agara has been established for a while and is becoming well-known not only with volunteers, but also with people who were never involved in the voluntary sector. Since it’s launching, agara began to promote its aims and ideals. From just an idea of founding an NGO, agara started taking its own character which distinguishes it from other organisations.
Although there were already several initiatives taking place, agara’s portfolio was still bare from tangible projects. It was the time to kick off with a project to address the well-being of its beneficiaries and be sustainable! An idea cropped up … What about starting to collect laptops, formatting them and set up an IT lab in an educational setting? It sounded very exciting, and from that week, we started promoting this project.
After discussing different possibilities, the choice fell on a school in Nguluni, Kenya. The school is run by The Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Since the congregation is also present in Malta, and a Maltese sister is responsible for the school, it was easier making the necessary arrangements to take the laptops to Kenya.
The project entitled #K4Kenya was promoted far and wide to raise funds for our first venture. We can still recall organising four consecutive gigs as a fundraising event, whilst gathering laptops and settling all provisions to be well-prepared for the following seven weeks in the heart of Africa.
The long-awaited day arrived and after bidding farewell to our family and friends, we headed to Kenya pondering about what we might encounter during this experience. As we landed and entered the airport carrying eight laptops each, we were welcomed by a large billboard … Karibu Kenya, which means “Welcome in Kenya”. And truly it was a heartfelt welcome from the sisters, teachers, children, staff and all the people that we met during our stay in Nguluni. It is already extremely rare for them to see an mzungu (a white person) walking by in the streets, let alone meeting a group of people setting an IT lab in a Kenyan school. This memory is still ingrained in my mind, especially the interest shown from teachers and students. We were assured that a professional teacher has been assigned to teach IT to all the students.
Besides establishing the IT lab, we were also allowed to join different lessons and carry out various activities. I still recall the difficulty in explaining Malta’s geographical and population size. We could see the evident differences from our educational system. The school setting; morning and dismissal assemblies and the distribution porridge to every student during break time. Furthermore, the school transport and prize day are other examples of the differences between their system and ours. However, their smiling faces are still imprinted in our minds. We exchanged some songs and, Jambo Bwana surely remains fixed in our heads. Eating mouth-watering food, hopping in a matatu (public transport) and attempting to dance with Kenyan music made our stay more memorable.
Instituting an IT lab was the main aim of our visit in Nguluni. However, our adventure was also spiced up with an experience with the Missionaries of Charity (Sisters of Mother Teresa) who are in Huruma, which is a slum area in the suburbs of Nairobi. Admiring the unforgettable magical scenes of Masai Mara during a safari was another highlight of our trip.
#K4Kenya project did not stop with our departure from Kenya as it paved the way for PolePole Project which in Swahili means slowly. And that’s how agara is still operating. In a slow but steady pace, agara is introducing further initiatives and supporting projects which give hope to people.
Written by :
Joseph Pellicano – Board member and research team leader.