CanAssist working to improve the Hope for Youth School.

CanAssist trustee, Nancy Grew, is visiting project sites in Uganda this week and today sent this photo of the new school classroom (first of four) that is under construction at the Hope for Youth School near Mukono. This wonderful school has been one that CanAssist has helped over the years in many ways but, as you can see from the photo on the lower right, the classrooms were becoming dilapidated and beyond use. The new permanent classrooms will be an amazing improvement for the school and provide a secure and sustainable school for the community.

H4Y 2018

The first of four permanent classrooms at Hope for Youth School that will replace the old wooden structure that has served the school for several years but is now beyond repair. Photos taken on February 28, 2018 by Nancy Grew, CanAssist trustee.

I have a particular fondness for this school, having visited them several time in the past ten years. I have watched many of their students grow from children into young adults. I was delighted in 2016 to take a group of CanAssist supporters, including my granddaughter, to the school and visited them in early 2017 as well.

Maddy Edward and Christopher

In early 2016 I was happy to introduce my granddaughter to Christopher, Edward and other students at the Hope for Youth School.

One of the unique things about CanAssist as a charitable organization is that we don’t just send money. We establish friendships and visit the project schools and communities. This not only helps to assure donors that their monies are being spent as intended but it shows that we are interested in their wellbeing with a personal connection. My life has certainly been enriched beyond anything I can express by the person to person links I have been privileged to make over the years as I have visited many communities in East Africa. I do feel like I am at home with friends when I go there. I am sure that Nancy will come back to Canada with the same intense satisfaction that the time and effort that we have put into CanAssist work is well worth it both for the communities we serve but also for our own personal growth.

Nancy and Edward 0218

Edward sends a greeting to me today through Nancy who is visiting the H4Y school – Feb 28, 2018

Below is a video of the students doing a traditional dance for my entertainment when I visited them in 2013. The main boy in the dance is Edward who, along it’s his brother, Christopher, I have watched grow from young lads into young men. I was touched today when Nancy sent a photo of Edward who made a point of coming to greet her to send a special hello and remembrance to me.

The school will be greatly benefitted by this 2018 initiative and CanAssist is grateful for the generous donation from David Kay to kick-start this project.  Additional classrooms will be added over the next many months. The cost of adding a classroom like the one in the photo above is about $10,000 to $12,000 dollars – a bargain when compared wo what it would cost to do the same in Canada.   In addition to providing the permanent structure for the school, the construction and materials acquired locally give employment opportunities to local craftsmen.

Donations to CanAssist through the Canada Helps link on the CanAssist web page or by clicking HERE can be allocated to this project to keep it moving ahead.

The Jim Owen Computer Classroom in Kenya

It is an absolute delight to report that the Jim Owen Computer Classroom at the St Gorety Secondary School in Nyatike District of Kenya is built.

DSCN2576 Friends and family of Jim Owen, who passed away early in November, wanted to remember him with something lasting. Jim was always interested in computers and things electronic. He could spend hours just wandering the aisles of the Canada Computers store and if you had a problem with your laptop or anything else electronic he was happy to spend hours tinkering to get it fixed.

It was appropriate that a memorial to Jim be directed toward a planned computer classroom that the CanAssist African Relief Trust was about to fund. Donations flooded in – he was well-loved – and I am happy to report that the building has been constructed and four complete computers purchased and installed.


The school is delighted. Students realize that they are in a much better place to acquire post secondary employment if they have some computer familiarity. In rural areas like Nyatike this is to easy to achieve. Most of the students at the school may not have electricity at their homes let alone a computer.

CanAssist is happy to report this progress and thank all who donated to this memorial. The school has mounted a plaque with Jim’s photo on it in the classroom.

Asante sana.



Everyone is a winner…

I am always happy to be part of a win-win situation. Last year I enjoyed one that was win-win-win. If I think about it I could add more win’s but you get the point, I am sure.

The St Gorety School is a secondary school in a small village called Mikei, Kenya. It is pretty rurual, about 20 km inland from Lake Victoria and in Nyanza Province, one of the least advantaged districts of Kenya.

Through CanAssist, and with my Canadian friends, Virginia and Suzanne I met Edward Kabaka a couple of years ago. Edward is a founder of a local support group called Rieko Kenya. Well, to make a rather long story shorter, Edward brought the needs of St Gorety School to our attention. Basically the school, serving secondary students from the surrounding region, was overcrowded and needed more classroom space.

