“On January 4, 2012, ACI President David Neely dedicated the Billibo Community School to the Maasai community located 30 km north of the Tanzania - Kenya border town of Namanga, Kenya. In partnership with the Kijiji Ya Sanaa Trust, ACI funded the construction of the open air school and provided school supplies for the 45 Maasai children attending the grand opening. The local community has hired 4 teachers and will use a brick making machine to build partial walls for the school. The school is the initial element of the Maasai Community Development Project, which includes future elements such as a library for the school, a medical clinic, a renewable energy module, a waste recycle module, a micro business element to fund future projects, a vocational training module, and a reforestation element. The reforestation element was started the day of the school dedication when several trees were planted by the ACI team and the local community.”
I received a report from our partner, Kijiji Ya Sanaa Trust regarding the successful development of the project by the local community through the cooperative efforts of civil, governmental, and corporate partners. All of which has been driven by the project trust and community leadership. The report included the fact that earli in 2013 a strategic meeting was held with new people on the Kijiji Ya Sanaa Trust board and the local committee to set up structures (official partnership guidelines for completion of the total project), which have proved to be very successful.
The Maasai community, elders, and leaders have shown their support by putting up a wonderful management team for the school. The 3 teachers of the Billibo Community School faithfully taught with dedication, the parents also continued to support the teachers up keep (salary). The school averaged 39 pupils who showed progress and development in their studies.”
The local Administration attended all the project’s quarterly meetings, and the Billibo Community School was able to participate in the Kajiado County 2-day workshop for local and international investors. There were a few challenges which the project recognized, primarily the fact that the number of females attending Billibo Community School had dropped. Additionally, the following needs were identified: lack of learning materials, an additional teacher's table and student benches & tables, water, and the construction of a security fence around the project property.
Mrs. Wangui Nyoike, of the Kijiji Ya Sanaa Trust writes, “There is great development and families have advanced to higher levels in their livelihood and health. Soon the general hospital will be officially opened to the public, and there are several secondary schools coming up. Kijiji is under new management, working with cooperates, government, local administration, local leaders, and churches. Our policy is to enter into a memorandum of understanding with all interest party and must fit into our plan. Our pillars are Christianity, Education, Health, Empower, Impact, Progress, Hard work and Transformation” She goes on to say, “The team work among the community is amazing, the families have put up new and decent houses for their families. They were able to raise their own funds to facilitate the community and their livestock with water.” Prof. Nenkai followed up on the drilling of borehole, water harvest, and water storage.
Additionally, it has been reported that there has been the following resolution to issues, as well as continued project development, again led by the local community:
· The Kenya Forestry Service will assist in planting 1,000 trees for energy & fuel during the long runs. (Reforestation element of the project)
· Ciiru Njomo, is working to develop exchange programs with other schools and implementation. (Education element of the project)
· Paul Senet, is serving as the Billibo Community School head and over the school’s management. (Education element of the project)
· Silandoi, is developing vocational skills and empowerment programming for the community. (Education and women’s empowerment element of the project)
· Mrs. Wangui, heading up the women projects and savings initiative. (Education and women’s empowerment element of the project)
· Started the cultivation of 2 acres for open farming of vegetable and beans. (Agricultural element of the project)
· Developing a feeding program. (Relief element of the project)
· Constructing a school office, house for head teacher, and two classrooms in partnership with local organizations. (Education element of the project)
· Developing project brochures and opening up a website for project promotion and communication.
· Establishing an annual subscription Fee for Kijiji Board members and partners for sustainability of the administration elements.
· Actively inviting additional partners to come on board to work with Kijiji Ya Sanaa Masai Development Project
Initially, when we found out that the community no longer needed our LifeBox Education module, it was a bit disappointing from the perspective that were not able to actually build out this first container in country; however, from a development perspective it is something that we can celebrate. It is been a long time coming since the initial visit with the community back in 2010. Lessons have been learned through this past four years. Namely, I learned that I was hypersensitive to being perceived as driving or pushing the community to do something that they were not ready for that this project did not move very fast. The idea for any project is for ACI to make the physical and emotional investment in the community, and basically empowering them, or helping the community leadership recognize that, as a local community, they have the capacity, both physical and financial, to follow through on the overall project without overseas aid if given the right leadership and training. From that perspective, I am celebrating the fact that they have chosen to move forward under new leadership of the trust, and complete the project as designed by ACI and Dale Duncan from McLennan Design, LLC, to a large extent. I would have loved to build the container out for them, but the overall goal for ACI is not to place LifeBox containers in communities, but to help communities established development projects that are self-sustaining and driven by the community itself.
ACI has already been contacted about using the LifeBox Education Module in Zambia and Uganda. Thank you for your continued support of ACI as we develop the LifeBox solution, but more than that as we help communities become empowered to establish community driven, self-sustainable projects.
David L. Neely, ACI President