Hundreds of thousands of children all across the world can only dream about the chance to have access to education. In a little community school called Jambo Jipya in Kenya, just outside Mombassa, this dream is becoming a reality.
Jambo Jipya (Swahili for “a new beginning") was set up by an African nurse called Christine Mwende. In 1999, she became aware of a nearby family of three young children whose parents had both recently died of AIDS. These children had nowhere to go and no one to look after them and so Christine took it upon herself to buy them food and to pay for them to go to school. Local families in need heard about Christine and came to ask for help; seeing their desperate situation she could not refuse. By 2001 Christine was helping forty families, most of which had parents dying of AIDS, in addition to working the night-shift at the local hospital from 6pm-6am.
In 2004 Christine established "Jambo Jipya Community School" for thirty children. Initially the school had one teacher and no school supplies or desks at all, but the children received breakfast and dinner every day, and were looked after when they were sick. Gradually she was able to save enough money from working the night shift at the hospital to buy books, blackboards and uniforms for the children.
Today Christine works as a nurse at the weekend, funding the project entirely by herself. She earns enough to cover the weekly running costs of food, rent etc. and uses volunteer staff from around the world as teachers.
The majority of lessons are taught outside as there is simply not enough classroom space. The main classroom has no proper blackboard, chairs or tables. Lessons are often disrupted by rain, chickens and goats.
Mariam who is about 14 and the oldest of about six brothers and sisters, cooks about 100 meals a day. She is helped by a little girl Sabrina who is only about 11. Typical meals are beans or beans and maize. Rice is a luxury.
Pictured on the right, the boys are washing up in cold water; this is very unusual as traditionally the girls do everything.
A food delivery
Kindergarten children having their daily rest. Some children walk for 1-2 hours to get to Jambo Jipya.
A carpet was purchased by volunteers for this purpose
In 2007 Mrs Hardwick's daughter Lucy volunteered at Jambo Jipya for a couple of months as part of her gap year. On her return she started fundraising and inspired 10T to help too. “Jambo Jipya" became the buzz word in form 10T. Over two years they raised over £1900 with a sponsored swim and numerous cake and sweet sales. This money was used to purchase much needed equipment that was taken out to the project by Mrs Hardwick, who was the form tutor (of what had now become 11T). It also enabled the children to enjoy their first ever Sports Day and a trip to the beach. The form then continued their fundraising to purchase school book bags for all the older children and finger puppets for the Kindergarten. In May half-term 2008 Lucy was out there teaching again, taking out 11T's fundraised money. There had been many changes to the project, some good and some bad.
Children in the corridor asleep
Starting with the bad…having been the rainy season many of the children's current homes had been swept away; many children were sleeping on mattresses on the mud floors. This was awful; Jambo Jipya’s mud walls and floors were barely fit to be a school let alone somewhere to sleep. Ideally all the children should be sleeping in Jambo Jipya and this is Christine's dream: to one day have a place where they will be able to be safe and sleep soundly.
Our money has contributed to help concrete the classroom floors
More desks and tables
Encouragingly there were more desks and tables. There are now two fully paid permanent Kenyan teachers providing continuity and national Kenyan exams are being taken. The school is slowly becoming more like a real school. The buildings are starting to be concreted, which is a huge advantage over mud, providing level floors, walls that stay standing and above all somewhere dry to shelter in the rain.
Our dream for Jambo Jipya is for one day it to be a real school with full time proper teachers, space for proper beds so the children that have to stay no longer have to sleep on the floor. The more funding we can do for that the better.
Money raised by 10T was used in a variety of ways. The most immediate was the purchasing of craft materials, glue and paints which Mrs Hardwick took out to Jamba Jipya, along with suitable storage boxes for the new equipment bought out in Africa (so it helps their economy too). Football shorts and goalie gloves were also purchased to complement the footballs kindly acquired by Deborah Weatley from the Dorset Football Association.
In June 2007 the children enjoyed their first ever "Sports Day" using the balls and skipping ropes we gave them along with a "10T Parkstone Sports" shield.
