Christopher Lowman via Crowdrise
February 13, 2014
BENEFITING: Weidemann Foundation
The project in 140 characters: A primary school that will provide low cost, values-based education to slum children, with a plan for full sustainability.
Kituii Ndogo is a harsh, neglected slum close to the city centre of Nairobi, Kenya that houses approximately 50,000 residents. Average daily income hovers around $1 USD, so most live in abject poverty, and the slum itself is beset by complex challenges, such as government demolitions, hazardous sanitation problems, and crime.
It is estimated there are 2,000 children living in Kituii not attending school due to their poverty level. As such, kids sit around all day while their parents are out earning money--sometimes they are out earning money themselves (at ages as young as 10), leaving them vulnerable to negative influences from the environment.
Basic education is one of the primary keys to breaking the cycle of poverty, especially when it comes to imparting the values and moral sensibility not to choose lives of crime, substance abuse, and prostitution--lives fairly common in this community.
So, along with the community's leadership, we thought, why not take the solution into our hands and help build a school of transformation and hope, and add a small drop in the bucket of world goodness?
Not Just A School, A Radical Experiment
The Malezi (trans. 'care for/nurture') School will not just be a place where children learn how to read and write, it will also be a space for character transformation. In addition to the standard curriculum, our students will receive values-based life skills training to give them the moral sensibility to avoid lives of crime, and to inspire them to be responsible members of the community who work toward community solutions.
If our experiment is successful, this would send a universal message about how care, love, and values can transform even the most hopeless of circumstances and also be an argument for a new approach to education, that has service--selflessness--at the core.
Read here about another project we did in the same slum that solved an open sewer problem, which improved the lives of an estimated 6,000 slum dwellers. The overwhelming success of this project cemented our relationship with the community and paved the way for Malezi.
Read here about how this sanitation project reformed members of a criminal gang who were being targeted by police and the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab (the same group who performed the terrorist attack at the Westgate mall). The youths were inspired by the service spirit of the project and decided to leave crime and are now serving their community and getting paid for it. They will be role models for the children of the school.
Our Sustainability Plan
An important aspect of the school is the plan for 100% sustainability, after the initial investment.
1) Our budget includes a purchase of a 10,000 litre water tank to enable the school to sell clean water to the surrounding residents. We project profits nearing $360/month, and when combined with school fees, overhead for the school will be covered.
2) Malezi will be an owned property, no rent payment will be due to a landlord. That's huge, and also unheard of for community-run schools like this.
3) We will insist on a token school fee for each parent to commit to, going no lower than 100 Kenyan Shillings/month ($1.20), which will force the issue of parental involvement. You often find parents who don't value their child's education, as they have not gone through an educational process themselves.
Further Reading/Articles of Interest
"Realhabilitation" - how members of a criminal gang who worked on our sanitation project in the same slum have left crime and are now looking for ways to serve their community.
"They Don't Care" - about the importance of community involvement and investment in the education process, how that can support the inner development of children, as well as the community itself.
"Faces of Malezi" - real story of how a family from the slum will benefit from the school.
"Faces of Malezi Pt. 2" - another story depicting what happens to children living in poverty who don’t go to school. Often they end up on the street, trying to earn money even at less than 10 years of age.
See some photos from inside the Kituii Ndogo slum here.