One year ago the children of the remote Galana community in Kenya were enduring the most horrific of conditions in mud and timber structures and a ragged selection of dilapidated buildings. They suffered not only from an unacceptable learning environment but also from medical issues arising from the unhygienic conditions in which they gathered. In 2013 FFI in partnership with the Agricultural Development Corporation, the Galana Wildlife Conservancy, Kulalu Camp Ltd and local community groups renovated the primary school and added a further four classrooms. Whilst this development relieved pressure on the primary school the chronic issues faced by the infant classes remained. These issues were discussed with our partners and supporters, following the 2013 project, and a project plan was drawn up to address them in 2014. I am now delighted to say that this Kindergarten building project was a tremendous success and that Friends From Ireland volunteers and supporters reached all project goals and indeed even a little more.
A new building now stands on the school site with three classrooms and a staffroom. Each classroom has been fitted with furniture, made on site by volunteers and has been decorated to stimulate the minds of the tiny kids who will occupy them. There are approximately 70 children presently on the school infant roll but we provided space and furniture for 110 as we know from experience that parents are more willing to send their children to school when they know the conditions are safe and suitable. The building now also contains a small library which in addition to books includes a stock of sports equipment to encourage sport and plain old fashioned fun. Every block for this building was made on site by community volunteers and every piece of material down to the last nail was funded by our supporters. Although it falls to me to try to describe the impact this project has had on this community I fear that I cannot adequately portray the absolute joy shown by the children when they realised that it was theirs.
I must also pass on a message of great thanks that the community wished to be conveyed to all those who made this project possible. In an emotional farewell the head teacher in the Kindergarten put it best when she asked me why had so many people who she did not know want to help so many children that they did not know.
It would be great to say that we have achieved everything we set out to do and to some extent this is true. However we must also look to the future. Providing proper infant and primary facilities has led to another problem. What happens after the kids leave primary school? The answer was straight forward enough, the challenge would be huge, the logistics and funding would be a nightmare, the project plan and roll out would be stressful and hair loss inducing but there was one problem in realising the building of a Secondary School. That problem was land.
I am now delighted to say that following negotiations with the Kenyan Government, through the Agricultural Development Corporation, that FFI and its partners have secured for the Galana community, in writing, a substantial site for the building of a secondary school which will be handed over for free and registered with the relevant Kenyan educational authorities. We could not have imagined that such small steps to support this community in 2012 would have led to such high level support. It now falls to us to get motivated and perhaps by 2016 we will see Galana kids in their own Galana Secondary School, in their own community and with a chance to realise their true potential.
On behalf of all those who have had their lives changed and who will continue to benefit from these schools long into the future, I offer my deepest gratitude for your support and for your belief in what it is that we do. Please check out all the project photos on the FFI Facebook page and if you need any more information please contact us.
Galana Infant School
Volunteer Building Project