Founding trustee Russell Hicks is currently visiting Kenya and catching up with all the collaborators in each of the centres, as well as making sure our funds go to the right places. One of his first visits was to the Life Skills Centre in Nyamache, where 600 children have benefitted from Boo’s support. In total 51 new businesses have been established and virtually all children have ended up in employment. Russell comments “Janet, Gitau, Cornelius & Thomas who run the facility have done an amazing job”. During the visit they shared with him and the Boo team some of the children’s incredible stories of how they have gone from extreme hardship to significantly improved lives.
Russell takes up the story:
The morning started with the new Boo Metal Work Class of 2017, where teacher Edna leads the way for females in African society inspiring development. Edna not only leads the 2 year course but also wants to expand her mechanical engineering knowledge. The students in the class were highly enthusiastic, already making windows, bolt latches, and cooking implements. After seeing such success we are now looking for driven volunteers to help Edna to teach welding and fabrication as we want to expand with more equipment, vices, pillar drills, grinders, HSE equip, and posters.
Next on the visit was Life Skills Centre’s Computer Class run by Thomas Bagaka, another inspiration. Thomas has battled his whole life as a result of contracting Polio at the age of four but he refuses to be treated anything other than normal. He ran his own very small IT business before he decided to join Boo to impart his knowledge to youngsters. He is an avid promoter of vaccinations in the local community speaking at several church and social meetings. The students in his class are just starting the 2 year course but we are already looking into providing his class with more computers to increase the number of learners and give them an overall boost.
Next we visited the Hairdressing Salon Class of 2017 with teacher Karen Makwabe. She has the largest class with around 33 girls and is still oversubscribed. The spirit amongst the girls was electric and very infectious; the hair platting was an incredible work of art. Karen is teaching the various techniques, helping them understand that quality and speed will be the secret to business success even at this early stage in the two year course.
We finished the day with Dressmaking Class run by Karen Makwobe who is teaching the skills and processes needed to take the students all the way through to running their own business. The students were both boys and girls and whilst year two students were learning business skills, year one students were super excited about the school dress they had just finished.
Russel and the team then caught up with two previous students, Sylvia, who now has a beautiful little girl, is married and running her business with plans to expand into fabric distribution; and Nancy, who was a 2015 student and started her own business as a single mum.
“You have to understand that these girls have had a very rough life our centre may even have been the last opportunity. This region of Kenya has a historical culture of FGM, very young marriage, domestic abuse. We are not only helping these girl but also educating the community, it’s a very complex subject but through this process & support structures, the community is making progress, ladies are gaining strength & voice. Very initially when Boo Life Skills Centre started the male community was very negative, now we see a wider community really seeing the benefits & restoring equilibrium of male & females within the society.” – Russel explains.
We are so very proud of what’s been achieved with the hard work of so many both in the UK and in Kenya.