September 3rd, 2013


With the 2013 project coming to an end, EPAfrica Project Workers in Kakamega are putting the final touches to their summer investment. Books are being backed, inventories made, library systems prepared – anything to make sure that the investments made by EPAfrica this summer (and each school’s initial stock of resources) are well-used and well-maintained after the end of the project. For example, at St. Stephen’s Kamashia Eugene and Sarah have been hard at work to catalog the school’s library in preparation for the addition of shelves that will allow books to be safe from the elements and the local mouse population, who appear to enjoy feasting on Form Two Chemistry textbooks when they get the chance!Additionally, EPAfrica projects funded under the British and Foreign School Society (BFSS) are at their final stages before completion. At St. Joseph’s Shibinga Secondary an additionally water tank has been installed to give the staff and students a stock of harvested rainwater to last through the driest months of the year, meaning that students no longer need to be sent away during lesson time to fetch water. The installation is timely as the August rains are just starting to relent, preparing the school for the imminent dry months. At Esokone Secondary, the school’s favourable location means that the BFSS grant has been utilised to install a borehole, giving access to groundwater supplies throughout the entire year. A vital, albeit ‘boring’, investment!

And the work this summer goes far beyond basic resources. Project Workers have put efforts into extracurricular initiatives to improve the quality of education in the schools we work in. At Gimengwa Secondary, Josephine and Joe have run a hugely successful re-usable sanitary pad scheme, thanks to the help of a partner NGO, Irise. The large number of students who participated in the group suggests that the programme was much desired in an area where girl’s education is regularly interrupted because students lack sanitary towels. At Demesi Secondary, Jessi and Tilly have organised a careers day for the last week of the project to educate students on their opportunities after school, and ensure that the improvements made in the school extend to students’ future lives.

Expanding these opportunities available to students is a core aim of EPAfrica’s project. The district secondary schools that we work with begin with odds stacked against them, being the only schools open to students who get low grades at primary school and receiving inadequate funding to purchase the requirements of good education. At best, EPAfrica schools are unable to collect a third of student’s lunch fees due to the low incomes of local households, putting further strain on school finances. Although PWs are only a temporary presence in their schools, their impact will hopefully be permanent. With much-needed additional resources and measures to look after them, the schools we have worked in around Kakamega are given crucial means with which to improve in the future. Beyond the resources left behind, the time spent with students from the UK who have benefited from a rich education both at school and university has the potential to energise students, who spend almost 12 hours at school each day and have to complete chores at home. Previous Project Workers in Kakamega have lived long in the memory at schools that have graduated from the project.

Over this last week, Project Workers will be endeavouring to finish their initiatives ready for handover to the school before reluctantly leaving their school and heading back home. Although many will be looking forward to rediscovering home comforts and finally escaping ubiquitous ugali, all will be sad to leave behind great friends and many fond memories. Kakamega will be free of many of its transient wazungu for one summer, but the charity will be back to build on the work of this year, and expand to assist more schools in July 2014. ‘Kwaheri’ from Kakamega for 2013!

Matt Purtill (Project Manager)