Kenya is a beautiful country with amazing people. Our students are exploring it through the continuing “Care, Share and Explore” Program. Kenyan schools were closed in August for a two-week break and we took advantage of the time by taking the 3rd through 8th grade students and many of our teachers on another exploratory expedition. Students hiked in Mount Longonot National Park, visited Lord Egerton Castle, explored geology at the Kariandusi Diatomite mines, participated in team building activities, shared stories over campfires, went swimming again and gained first-hand knowledge of a new region of the beautiful country of Kenya.
Below, Everlyne Akolo (grade 8) shares reflections of her experience at Nakuru.
“During the August holiday, our school organized for us a trip to Nakuru. Sincerely, I have never been there. I knew that I had a lot to learn. After a distance of about two hundred kilometers, we arrived in Tumaini Cottages and Conference Centre where we camped. The place was very fantabulous.
The next morning, we began our journey to Mount Longonot. Our teachers had informed us about that. After a very short distance from the camping site, we finally arrived. We were welcomed by the tour guides who were going to inform us about the mountain. The mountain was 3.5 kilometers high. It last erupted in the 1860s, so it is a dormant volcano. After being told that, we began the hike. After hiking for almost 2.5 kilometers, some of us were very tired. Some even went back to the main gate. I decided to struggle and finally reached Olongonot crater. The distance around the rim was 7.2 kilometers and a diameter of 2.6 kilometers. You can imagine how big it was. After discussing about it, we took photos and went back to the main gate.
The next day, we began our journey to Lake Nakuru National Park. My first animal that I saw was an impala. A male impala is very polygamous. The male impalas have horns, while the female doesn’t. The male impala has to fight the others, so that it can inherit the female ones. We were also told about the flamingoes. We have the greater and lesser flamingoes. The lesser flamingoes are pinkish in colour, while the greater flamingoes are whitish in colour. You will mostly find them at the lake’s shores We also saw the giraffes. One kick of a giraffe can kill a lion. The lion sleeps for twenty hours. Indeed, I had really learnt a lot.
On the third day, we began by a little bit of exercise. We played games and danced good songs. After that, we began our journey to Kariandusi. My first time I heard about Kariandusi was when we were learning social studies. We finally arrived at the mine. It is used to make water filters and heat insulators.
We departed from the mine and went to Lord Egerton Castle where we learnt the history of Morris Egerton. The construction of the castle ended in 1952. The house had fifty-two rooms. You can imagine how big it was. His house was a no-go-zone for women. He owned almost 80 percent of the Nakuru city.
We had really learnt a lot. I would like to thank the people who sponsored our tour. I am very grateful.”
Andre Madison, a 2023 graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, who volunteered in the summer of 2022, returned to the Kijana Global Innovation School in the last few weeks to continue teaching music and share time and experiences with members of our school community. Working mostly with our new music and karate teacher, Matthews Were, he continued the efforts to teach students the descant recorder. All our students (grade 3 and above), now have their own descant recorder as a primary instrument to developing musical skills. Andre Madison and Matthews Were are pictured above with students and their descante recorders.
“My goals for this visit varied from last year as I focused on introducing the descant recorder to the younger students at the school, teaching grades 3,4,5,6, and 7 numerous lessons on the recorder, and in turn learning from the students and teachers myself. I am very proud of the incredible progress the students have made in their recorder studies as it was evident that they had done their fair share of practicing in my absence. This allowed me to teach them more advanced exercises and pieces, leaving them with an increased technical understanding of the instrument. I cannot wait to see what progress they make by next year! Throughout my stay I had the chance to work with numerous faculty and staff including Lawrence Inonda, the school photographer, teachers Martin, Mallack, Julius, and George. I also had the wonderful opportunity to work alongside the new talented music instructor, Matthews, as we worked collaboratively on continuing the descant recorder program here at the Kijana School. In addition to teaching the descant recorder in preparation for competitive exams every year, Teacher Matthews incorporates traditional Luhya and Luo instruments such as the marimba alongside the recorder in an unusual cross-cultural collaboration of East and West, creating an impressive, well rounded and hybrid music curriculum for the students at the Kijana Global Innovation School. He is also an accomplished karate instructor. I look forward to returning a third time to the Kijana Global Innovation School in 2024, I plan then to incorporate keyboards, guitars, and other instruments to further create a learning environment that reflects Kijana’s holistic vision of education in the arts for all students and faculty. I encourage others to travel to the Kijana Global Innovation School and community. It is a welcoming, comfortable, enjoyable and rewarding place to spend time. I have gained so much from this experience, and I know many others can too.”
