2018 saw calm return to Kenya as the President and Opposition leader agreed a truce and we could once again focus on our projects.
The cycling club was able to recover from the theft of all bikes following violence after the elections at the end of 2017, with some bikes being donated locally, and others bought both from funds raised in Kenya and money donated in the UK. It meant the club was up and running again quickly and lessons and rides resumed. In fact, the support from the local community showed just how much they value the project.
The club grew throughout the year. We purchased tools and equipment to extend the maintenance lessons being given, and we continued to receive second hand clothing and donated bikes.
In December we were able to take out 8 bikes and much of the kit. This is kept at the club and used by the children each time they ride out. Many reported that they have learned to share – as they have so little otherwise, they have not been used to this.
We were also able to carry out our first bike handling assessments, with 15 students achieving their level one cycling proficiency certificates.
We were also able to build a ‘smoothie bike’ – a regular bike fitted with a smoothie blender over the back wheel. The children provided the pedal power to drive the blender, making their own banana and water melon smoothie.
It has also provided a way for the club to generate funds when taking the smoothie bike to local events.
The club has also raised funds locally from hiring out bikes and helmets to other groups, and we are looking at a model for opening a second club.
And in 2019 we’re taking a group of cycling enthusiasts to Kenya to ride there themselves. The trip will begin with a ‘prologue’ day riding with the children from our cycling club and continue on along roads and tracks in the region around Mount Kenya, including a night under canvas in the Ol Pejeta national park, riding with our friends from the Safari Simbaz among the wildlife.
Scholarships remain our biggest project and we have now supported 195 children since we began in 2011. That represents 632 years of schooling.
These children (98 girls and 97 boys) have attended 120 different schools all across Kenya and come from 14 different tribes.
105 children were in school in 2018 and most of them were able to join us in Nairobi for four nights in December. Supported by 19 volunteers from the UK, we were able to help the children explore their interests, hopes and ambitions, and prepare them with the attitudes and skills to make the most of their scholarships.
They took part in games, creative exercises, talks and discussions, including presentations from other sponsored students now at university and in work.
Around 18 of these former sponsored students were able to join the children for a final fun day of activities, including a visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary and watching a display of tribal dances at the Bomas of Kenya cultural centre.
In the evening they were able to celebrate their achievements with certificates and prizes, and hear from speakers including Kinjah, professional cyclist and partner in our cycling club.
During the year, we once again invited those students who had achieved an A grade in their end of term exams, to take part in a Maths camp run by the African Maths Initiative. This year’s camp took place at the Manor House Agriculture College and gave 17 of our students the chance to experience life after school, away at college. Many returned to school and shared lessons and exercises with their fellow students.
18 students completed their final KCSE exams at the end of the year, with at least six achieving grades which will secure them a place at university. We will seek to support many of the others in our next mentoring programme.
2019 sees 22 further students receiving scholarships, making 106 in school this year.
Mentoring continued throughout 2018, with 10 young people benefiting from the personal support of 10 mentors from businesses and organisations in Nairobi.
The programme was organised by Lammeck, one of our sponsored students now at university, who took part as a mentee in 2016 and is now developing his leadership skills.
Others who took part in the first programme continue to progress well, with Faith and Terrence in work + Effryne, Hillary, Snowrrene and Tonny continuing their studies.
Both Faith and Effryne were able to share their experiences, inspiring our sponsored students at our workshop.
And our farm near Butere in western Kenya, continues to provide maize to the local Ebubala Primary School and safe, clean water to villagers.
The farm plays a significant role in the local village life in other ways too – it is home to two orphan boys, a study area to local children, educates villagers about more effective farming techniques, and provides plants and seed to allow villagers to establish crops. We also employ a semi-permanent labourer who looks after the farm when the project manager needs extra help and when he visits his family, and the farm employs other occasional staff when needed.
With relatively poor clay soil, prolonged drought and low prices in the local markets, it continues to prove difficult for the farm to become self-sufficient. This shows how difficult it is for local families to survive on the small plots of land they farm.
Thank you again for all your support over this year. We continue to put every penny donated towards these projects and I think we’re making good use of your money.