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.