We are excited to share with you the news that we have turned the extra classroom in the Gail and James Cummings Junior Secondary School Building (which we won’t need as a classroom until January 2025) into a temporary library to house our collection of books and provide a more appropriate and accessible room for students to explore books and develop their literary skills. We continue to be in the midst of our Library and Media Center Campaign and with your support, hope to break ground in within a few months or in January of 2024 on the future library/media center and amphitheater, designed as a collaborative effort with Harpreet Dhaliwal, Christopher Dameron and Jeremiah Awori as the key architects.
Kijana’s talented and energetic teaching team has been busy creating the best learning environment possible for our students. Self-made classroom posters with positive and uplifting messages have been developed and displayed. Note the picture which includes the messages: “Good friends play together, listen, help each other, tell stories, (are) kind, and care.” We can learn here in the United States and as adults from the messages displayed at the Kijana Global Innovation School.
The Kijana Global Innovation School and the Mulusi Village communities were blessed this summer to host thirteen visitors from the larger Scarola family of Palm Beach County, Florida (including members of the Hansen, Bischoff and Kirk families). They spent a week volunteering at the school and in the community and infused additional cross-cultural collaborative spirit into the school and beyond. In advance of visiting, the extended family members teamed up to raise more than $11,000 which funded new science equipment and furniture for the temporary science lab, along with furniture for our temporary library and allowed us to invest in an improved electrical transformer. Furthermore, they arrived with loads of goodies (sports equipment, STEM resources, soccer balls, volleyballs, frisbees, games and more).
Their visit contributes to advancing a key element in our vision, building cross-cultural connections with American school communities. For Cara and Patrick Hansen, the visit was also a reunion of sorts as they had volunteered sixteen years ago at Ebusiloli Secondary School, in an informal volunteer opportunity developed through Kijana President James P. Cummings. The two have numerous connections at schools in Palm Beach County and Patrick is just starting a new position as Assistant Principal at St. Clare Elementary School, in North Palm Beach. They will share with you that they gained as much from the experience as our school students and teachers did. We are most grateful for their initiative, and exploratory and caring spirits. It is amazing how a week at the Kijana Global Innovation School can make a world of difference at both ends.
As part of our quest to bring a variety of learning experiences to our students, we recently introduced karate, under the guidance of a newly hired teacher, Mr. Matthews Were. Students and the community members are happy to have this opportunity to learn a skill and art developed in another part of the world. See Global Innovation School students give a karate demonstration: https://youtu.be/gwkw7JL-Uh0
Black History Month is celebrated each year during the month of February. In recognition of this celebration, Kijana is proud to welcomed ten new honorees to our KIjana Heroes Poster series. The series now includes 60 heroes. We anticipate to add more hereos to the collection soon. See and read more about the 10 highlighted here, as well as all honorees by clicking on the following link: https://kijana.org/kijanaheroes/
The campus is abuzz and full of life as students returned to school on January 31st. Growth is the optimal word when describing what is happening at the Global Innovation School. Enrollment numbers are rising, new teachers and staff members have been hired. Also, new courses, technology and activities are being offered to enhance the student learning experiences. In addition, ongoing campus beautification and construction of a new Junior Secondary classroom/laboratory bulding, and playground area is in full swing.
The school’s reopening included a week that involved welcoming back returning students and families, as well as admitting new students following a well-deserved holiday break. Current enrollment is 172 students, and we anticipate that number to be 200 this year.
