Coordinating a project as great as ASSETS can get a little scary sometimes, going by the amount of hope laid on us by thirsty young minds yearning for school apart from nature itself that we view to conserve in the long run! I must however thank the different stakeholders, donors and well-wishers involved since things would be impossible were it not for them. Our different stakeholders categorically, have been pivotal in effecting the fruitful dinner we held recently at our Mwamba Field Study Centre.
After a short planning and advertising of the fundraising dinner, the 12th December D-day finally arrived. The day kicked off with a good plan of entertaining kids who flocked at our premises at exactly 1000hrs in the morning very excited and feeling very energetic for the day’s activities. With a totally number of 60 kids of different ages, the day smoothly passed with organized games and environmental classes by the beach from our staff. The kids day ended at 1600hrs after a very tasty meal thus opening the gates for our dinner guests.
The dinner was crowned by a group of dancers from Mida community that entertained the guests as they enjoyed themselves while serving. The core reason being our ASSETS program, short inspiring speeches were given by our Community Manager Mr. Stanley Baya, an ASSETS graduate, miss Lydia Kayaa and a community member Mr. Julius Katana.
Mr. Stanley Baya giving a speech at the dinner
The ASSETS project is being administered in two main ways; the general bursary fund that provides upto70% of school fees and a child sponsorship scheme for the exceptionally needy students. Providing 70 percent of the school fees is a huge relief to most students whose parents can comfortably raise the rest. Some of the children however hail from extremely challenged families, while some do not have any. This therefore calls for an exception in the amount of money we pay as scholarships (bursaries) in such instances thus we had to think of some other new ways of fundraising for the ASSETS program. The dinner was relatively rewarding as we raised Ksh42,100/=
The ASSETS project is actually a package for the whole family as almost everyone has a story to tell about how A Rocha Kenya through its well targeted project has changed their lives. You love the Environment! You are a friend of A Rocha! You can support our work especially the ASSETS project. We are currently on a fund drive to sustain this project. Our target is to raise Ksh3,000,000/$30,000/GBP22,000 to be able to keep hundreds of the beneficiaries of this project in school next year. Any amount will play a huge role in sending a child back to school and putting a smile in everyone’s face.
Lydia Kayaa giving a speech at the dinner
We have over 100 stories to tell, but one at a time gives one the true picture that sure enough the ASSETS program is God sent to some of the families living around Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. Our main objective is the conservation of the threatened species in these endangered habitats. Communities around these areas together with the schools have been helping us spearheading the gospel of conservation through participation in our patrols in the forest, discouraging cutting of trees either for timber or carvings and also advocating for anti-snaring activities.
Below is an incredible story of Isaac Mwangiri, an ASSETS beneficiary who finished school at Galana Secondary school in 2012. Isaac is now the owner of JIBZY STUDIO in Malanga. According to him success comes to those who put some effort to try working things out.
“After finishing my high school education in 2012, I volunteered at A Rocha Kenya in Watamu for three months. Thereafter I started teaching in a public school called Yembe Primary school in Malanga. The board members of the school thought it was right to employ me as a part time teacher due to the fact that I had passed very well in my KCSE. I taught Kiswahili, Mathematics and C.R.E in classes 5, 7 and 8. I was in this school for exactly a year and since I had a dream of opening my own business in future I saved the little money I was being paid in Yembe. After the one year, I thought I should invest on the money I had saved and thus came up with the idea of a video shop. I started small but today I thank God my business is expanding day by day. I have employed someone who also takes charge when am out in events or weddings taking photos with my own camera upon given tenders. It might have been challenging but I do not regret any step I took at least I am proud of myself since I used what I had to do better.” Isaac believes anyone can succeed only if we use the little that we have be it knowledge or money.
It’s not easy to predict what the future holds for the young generation, Lennox Magajia and Daniel Mwaringa are part of this young generation hailing from Girimacha village. In this village we find Girimacha Primary school, a school adjacent to Arabuko Sokoke Forest (ASF). They graduated from the said primary school in 2009, joining high school thereafter through the ASSETS program. They completed their high school education successfully and were at home not knowing what to do next. However, they did not throw in the towel, instead they decided to give back to the community through offering teaching services at Rutuba Academy (a private School) at a time when the country is facing a crisis in the education sector, where public schools are closed as a result of the ongoing teachers strike.
