Kenya is a beautiful country of sweeping savannahs, dense forests, snow-capped highlands, and palm-lined coasts. With its beauty and abundant wildlife comes booming tourism and, in some places, great wealth. But there is also great poverty.
Almost 30 percent of Kenyans live on less than $1.25 a day, which the World Bank classifies as extreme poverty. Twenty-six percent of Kenyan children between the ages of five and 14 are child laborers. A quarter of Kenyan girls under the age of 15 are married.
In the Narok South District, where Free The Children focuses its efforts, one in 10 children still die before reaching their fifth birthday, and one third of children under five are stunted due to chronic malnutrition.
In the 16 years since we began partnering with the Maasai and Kispigis communities in southwestern Kenya, together, we have built schools, libraries, water projects, latrines, kitchens and teacher accommodations. Community leaders supported our development and education projects, and implemented active women’s, men’s and youth groups. Here are some of the projects we are proud to work on in this beautiful country.
When Free The Children began working in Salabwek in 2007, school buildings in the community were primarily mud structures. The average child walked three to four kilometers to school, though some walked as far as eight kilometers. There was no local source of clean water. The community had an illiteracy rate of more than 90 percent, and an average family income of less than $1.25 per day. Subsistence agriculture provided the only source of income, maize being the crop of choice. Gender equality posed a particular challenge, and early marriages were commonplace.
Since partnering with Free The Children, huge improvements have been made to the wellbeing of the community. Here’s how.
As new schoolrooms are built, water projects are implemented in tandem. In addition to sanitation education, a Water Management Committee oversees sustainable and equitable sharing of water.
A mobile health clinic visits each month, and students receive regular deworming medication. Most importantly, students have taken ownership of their health and established health and environmental clubs. Around 88 percent of households are now practicing healthy habits at home such as hand washing and dish drying.
The school farm, tended by students, provides nutritious food such as kale for student lunches that are cooked in the community kitchen. Introduction of the drip-irrigation system has resulted in both higher crop yields and reduced costs.
As one of Free The Children’s oldest Adopt a Village communities, Salabwek’s alternative income and livelihood programs are well established. The goal of this pillar, as with the others, is to make the community economically self-sufficient. To that end, we have provided financial literacy training to men’s and women’s groups.