Tell us about the work you do at Build Africa?
Build Africa partners with rural communities in Kenya and Uganda to tackle poverty by improving the quality of primary education and providing opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. Since 2004, we have worked in partnership with 115 schools benefiting more than 150,000 children, and our livelihoods programme is currently reaching more than 40,000 individuals living in the communities surrounding the schools we work with. We were recently recognised for our impact within these communities by being named International Charity of the Year at the 2012 Charity Times Awards.
We employ a very holistic approach to school and community development that responds to a combination of needs such as safe drinking water, classroom and latrine construction, vital trainings in teaching, health and well-being, and particularly gender awareness and equality. To ensure that parents and community members are in a better financial position to support their children’s education and to provide for their families, Build Africa has introduced savings and loans associations to every school community it partners with. These associations help parents – the majority of whom are women – save and earn additional income to reinvest in their businesses, farms and households, freeing up their children to go to school and get the education they deserve instead of being needed to help at home.
What does progress look like to date at Mumbuni B School?
Mumbuni B is a fascinating school community that sits on a steep hillside in Machakos District, Kenya, about three hours southeast of Nairobi by car. The area is susceptible to long droughts and food insecurity, and the school itself was found in a very dire state when Build Africa first visited it at the end of 2010. The school community certainly had the drive and determination to provide the best education possible for its children, but it simply needed a leg up when it came to providing new infrastructure and updated training for its staff. Thanks to the support of Microsoft UK in 2011 and 2012, the school received two new, fully furnished classrooms. The school also received a water catchment system complete with three water tanks (to store the safe drinking water that is collected, especially in times of drought), along with a brand-new block of four latrines which will significantly improve the pupils’ hygiene and reduce illness spreading.
Of course building a school isn’t all about the bricks and mortar. Throughout the past two years, the staff at Mumbuni have received extensive teacher training in order to move them away from rote learning and more towards pupil-centred lessons; they’ve also focused heavily on disability and gender issues, and started up a health club that focuses on sensitive but important topics that need to be talked about, such as HIV and AIDS. Textbooks, a science kit and sports equipment were all delivered to Mumbuni B to help improve the quality of lessons and the well-being of the children. Community participation, especially from parents, was seen to increase significantly too; 82 parents attended a recent school meeting along with representatives from the Kenyan Ministry of Education.
Stephen, a pupil at Mumbuni B, told us about the new classrooms at the end of last year, “Classes 7 and 8 are in the new classrooms. I will be in Class 7 next year so I am happy. We have classes with glass in the windows; there is no dust, no coughing, and they are bigger than the other classes. God bless the sponsors.”
Stephen, a bright pupil at Mumbuni B Primary School who is eager to learn
Stephen also told us about his favourite subjects. “I like science and maths the best. Maths is best because it is certain (1+1=2, 8x8=64). Science makes sense because I learn about things I see (like flowers and trees) and it explains them.”
What plans are there for the future?
We hope that Stephen and his classmates become Kenya’s next generation of scientists, teachers and doctors. They are certainly well on their way to achieving big things, but there is still much to be done to make Mumbuni the absolute best school it can be. To ensure that every child at Mumbuni has the same opportunities as Stephen, there is still the need for an additional two new classrooms and four toilets to ensure all classes and pupils benefit from stable and comfortable classrooms and more hygienic sanitary facilities. The remaining classrooms are still in need of renovation (or rebuilding from scratch) to raise them to the same standards as the others. Additional resources such as textbooks and sports equipment are also required to make learning fun and engaging, as well as the funding needed to continue to build the capacity of the teachers, headmaster, management committee and to ensure community involvement is ongoing and sustainable. This school is their school – the community of Mumbuni B’s – but we need to help them reach the point (which can take several years) to be fully capable of delivering the best education possible, and that means knowing how to fundraise and lobby for their school, having the tools to manage and govern it effectively, and truly having the community on board to support them along the way to ensure that it can educate generations of children in the years to come.
What support do you need to make them a reality?
What we truly need for the next stage of development at Mumbuni is funding - £27,468, in fact - for two additional furnished classrooms, four latrines, textbooks and sports equipment.
Of course we also welcome any pro bono support that can be provided such as management or finance training for teachers and committee members (or Build Africa staff), or even technology support to help Build Africa’s monitoring and evaluation systems so we can maintain and run the best projects possible – Mumbuni B included. Or of course simply fundraising for the school and spreading the word about this fantastic community would be a tremendous help to Build Africa and the communities we serve.
Please do get in touch with us if you think you can help – we’d love to tell you more about our work and how you can partner with us to help rural children and families escape poverty and fulfil their potential in life.