A Place to Call Home

OFDC Donors provided 50% of the necessary building funds and parents of Enkaroni Primary schoolchildren raised the remainder.

OFDC Donors provided 50% of the necessary building funds and parents of Enkaroni Primary schoolchildren raised the remainder.

Thanks to both the generosity of OFDC supporters and the efforts of parents with children attending Enkaroni Primary, head teachers will now have a home on school grounds, thereby increasing educational opportunities for students.  Teachers in Kenya are generally stationed far from their family homes, as is the case for current head teacher, Joseph Nyambane, whose home is several hours away by matatu (traditional Kenyan transport via small, crowded mini van) from Enkaroni Primary.  Prior to moving onto school grounds, Joseph was traveling by piki piki (motorbike) back and forth between school and the room he rented— over a 30-minute commute each direction weather permitting.  Joseph reports that he now spends less time traveling over difficult, dusty roads and more time at school, “You have really made my work easy and comfortable and this will make me efficient on delivering my services to the school. Thank you once again.”

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Siyiapei River Bridge Completion & Dedication

The Siyiapei River Bridge collaboration between OFDC donors, Olonturoto villagers, and Bridging the Gap Africa (BtGA) is now fully operational!  The bridge was recently dedicated during a celebration attended by over 300 people, including our very own Board Chair & Founder, Nia Z. Sherar, who was in the area checking on OFDC projects.

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Children dancing during Siyiapei River Bridge dedication.

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Siyiapei River Bridge and Balloons.

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Yenko (brown jacket) holding his rungu gift from the villagers. Yenko proved invaluable to BtGA by coordinating efforts between the villagers and BtGA.

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Nia receiving gifts from a village mama, including a beaded blouse, skirt, cape, and headpiece.

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Eric, BtGA engineer & project manager, after receiving his red shuka and bow as a symbol of thanks.

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Yenko, Nia, and Rebecca pose for a photo while crossing the Siyiapei River Bridge. Rebecca was previously sponsored in secondary school by OFDC and is now attending Teacher’s College.

 

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Building Bridges and Partnerships

As you may have seen from our Facebook updates, we are really excited about OFDC’s latest endeavor to increase educational opportunities to children living in rural Kenya, specifically to those students attending Ololoiboti Primary and other surrounding schools. Children living in this rural area, which is accessed only by foot or tractor, are unable to attend school during the rainy season because severe flooding of the Siyapei River makes it impossible to reach their schools. In addition, the sick are not able to get to the hospital and goods are not able to get to market.

In search of a remedy, OFDC contacted Bridging the Gap Africa (BtGA), an organization dedicated to building footbridges in order to prevent drowning and ensure safe, uninterrupted access to education, health care and economic opportunity.

Last March BtGA’s engineering team visited the community of Ololnturoto, surveyed the proposed bridge site, and before we knew it, designed a suitable and sustainable bridge for these school children. OFDC provided 80% of the cost of materials and the surrounding village raised the remaining funds, as well as provided volunteer labor. BtGA provided the expertise, management, engineers, and pay for skilled village labor to assist with the bridge construction. By the first week of July the anchors and towers for the project were complete. Once the cement has cured for at least 28 days they will set the cables and hang the bridge!

According to Harmon Parker, BtGA Founder, “There is a really good spirit at the bridge site, which always makes our projects more enjoyable.” OFDC wishes not only to thank BtGA for this amazing collaboration, but also Mr. Tajeu Evans Yenko, Head Teacher of Ololoiboti Primary School, for helping to coordinate fund raising and village volunteers. This bridge is in line with OFDC’s mission of Empower Women so they can get their goods to market, Educate Children so they can go to school, and Enhance Health for All so the sick can reach medical care. Asante sana!

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Nia Z. Sherar, OFDC Founder/Chair, and Tajeu Evans Yenko, Ololoiboti Head Teacher, crossing the Siyapei River via the old log bridge, which washes out when the river rages.

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Graphic rendering of the Siyapei River Bridge currently under construction.

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This photo and those that follow depict the current construction progress of the new and drastically improved Siyapei River Suspension Bridge.

