A SCHOOL in Kenya, built using money from Guernsey, has been officially opened.
Uaso Nyiro Primary School in the Laikipia East district of Kenya, was jointly funded by the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission and the Zeitz Foundation, with Guernsey-based charity, the Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust, facilitating the project and acting as financial administrator.
Liz Rihoy, who works for Zeitz Foundation and her brother Gavin, managing director of Rihoy & Son, together with their brother Jeremy and mother Jane, set up the Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust in memory of their father John. Dr Rihoy and Gavin attended the opening ceremony on behalf of the organisations involved and the people of Guernsey.
‘We have been sent regular updates on the progress of the school but it was fantastic to see it finished and to meet some of the teachers and students and learn just how much this one building will change the lives of so many people,’ said Mr Rihoy.
‘It was an honour and a privilege for me to be there on behalf of the Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust and the people of Guernsey. The extraordinary levels of gratitude sent from the community was more than I could have imagined.’
The school, which will educate 700 children, includes four classrooms, teachers’ rooms, vegetable gardens, a courtyard theatre, workshop and community space, which will be used for health projects and other local initiatives that strengthen the school and local community.
The school, which is an area with just 600mm of rainfall a year, has also been designed to ease water shortages by using an innovative system to collect, store and filter rainwater. The unique Waterbank design by American non-profit company PITCHAfrica will see the school’s 600sq.m. roof catchment area collecting more than 350,000 litres of water each year. Each of the students will be giving five litres of water a day with the aim of reducing illness and malnutrition and in turn lead to fewer school absences, improve study results and reduce youth unemployment.
Greater gender equality will also be achieved as the girls who typically spend hours collecting water will be able to attend school instead. All of the children will learn about economically and environmentally sustainable rainwater harvesting, water filtration, sanitation and agricultural practices while at school.
‘As the school is the first of its kind, comprehensive monitoring and evaluation will be essential, not only to identify ways in which this school can improve but also as a blueprint for future schools based on a similar design of combining education with a way of easing water shortages,’ said Dr Rihoy.
‘The Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust has agreed to cover the cost of a monitoring and evaluation programme and so the links between the Usao Nyiro Primary School and Guernsey will continue even though the building has been completed.’
Mike O’Hara, chairman of the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission said it had worked with the Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust previously.
‘The Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust has facilitated some life-changing projects and always acts in a highly professional manner. Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission has been delighted to work with them on projects in South Africa, Kenya and Malawi and we are currently considering a further application from them for Endana Secondary School in Kenya,’ said Deputy O’Hara.
‘The Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission’s policy is to provide assistance to specific, clearly defined projects in areas of greatest need and prioritises projects which focus on the provision of basic human needs in reducing human vulnerability with a general emphasis on rural development. By working with reputable organisations such as the Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust and the Zetiz Foundation, the commission is confident that money given by the people of Guernsey will make an enormous difference to thousands of lives in developing countries.’
The Zeitz Foundation is encouraging islanders to provide an educational bursary for students in their last year of education at Usao Nyiro Primary School to enable them to go on to secondary education. The recipients, who are chosen by a panel, are offered a place in a boarding school to enable them to maximise the time they have to study. The cost of a bursary is US$515 a year and sponsors will be sent regular updates and letters from the student.
More information on the Zetiz Foundation, including the bursary, can be found at www.zetizfoundation.org and details of other projects supported by the Ellen Jane Rihoy Trust can be found at www.jwrihoy.com in the community support section.