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Education for Kenya
Jesus Cubero

Roberta di Nicolantonio
Alvaro Portellano

My name is Jesús Cubero and I´m –like YOU-, a person in the privileged world with regular concerns and existential doubts, with some virtues and some defects, but with the amazing fortune for of having been born in the part of the world where having a home, eating three meals a day and having access to medicines is taken for granted.

I´m a person who -like YOU- from time to time collaborates with NGOs and makes donations to humanitarian causes. I won´t tell you anything that you don´t already know, but I would like you to listen to our proposal.

After too much time talking with NGOs, looking for an adequate project that really made me feel that 100% of my money and time were spent in the purpose, I took the decision of creating my own project during a trip to Kenya.

What we describe here is not just my project but yours, it is ours. I promise that together we will change things and we will find a reason to think that YOU and YOUR actions count and can help making a better world.

With that purpose, we need my friend´s (and the friends of my friend´s) collaboration, because it is only by transmitting you our passion for the project that all this may make sense.

Will YOU help us?

My name is Roberta Di Nicolantonio, I live in Milano and I couldn’t imagine that a holiday trip to Kenya may turn into the birth of such an impacting initiative. I had the luck of discovering that part of the world together with a courageous person, willing to change things, Jesús.

When we saw with our own eyes the problems that kids living in Watamu were suffering he told me: “come, let´s talk to these families and with the school director and offer them help. I´m sure there is something we can do”. Everything started out from this sentence, and we worked in a very structured and professional manner -avoiding loose ends and improvisation that may subtract seriousness to the project. We got in touch with banks, we met families one by one, we looked for representatives in the field...

“Important” is word we use too frequently, and who knows how many times those things or moments really are important to our lives. To me, “important” is having had the chance of observing a way of live so different from mine, of being welcomed like a princess in rustled-up huts like homes, of seeing pictures of those kids in Watamu going to school when the Project became alive, and of knowing that those kids will have a better future thanks to education. I hope that each of YOU feel really “important” and special too for allowing this initiative to become a reality.

My name is Alvaro Portellano, and although I have an engineering background, my personal curiosity has always driven me beyond developing a satisfactory professional career.

Travelling and adventure expeditions have typically filled my leisure time, but I honestly think that helping other people is one of the most gratifying experiences that someone could ever face, and that is the reason why when the opportunity of helping Jesús and 24 Friends came, I didn´t vacillate for a second.

Now I feel that I tiny spot in Kenya called Watamu is a part of me and, undoubtedly, that working for the kids in that region to receive some so valuable as a quality education is worth dedication, efforts, and passion. And, to tell you the truth, it is me that feels an immense gratitude of being awarded with the sincere warmth of the people in that remote part of the world.

24 friends

How did the project begin?

During a trip to Kenya in the summer of 2013 we visited Watamu area, a lovely location where you can find sea stars, exotic fishes, palm trees, turquoise water and fine white sand) and what shocked us the most is the significant number of kids wondering the beach begging for money and playing with homemade footballs confectioned with spare fabric pieces. They were dressed up with clothes that tourists gave away at the end of their holidays. Very few of them had access to education and their future seemed to be very uncertain.

Local population typically work in the fishing industry or as tourist guides. Although, to tell the truth, the lack of money to invest in touristic infrastructures force local people to arrange improvised tours across the nature beauty around.

We became friends with one of the guys offering tours in the beach. His name is Abubakar, aka Amedeo. We had a good time having long conversations which allowed us to understand the crude reality for locals there. We understood that boys and girls around were really struggling to have a future and make a living. So we asked him a pretty simple question: “How can we really help these kids?” The answer was also straight and simple: “Education”.

And he was certainly right. Not having a good education equals to not having a prosper future. We recall an inspiring sentence: “A life is dignified when a person has the tools to change his future”. We saw it clearly and understood that it was in our hands to help and add our two cents worth!

Education may allow these kids to develop personally and to contribute to the welfare of their community. Only through education the destiny of a collective can be redirected and its successful development can be granted.

We concluded that by knowing these families and kids personally and by getting into their daily context we may have the right inspiration to help them and assuring that our contribution would target a very specific purpose.

So we asked Amedeo to take us to his village along several days and to introduce us to some families that may need support for their son/daughter education. And so he did. Visiting one family after another a domino effect took place, since we understood we had the chance to help them and their kids.

When we visited their homes and experienced the reality they live in, we decided not to stop. Thus we wrote a list of every boy or girl that we were able to help. And we ended up with a list of 24 kids whose personal and family context impacted us the most.

And so the idea of launching the 24 Friends Project became a reality. Now it was our turn to convince 24 people back in our hometowns to help the 24 kids in the list, and consequently help creating a better life for their 24 families. At last we had conceived a clear, transparent and impacting project. Simple: no intermediaries and tangible results.

Why “investing” in education?

According to the information published by the UNESCO in 2011, in Africa two out of three kids are don´t have access to education or the receive it intermittently or deficiently. Regarding this statement we could talk for hours! We met some kids that after 12 years attending public “schools” in Watamu, they were not even able to make a simple sum.

Education is a fundamental human right, and it is inherent to every girl and boy. It is crucial for people´s individual and collective development, and contributes to build the solid foundation for a productive and fruitful future. Looking after kids´ quality education, based on fundamental rights and gender equality, we aim to create an expansive opportunities to impact on present and future generations.