Here are some of the highlights from opening week and what’s new at the school. A new librarian was hired and is in the process of recording books and other curricular resources Kijana has attained for the new school year. Opening exams for our grade 8 candidates has begun. Last school year, student performance on the exams was exemplary and was validated by the scores they individually and collectively achieved. A Karate instructor and classroom teacher, Mathews Musebe was hired. Mr. Musebe began giving karate lessons to grades 1 and 2. Soon, training classes will be available to all grade levels. Karate is a new extracurricular that is designed to enrich the physical and mental well-being of our students.
This year is off to a rousing start and the students, families, local communites and communities throughout Kenya that Kijana serves will be impacted in so many positive ways as the organization and school strives to serve and fulfill its mission to serve others for the benifit of humankind and the planet we all share.
Kijana is working hard to meet the demands of a growing Junior secondary studentry at the Global Innovation School. Junior secondary education serves as a bridge between primary and secondary school for students aged 12 to 14 years. Junior secondary school involves Grades 7, 8 and 9. As a result, contruction of a new Junior Secondary School building was essential to keep pace with this new reality.
Kijana’s Global Innovation School has experienced substantial growth since opening in January 2020 with 15 students. As of early February 2023, school enrollment is 172 students. However, due to increasing demand for quality education, we anticipate that enrollment will exceed 200 students some time this year.
In 2022, Kijana’s generous donors provided the required funding needed to start the project. In October 2022, under the guidance and determination of Project Manager and Director, Ebby Shiroya, the structure went from pre-foundation to a functioning classroom building housing students by the end of January 2023.
A major part of Kijana’s overall vision is developing a creative, imaginative, and collaborative curriculum in an architecturally unique setting. Kijana is constantly in pursuit of excellence regarding ways to provide outstanding academic learning programs and experiential enrichment activities encapsulated in a distinctive physical environment.
Our Junior Secondary School classroom/laboratory building progresses and is nearing completion. The construction of the school has provided many employment opportunites throughout the area. Workers have been busy with some of the following:
- laying terrazzo flooring
- electrical wiring of classes
- fitting gutters
- playground leveling the new playground and adjacent fields for students, and
- plastering of classroom walls
In addition, classrooms within the Junior Secondary School building have been adourned with:
- white boards
- desks and tables and much more
- smart board tecchnology to be installed soon.
All of these efforts will culminate in the completion of a creative and functional sturcture that will aid students in the development of their eductional journey at the Global Innovation School.
Februrary exploratory activites have already started at the Global Innovation school. The Care, Share and Explore leadership team consisting of; Prideluck Ubagah, Mathews Musebe, Brigit Mbaria and Lawrence Inonda “hit the trails” with student groups.
On the nature trail, exploring our environment was the theme of the adventures. On February 1st, a group of 1st and 2nd graders observed and noted what they saw and heard as the explored the environment near the school campus. They made paint brushes using evergreen leaves, twigs and flowers and were shown how to use the brushes they creaated. Students drew colorful images of what they saw. They also carried bottles with them and put sand, stones or seeds in them. Students shook the bottles to create musical tones while they walked the trails.
On February 2nd, it was grades 3 and 4 who ventured out to observe nature. Students were asked to identify; what they saw in the sky, describe the weather conditions, note different water sources they encountered, and state what animals, insects and plants they witnessed. Like grades 1 and 2, the students made paint brushes and drew and colored in some of the images that impacted them during their journey.
The last group of the first week of February was, gardes 5,6 and 8. As students walked and observed, they; identified types of plants, collected leaves and parts of flowers. They also identifyed insects, observed the sky and described what they saw in it. In addition, students created “nature impressions” in clay from the leaaves, seeds, stones, twigs, etc. they collected along the way. Like other grades, they made paint brushes from what they gathered and used them to create colorful images that stood out from their expoloration.
The above experiential excursions are so beneficial and impactful to wholistic education that Kijana and the Global Innovation School fully embraces and incorporates on a practical level.
