My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Kenya Connect Inc, Elkridge, MD, USA
With 80% of Kenyans living without electricity, most daily activities end with the setting sun. Living in darkness, not by choice, has a dramatic impact on the educational success of children in these rural areas. The simple luxury of reading or studying after dark is not a possibility, so how will these children compete in the 21st century? This is where my giving story comes in and involves Kenya Connect, a wonderful and selfless non-profit organization. My giving this year has resulted in increased access to solar lights for students in rural Kenya.
Public education became a reality in Kenya in 2003, however serious differences exist between urban and rural schools. Most rural schools are unable to provide technological and other resources that rely on electricity, and the students themselves lack electricity at home, which prohibits them from studying and reading at night. On a typical school day, the rural Kenyan children arrive home around 6:00 or later. They are expected to help with dinner and perform their required chores, after which the sun has long set. If their family can afford it, some children study with a primitive kerosene lamp (a can cut in half, filled with kerosene and lit with an open flame). In addition to the crippling expense associated with the home made 'kerosene lamps,' comes a health risk from the emission of caustic fumes and a fire hazard from the open flame. Clearly, this is not a level playing field for these students living in rural Kenya.
The mission of Kenya Connect is to engage and empower students and teachers in rural Kenya to succeed in the 21st Century. They use a holistic approach that includes various health initiatives, such as de-worming, clean drinking water and personal hygiene as well as technology and other educational initiatives. In 2012, Kenya Connect opened its Learning resource Center (LRC) in Wamunyu, Kenya, which provides local students with access to 30+ computers, the internet, a lending library and multiple STEM and technology classes. Access to the LRC and its resources is free to any of the 17,000+ rural students in our 55 partner public schools in Machakos County. It has become a beacon of hope to this remote community, and the students have thrived with their newly acquired skills. Kenya Connect is in the process of purchasing a bus so the distant students will have access to the center.
#MyGivingStory involves the newest effort by Kenya Connect, which is their solar light program. The program was born after a chance meeting with Greenlight planet and a demonstration of their SunKing solar lights. Their simplicity, durability, and affordability seemed to be designed specifically for families in rural Kenya. In talking with James Musyoka (field director of Kenya Connect) about the potential impact these lights could have on the students, my husband and I made our giving decision to help Kenya Connect establish the solar light program. The root of the program is providing affordable access to solar lights, which will enable rural students to develop good reading and studying habits. This is just one small step in leveling the playing field for rural Kenyan students.