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Students from Ololoiboti Primary learning about bridge building from BtGA’s engineers.

 

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The True Cost of Education in Kenya

Pictured above are Kuntai Primary School students in new school uniforms donated by OFDC and desks funded by OFDC and parents.

Pictured above are Kuntai Primary School students in new school uniforms donated by OFDC and desks funded by OFDC and parents.

In case you missed it, this informative article recently published in The Economist confirms what we have always known at OFDC—education in Kenya is not free.  According to the article, “There can scarcely be two words in Kenya that cause more resentment than “school fees”. It is now more than ten years since charges for state primary schools in east Africa’s biggest economy were abolished by law. Yet it is an open secret that education is not truly free. In fact, fees are rising. Dorcas Mutoku, a policeman’s wife whose two sons attend a public primary school in the capital, Nairobi, has found that levies have simply been renamed. She has to find the equivalent of $35 for a one-off “signing-on” fee, and pay almost as much again for admission fees. End-of-term exams, uniforms and books cost at least another $10 per child.”

Read More: Here

Posted in OFDC, Opportunity Fund for Developing Countries, Sponsor Children | 1 Comment

Congratulations Alice!

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OFDC would like to congratulate Alice Chege on her upcoming graduation from Maasai Mara University in Narok, Kenya.  Due to the generous support of our donors, OFDC was able to sponsor Alice throughout college, with her family giving what they could to help cover living expenses.  While OFDC generally sponsors primary school students, Alice has always been such a dedicated, bright student and we knew she would continue to do well if given the opportunity. OFDC is happy to report that investing in Alice’s future has paid off because this November she will receive her diploma to teach primary school students.  What a great example and mentor Alice will be to her students, especially the young girls, who often do not make it past grade six in Kenya.  Once again, congratulations Alice and thank you OFDC donors!

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OFDC Projects in Action

Is my donation being put to good use?  This is a universal question of all donors, and especially of those donating to organizations working in less developed countries, wherein accountability standards often differ from what we expect in the United States.  At OFDC, we strive to ensure that each and every gift is truly making a difference.  We require thorough proposals, status updates, and final reports.  Funds are not released until requirements are met.  In addition, we travel to Kenya annually to verify the progress and completion of OFDC projects, as well as to identify ways to improve.

Yes, your donation to OFDC is being put to good use.  Because OFDC is volunteer-powered, more than 95 % of your donation dollar goes directly to improving the lives of impoverished women and children living in rural Kenya.  The photos below are just a few examples from a recent trip by Nia Sherar, OFDC Founder/Chair, of OFDC projects in action:

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Excavation for latrine at Naserian School.

Naserian villager breaking up rocks for latrine.

Naserian villager breaking up rocks for latrine.

Naserian students and the finished latrine.

Naserian students and the finished latrine.

Naserian students and the finished urinal.

Naserian students and the finished urinal.

 

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Kenya Votes

_66121971_imag0173_1On March 4th, Kenyans will be voting in what many believe is the most important election in the country’s history. This will be the first general election since December of 2007, which resulted in over 1,500 deaths and close to 150,000 living in refugee camps. As you can imagine, friends of OFDC in Kenya are both excited and nervous for tomorrow’s election. Simon Nkoitoi, OFDC Advisory Board Member, recently emailed that “there is so much confusion that many illiterate people in the community might not vote wisely due to the large number of positions to be filled, unlike previously where people would only elect 3 positions…this time round people have to elect the President, Governor, Senator, Women’s representative, member of parliament, and Councillor. This is what we are educating people to understand.”

kenya_mock_election_2013According to Amina Mohamed, OFDC Overseas Administrator, schools in Kenya have been closed for almost two weeks because they will be used as polling stations and most of the head teachers have been away receiving special training to preside over the polling stations in their schools. All of us at OFDC hope for a peaceful election process, and regardless of the chosen winners, we look forward to continuing our mission to educate children, empower women, and provide healthcare to all.

For a more in-depth look at the Kenyan election process:
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/02/world/africa/kenya-election-q-a/?hpt=hp_c1

Posted in Kenya, OFDC, Opportunity Fund for Developing Countries | 1 Comment