We have been constructing the new two-story classroom/laboratory structure earnestly and rapidly. The vast majority of this was completed in the last month-since the first week of October. We spent August and early September preparing the ground and the initial foundational work. About 25 young men have been employed on a daily basis and the work for them is much needed as work in this area is very hard to come by. By investing in this community with school construction, it is allowing people to put their skills to work, advance their talents and obtain consistent income. As can be seen in the above photos, many materials have been needed and purchased as well, including sand, cement, gravel, rebar, timber, and much more. While the global economy has been beset with some challenges of late, the present circumstances have led to a strong dollar which is working in our favor. The strong dollar is allowing contributions to Kijana for this project and other needed expenses to stretch far. Once completed, the combination classroom/laboratory building will house three classrooms, a science laboratory and another multi-purpose laboratory and serve as the initial fulcrum of our Junior Secondary School. It was designed in consultation with our key architectural friends, Harpreet Dhaliwal, of BKSK Architects (New York City) and Christopher Dameron, of Dameron Architecture (New York City). Jeremiah Awori, of Vihiga County, is the lead architect and contractor on the ground and Ebby Shiroya, our multi-talented and super energetic all-around school development leader is the project manager. Our local team is working tirelessly to make this a reality for the students. Thank you to all who have dug deep and contributed to make this new and most valuable capital resource a reality. You have boosted so many lives in meaningful ways. We need continued and immediate support to keep the work progressing.
Kijana Global Innovation School students had the opportunity to go swimming recently at a local swimming pool. This was part of the new educational curriculum in the nation which emphasizes hands-on learning and competency in active engaged skill-based learning. Our students clearly enjoyed the experience and we anticipate bringing them back in the future. We also aim to begin a competitive swimming program in the future. As we all know, swimming is a vital life skill and it is also a common sport in more advanced Kenyan schools. We continue to seek and implement ways to expose our students to more varied skill development opportunities, which creates a more holistic learning environment.
Photo descriptions: Geoffrey Omusula playing a descant recorder, inspired by Andre’ Madison, (feature photo), Samantha and Kijana Care, Share and Explore team member, Prideluck Ubagah, (top left), Mildred Acosta working with students (top right), Santino, Mildred, and Andre’ (bottom left), Andre’ introducing the recorder to students (bottom right).
A big asante sana (thank you) to five special volunteers: Samantha Koches, Jessica Sun, Mildred Acosta, and her son, Santino, and Andre’ Madison. Each volunteer gave of their time and talents this summer to enrich the lives of Global Innovation students, faculty, staff and the surrounding local communities Kijana serves. In return, they gained valuable cross-cultural skills and awareness which has enriched their lives and which will lift others. All of the partnerships demonstrated Kijana’s commitment to empowering youth, reshaping communities, and transforming lives.
Samantha Koches and Jessica Sun visited the Global Innovation School in May. Samantha is a former student of Kijana President and Executive Director, Jim Cummings, at the Benjamin School, in North Palm Beach, Florida. She recently started her own non-profit, Nourish All, a global nonprofit organization, based in Hawaii, that is dedicated to nourishing communities in need.
Samantha led the design and implementation efforts to expand the school’s existing garden and to promote permaculture. In addition, she organized an exploratory visit to Josephat Barasa’s (JB) permaculture farm in western Kenya for a group of students from our Global Innovation School and a local public school, Buchenya primary school. Jessica Sun, a Nourish All Board Member, and attorney assisted Samantha periodically, by collaborating with Kijana team members and aiding in the completion of various projects.
Samantha’s work has inspired Kijana to make the school into a lush food forest, growing multitudes of fruits and vegetables creating a syntropic micro-paradise, as well as an innovative learning center. She is continuing to collaborate with local people in the community in improving Buchenya primary school’s gardens, among other endeavors.