Why helping the kids in Kenya?

Kenya is located in the eastern cost of Africa and surrounded by Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Kenya is a beautiful and diverse country with fantastic reputation as a touristic destination. Tourism is the main source of income for the country. As for the rest of the countries across Africa, AIDS is one of the top concerns. With nearly 1.3 million people infected with the virus, only around 550,000 of them receive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Malnutrition represents a significant threat for the population living in the poorest regions of Kenya, a country that directly relies on survival agriculture. In Kenya there is also a remarkable problem with kids wandering the streets or unstructured families. They don´t have the chance neither to receive an educations nor to have access to opportunities for growth and development that may allow this people to escape from social marginalization. Our aim with this project is to contribute covering these problems, funding the necessary education that will permit these kids to grow as full developed and capable persons, raising awareness to prevent infections and diseases, and providing with daily meals during the kids´ stay in school. Not occasionally, but as a constant commitment.

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The purpose of 24 Friends

To achieve long-lasting improvements in disadvantaged children´s quality of life, through facilitating and education that may provide them with hopes, culture and values.

  The Project began by funding:

  • Primary School tuition
  • School uniform, sports equipment, and shoes
  • School materials
  • Daily transportation to school and back
  • Meals

Africa
The first 24 kids
The first 24 kids

This initiative would not be possible without a school able to fit our purpose. Consequently, we visited the best school in the area -according to local people´s opinion-. Sawa Sawa Academy is located in Timboni, very close to Watamu and Malindi.

In this school, the kids receive a very complete education, with no discrimination of race, ethnicity or religion. In fact, Muslim and Christian pupils share classes in perfect harmony, being an example for cohabitation. Also, they receive nutritious full meals every day.

Classes start at 7am and end at 6pm. So kids are supervised and well fed, allowing families to make a living during the day, instead of taking care of their children. While in school there is no exposure to dangers for the kids.

Our first get-together with the owners of the school turned to be very positive. Isabelle Lambert (native to Belgium, with nearly 30 years of residence and Kenya) and Jelani (native to Kenya and husband to Isabelle), together with their son and a bunch of motivated teachers, managed the school with passion, dignity and ethics, offering a “certainty” rare to find in that context and that we considered a corner stone for our Project. We agreed to transfer directly to the school all the money coming from the sponsorships, no intermediaries –avoiding corruption issues, something unfortunately very frequent in Africa-. 100% of the sponsors´ contribution goes straight to the school and kids.

When do classes start and how long the education lasts?

The original kids under the scope of the 24 Friends Project began going to school in January 2014. The kids to be added to the program will begin in January 2015. In Kenya, the academic year takes 9 months, with a 1-month holiday after each trimester:
Trimester 1: January to March. April: holidays
Trimester 2: May to July. August: holidays
Trimester 3: September to November. December: holidays

The sponsored education will continue up to the end of Primary School (approximately 14 years old). It is important to highlight that the age not always matches a specific academic level; this varies depending on first school attendance.

There are 12 academic levels covering kids from 2 to 14 years-old:
Baby Class
Kindergarten 1, 2 and 3
Primary Standard 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

niños

After level Standard 8, the girl or boy accrues and education similar to Secondary School in Europe, considering the intensity of class schedules and the high quality education standard.

This appealing Project started up with 24 children, but we were determined to continue and that is the reason why we elaborated a list with another 87 girls and boys that also need our help. During our last visit to Watamu, we met all of them and their parents and learned about their personal circumstance one by one.

Regarding costs, these vary according to the education level of each of the children. In order to simplify and make and equitable breakdown of cost among all the sponsors, we worked hand in hand with Sawa Sawa Academy in elaborating a general budget for the 116 kids (original 24 children + additional 87 starting in 2015), and the total costs will be equally shared. A detailed breakdown of costs will be facilitated to each and every sponsor, since transparency is and will always be our major concern, as you can see in the following link.

Every month we deliver a money transfer to the school representatives so they manage it according to the agreed costs. This way we grant that 100% of the donated money goes directly to the school to cover fees, materials, uniforms and transportation. No intermediaries involved. Targeting to reduce the monthly money transfer costs to Kenya, we negotiated very favorable bank fees with Banco Santander due to the humanitarian purpose involved.

Consequently, each transaction with the school in Kenya will be charged with a 15€ fee on top of the transferred amount (regardless of what this amount is), which as detailed in the cost breakdown represents a very small incremental to the total annual costs of the Project.

 

Banco Santander account details are the following:
24 FRIENDS
ES20 0049 1221 91 2110276306

BIC: BSCHESMMXX    

The yearly cost of the sponsorship (for each child) is 299,79 euro (24,98 euro per month)

How can you help and be a part of 24 FRIENDS?
Anytime you want, contact any of us so we will provide you with more detailed information of the Project and you can get more insights in person. We will be more than happy to clear out any doubt or question you may have.


jesuscubero@24friends.org
0039-3442550041
(I speak Spanish, English and Italian)

robertadinicolantonio@24friends.org
0039-3469603742
(I speak Italian and English)

alvaroportellano@24friends.org
0034-638092587
(I speak Spanish, English and French)
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