In the summer of 2013, 11 students and 3 mentors flew to Kenya to work for 6 weeks on various projects around the Mombasa area. This was a community project for the Honours Talent Programme of students within the International Business School Hanzehogeschool Groningen.
The project was based on an initiative of Condor Airlines. Having flown to and from Mombasa for many years, the flight crews have been aware and involved with various projects in the local area that needed assistance. As the flight crews often only have a few days lay over, time and hands-on commitment is of great value to them.Therefore a partnership was formed by which Condor sponsored the flights and the students spent time working on the projects. A year was spent with the whole IBS Honours Team fundraising and preparing for these projects, gathering culturally specific data and developing various strategies.
There were 3 main project areas:
The Fire Brigade. Due to a complicated telephone number and lack of information, many people in Mombasa were unaware of what the fire brigade actually does or even how to contact them. The students ran a marketing campaign across the city, advertising the capabilities and contact details of the fire brigade. They worked closely with the fire team to also offer fire safety training within schools. The team remains in touch with the fire brigade and continues to offer support for stronger ties with the community and in schools.
The Blue Bell Nursery. This school had been having many issues with their finances. They were unable to keep track of their accounts due to a lack of training amongst the staff. The students worked closely with the staff to train them on how to use an accountancy system that the students had designed specific to their needs. This was also made possible by the students fundraising money to provide a laptop for the school to keep track of these accounts. Last week the honours team received an email from the school showing their accounts for the last month. Which shows the effectiveness of the training.
St Joseph’s House of Hope. This school was in great need of teaching assistance. They have many students and just a few teachers. Also, the St Joseph students wished to know more about business administration, which the teachers were unable to provide. Therefore, the honours students created 2 courses that each lasted for 5 weeks. The first course focused on business administration, and was given to students alongside their normal lessons. The second course was held on Saturdays and focused upon entrepreneurship. This course was open to members of the local community who wished to start their own businesses. Each entrepreneur student completed a business plan which was critiqued by the honours students. They have remained in contact with each other and action has already been taken to start establishing some of these businesses.
Outside of these projects, the students were also involved with other activities, such as giving swimming lessons to students, volunteering at a food distribution home for under-nourished children, giving art lessons, etc.
by Gemma Nijdam ( Coordinator of the Honours Talent Programme)
After this practical/informative summary about ConTribute Kenya 2013, I would like to give a short insight into the many extraordinary and exceptional experiences.
ConTribute Kenya 2013, has taken a very long and bumpy way of coming into existence. The initial thought, dates back to the springtime of 2012. When I, being frustrated at the way charity initiatives at our University worked thought about
the aspects of setting up something which would be hands-on.
After brainstorming with friends an initial idea was formed, which was discussed within the Honours-class and headed into a proper project which we coined ConTribute Kenya 2013.
With putting our utmost efforts into the project and working both day and night to collect funds and create awareness we finally achieved our milestone of funding target. Not long after we received the sponsored tickets by Condor Flugdienst GMbH which was an incredible feeling. Personally I was so proud of the whole team who in my absence (I had work obligations at an internship in Tallinn) managed to achieve the funding milestone. This happy feeling was multiplied by the symbolic receiving of tickets to Mombasa, not long after.
This excitement of seeing the project come to life was something which carried me throughout the whole Kenya experience. It gave me energy to work day by day on the most different challenges, walk daily the extra miles for the projects and encounter every person with love, respect and happiness. During my stay in Mombasa I coined this feeling as : “being on a constant ‘High’”.This feeling of bliss, inspiration and pleasant warmth which spreads throughout your whole body; was not only caused by the amazing people (Family,Friends,Professors,Students) who have worked on bringing this project to life, but has also been caused by the BEAUTY I saw and have encountered in this wonderful city (country) of Mombasa (Kenya).Experiences such as being greeted by the beautiful ‘sing-song-rhythmic happinessfilled’ words of ‘Karibu’ and ‘Jambo’ by the Kenyan people was as inspiring as seeing the constant efforts and upward mobility/willingness to change onessituation by the more poverty-stricken part of the population. Lots of small other beautiful aspects could be seen for instance in the entrepreneurial activities; From ‘Matatu-businesses’ (local buses), fruit-stores, handcraft-furniture to the boat owners who in itself are superb sales people who will try to sell you anything in a cunning, intelligent fashion which was all just beautiful to watch. Another beautiful feature next to the climate was the vegetation which every evening had revealed to me its richness; through the appearance of several different species of bats appearing out of nooks and crannies and with this sun-setting kolibris (hummingbird) in a vast amount showing off their fast beating wings and on spot levitation at close-by flower beds. If I could have written poem I would have started off with ‘Kenya the Beautiful’.
During my stay in Kenya, I every day drove to a slum area called ‘Mtwapa’ and visited the Helpalliance Project Blue-Bell Nursery School where I worked together with a fellow student Biko Hüster on setting up a simple to use Accounting-System in order to simplify processes and optimize administration. Even though the nature of our work was not in direct contact with the children of Blue Bell the many happy faces looking at us as when we walked through the gate, the numerous small hands trying to get a ‘high five’ were an extremely beautiful form of motivation to me.
All of us have made similar or different yet touching , inspirational beautiful experiences which can be read up on our Blog .
With the beauty in mind and around us it has been easy to fall in love with Kenya , it’s people and our projects. The hands-on help we as a group have provided for the different projects day by day and the experiences all around were so
rewarding that it had accumulated and gave off this feeling described by me as being on a constant ‘high’ .After having given so much time and energy day by day towards all the projects and beyond, I have asked myself at the end of the trip what we will have taken with us from this 6 week experience?We as ConTribute Kenya 2013 have gained as much as we have given:
We have gained huge amounts of personal experiences for ourselves
We have faced overcome many challenges of the most different sort
We have gained lots of friends in a far away country
We have received lots of recognition for our work
We have had the grateful opportunity of seeing/experiencing this b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l country
For all these small and big wonders I’m so grateful to be counted as part of the ‘We’.I regard myself as a very lucky person to have been given this one in a lifetime opportunity to be part of this awesome project, to everybody who has been part / contributed to ConTribute Kenya 2013:
“MY DEEPEST AND SINCERE THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED TO MAKE THIS IDEA/DREAM COME TO LIFE”!!!
In light of saying the words of ‘THANKS’ I want to also push out some words which have been nagging on me for quite some time: “LET’S SUSTAIN”.The thing I have personally learned most about the projects is that ‘Time’ and
‘Know-How’ are the two most sustainable things one can do to help the local population in countries like Kenya.
In the home country of Obama’s father let’s do it again;
ConTributeKenya 2014 –‘Yes -WE CAN’