Mildred Acosta, a primary school teacher at Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach and her son, Santino visited the Global Innovation School in July. Mildred teamed up with teachers, primarily first grade teacher, Mercy Amoke. Mildred and Santino developed, with teacher Mercy, a hands-on learning program centered around the Dr. Seuss classic, The Lorax. The students then performed a little skit at our small celebratory event, to recognize our collaborative success in growing and planting over 500,000 trees with over 30 other institutions in western Kenya, Kisumu, and Nairobi. Mildred learned much from teacher Mercy. One fun thing teacher Mercy shared and Mildred will incorporate in her teaching is a fun way for students to celebrate or recognize someone’s good work: by giving them a fictitious soda. See the “take the soda” video.
Andre’ Madison is a current Kijana intern and an upcoming senior at Lawrence University, in Appleton, WI. He visited the Global Innovation School for 10 days in July. Andre’ is helping to shape a music program at the school and has also developed a preliminary technology plan which will be implemented in stages, in collaboration with the school leadership teams in Kenya and USA. Andre’ hopes to return next summer with friends to volunteer for a more extended period of time. In a strategy session, Andre’ told Kijana President Jim Cummings about descant recorders, as a good way to introduce music skills. Cummings carried over about 30 recorders and Andre’ brought over with him several more descant recorders, to introduce beginning musical skills to the students. He worked with students in teaching beginning recorder skills. Andre’s enthusiastic teaching and sharing has led to more musical learning opportunities, including having Jennifer Sanna (Atisanna) visit the school and teach the nyatiti. Andre’s also aims to introduce the nyatiti to his fellow music community at Lawrence University.
American Biochemist and cancer researcher Helen Dyer once said, “Volunteerism is the voice of the people put into action.These actions shape and mold the present into a future of which we can all be proud.” The partnerships formed and the substantial voices of the above five special volunteers will have a lasting impact to those they have served. Kijana is proud to have hosted Samantha, Jessica, Mildred, Santino and Andre’ this summer and we thank them for partnering with us to help Kijana live up to its mission of “promoting and cultivating youth empowerment through educational development, cross-cultural dialogue, and sustainable and environmentally friendly economic growth, among under-served Kenyan school communities and American schools.”
Enrollment at the Global Innovation School continues to grow. As of mid-August, we have 157 students on campus. Transportation to-and-from the school is essential to the continued success of the school. Providing safe and reliable transportation to our Kijana students living in surrounding communities is of primary concern.
Consequently, we purchased a 47-seat bus, which was delivered and added to our fleet of transportation vehicles at the end of July. Kijana acquired our first bus (33 seat) last year (2021) and a van in 2020. The new bus will help us start increasing enrollment even more in the next several weeks.
Upon arrival of the bus, students and community members celebrated excitedly. They are proud of the buses the school has acquired. The evening that the bus arrived, Kijana President, Jim Cummings was at the gate and a student came by with his grandmother. She said, “he said I had to see the new bus.”
The bus will not only allow us to reach more communities, expanding our student body, but will allow students and teachers new opportunities for field trips, sporting events, musical and drama competitions and more. In fact, on Saturday August 20, students used the bus for the subcounty musical competition. Seven Kijana school entries (individual and team) will move to the county competitions next week.
We are grateful to the major donors who made the bus possible. It is a major asset in advancing and growing our school community. We are also grateful to our school Director, Ebby Shiroya, who worked tirelessly to communicate with the bus making company to ensure the bus production was on track and delivered, registered and insured properly, despite many global supply chain issues.
New York architects, Harpreet Dhaliwal and Christopher Dameron recently visited our Kijana Global Innovation School and Kenya with their family to continue the collaboration process that has been in development for a year. In the above photo, the two are seen working with our local architect, Jeremiah Awori, in library design development. Also visible are the most recent renderings based upon the time spent in Kenya on the site visit and with Mr. Awori. The library/media center will be an extraordinarily unique structure for the region and beyond.
The collaboration continues, however. Harpreet Dhaliwal and Christopher Dameron are back in New York and Jeremiah Awori is in Kenya collaborating through global technology. The larger library development team continues to work as well. We are planning future fundraising events and aim to break ground in September of this year on the amazing collaborative building which will change lives long into the future.