Some of the money raised was also used to fund another "first" for the children - a school trip to the beach. This was the first time many of them had seen the sea despite often living only three miles away. For many of them it was the first time they had tasted chicken for lunch as their staple diet is just beans and ugali.
It also became apparent that the majority of children only had one change of clothes (their school uniform), so the 20kg of clothes collected in school and sent out free for us by the local Parcel Force Office was well appreciated.
The desire to learn and be educated, despite the odds, is very apparent at Jambo Jipya - eight to ten children sharing one textbook, their pride in their exercise books and determination to learn, leaves a lasting impression. Di Hardwick's dream was to provide all the pupils with a school bag to at least protect and carry their books and this became the focus of 11T's fundraising for 2007/8.
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all of which have been gratefully received by Christine and the children at the project.
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To date the former 10T and then 11T students have raised over £1900! Over this time the students have been able to see the school in Kenya change and
transform into something quite different. There are now 9 cement classrooms, 185 children, 45 boarders, 10 teachers and a security guard. There is now a large kitchen area to store food and cook, whilst a new water butt provides fresh water for the children. In addition they have four toilets, two showers and a dormitory that can sleep 20 children.
Whilst the school has changed dramatically, the population of the school is also growing and they are currently trying to fund a move to a new location on the outskirts of Mtwapa where it can expand and become self-sustaining - so they still need help.
Now in Year 12 the original fundraisers have split into different forms - but this hasn’t dampened their spirits for helping Jambo Jipya. A Jambo Jipya Club now meets regularly and the fund raising is already in full swing. A very successful cake sale raised £90 and the Christmas ‘Smartie Saver’ Campaign – selling Smarties and saving spare change in the tube in an effort to send more money out to the project for Christmas. In conjunction with our three ‘Reach for the Stars’ Assemblies this term we are keen to raise awareness and are now hoping to pass on our enthusiasm to the lower school so that, when we leave in 2010, Parkstone’s connection with Jambo Jipya can continue.
With special thanks to local businessman James Taylor and staff at Taylor-Made Designs Christchurch. James designed the initial logo for "Jambo Jipya" when he donated 120 polo shirrts to the project back in Spring 2007 and continues to supply our goods at the best rates possible.
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Jambo Jipya Club is back in force for another school year having launched many successful campaigns last academic year.
Last year’s fundraising successes included the ever popular Smarties Saver Campaign (where participants save their loose change in a Smarties tube), a Christmas Sea Swim at Sandbanks, an Easter Tombola, Cakes Sales and many other fundraising initiatives, including continuing sales of “Jambo Jipya” bracelets, boosting funds for the school.
In all a grand total of £770 was raised last academic year. Some money was sent out to the project in time for last Christmas and some is pending to supply and send out further Jambo Jipya polo shirts this Autumn. These shirts personalised with the logo specially designed for us by “Taylor Made Designs” have been so well received at the school that both staff and students love them. Previous funds were also used to purchase Jambo Jipya school bags for the students. Christine Mwende, the founder of Jambo Jipya, is keen for us to use the funds raised to purchase more polo shirts, but the problem remains as to “how” to transport them since transportation costs and taxes can prove to be somewhat prohibitive. So, if anyone has any contacts or ideas then we’d be delighted to hear from them!
Keela Dates, a former American volunteer at the project, has been inspirational in setting up a foundation and website offering details and news on Jambo Jipya. The website – www.reason2smile.org – provides a wonderful insight into the school and clearly outlines the mission of the Jambo Jipya project to help support orphaned and at risk children. The Foundation has recently been successful in buying 23 acres of land for a new school. We have also heard recently that the school has obtained official school status.
We recently received an email Keela updating us on the Foundation’s progress and in which she says,
“Christine, the children and I are SO appreciative for all the funds you’ve raised in order to donate the shirts and school bags. They certainly get wonderful use out of them! We use the shirts for special occasions – last Christmas during our trips to Jamboree and Mariakani, trips to take me to the airport, our recent visit to the land, church etc.
The school bags are used daily and they are SO handy! All the boarders have them and many of the day students do as well. Really, I can’t think of a donation that has been put to more use on a daily basis. We are all so grateful!”
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Country profile by the BBC of Kenya