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Terry U.

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Review for Kenya Connect Inc, Elkridge, MD, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Kenya Connect is a Kenya-based NGO, with excellent Kenyan staff working in Wamunyu (in eastern Kenya) to help improve the educational level of now over 17,000 students in some 45 primary and secondary schools. They are supported financially and with expert guidance by volunteers and a Board of Kenya Connect (a USA registered charity) head-quartered in the USA.

The head person in Kenya is James Musyoka, who co-founded the Kenya operation approximately in 2005.

I have personally known both James (and his Kenya staff) and Sharon Runge (Executive Director of the USA Kenya Connect organization) since 2015. I am a Rotarian who has been working in the Ndandini/Kyaithani area of eastern Kenya since 2007. This project work has involved implementing water/well, educational/scholarship, and solar light rent-to-own programs.

In 2015 Kenya Connect and our Rotary Projects partnered to informally work together as our two geographical areas are within about 1 hour of each other and the community needs are very similar. The benefits of this partnership have been beyond my wildest early expectations.

Kenya Connect provided invaluable technical and teacher training assistance to our Rotary Global Grant project which resulted in the installation of two major computer labs at out two secondary schools in the Ndandini/Kyaithani area. As part of their service to the area to improve education for children, they donated their services without compensation.

When our Rotary Global Grant project then moved to provide 1400 solar lights to the students in our 7 schools under a "rent-to-own" program, Kenya Connect decided to also implement a similar program for their schools. After discussion, we agreed to merge the two rent-to-own programs under Kenya Connect's administration. This self-sustaining rent-to-own program now has provided over 8,000 solar lights to students in the Wamunyu and Kyaithani Cluster of schools!

Recognizing the excellent track record that Kenya Connect has with providing teacher training and student reading programs to the now over 50 schools in both the Wamunyu and Kyaithani Cluster of schools, our Rotary Global Grant project provided funding to (1) train all primary school teachers in the Wamunyu and Kyaithani Cluster of schools in how to make productive use of the computer tablets and projectors which the government of Kenya provided to the schools (but with out any teacher training), and (2) to provide further training in 21st century teaching skills to the primary school teachers. Kenya Connect did an excellent job of this, working within budget, and receiving outstanding reviews from the teachers and most importantly from the administrators and headmasters of the schools.

Just this year, we were successful in starting another Rotary Global Grant project in which Kenya Connect has partnered significantly. This project, valued at over USD$100,000 , is intended to improve the training ability of secondary school teachers in 4 secondary schools (2 in the Kyaithani cluster and 2 in the Wamunyu cluster). Specifically, 7 professional teachers from British Columbia traveled to Kenya in April 2019 to spend 2 weeks working with 11 Kenyan educational people, and in November 2019 these 11 Kenyans will be visiting the schools of the 7 BC teachers to see first hand the methods and techniques taught during the Kenya visit. James and Sharon were a key part of the planning team and during the visit provided excellent project leadership and administration skills. The vocational training team visit would not have been anywhere as successful without the partnership with the Kenya Connect team!

As I have worked with Kenya Connect, I have learned much more about the partnerships that Kenya Connect has with other humanitarian organizations. Every one of these, whether bringing specific programs to the party or providing just financial support, has resulted in fantastic benefits to the schools. I can recommend Kenya Connect as trustworthy and a reliable organization for any donation or partnership!

We have sent many people to Kenya to visit our projects and who now also spend time visiting with Kenya Connect. Everyone comes back totally impressed with what they see and committed to future support. My neighbour went to volunteer for one month with Kenya Connect (to help implement Kenya Connect's book lending project) and ended up staying for three months because he was so impressed with the work that Kenya Connect is doing and the results that he saw.

Check out the Kenya Connect Facebook pages, which are updated almost every day, to see some of the fantastic results of their programs and the daily work of their staff and volunteers.

Terry Umbach
Rotary Project Manager
Sechelt, BC Canada

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field