The Dhaliwal/Dameron architectural team is providing their time and services pro-bono. It is estimated that the value of their time and skills and advice over the time of the project from start to finish will be $250,000. Your money will be well-spent as it will go toward construction and development and furnishing and staffing of the library. Relationship building is paying dividends.
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Kijana views the several week break from classes as a valuable time for experiential learning. Grades 4,5,6 and 7 students took part in three significant exploratory excursions in different regions of the country from the beginning of March through April 25th. Students and teachers visited and explored Rusinga Island, Kakamega Forest, Kembu Camp and the Nakuru region, Nairobi and the Masai Mara. The exploratory educational ventures have been made possible by a generous grant from the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, of Wheaton, Ill. We have designed and are expanding and fine-tuning our environmental education program, which has been named “Care, Share and Explore.” It is based upon the overarching premise of “Care of God’s Creation, which is the theme underlying the grant.
At Rusinga Island, students visited and stayed at the Wayando Beach Eco-lodge, explored permaculture activities and tree planting programs, as well as visited Ruma National Park. At Kakamega Forest, students camped for two nights and hiked in the forest and learned of the importance of the forest to the regional eco-system. While visiting Kembu Camp, they learned about milk cows, making butter, knitting, and participated in archery and team building activities. Our young explorers also had the chance to meet and learn from the “Wildlife Warriors” of Kenya, an organization dedicated to protecting wildlife. The Masai Mara was a major excursion as most of our students have rarely left their local community. Upon return, students will participate in reflection activities and write about and express the experiences artistically. It was a powerful experience of their young lives.
April and May of this year mark an important transitional time for the Kijana Global Innovation School. The 2021 school year (altered calendar due to Covid-19) ended in early March and students have had a six week break before the 2022 school year begins on April 25th. On March 4th, we held our second pre-primary (kindergarten) graduation. Twenty-seven students graduated, moving on to first grade. It was a joyous occasion filled with happy parents and community members. Additionally, we distributed tree seedlings to all students at the school, family members and additional community members. The seedlings were “home grown” at the school as part of our 500,000 tree campaign, in which we grew over 500,000 trees in a 5 month period. This endeavor will increase the local and regional tree canopy significantly over time, improving the resource base in the region for improved sustainability. It will also encourage others to plant trees as we work collaboratively to build a greener future.
We were fortunate to host in Kenya Harpreet Dhaliwal and Chris Dameron and family. The two are the lead architectural designers in our recently formed international architectural team, designing the future library/media center and amphitheater at our Kijana Global Innovation School. After visiting the site and planning with our key local architect, Jeremiah Awori, a larger team explored Kenya together to expand on our global connections, strategize and develop our organizational bonds, while introducing the Dhaliwal/Dameron family to the larger Kenya. We travelled to Rusinga and Mfangano Islands in Lake Victoria and to the Masai Mara. The first stop was a wonderful eco-lodge, Wayando Beach Eco-lodge, on Rusinga Island. The long amazing journey to Wayando Beach Eco Lodge took about 6 hours. The team was led by Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative’s president, James Cummings. Other team members who went on the trip included: Jeremiah Awori (Kijana’s Chief Architect) and his family, Lawrence Inonda (KIjana Photographer), Linda Shiroya (Care, Share and Explore Explore-Program Coordinator-Kisumu) and Global Innovation School students; Peter, Wycliffe, Martha and Stacy. The Special guests, Harpreet Dhaliwal, Chris Dameron and their two children found a good amount of time during the journey to collaborate with Jeremiah Awori. Consequently, we have a well-bonded team emergent to develop and build a very creative modern library/media center and amphitheater. As can bee seen in the photos, Kenya is a beautiful country and the Kenyan people have preserved habitat the for wildlife, which we share the planet with. We welcome you to Kenya to explore, discover and innovate with Kijana. Human society has many challenges ahead of us. We need all the creative energy and spirited minds and hearts to build a better world in which we share with humans and wildlife.
