Tuesday, August 23, 2011
In February 2010 I met a Kenyan boy, Alfred, who lived on the streets of Nanyuki. Many of you followed my blog as I chronicled the efforts of my friend Martin and I, trying to get him into school. Within weeks of getting him into a school he was ranked number one in his class, and two quarters later he was ranked number one in his entire district.
Being inspired by that, I returned to Nanyuki last November with the goal of finding more street kids with the potential to succeed in school. As seen in my blog post "David's First Day of School" my community partners and I were able to enroll three more street kids from Alfred's neighborhood. By the end of the quarter, two of those boys were ranked number one in their classes and the third, David, was ranked 2nd in his class. This educational re-integration has been more successful than anyone could have imagined!
The second target of the projects focus with street kids, are the children for whom education is not a possibility, either because of advanced age or lack of academic prowess. Two such boys, Richard and Joseph Geoffrey, through micro-finance loans, in conjunction with skills they already possess, have been able to get themselves off the street by setting up businesses of their own.
The third, and hopefully the target with the most long term societal impact will be helping the children who find themselves at risk of becoming street children. Many well-meaning boys and girls are kicked out of school in Nanyuki because of being unable to afford food, school uniform, and basic necessities, forcing them into a life on the streets. Ironically, education is easily the most effective tool for them to use to get themselves out of poverty, but they end up without an education because of their poverty. Working with the Head Social worker in Nanyuki, Mr Hezron, individual sponsors and other community partners, the project has been able to give scholarships to seven of these children, most of them orphans, who would not otherwise be able to continue their education. The project is currently raising funds and finding partners for a food and uniform project which would stop the vast majority of the children from leaving school and going to the streets.
This Project has been more successful than I could have imagined so far, but there are hundreds of kids still living in the streets of Nanyuki and many more at risk of losing their chance at education and a healthy, productive life.
For the past few months I have been back in the USA working hard to get non-profit status for this important project. Earlier this month I applied to, and was accepted, by my first choice for a fiscal sponsor, called Empowerment Works. Fiscal Sponsorship means that I use their non-profit status to collect tax-deductible donations for the project, the mission of which is in alignment with the mission of the sponsor organization. In this way I can concentrate on the work of the project and not get consumed with the day to day headache of having to run an organization.
The name of the project is "Simama" which means "stand up" in Swahili. The significance is twofold: first you cannot change someones life for them, you can only give them an opportunity, they must stand up on their own. The second meaning, lies in the projects belief that each and every one of us in the world has a responsibility to stand up for those who are most vulnerable.
The Simama project is a community driven project that uses both well established and innovative methods to provide marginalized Kenyan youth with opportunities to get themselves out of poverty. If you would like more information on the project, or would like to help support the project in any way, please use the email below. Thank you everyone for making all of this possible!
The official mailing address for tax-deductible contributions:
PLEASE CLEARLY INDICATE "SIMAMA PROJECT" IN THE CHECK MEMO
but make the check out to Empowerment WORKS
1793 Northwood Ct.
Oakland, CA 94611 - USA
Posted by Matt Orcutt at 2:55 PM