Lenox Magajia Teaching students at Rutuba Academy
This situation has left many students with questions without answers, in fact those sitting for their national exams are at a greater risk of not performing well. Private schools seem to be taking advantage of this situation and the need to deploy a teaching force is paramount. It is because of this demand that the two graduates found their way to Rutuba Academy. The two had lost hope of joining college, due to inadequate financial resources. However, this current job might open doors for them so that they can fully furnish the desires of their hearts including pursuing higher education as they search for better options for survival. It seemed to be the end of life for them as they had expressed the fear of the unknown but the Bible recounts that God works in ways that we cannot even understand ….within the difficulties is where we are transformed to see difficulties as opportunities.
Daniel and Lennox
This year’s ASSETS camp kicked off on a high note with a total of 18 students from different schools and two parents to watch over them at A Rocha Kenya’s Mwamba Field Study Center in Watamu. It was a two days activity that seemed too short for every one of them. It was their time away from books, their two days were preoccupied with motivational, live skills, career choice talks as they also had fun and games on our quiet nature trails and incredible beach.
A walk by the beach that also involved them in knowing more about rock pooling and different types of fish.
On leaving every student seemed saddened but they had to go…this was made clear by the comments they all left us on how they all rated the camp. Most of them requested that next time such an event should be given more days and more students to be involved since it was a very good experience for them both socially and academically.
“Were it not for A Rocha Kenya’s ASSETS program, i don’t know how my life would be today,” said Doris Furaha an ASSETS beneficiary who hails from Kahingoni Village in Kilifi County.
Doris(left) with A Rocha Kenya’s volunteer Rebecca Eastwood.
Despite having passed her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E) examinations highly in the year 2010 at Kahingoni Primary School, Doris Furaha’s future seemed bleak. Her parents; who are small scale could barely afford to enrol her in a secondary because of their meagre earnings. The second born in a family of two could only pray for luck to come her way.
And lady luck sure did knock on her door when she was selected as an ASSETs beneficiary in the year 2011.She was enrolled at Bahari Girls High School where she obtained a mean grade of B- in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E) examinations.
“Teaching these young boys and girls keeps me busy and helps me avoid bad company but to top it all sharing my knowledge with these young people gives me satisfaction. The sight of me here, is an enough motivation for them to work even more harder despite the challenges they face.” She said at Kahingoni Primary School where she volunteers as an English, Kiswahili, Social Studies and Science teacher. Doris has been a volunteer teacher at Kahingoni primary since May 2015.
Doris with her mum
Even as she keeps on equipping these young ones with the knowledge she still holds onto her dream of becoming a clinical officer someday. It is her prayer that she will be able to join the university and study her dream course.
ASSETS is a well targeted sustainable development programme that provides secondary school scholarships, meeting the economic and social needs of the local community whilst promoting the conservation of two of Africa’s most important ecosystems: Arabuko Sokoke and Mida Crreek in the Kenyan North Coast.
Last week, ASSETS coordinator, Festus Masha, visited the students whom A Rocha Kenya is supporting in their schools. The aim of such trips is, normally, not only to pay fees but also meet the beneficiaries and see how they are fairing in their studies. We seek, through this kind of interactions, to give the students moral support, too. It is also imperative that we get first-hand report of the students` class attendance and discipline from the school authorities. Both hard work and discipline are key requirements for ASSETS students.
We are currently supporting 123 students. Jackline Kazungu is one of them. She hails from Kahingoni; one of the villages that border the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. She schooled at Kahingoni Primary School and is now studying at St Thomas Girls` Secondary School in Kilifi. Her parents supplement subsistence farming with charcoal burning and ASSETS pays up to 80% of her fees to discourage her parents from raising bulk of the fees from illegal logging or other forms of unsustainable use of resources. The bursary scheme continues to change perceptions and attitudes of such financially unstable parents from around the forest. Jackline is hard working and she is always at the top of her class.
