The St Charles Lwanga Secondary School and Children’s Center, Ruai, Nairobi, Kenya was started in 2010 by Br John Kennedy Oronjo, a brother of the St Charles Lwanga Brothers of Kenya. As a brother of St Charles Lwanga Br Kennedy felt strongly about his mission to work with the poor and underprivileged of the slums of Nairobi.

He was stationed in a brother’s residence just outside Nairobi. Every day he went to the poorest areas and saw so many homeless and abandoned children who were trying to survive by their wits, without a home or anyone to care for them. He began by inviting them to eat and eventually sleep at the brother’s residence. Realizing that food and shelter alone would not break the cycle of destitution and poverty Br Kennedy started a very basic version of the St Charles Lwanga Secondary School and Children’s Center. Each day was a struggle as they relied on the goodness of good people to provide them with food and the basic necessities of life. As word spread of this refuge more and more youth, begged to be admitted to the school. Up to now the school had been surviving on the donations of good people and the effort of friends in the Netherlands. In 2012 Br Kennedy was accepted to attend the Coady International Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Coady International Institute’s 19-week diploma provides a critical and reflective framework for experienced development practitioners to enhance their leadership competencies and their abilities to motivate and support people in creating a better world for future generations.

During his stay in Canada he took a day trip to Margaree his group was invited for dinner in Judique, NS. This was where he became acquainted with John Mac Innis. John brought Br Kennedy’s dream of a functioning school for these neglected children to a community group Inverness County Welcomes, [changed later to Inverness County Cares (ICC)], who agreed to give $500 per month to provide the school with food for year. As the population of the school increased to 280 it was necessary to increase the donation to $800 per month.

The school existed on the very basic amenities that would keep the students fed, sheltered and provide the with a high school education, with no frills. International partners provided the school with some infrastructure and necessities to run the school. The school was at that point, existing under very basic conditions.

In 2015 Inverness County Cares approached Chalice Canada in Bedford, Nova Scotia to form a partnership. Chalice agreed to join  for a three-year trial, on a year to year basis. This partnership spurred ICC to increase their contribution to $60, 000 a year and Chalice matched it with $60, 0000 as well.

The outcome of this partnership was soon evident. The food served the students increased in nutrition and portion size, medical aide was provided, transportation and essential hygiene needs (girls now had menstrual pads and could attend school all month). It provided basic amenities such as clothing, uniforms, bedding, personal hygiene products, immunizations, basic health care, school fees, books, laboratory equipment, teachers’ guides, teaching materials and other classroom resources. Two sewing machines were provided along with 8 new (outdoor) toilet stalls and a urinal were constructed to alleviate the line-ups caused by only 4 toilet stalls for 280 people. Basic Internet service, maintenance and insurance for the van (bought with last budget), examination fees, medicines and emergency medical fees were also included. The CPP provides salaries for an accountant, administrator, principal, vice principal, cook, night watchman and a nurse.

The budget is prepared a year in advance in cooperation with ICC, Chalice and the Lwanga School. The staff and administration of the school outline the needs of the school and all parties work out a one-year budget, which is very strictly followed. The school must submit a financial report each quarter, as to how the budgeted money is spent, including a statement of expenses, bank statement, exchange slips and receipts for all expenditures. A narrative progress report must be submitted for each quarter, including photographs visually outlining the expenditures and at the end of each year an annual report will be submitted. Any substantial changes to the approved CPP must have prior written approval from Chalice Canada.

This January the better nutrition, improved school lessons and better living conditions bore fruit. All children passed their government exams and 3 students won scholarships to prestigious Kenyan universities…. an unbelievable accomplishment.

Breaking down the $120,000 individually, $428.00 is spent on each student, this providing for all their needs, personal and educational. In comparison, quoting the Barbara Mitchel Centre for Improvement in Education, in 2013 Nova Scotia spent $12,000 per student for education alone.

Written: January 2017