The Karibu Center
On our 4th day visiting Kenya the Emark team went to The Karibu Centre/School, located in the city of Thika in Kiambu County, north of Nairobi. This community center has about 150 students from the age of 4 to 15 years old and has the goal to address the education gap in Kenya. They set up projects with a focus on improving the lives of the entire community.

The Karibu center is located in the middle of Aloë Vera fields with no visible population in the surroundings. We got a tour around the center where we can see the different classrooms as well as the labs. The students here learn all sorts of things; from coding at different levels, engineering, arts, science, robotics, farming, English, math and more. These subjects/classes serve several purposes; to teach the children skills that can immediately be applied at home as well as be shared with their parents, and to encourage the kids to think critically and creatively, preparing for a better future.

Aloë Vera for a self-sufficient community
We end the day sharing our experiences and get a better understanding of the projects that are run here, including the production and sales of Organic Savanna products. These are Aloë Vera based products (from the plantation that surrounds the center) that are sourced and prepared in the centre with the support of other local businesses. The aim is to create a self-sufficient community center that does not rely solely on donations for funding. More information about The Karibu Center and Organic Savanna can be found here.

The St-Martins project
The next day we went back to St-Martins School. Again we were warmly welcomed with songs and dances by the children of the school. We received more information about the project at St-Martins; their mission is to educate as many children as possible providing them with a safe environment where they can play, learn and receive regular meals. It also promotes financial independence, entrepreneurship, community cohesion and positive thinking (amongst the adult women) in Kibagare. All with the ultimate goal to enable families to provide better for their children and to allow kids to grow up in a more stable environment.

Enjoying the school
We were invited to participate in a talent show they organized at the school. We really enjoyed watching the children performing dance, song and theater at such a high level! After the talent show there was a session for women’s empowerment where two of the students, Modester and Abigail, gave an incredibly inspiring speech. These two young women have obtained a scholarship to go to university and represent the hope for most girls trying to create a future for themselves at the St-Martin’s School. The day finishes with a football match between volunteers and some of the staff. It’s an even match that we end up losing in the last few minutes. It’s amazing playing football in that environment with all the kids from the school supporting every goal of ours.

Sponsoring for a better future
Today we met the five boys that receive sponsorship from Emark to be able to attend secondary school. These kids have woken up very early to travel from their boarding school to their hometown Kibagare, to meet with us at St-Martins. They share their experiences of the boarding school, their life goals and we talk a lot about football. They told us what they would like to become in the future, among other things: football players, scientists and civil engineers. The kids also show us where they grew up and introduced us to their families. They received us with open arms and one of the families even gave us a present; a beautiful sculpture made by one of the mothers.

The Saturday Food Project
The day continues with the program that runs at least three Saturdays per month to provide the students and other children in Kibagare with a cooked meal. This program is made possible by sponsoring and usually serves around 2,000 kids per Saturday. For some of the children this is the only warm meal they have in a week. The school has a well thought out system to run this process, with several stops where the kids wait in line; receiving soap to wash their hands, rinse the hands, receive a spoon and receive the meal and a bag of milk. When the kids finish their meal, they clean their plates and spoons and hand them over to the other kids who are still waiting in line.

Time to say goodbye
The time to say goodbye had arrived. It was four really inspiring days and we feel honoured to have been part of this. It is amazing to see how the school runs the projects to provide the best possible opportunities for the children/people in Kibagare and how welcoming all the children and families were. Supporting/sponsoring projects like St-Martins and The Karibu Center are important because they can truly have a positive effect on the lives of the people living here.

Asante Sana Kibagare! Asante Sana Kenya!

Want to help? Here you can find some more information