Kenyan trip – October 2021

Like the rest of the world, Kenya has grappled with COVID-19. I was so relieved to finally get to Kenya again during October midterm after a long 18 months. The charity is delighted to report that despite the challenges, there were lots of really positive changes. Ndiini School Food Programme was set up in 2011 and registered as a charity in Ireland in 2012. After 10 years of dealing with the challenges of logistics, such as buying the rice and beans, paying the cook, keeping track of the number of students getting lunch, all is now completely different!

A new school
I arrived in Kenya on Sunday evening, the 24 October and the following day headed straight to Ndi’ini to have a meeting with the principal. The first happy surprise was a brand-new school! (see photos on social media). There had been talk of a school being built for years but I never actually believed it would happen. The new school is big and spacious and a huge improvement on the old one. There is water and proper toilet facilities. Classrooms are bright and big and the AEN class have their own big classroom with an added little room which acts as a kitchen. Donations we had bought over in March 2020 were finally given to the students including stationery and footballs. The school has been paid for by the government and desks and chairs have been donated by local Churches.

The Food Programme
The charity had had ongoing problems keeping the food programme going during Covid. As the schools closed, we made two drop offs to parents to help them during this difficult time.
When the children returned to school later in the year, it was difficult to establish when the food programme could begin again. Little did we know that a few miles away, a Kenyan food programme was operating called Food4Education. Contact was made with Food4Education and in September 2021, they began providing food to the children of Ndi’ini. It's a model that works really well. The meals are subsidised at 15KES a plate with the programme paying the remaining 10KES. The students are all given a watch called Tap2Eat which they credit to make sure they can access the programme. (photos needed here). I met with the founder of Food4Education, and she is an inspiring woman who is providing most of the primary schools in the county where Ndi’ini is located with food. With support from the Kenyan government and many large corporations she is hoping to eventually expand nationwide. It was great to see that after ten years, the children of Ndi’ini primary school will continue to be provided with a lunch that will ensure their attendance in school and improve their concentration. Food4Education is a perfect fit of Ndi’ini. The remaining concern for us, as a charity, was for the vulnerable of Ndi’ini who are so poor that even 15KES is not affordable for them.

And so, a new chapter has started for Ndiini School Food Programme. Our focus remains on ensuring that the most vulnerable will have access to food and education and so in partnership with Food4Education, we will provide the funds for the approximately 300 Ndi’ini school children so that they may also eat. We will review this number on an annual basis and communicate regularly with Food4Education for updates.

Secondary School Scholarships
We will continue to provide the most able and also vulnerable final year student at Ndi’ini with a scholarship to secondary school education to break the cycle of poverty. Despite the upheavals over the last year, our four scholarship students are all back in school and doing great!

Here’s the latest update on the scholarship students

Gerald in Year 1 of an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of
Apollo in Form 2 at Chania Boys School.
Caroline in Form 4 at Thika Girls School.
Alvin in Form 3 at Mbugti Boys High School. Doing well 4/48 in class.

I left Kenya on Friday 29th October confident that our partnership with Food4Education will ensure that no child at Ndi’ini primary school gets left behind and the lunch programme provided will continue to uphold our charity’s objective; the alleviation of poverty and the advancement of education through the provision of food.

Margaret Dempsey, November 2021