Last week the Tumaini School building was officially opened by His Excellency Bary Ouvry, the Belgian Ambassador to Kenya, amidst great excitement and ceremony. This is certainly a huge landmark in the history of Giraffe and of Tumaini School.
The Giraffe-Tumaini partnership began in 2005, following the Baines' first visit to the school. At that time, there were just 45 pupils and 3 unpaid teachers meeting in an iron-sheet slum building, with virtually no books, equipment or food.
The most urgent needs for books and a feeding programme were put in place immediately, and a sponsorship programme launched soon after. In 2006 the upper school was upgraded to a conrete building, and plans and fund-raising began for the new 4-storey, purpose built school officially opened last week. The land was bought and the foundation stones laid in May 2009. 3 years later the school has 12 bright, spacious classrooms, a computer room, a library, staff room, offices and toilets. The school is registered, and 2 classes have already taken their national exams and achieved grades averaging a C, allowing all the pupils access to secondary education, with some gaining places in Kenya's top schools.
The building was entirely funded by the Giraffe Project through donations and fund-raising events, mostly in Belgium and the UK. In addition, almost 100 students are sponsored through the Giraffe Project sponsorship programme, by families and individuals whose donations cover tuition, food, books, uniform and medical needs. Another 100 are supported by a partnering organisation in Canada. Further support is being sought for the remaining 100 pupils.
Tumaini School's children all live in the slum, and face huge challenges on a daily basis. Most go home to a single over-crowded room without electricity or running water, posses few clothes beyond their school uniform, and know what it is to go to bed hungry. Without Tumaini many would probably not have had the chance to go to a proper school at all. For them the school is much more than a place of learning; it is also a place of comfort, counsel, food and medical care, and above all a community and source of hope.