Wayando Eco Lodge is a great haven in a quiet paradise by the shores of Lake Victoria. The resort setting is amazing and environmentally friendly. They practice permaculture and organic gardening. While there, we were served delectable and tantalizing African cuisine. We really enjoyed those meals. As our team was enjoying the view of Lake Victoria, kids on the other side were enjoying their swinging game which made them happy. One night at Wayando Eco Lodge made us yearn for more days to continue enjoying the view and services of the place. Eco lodge gave our visitors from the United States a unique experience away from home where they were using decomposit toilets which are eco-friendly. Some of the team members who had never had that experience of using a bucket and covering it with saw dust were surprised in the beginning, but they eventually got used to it. Martha, Stacy and Global Innovation School teacher Malack spent their night at the tent which was a phenomenal experience for them. Kijana teams were impressed with the idea of Wayando Eco Lodge promoting ecological alternatives in buildings, permaculture and organic farming. Wayando Eco Lodge is the best destination to spend a vacation with family.
Every October 11th, world organizations come together to celebrate the girl child with the aim of raising attention to their needs and promote their empowerment. Kijana joined these organizations by celebrating at Emukangu Primary School in Western Kenya. The 2021 theme was “Digital Generation, Our Generation”.
Kijana commemorated the day by having a series of events. One included a session with 104 students from Grades 6-8. Girls were informed of why it is important for them to get an education. Awareness of challenges they may face in attaining an education such as; early pregnancies, poverty in families, girls perceived as less valuable compared to boys, HIV & AIDS and more were discussed. Strategies to ensure that girls do receive an education included; older girls arranging time to visit younger girls in school (mentors), parents and communities enlightened on the importance of girl’s education, girls forming study groups, and parents working with the government to ensure safety of girls, among others.
The climax of this event was when the girls were given 220 sanitary towels. Sanitary towels are not readily available to girls in Kenya. The lack of this essential resource hinders their academic pursuits. In addition, 10 fruit tree seedlings were donated to the students to promote protecting the environment. Students were assigned to write essays of phenomenal women they revere from their communities.
Kijana believes in and shall continue to collaborate with communities to ensure that girls are connected, empowered and supported to achieve their dreams. This aim will contribute to the growth of society and realization of Sustainable Development Goal 5 and 17 of Kenya’s Gender Equality and Partnerships Goals.
As we inaugurate Black History Month 2022, Kijana has successfully reached out in Palm Beach County and Florida and found school audiences for our Kijana Heroes Poster Series. On Monday January 31st, we set up 36 Heroes Posters at Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach. On Tuesday, an exhibit of the full forty posters was launched at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. Posters have also been distributed to Bak Middle School of the Arts, The Benjamin School, St. Vincent Ferrer School, Holy Comforter Episcopal School in Tallahassee, and will soon be delivered to Oxbridge Academy. The city of Riviera Beach also has a set for the City Hall.
As we begin to celebrate Black History Month, we encourage you to consider all the contributions made by people of color throughout history. The human experience began in Africa and our present lives are shaped in untold ways by the heritage, cultures and advancements of Africans and people of color. At Kijana, we are grateful for the diversity of cultures and ideas and the complicated global history of idea exchange that has made the world we live in. Yet, we seek to advance society to a better future and our Kijana Global Innovation School, with an enrollment approaching 150 students, is becoming a place where students develop their skills to ultimately change the world for the better.
We appreciate those who have battled to improve life for us all, sometimes sacrificing their own life for our benefit. Each poster also brings to light inspirational character traits which should encourage youth to strive for personal and collective improvement.
Please take some time this month to reflect upon the contributions of Africans, African-Americans and people of the African diaspora throughout history and the present. We also encourage a consideration of ways we can move toward a more respectful, dynamic and collaborative future in which the talents and positive ideas of all are appreciated, advanced, and incorporated toward a better future.
Explore all forty Kijana Heroes on the Kijana website. We are also delighted as we were featured in the Palm Beach Daily News as the posters were set up at Rosarian Academy. Learn More Here.
Happy Black History Month. Let us use this month as a springboard toward reflection, inspiration and action.
