As we enter the final week of our 2014 summer project, it is perhaps a good time to reflect upon the achievements of our project workers and the work they’ve done in their schools. In the past 9 weeks, project workers across all three of our sites in Kenya and Uganda have delivered an investment project tailored to the specific needs of the school they’ve been partnered with.What does this mean in practical terms? For one thing, they’ve spent their time here living within the rural communities that make up the school, often without the basic amenities of running water, electricity, and even BuzzFeed (!). The time spent living in their community and working in their school has allowed them to understand exactly what their school is lacking in terms of resources, and therefore where the money they raised can be most effectively spent to have the biggest impact. Our volunteers have been hard at work going through library inventories, figuring out exactly how many textbooks they need to buy in each subject to ensure students no longer have to share a single book between half a dozen people. They’ve been haggling with electricians to find the best quote for electricity installation, so students don’t have to try and read in the dark. They’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of different water filters, with the intent of providing safe drinking water to the school and community.
Our project workers haven’t just put resources into these schools, they’ve invested their time and ceaseless energy into making sure that we have a long-term, sustainable impact on the development of our partner schools, and in the process, provide the opportunities for these young people to succeed. In addition to the money they’ve invested in sustainable resources like textbooks, lab equipment and electricity, they’ve sought to address wider educational and developmental issues facing young people in rural East Africa. Anything from organising a health day designed to improve awareness and understanding of key health issues, to a careers talk providing inspiration and guidance for the next steps in life, or establishing a bulk-buying sanitary pad scheme to reduce female absenteeism – our volunteers have had to be flexible and adapt to the specific needs of their school.It’s highly unlikely that any of this year’s volunteers could have predicted the past 9 weeks. It’s equally unlikely that they’d have expected to work, learn and grow as much as they have done. But having seen the dedication, tenacity and resilience of our volunteers first hand, it is easy to understand how this summer has been such a great success!On behalf of EPAfrica, huge congratulations to all of our PW’s for their fantastic projects and a unforgettable summer of 2014.