Kenya is a country of significant ethnic and geographic diversity. Home to 41 million people, the population consists of more than 40 tribes and numerous ethnic groups. The population of Kenya is remarkably young, with 75% of the population under the age of 30. Kenya’s population has tripled over the last 30 years, a trend that will continue given the high fertility rate (4.49 children per woman).
Despite large gains in the health sector, Kenya still has much to overcome: life expectancy has declined since 1990 and is currently at 55 years; infant mortality rate is 44 deaths per 1,000; and preventable diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition are said to claim a child every four minutes. Female genital mutilation was outlawed in 2011, though continues to factor into the high rate of maternal mortality during childbirth.
Primary education was made free for all children in 2003, which led to an enrollment increases of about 70%. However, many children are still unable to attend school due to a lack of transport/access and other related economic factors, such as the cost of school necessities (books and school uniforms.) About 15% of Kenya’s population is still illiterate at a ratio of 2:1 women to men.
Oolowang Campus Expansion & Improvements
The valley community of Oloowang is home to two of The Kilgoris Project’s ten schools: Oloowang Preschool (opened in 2006) and Oloowang Primary School (opened in 2017). Five teachers shepherd students ranging from two-year-olds to second graders. For more than a decade, the preschool prepared students for success in primary school while providing two daily meals, clean water, and medical care.
We are honored to continue our partnership with The Kilgoris Project. At present, the Oloowang campus has a good block of four classrooms, but The Kilgoris Project is building campus infrastructure to support the school’s expansion, which will enable the campus to teach up through 3rd grade. This will require additional classrooms, an upgraded kitchen, rainwater collection systems, and permanent latrines and hand washing stations. Three additional classrooms will house the growing number of students and, once new classrooms are built, one of the existing classrooms can serve as a school office, giving the teachers a much-needed work, meeting, and storage space.
The addition of grades 1-3 between 2017 and 2019 will allow students to continue to learn and thrive until they are older and better able to walk the distance to the nearest government school. We hope that updating and expanding the campus will draw community into the school in a new way. Even parents who care little about education see the value in their children getting two meals a day, and the expanded kitchen will allow The Kilgoris Project to serve larger, more nutritious meals to their students. New classrooms will also incentivize parents to bring and keep their young children in school.
Shule Endelevu (Sustainable Schools) Farm
The Kilgoris Project (TKP) is undertaking an innovative project to ensure their organization’s stability and continue providing education to 1,000 children in south-west Kenya.
Given the increasing market demand for wood products, and the devastating impact of deforestation in Kenya, the Kilgoris Project is expanding their 7.5 acre farm to generate in-country income that will guarantee long-term sustainability. Their model involves an 8-year planting planting cycle that produces an annual harvest of certified E. grandis (eucalyptus) trees. By raising and selling this hardy, drought-tolerant tree and renting out their tractor, the Kilgoris Project will be able to cover annual expenses associated with their schools
2018 EAST AFRICAN GIRLS' LEADERSHIP SUMMIT & Social Action Mini-Grants
Following the growing success of the East African Girls Leadership Summit (EAGLS) 2015, 2016, and 2017, we are continuing our work with The Creative Action Institute (formerly ArtCorps) to bring 50 low-income, high-potential girls from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda together for a week of leadership training.
EAGLS continues to evolve to meet both the increased demand and emerging needs of the people it serves. EAGLS is for girls, about girls, and driven by girls to develop their critical leadership skills and enable them to be active change-makers in their schools, communities, and beyond. The accompanying Mentor Program, which will serve 25 women this year, builds a diverse network of young women leaders who advocate for girls’ and women’s rights and coordinate across borders to advance gender equality. EAGLS participants take the skills they have learned back to their communities and take part in creative social actions, which are aided by the mini-grants, thereby deepening the impact of the summit.
Girls' Health and Dignity
Underprivileged girls in Kenya miss up to 56 days of schools per year due to their menstrual cycles (UNICEF 2005) as they do not have access to necessary undergarments and sanitary napkins. In addition to missing important days of classroom instruction and potentially dropping out of school because they fall behind in their studies, their health, confidence and dignity is compromised every month.
PaperSeed is working with business partners and local organizations to keep girls in school. With the generous below-market price of sanitary napkins from Mega Soft, free shipping from Fr. Meyer’s Sohn and customs assistance from East Africa Packaging Industries, we are able to keep project costs low. Local community-based organizations ZanaAfrica, PolyCom, Generation Guiders, and The Kilgoris Project ensure that the distribution of sanitary napkins and reproductive health/life skills education reaches high-risk girls of the informal settlement (slum) of Kibera in Nairobi and Kilgoris, Kenya.
We are very excited for the opportunity to continue this initiative with the support of our partners in 2017.