Kijana has launched a major endeavor in the past month. Inspired by the backing of the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters of Wheaton, Illinois, we developed a multi-pronged “Care, Share and Explore” program connecting youth with nature in many ways, including tree planting. Appropriately, as this month is celebrated as “Care of Creation” month, we are hustling to produce 500,000 tree seedlings by October 15th. With the release this summer of the UN IPCC report which reinforces the perilous situation humanity faces and the Kenyan government’s plan to plant 2 billion trees by the end of 2022, we are taking action. Collaborating with over 25 schools, churches and other institutions, we are providing seeds, netting and sleeving for the institutions. They create the seedbeds themselves, in a kinetic partnership, aimed at jump-starting youth and others to encourage humanity to truly engage in this struggle. Students, through their 4K Clubs, and teacher monitoring, will water the seedlings and transfer them to sleeves, before ultimately planting in the communities. The above pictures were taken at Buchenya Primary School, in Buchenya sublocation in Kakamega County, Kenya at our seed planting day on September 10th, 2021. The youth at the top is holding a packet of seeds. Students planted Pine and Cypress seeds in these seedbeds. We are inspiring the next generation to care for our environment as we are partners with the plants and other animals in this earthly journey. We look forward to sharing more photos of the actual seedlings. Thanks to our Care of Creation “Care, Share and Explore” team on the ground for making today happen. You have given life to thousands of trees, which will provide for the communities long into the future.
We are grateful to the Wellington Town-Crier for sharing our Kijana story. Read the following story of how we are building an amazing and innovative institution in western Kenya. It is now approaching a 35 year progression to develop our Kijana Global Innovation School. We are grateful the multitudes of individuals and groups who have made this possible over the years.
Tesia Shibilski, who set up a page as part of our Kijana Mary Fields Bus Campaign, raised over $13,000, playing a huge role in our ability to order and obtain a new bus for our Kijana Global Innovation School. We expect the new bus to be delivered by late June. The new bus will allow more students to attend this pathbreaking school, advancing their exploratory and discovery skills. Thank you to Isabel Lawrence and the team at NBC15 News of Madison, WI for sharing our uplifting collaborative initiative.
KIjana’s innovative cross-continental artistic collaboration continues, with the recent addition of the “explore, discover, innovate” painting on the “sink wall” of the upper toilet block. Palm Beach County artist, Claire Salmon designed the work, which represents a key element of our educational philosophy: the process of individual and collective innovation, which evolves through exploration and discovery. Western Kenyan artist, Jesse Otukho, painted the mural on the wall. Note the cool glass blocks, which are part of the innovative school design. We teach our students to develop a love of exploration. Next week Jesse Otukho will paint the earth, sun and moon on another wall. Look for pictures soon.
I am Elphas Onyango Otanga, a beneficiary of Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative in the rural Western Kenya, in Africa. I’m the sixth born in a family of eight; that is my parents and five siblings.
I knew Kijana while schooling at Ebusiloli Primary School in my home area. As an organization, Kijana was sponsoring my school and the neighboring secondary school in a bid to improve education standards so as to enlighten the community. The organization did this by improving learning conditions such as school infrastructure by constructing modern classrooms, science laboratories, walkways and purchasing learning materials that we were lacking.
My personal encounter with was in 2005 after I did my Primary national exam. I scored 363 Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative out of 500 marks but my parents had no funds to enable me to join secondary school education, a condition attributed to my humble family background. Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative came to rescue my dreams by funding my secondary and University education, giving me a rare opportunity to access education I was yearning for. I am now a trained high school teacher in Kenya currently teaching Geography and Kiswahili at Kiaguthu Boys High School in Murang’a county.
I view Kijana as the best organization that has transformed individual youths and a community as a whole in my home area of Ebusiloli, in rural western Kenya. Educating a community is an act of equipping it with tools necessary for shaping life. Going forward, I would like to be a part of people impacting to the less fortunate groups in the society in shaping their lives socially and economically. God bless Kijana.Educational Empowerment Initiative supporters. To each one and all of you, we say; Asante sana.