In Gavin’s essay titled “I Believe I Can,” Gavin describes going to a secondary boarding school and being judged by his peers for coming from the slums. With self awareness and courage, he reached out to his school counselor for help. He writes, “I now view myself as someone born to succeed from a gloomy past…I can be anyone in the society I believe I can.” At camp each year, students write essays about their lives connected to the camp theme. Students often share intimate, powerful parts of their lives. Gavin, John, Edmond, Tina, Tito, and Joyce invite you to read their full essays.
By Susan Plimpton
Michon Garrett, Director of FoNR Operations, and I traveled to Kenya this past May to spend 10 days with the staff of our Kenyan sister organization, the Ngong Road Children Association. Our primary purpose in going was to meet with the caseworkers for the post secondary students, those young people who had finished secondary school and were now enrolled in the Post Secondary Program to provide the skills, additional education and training to qualify them for employment. There currently are 83 young people enrolled and most are in one or two year programs from which they will receive a Certificate or Diploma upon completion. The fields our students enter are varied and range from automobile mechanics to hotel management to accounting to barista worker. We are very proud of the 93% success rate we are achieving in placing our alumni in internships or full time jobs.
Our objectives were to ensure we fully understood how the program was operating, to provide additional training on using the software we provide to track our students’ progress, and to understand some of the challenges our Kenyan team have in helping students select and complete the right program for themselves. We also met with every recent secondary school graduate to hear their plans for further education and to discuss with the staff if that was the best next step for that student.
In addition, we attended a Ngong Road Children Association Board meeting, participated in the Saturday recreation program for all students, met with our and other sponsors’ children, and interviewed some of our employed alumni. All in all it was a very worthwhile and inspiring visit.
Emmanuel Titi was nine years old when his parents died from AIDS. The end of his parents’ lives meant the end of his education as well. Emmanuel and his siblings moved in with his aunt, who was unable to afford school fees. Emmanuel watched his older siblings come to terms with the reality of their future and lost hope in his own future without an education as well.
In late 2008, his aunt learned of the Ngong Road Children Association program for kids whose families were affected by HIV/AIDS. She applied for Emmanuel to be accepted, and he joined the program in early 2009 and was sponsored by the Halloran family. Emmanuel remembered the weeks of sitting at home and wishing to go to school before he was accepted to the program, and he pledged to himself that he would make the most of the opportunity. Last year Emmanuel was ranked first in his class of 48 high school juniors! He wrote this essay at Ngong Road Children Association’s August Camp last year about his memories before being in the program and how he now proudly shouts that, “He believes he can!”
See Emmanuel’s full I Believe I Can Essay.
Emmanuel has different goals and perspectives than most young people his age and he makes the most out of every opportunity. He understands that there is more to life than what meets the eye and wants a different future for himself. Keep up the good work, Emmanuel!
August Camp Bells are Ringing
As you are probably aware, the students of the Ngong Road Children Association (NRCA) live mainly in the slums, where they live difficult lives and have limited exposure to good physical and social amenities. Because of this, the annual August Camp is truly the highlight of the year for our students. Thanks to generous sponsors, donations and volunteers that come every year, we have run very successful camps for the last ten years, and each year it gets better and better!
August Camp has many educational, well-being and social objectives, all set in a fun, learning environment. Camp strives to:
- Provide unique, fun educational experiences.
- Improve health and well-being.
- Create a close-knit, supportive community, where students develop a strong sense of belonging and where they are exposed to and taught about good personal values.
- Develop leaders and teach leadership skills.
- Provide a new view of the world to all who attend camp, both students and international volunteers alike.
- Give students who live day to day lives in poverty and in difficult circumstances, the opportunity to just have fun and be kids in a safe environment.
The net result is an experience that changes lives – those of the students, and those of the volunteers both from Kenya and other countries.
Our NRCA students are anxiously waiting for this year’s August Camp, which is scheduled for August 6th to 22nd. We are currently working on creating an exciting program of indoor and outdoor activities designed to challenge the students physically and mentally. Run in an environment that encourages openness, camp will include guest speakers who put emphasis on discipline and hard work as cornerstones for success, as well classes to help students develop key personal and life skills to prepare them for their future careers and help them grow up as responsible citizens.
I know our students are lucky to have both local and international sponsors and supporters who are touched by their plight and who generously sponsor their formal education. Camp goes beyond this and provides a means to develop the all-round person. As you can imagine, holding an off-site 17-day camp for our 377 students is costly. Against this background, in June we will be kindly inviting our enthusiastic supporters to make donations to ensure that every student gets the opportunity to attend this year’s camp.
I would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank all stakeholders who have sacrificed their time and funds to ensure that previous camps have been successful. Be on the lookout to “Send a Kid to Camp” this June!
Ngong Road Children Association
By now you will have received an email from Amy Johnson updating you on the clean 2017 audit received by our sister organization in Kenya, Ngong Road Children Association. After discovering theft of resources in the 2015 audit, we have devoted considerable energy to reinvigorating financial controls and improving processes. I am very pleased Crowe Horwath has endorsed those efforts as having been effective by granting this clean audit.
I recently took an online course hosted by the Wharton School entitled “Corruption”. It has been proven that corruption can be significantly reduced by organizations through a combination of ethical leadership, active management/supervision and appropriate risk management processes. We will continue to discuss other best practices that would fit our circumstances and help us remain vigilant about this risk.
Friends of Ngong Road completed our last strategic planning process in 2015 and we are working throughout 2018 to tackle important strategic questions to revisit that process. Our expectation is to have a three-year strategic plan completed by the end of 2018 for 2019 – 2021. Here are just a few of the issues we are tackling:
- Karibu Loo has been profitable in the first four months of 2018 and is on target to provide $10,000 or more to Ngong Road Children Association this year, reducing funds we must raise in the U.S. to support the program. We are in discussion about how much and in what way Friends of Ngong Road should support Karibu Loo as it grows and becomes a contributor to the program’s funding needs.
- Succession is on our minds. I have communicated to the board that I expect to move into an emeritus status during this 3-year planning horizon. We have to decide how we are going to make that transition which raises issues about board composition, staffing, etc. And, we have several long-tenure board members who will also be transitioning in the coming years. Finding their successors is a high priority.
- Sponsor growth is another important topic to discuss. Our model for sponsor recruitment has been “friends and family”, however we are all running out of friends. What model for sponsor recruitment will be effective in the future?
- How much should we grow? If Karibu Loo can provide a significant contribution to the organization, and we have a healthy endowment fund, how much should we grow?
I look forward to sending you an update on our 2019 -2021 strategic plan at the end of the year.
In the meantime, we are excited to welcome Judy Nyaga to Minneapolis on May 14 and 15 and Kelvin Thuku the first half of June. Judy is a board member in Kenya and Kelvin is the Program and Technology Coordinator. We will host gatherings and meetings during their time in the Twin Cities and hope you will have the opportunity to meet these people who do so much to support student success in Nairobi.
President and Founder
Friends of Ngong Road