The year saw us go through a full cycle in many different ways.
Several of the very first students that we sponsored back in 2011, who completed their four years at secondary school, have now completed a further four years at university. So the end of the year brought photos of students attending their university graduations. Its been fantastic to see them celebrate the rewards of their efforts and a special mention must go to Getrude (the second child that we sponsored) who gained a First-Class degree in Public Policy.
We’ve sent our congratulations and best wishes to all the students who’ve graduated and wait with interest to find out what they do next.
Results in numbers
Since we began, scholarships have been provided to 195 children, enabling them to attend secondary school. And as we complete new scholarships for the 2020 school year, it looks like this increase to over 230 children.
It means that we’ve provided 639 years of schooling, to children from 14 different tribes, in over 180 different schools across more than half the country. Many of the children are orphans or are being raised by single parents and often live difficult and complicated lives. Some are also prime carers for parents or their siblings meaning that not all of the students we sponsor will go on to university or college.
At the end of 2019, thirty-seven of our sponsored students sat their Year Four KCSE final exams, with sixteen achieving the C+ grade or better, which will secure them an offer of a university place.
Since we began, 117 students have completed their schooling, achieving the following results in their KCSE exams …
The blocks show the RRBF students, with 59 achieving grades of C+ and above (50%), giving them direct entry to university. The blue line shows the pattern nationally this year, with just 18% achieving C+ and above. You can see from the apex of the blue line, that the highest proportion of students nationally achieve a D-. We are delighted that our students show a significantly higher average achievement level with our support.
Whilst we do not cherry-pick the highest achieving students at primary school, we do ask that the children we sponsor have at least a score of 250 out of 500, to make sure we give opportunities to those most likely to be able to make the most of them. In reality nearly all have achieved over 300.
There are 89 students that we have supported who left school before 2019. Of these, 5 graduated in 2019, bringing the total to 12 who have graduated from university or college.
You can see where they are now from this chart. 49 students are currently studying at university or college; one is undertaking an apprenticeship and 8 others are in regular work. 85% of those sponsored are in work or doing further study.
Student support – celebrating success
School reports were obtained for all sponsored children and additional support was offered to a small number who required remedial help. Certificates were given to ten children who achieved ‘A’ grades during the year. These were invited to attend a maths camp run by the African Maths Initiative in Kitale in the August school holidays, along with two sponsored students who are now teaching.
And we now have a Red Rubber Ball Family What’s App group for all those sponsored students who have left school (i.e. that are over 18 years of age). This provides an opportunity for students to share messages, including news of progress and graduations, further scholarships available locally and work opportunities.
This also allows us to stay in touch with sponsored students who are further afield. Both Alex and Cheboi are studying in the USA, having secured local scholarships through their own efforts. Cheboi is already winning for his university in cross-country.
They have fully embraced our mantra – Anything is possible … if you put your mind to it.
Field Centre Farm
During 2019 we invested in an extension to the borehole following a period of drought. We also connected the site to the electricity supply.
The farm continues to provide maize to the local Ebubala Primary School and now to Eshishibu Primary School, but is still not self-sufficient, which has always been our long-term goal. This shows how difficult it is for local families to survive on the small plots of land they farm, and we continue to explore ways to find a more sustainable model. This includes working with the UN Farmer Field programme who will provide technical support locally this year.
The monthly reporting has been enhanced with a record maintained of all produce grown, consumed, sold and in stock. It means we can now compare production and income with levels achieved in other programmes.
The income comes from milk (some of which is consumed on site and the remainder sold locally) and fruit and vegetables, including bananas, pawpaw, avocado, cassava, kale, and maize. We even sold some bricks, made from the heavy clay soil.
And the end of the year saw 36 Class Six children from nearby Ebubala Primary School, take over part of the land, which they cleared, dug into small plots and planted a variety of seeds. The children then visited to water their plants and now back at school will write about their experience.
It’s another way that we’re able to support local schools to give the children a fuller and more varied education.
The cycling club
Around 50 boys and girls attended sessions in 2019 with 15-20 taking part on any day. The Head teacher reports improved attendance – children who were previously often absent, now attend school more regularly as they must attend school if they wish to be part of the cycling club. Most weekends a group of children take part in a ride around Nairobi, often with other groups of cyclists.
The club is helping children in the very poor slums of Nairobi, who are otherwise very susceptible to temptations of drugs, glue sniffing, alcohol, gang crime and violence, and even prostitution. We’ll be interested to see if there’s any difference in the exams results of those in the club and those previously predicted by teachers.
In October volunteers from the UK were able to take out a further 10 second-hand bikes. These are being held in storage to allow us to open further cycling clubs in other schools in 2020.
We also held a showcase supper at the cycling club with parents invited. The children from the club demonstrated the cycling skills learned (including building a bike from component parts). Those parents attending confirmed their support and emphasised the value of learning such vocational skills.
More cycling clubs
The UK group went on to spend a week cycling around the base of Mount Kenya, riding 300km over five days, often gaining over 1,000m of height during a day. The route took us over a mix of tarmac and rough tracks and through a variety of countryside from dense forest to dry, open savanna. It was a memorable week and through the efforts of those riding, has raised funds to open more clubs.
Through the support of Airbus UK we now have a shipping container in Portsmouth, being filled with bikes, spares, tools and equipment, and clothing.
These will be sent out in 2020 and we’ll provide a package of kit and training so more Kenyan schools can provide cycling as an out of school activity.
The mentoring programme continues involving ten students and ten mentors. The students comprise four who have been sponsored by us through secondary school and six others from the Kibera slums. They have finished school, but not achieved the C+ grade which would have got them a university or college place. The backgrounds of these students make it very difficult to find permanent work in Kenya that pays a meaningful wage. They simply don’t have the personal contacts or life experience required.
The mentoring programme matches them with business owners and managers in Nairobi who meet with them to develop their personal skills and confidence and help them identify opportunities. It’s given them the chance to find work experience, apply for jobs and practice for interviews.
Our aim is to provide a mentor to all sponsored students who don’t go on to university or college.
Elsewhere, links continue between two UK primary schools and schools in Kenya, enabling the children in each to learn about the life of children in the other country and develop pen-friends overseas.
Letters from the pupils at UK schools were taken out to Kenya for their counterparts together with photos and video of the schools. These were shared, and letters, photos and video footage brought back to be shared in classroom and assembly talks.
So that’s it.
2020 promises to be another year full of activity. As more sponsored students graduate, we expect leaders to emerge as they continue their studies or enter the world of work.
Thank you again for all your support over this year. Since we began, we’ve raised almost £420,000 from your donations and we continue to put every penny donated towards these projects. Our evidence from those who have got meaningful work, is that they support 8-10 others in their extended family. Many are now supporting other children in school. I think we’re making good use of your money.
Thank you and very best wishes,