At Manghudo Secondary School, Agnes Furaha Katana was very happy when she learned that Festus Masha was around to pay her fees. Agnes comes from Bogamachuko; another village bordering Arabuko Sokoke Forest. She was worried since her father paid only an installment of this term`s fees and she was not sure whether he would be able to come back to offset the balance before schools close for the holidays.
Agnes Furaha Katana in her school.
Jackline Kazungu in her school.
Remember the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19? How Jesus healed them and only one came back to show his appreciation to God?
I will never forget this one time i attended a Sunday school service in one of my friend’s church; Moses, a Reverend at St. Andrew’s ACK church. The teachings for that day was about the ten lepers-after reading the bible verse he asked the children what they thought about the story; one little boy said,”Jesus must have been so happy that somebody thanked him” i was marveled at the response of the little boy. How many times do you seat down and reflect on the countless blessings God has bestowed you and appreciated ?
We are pleased by the letter below that one of the ASSETS beneficiaries Ngombo Lillian Tabu wrote us showing her sincere appreciation to ASSETS and the A Rocha Kenya in general.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
May the Almighty God’s favor and blessing follow you wherever you may go Lillian; you will always be in our hearts and remembered in our prayers.
The ASSETS Program conducts camps in two folds one when A Rocha staff go to the schools and camp for a week, this happens in April in every calendar year. The other camp happens in August in every calendar subject to funding. The August camp invited participants are beneficiaries, parents and wildlife clubs of Kenya Patrons from selected areas. The objective of this event is to impact the beneficiaries with environmental conservation knowledge so that they able to use it in school and at home with their parents and friends.
The topics that are emphasized on include Creation care “ God is the creator of everything and man was created to take care of God’s creation”, A Rocha’s five Cs-conservation, community, cross-cultural, cooperation and Christianity, ASSETS conditions, Career choice and development and drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.
In addition that the beneficiaries are also taken to snorkeling, Gede ruins, Mida creek where they visit our Eco-facilities: tree house at Gede ruins, the boardwalk at Mida creek (enjoying the biodiversity around).
It has been two years now since our last ASSETS camp; we are hoping and praying to raise enough funds to hold one next year (April 2015).
On the 7th of October 2014, we held a grand opening ceremony for the new Environmental Education resource facility. Bishop Julius Kalu officiated the official opening.
We had several entertainments as the ceremony was taking place from primary school students, an ASSETS beneficiary, a choir and a play by the community. The ASSETS beneficiary a young bright man from Gede boy’s high school gave a small talk on how the program has played an important role in his life and the importance of conserving the environment.
The primary school students presented two songs about the dangers of not conserving the environment, the importance and urged the people to conserve the environment. The choir also did a wonderful job to emphasize on the same singing a wonderful song about the environment.
The community wasn’t left behind they performed a play: a group of parents whose kids benefit from the program. They illustrated very well why people should not go around poaching elephants and other wild animals and the consequences of such actions.
The entertainment was…i cant really find the right words to describe it but let me say it was simply breathtaking!
The community conservation officer (Festus) and I made a visit to St. Thomas girl’s high school. Though the visit was very brief, it was an amazing experience to interact with the student. We did get a chance to interview her and had a talk with her about how she’s doing in her studies, her goals and what plans she has for her future. Her name is Jackline Kazungu. She started schooling this year in the month of February. She comes from Kahingoni a village 3km from the Arabuko sokoke forest.
Jackline first learnt about ASSETS program way back in her primary school (Kahingoni primary school) from one of their teachers. The teacher was a patron of the wildlife club in their school. He encouraged the students to join the club since being a member of the club was one of the requirements of being selected as an ASSETS beneficiary.
She joined the wildlife club and learnt a lot about what A Rocha Kenya really does and conserving the environment became her passion. She did quite well in school and was also selected to benefit from our program. Jackline wishes to become a doctor in future.
She is a bright young lady and we pray that she achieves her dreams!