Travel with a purpose

As I reflect on my time in Africa I keep coming to a common denominator. Education. Everyone I met that had overcome poverty, advanced their own station in life and improved the life of their families has education to thank. Kokusima Lucresia started a school for girls nearly two decades ago. This was an ambitious undertaking for anyone, especially a young woman with limited resources in a culture where many did not see the value of educating girls. She was intending to have a school for girls only as education was the way out of early marriage and, as we know in the developed world, the easiest way to improve the standard of living is to improve the lives of women and girls.

The school became coed as male siblings started showing up with their sisters. This school now serves 200 children. A building with no electricity, a small tap in the courtyard for water and incredibly dedicated teachers. When not present Lucresia’s sister Marietta runs the school. This school is full of bright, polite, enthusiastic and proud children. We got to be present for a graduation ceremony, and got a personal tour of the school after being welcomed by the students.

A second plot of land was acquired and a foundation for increasing the grade levels in a second building was started. For about 30,000 USD the school building can be built. Less than the cost of an average new car can build an entire school in East Africa.

The amount of dedication from Lucresia’s family and the teachers is amazing. When parents circumstances change and they cannot afford tuition, the teachers, Lucresia and her family often end up sponsoring these children. There is no profit here, the sense of community is overwhelming. Two men who have been instrumental in the success of the school and purchase of the second plot of land for the second building were originally dead set against their daughters going to school. Lucresia managed to convince them it was the right thing to do for their girls. We met their daughters and the pride that these men exuded at their intelligent, polite, successful daughters was palpable. I did not record all of the dialogue from our tour of the school, but this is worth a listen. We were fortunate to be able to replace the gate at the school to keep the kids safe while we were on site. But there is much to do. Solar would be an ideal way to ensure the school has electricity as rolling power cuts are still a daily problem.

Gutters for rain collection would greatly increase the amount of water available for washing, and toilet flushing, as water isn’t always able from the tap. These things are relatively inexpensive in US dollar amounts, but the impacts are profound. I look to the future and it looks bright. I see work like this to provide education and opportunities for children and families to better their lives and help their communities and want to support that work. We have work to do, and we are working on ways to make that impact as far reaching and effective.