APARTMENTS PAY FOR SCHOOL FEES
Continuing with our blog, the Foundation made the decision a long time ago that we need to provide for self sustaining projects so there is always money for the basics – school and medical care, on a regular basis. To that end, we decided to build apartment buildings as they are in short supply due to the ever increasing population. The apartment buildings will generate income to pay for school fees for the children. We are presently building the 7th apartment building. The first one was in S. Africa, the second in the outskirts of Nairobi and the five others are in the township of Narok in rural Kenya. I learned quite early on that units in Kenyan apartments are exceedingly small in size and could be considered cramped.
So after the first two were built, I asked that on future buildings, we make some of the units a little larger, and unlike most apartments, we have built in indoor plumbing in the more recent units, as well as a kitchen. Many such apartments have outdoor shared kitchens, and outdoor shared latrines. Given the better quality units we built we have been lucky to rent out most of the units in the finished apartments. The income from the rentals, after the government tax is paid (!!) is used to pay school fees. You might see this noted a lot in this blog – school fees.
Unlike most western countries, although Kenyans are mandated to go to school, they are also mandated to buy uniforms, and to provide their own books and pens or pencils. Since they have to pay for all these items themselves and most families tend to have a larger number of children than is normal in the western countries, school becomes exceedingly (if not prohibitively) expensive. This cost is for primary school (they are required to attend school through the 8th grade) is about $250 per school year – if they want to go on to high school and make something of themselves then there is more cost - about $1000 for the first year and about $750 for each successive year per child. Primarily the cost is because the students have to board as high schools are few and far between and not found at all in the more rural areas. The Maasai – who are the primary beneficiaries of this foundation – were nomadic rural people when we first met with them in the 1970’s. They lived off their cows. But when school became mandatory it was hard to be nomadic, so the culture slowly changed. At first not all maasai were able to send their children to school as they simply had no money, so they would send only one of perhaps 4, 5 or 6 children.
Even now while driving around we often see children playing in the streets and when we stop to ask why they aren’t in school it’s the same each time “my parents have no money for me to go to school”.
So mandating school for all kids sounds wonderful, but if there is no way to provide for payment, then kids are left behind. Now, generally the people will sell one of their cows and that usually generates enough money for one school year for one child in the primary grades. We are paying now for over 100 children to go to school who otherwise would not be able to. So the apartment buildings will continue to provide income to each support a number of children in school. We have very kind friends who are sponsoring about 14 students to go to high school who otherwise could not go. And eventually, we’ll need to find a way for some of the clever students to be able to go to University – more on that later. We continue to build and I will discuss that project in a later blog. We have one plot left that we will eventually build another apartment building on and we are anxious to get the money to do so in the not too distant future.