St G classroom 2013So in 2012, CanAssist agreed to construct one classroom and complete another which had been partially built with Kenyan government funds which dried up before the roof could be put on the building.

Virginia and Suzanne, secondary school teachers themselves in Kingston, promoted this project to some of their students who responded with fundraising to help with this building.

At the same time, the Queen’s Health Outreach group, university students whose mandate is to promote Health education to students and youth in various parts of the developing world, were looking for a new district in Kenya to work. I have been an ad hoc mentor to this group for the past several years and it seemed natural to put them in touch with Edward and the St. Gorety School.

QHO students visited several schools and community groups in the Nyatike region in 2012.

QHO students visited several schools and community groups in the Nyatike region in 2012.

Last year the QHO group spent several weeks in the Mikei/Nyatike community, living in a house overlooking the rolling Kenyan hills and interacting with schools and women’s groups in the region to educate and promote healthy living practices. Another group of six QHO students are excited to be returning to the community in May/June this year.

When I visited the St Gorety School and other groups in the region in February, they all lit up with smiles at the mention of the QHO students and were ecstatic to hear that there would be a group returning this year.

So where do all the “win’s” come in?

  • CanAssist has been delighted to be able to provide infrastructure support to the school (and three other community groups as well…more about those in later posts).
  • The QHO group has found a welcoming community where they are able to do their outreach work to promote education about health to young Africans.
  • The community which was actually quite neglected and off the beaten track for development has been excited to welcome visitors from Canada who are eager to help them improve their living circumstances. Kenyans love visitors.
  • Edward Kabaka has found support for his dream of improving well-being in the community.
  • Some of the students at KCVI and LCVI in Kingston have established pen-pal relationships with students in Kenya and have the satisfaction of having been able to help their peers in Africa.

And I sit back and smile. It’s all so good.

Treat yourself to the joyous music from the St. Gorety school choir in the Youtube video below.

Now look what you have done!

On July 1, I issued an appeal/challenge on behalf of the CanAssist African Relief Trust to raise money to build two classrooms at the Hope School in Mbita, Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The Vancouver-based Sasamat Foundation had offered $10,000 and up to another $5000 to match 2:1 donations that were received from CanAssist supporters to build the school.

This is the schoolyard of Hope School in mid August 2012. The site of proposed CanAssist classrooms.

By the end of July we had reached our goal and in late August the money to start construction was sent to the Hope School.

The CanAssist Hope School Classrooms are coming along in leaps and bounds. I could not believe my eyes when I received photos today of the construction under way. The barren piece of ground in the schoolyard is quickly being converted into a learning setting for the children of this community who have previously been taught in a rudimentary building or under a tree. Most of the children in this neighbourhood are disadvantaged and some have simply not been able to attend school even up to age 9 or 10.

The CanAssist Hope School Classrooms are coming along in leaps and bounds.

This project will transform the community for these kids. And as I have mentioned previously, this not only provides the classrooms for the children, it gives some employment to local workmen who struggle to find employment.

Thanks to everyone who rose to the challenge. I hope you are gratified with the way that your gift to these children is working so quickly. I look forward to visiting this school in early February and participating in a Grand Opening celebration.

Read earlier blog posts about this project here:
A Canada Day Challenge
Canada Day Challenge Met.

My thanks, as well, to Kennedy Onyango for the photos and for the ongoing responsible supervision of this project.

Canada Day challenge met!

A huge THANK YOU is in order for everyone who responded to the Canada Day Challenge I wrote about in this blog on July 1. Through your generous donations and a bonus from the Sasamat Foundation in British Columbia, CanAssist has secured the money to build the two needed classrooms at Hope School in Mbita Kenya. Everyone is delighted. I will be sure to provide updates as the school classrooms rise from the dust.

Kennedy Onyango is our contact and the founder of the Hope School. I first encountered him in July 2010. He exemplifies the typical story of relatively ordinary Africans (but motivated ones) who see a need in their community and they dedicate their personal resources and time to finding ways to improve the plight of the people who live around them.

In Kennedy’s case this was to help vulnerable young children in his region – kids who lived in poverty or were orphaned – get a start at being educated. He founded a “school” which is divided into two locations. One is in two crammed classrooms behind a bank in the town of Mbita and another on a larger property in the hills beyond the town. There are 160 kids who come to these makeshift classrooms.

In addition to giving them education, the school also provides a mid-day meal for the children. Sometimes this is the only food that they get for the day.

