanded the garden, and much more.
We have developed a unique learning environment, as well as several powerful exploratory experiences, which allow for students to advance their skills and develop collaboration and creativity. We have implemented and are moving forward with programs involving music, the arts, karate, agriculture, STEM and STEAM, and have a very unique “Care, Share and Explore program (see on other parts of the website), which allows for student exploration of the environment, including visiting far-away national parks, an island in Lake Victoria, Kakamega Forest, Nakuru National Park, and areas of central Kenya. Furthermore, activities involving team building and character development have been instilled as well.
As of October 2023, 183 students learn at the school and the teaching faculty (19) and staff has grown to over 35. Numerous international visitors have traveled to Kenya and to the school to volunteer and explore with our students and faculty members. Kijana, the school programs, and Kijana President, James P. Cummings, have won several awards in the last few years with the school’s development. The Kijana Global Innovation School, with the addition of the junior secondary building, has a capacity for more than 350 students as 2024 approaches.
Kijana School Founded
The Kijana Global Innovation School - Opened January 2020
Kijana's Junior Secondary School
Enjoying a New Learning Environment
Teachers and students are enjoying the new environment. A great deal of work still remains, particularly with interior design and acquiring science equipment, furniture and more. Painting is anticipated in December 2023. Twelve 7th grade students and eleven 8th grade students were members of our inaugural group of learners.
The building is a landmark in the community and the construction of it provided more than 50 local people with regular work. Any building or work we do, not only increases the local educational capital base, and increases opportunity for improved education, but fuels the local economy with daily income for multitudes.
On May 28th, 2023, the building was officially opened and named the “Gail and James Cummings Junior Secondary Building, in honor of founder James P. Cummings’ parents who, with their longstanding commitment to value-based education have made his life journey possible.
A companion building is planned and a small courtyard will connect the two buildings. Initial landscaping of the area was started in April 2023.
Library, Media Center, and Amphitheater
Harpreet Dhaliwal was a 7th and 8th grade student of Kijana President, James P. Cummings, at The Prairie School, in Racine, WI. Dhaliwal and Dameron have been collaborating with our team since the spring of 2021 in designing a unique and functional space that will allow students to explore, discover and innovate. Dhaliwal has been recognized for her architectural designs in public space. She played a key role in the LEED Platinum Comfort Station in Washington Square Park (NYC). Dameron Architecture has won multiple awards, including the 2022 AIA National Small Project Award for A Wall Made of Bricks.
Christopher Dameron’s award-winning firm, Dameron Architecture specializes in “ecology-inspired designs and adaptive resuse.” They design “beautiful spaces, fantastical and expressive buildings and living landscapes that connect people to nature.” Our students will have an expressive building connected to nature that encourages individual and collective expression.
The Team Behind the Library, Media Center, and Amphitheater
Chris Dameron & Harpreet Dhaliwal
Chris founded Dameron Architecture in 2009, motivated to make architecture aligned with his ethics and ecological interests. Born in Danville, VA, he spent his childhood walking trails in the piedmont forest and exploring construction sites whole his grandfather built houses. His early creative years were here as well-making collaborative art and music with friends and participating in theater. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Architecture, has worked on a variety of community-centered projects and has taught in graduate and undergraduate studios.
Harpreet has overseen a variety of civic, not for-profit and religious projects, in all stages of design and construction. She excels on projects involving a multi-stakeholder decision-driven process and adherence to government agency mandates. She believes in a truly collaborative approach to the project process and her eagerness to research and implement new building technologies and sustainable building methods informs and inspires her work. She also holds a BA in Architecture from the University of Virginia and an MA in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jeremiah Awori is a western Kenyan renaissance man: teacher, farmer, architect, family man, manager, traveller, mentor, and more. In addition to serving as the chief architect for Kijana, he has been manager of a technical center (Emmukunzi Vocational Training Center, since 2017. Previously, he was a manager at another technical center and a teacher at Mwituha Secondary School, where he was discovered by Kijana President, James P. Cummings and team. He has designed several homes for private clients in the region, as well as the Kijana bibliotheaters (combination library/amphitheaters) at Mwituha and Lwanda.
He earned a Diploma in Building Construction in 1998 from the Technical University of Mombasa and an additional Diploma in Education from the Technical Teacher Training College (KTTC) in Nairobi in 2006. He finds value in bringing new ideas to the local community while providing people with opportunities to grow and put their skills and talent to productive use. Through partnering with Kijana in building the Mwituha Library & Amphitheater and now the Kijana Global Innovation School, he is gratified to showcase the on the ground construction talent and dedication to precision, creativity and hard work.