Securing a bright future for Mukuru’s vulnerable children
“Every leader is a reader.” This inscription on the walls of Brittons Community School serves as constant encouragement for students to excel in their studies.
Founded in 2005 by four members of the Transformation and Restoration Church, the school’s vision is to build up the Mukuru community through education. “Many children, particularly orphans in our area, have neither access to an education nor anyone to ensure they enroll in school,” says Geoffrey Onchieku, the school’s head teacher.
Geoffrey, passionate about teaching, has dedicated the last ten years to molding young minds. When he and his friends established Brittons School, he anticipated numerous challenges, primarily inadequate and insufficient educational resources and space, the difficulty of rehabilitating and counseling Mukuru’s orphans and street children, and the lack of toilets available for his pupils. In fact, there were no toilet facilities on the school grounds until two years ago. Instead, the school hired neighboring ones for the students and staff at a monthly fee of 1,500 Kenyan shillings. Located quite a distance from the school, the toilets were rarely cleaned.
“This was not a conducive learning environment for our students,” Geoffrey remembers. “Classes were often disrupted as teachers helped students who were throwing up in class or frequently leaving the classroom because of diarrhea.” As a result, students were often absent or dropped out of school entirely.
“In September 2014, Dennis Mogunde from Fresh Life visited our school to talk to us about installing Fresh Life Toilets to address our sanitation problems,” Geoffrey said, adding that he was also invited to a School WASH training on hygiene promotion.
At the training, Geoffrey and Robert Osiemo, the school’s science and health education teacher, learned easy methods of treating drinking water and proper hand washing skills to prevent the spread of disease-causing germs. Two Fresh Life Toilets were then installed at the school, and Robert began intensive hygiene trainings for all the students.
“Teacher Robert has done an impressive job of improving sanitation in the school. He has implemented ideas such as ‘tippy taps’ – hand-washing stations for students. In addition, he has installed trash bins around the school to ensure proper waste disposal and offer a clean learning environment,” says Patrick Mutuku, a hygiene trainer in the School WASH program.
With improved overall cleanliness, Brittons School’s enrolment rates have greatly increased. With only 210 students in 2014, the school currently boasts 330 students, of whom 43 are orphans receiving a free education. Geoffrey has also expanded the teaching staff to meet demand, and there are now thirteen teachers educating the growing student population.
Geoffrey envisions a bright future for Mukuru’s vulnerable children. He is working hard to develop an educational center where income-generating skills — such as tailoring and carpentry — will be offered to ensure that the youth in Mukuru are empowered to sustainably earn a living.
Geoffrey’s commitment to bettering the lives of Mukuru’s most vulnerable children is truly awe-inspiring, and we are delighted to be part of his work.