Kennedy Onango holds up a sign that marks the beginning of the CanAssist Oasis of Hope Garden for the Hope School at Mbita Kenya

Kennedy first asked CanAssist to help develop a small farm where they could raise vegetables and fruits to supplement the otherwise bland gruel diet provided to the kids. In early 2012, CanAssist gave the money to start this up and very soon Kennedy had created what he calls the “Oasis of Hope” on the rurual school property.

In mid July, I got this report from Kennedy. It surpassed my expectations for success in the early months of developing this garden. Kennedy writes:

This month in CanAssist funded ‘Oasis of Hope Garden’, we take a deeper look at this farm, which is celebrating its first harvest. In a single 3 month production cycle, 480 kilograms of sourghum, 120 kgs of beans have been harvested so far from a 2 acre ploughed open farm. The same 3-month production cycle is also projected to yield a 120 kilogram of maize (corn). This has clearly reinforced our earlier thought of making the garden both food granary and source of funds to support key school operations. It’s true, a good income can be realized from the selling of sourghum.
Why is this important? 140+ children at Hope School have never had an opportunity to drink nutritious porridge from the initially barren school farm yard. Rural peasant families of Mbita don’t have the money to take a chance on unproven technologies. Demonstration farms like the CanAssist funded ‘Oasis of Hope Garden’ give families a firsthand look at the income increases they can achieve with an investment in appropriate technologies for improved on-farm yields
You can see how CanAssist’s approach of working with poor, marginalized rural communities of East Africa transforms lives on our first ever bumper harvest in this school farm.
We remain appreciative for CanAssist supporters and with special thanks to Sasamat Foundation for having donated funds towards classrooms construction at Hope School, besides nutritious meals, the children will now get conducive learning environment!”

The first step in creating a garden was to fence the property to keep protect the garden from wandering neighbourhood goats. This dry corner is the same place where the banner picture of maize plants was taken three months later.

I hope that this enthusiastic endorsement of the work that we are doing through CanAssist makes our donors smile with satisfaction. With the support of Canadian donors, Kennedy and others in his community have been able to take a barren piece of land and turn it into a veritable Oasis of Hope for the children at Hope School and those who live around it. We are making a difference to individuals and communities in East Africa. Asante sana for your help in achieving this.

A Canada Day Challenge

Every year around July 1, I unfurl a big, red and white Canadian flag over my balcony with pride. I consider myself fortunate to live in a country where people value the notion of respect for one another.

Collectively, we respect our democratic government process, even if we don’t always agree with our politicians.

We respect and protect the rights all Canadians despite religious, cultural or ethnic differences. Diversity makes up the colourful fabric of our nation. On Canada Day, new citizens from around the globe are welcomed to Canada in ceremonies across the land. I remember attending one such occasion a few years ago when the family of one of my co-workers from Bosnia and Herzegovina officially became Canadian. At that ceremony, the Mayor of Kingston had been born in Scotland, the Governor General in China (both were women, by the way) and the Ontario MP was born in Holland. That tangible recognition of our varied backgrounds reminded me of what it is to be Canadian.

And we are generous to the rest of the world with our support – military, moral and financial.

This week I was reminded of this generosity when I received notice that the Sasamat Foundation in British Columbia will donate $10,000 to the CanAssist African Relief Trust to be put toward building two classrooms for the Hope School in Mbita, Kenya. This gift is being given with no strings other than the accountability of CanAssist and the recipient community to use the money for their school. It is independent of other obligations and given without cynicism or suspicion, cultural or religious bias, but with trust that the community in Africa will utilize it to benefit their children. I think this is a very “Canadian” gesture.

In addition to their generous $10,000 donation, the Sasamat Foundation has presented CanAssist with a challenge. They will donate another $5000 to the school, matching donations that CanAssist receives 2:1. But this has to happen within the month of July.

Are you be willing to support this initiative with a donation of $50 to CanAssist and the Hope School? You can make a secure, tax-receiptable donation online now with a credit card by following the Canada Helps link below. You can even select a small monthly donation option through the Canada Helps link. Indicate that your gift is to bolster the Hope School Fund.

Donate Now Through!Faire un don maintenant par!

CanAssist is always happy to receive a donation by mail.
CanAssist African Relief Trust, 562 Sycamore Street, Kingston, Ontario. K7M7L8

Happy Canada Day!

Check out out the CanAssist web page about Hope School at

Donate Now Through!Faire un don maintenant par!