Free The Children Kenya In-Country Handout

Free The Children has been operating
in Kenya since 1999 within the Narok
South District, working with both Kipsigis and Maasai communities.
Free The Children concentrates its
efforts on the Maasai Mara region
since it is an area that has long been
forgotten by the Kenyan government.
The Maasai people, native to the
area, face significant challenges,
which threaten the survival of their
vibrant pastoral culture. The Maasai
people have little access to education
and health care services. Maasailand
also has the highest primary school
dropout rate in Kenya, a direct result
of: poor educational facilities, the
need for children to tend to cattle and
goats, and the lack of educational and
health support. Many of the Maasai
children who do go to school start
their education late because schools
are too far away from their communities.
The organization’s beneficiaries in
Kenya fall within the 23 per cent of
Kenyans who live in absolute poverty,
according to UNICEF 2004. In response to this need, Free The Children has engaged 10 communities in
various locations in the Maasai Mara
and we have built: 70 schools, libraries, water projects, latrines, kitchens
and teachers’ accommodations.
Within the partner communities of
Free The Children, there are more
than 40,000 community members
engaged in development and education projects.
Our team of community outreach and
development workers consistently
works with 100 active women, men,
and youth groups. The health needs
of the community are engaged
through mobile clinics, trainings with
the parent community on general
health, workshops with traditional birth
attendants, and seminars with the
children and youth on sanitation practices.
Free The Children was founded in 1995 by international child
rights activist Craig Kielburger, when he was only 12 years old.
Since, it has grown into the largest network of children helping
children through education in the world. The primary goal of the
organization is not only to free children from poverty and exploitation, but to also free young people from the idea that they are powerless to bring about positive social
change and to improve the lives of their peers.
Free The Children is unlike any other children's charity in the
world, as it is an organization by, of and for youth. Since 1995,
over 1 million individuals from 45 countries have been inspired to
become involved in its innovative, results-driven programs. The
organization works on both an international and local level.
In the last 13 years, Free The Children has:
• Built and equipped 500 primary schools in 16 developing countries;
• Shipped $10 million worth of medical supplies to children in need;
• Established nearly 2000 “Youth in Action” groups in 20 school
boards across North America;
• Addressed over 250,000 youth through leadership workshops
and motivational speeches;
• Facilitated international volunteer trips for more then 1,000 youth
key component of the foundation of society itself.
The debate of scholars and politicians alike is not
around its importance, but rather how to successfully build sustainable communities.
“Decision-making in a sustainable
community stems from a rich civic
life and shared information among
community members.” Centre For Sustainable Community Development, 2008
At Free The Children we recognize that community
building is at the base of any sustainable development programming.
To ensure that all our programs are sustainable, we
work in partnership with the communities where we
carry said programs. This participatory approach
allows us to actively engage all stakeholders not
only in our projects, but in the community itself. As
a result, all community members see their participation as a long term investment in their future and
that of the community as a whole.
According to the Canadian Rural Partnership, a
federal government agency, community capacity
building “is an on going process that develops leadership in a community and engages citizens in developing a shared vision for their community.”
Working in rural communities, at Free The Children
we understand the importance of this shared vision.
It is the first step towards creating a sense of ownership from the communities towards all our programming, which in turn ensures their sustainability.
Through our community mobilizers, we engage all
stakeholders at every step of the process. We have
set in place a series of strategies and initiatives to
make this happen. This approach enables the communities to:
• identify its strengths and weaknesses,
• mobilize internal and external resources to
meet local challenges,
• develop strategies for effective action, and
• increase their individual capacity to take advantage of opportunities.
The main activities we carry out to encourage community building are: Community Needs Assessment, Education Stakeholder Meetings and
Awareness Days.
Community building is a subject that has been studied by governments and individuals alike, as it is a
Our Community Needs Assessment are the first
step toward a fruitful partnership with a community.
The Free The Children team meets with local leaders, community elders, school headmasters, teachers, adults and children to determine the needs of
the community and their shared vision for the future.
These meetings take place to give a voice to all
those involved, directly or indirectly, in our programs. This step is crucial to consolidate our partnership, as it requires a strong commitment from
the communities to make our projects successful.
All main stakeholders take part in these meetings,
during which they are able to identify the barriers to
education and create a vision for their future. Some
of the main topics discussed include:
1. Girl Education - A focus on ensuring increased
enrollment for female students.
2. Education For All - A vision and commitment
from parents to ensure access to education for all
3. Community Support – All stakeholders, from
the parents to the school leadership team, have
committed their support to education by attending
stakeholders meetings and committing their time to
the projects.
define their school action plan to ensure quality
primary education.
These gatherings have also proven to be an effective tool in gender sensitization, as women play a
very active role in the discussion and decisionmaking process. The inclusion of women is essential as it shows the male community leaders how
much Free The Children values women’s opinions
and contributions.
At the same time, it also motivates more women to
take part in the discussions at mixed meetings as
they have a larger sense of empowerment. In the
last meetings most women spoke about their personal goals which included:
• Sending children to secondary school,
• Improving their mud home to a tin structure,
• Building a latrine on their homestead
Based on these discussions the women’s groups
then develop action plans to reach these goals.
This initiative involves a series of meetings with the
community chief, the school headmaster, school
teachers, the school committees and local leaders.
The purpose of these meetings is to evaluate current educational strategies, compare existing options, determine best-practices and continually re-
Oloosiyoi’s school committee, and principal after an
Education Stakeholder Meeting.
Students volunteering at the registration section
during Awareness Day.
Free The Children organizes several Awareness Days
in the Maasai Mara. The purpose of these events is to
discuss the communities' main challenges, provide
them with pertinent information and discuss potential
solutions to such problems. These events also provide a venue for Maasai and Kipsigi people to celebrate their success and their commitment to change
as a community.
All Awareness Days are hosted in a central location
and several communities are invited to these great
events. Members from various communities gather to
hear advice from elders, women leaders, and local
government officials while enjoying original dramas
and poems written and performed by the youth
Women learning from a representative of the Kenyan Ministry of
Health about the importance of water sanitation to prevent Malaria.
Each Awareness Day has a specific theme assigned
to address the main challenges that these rural communities face. Past themes have included “saying no”
child labor,
drug use,
female circumcision,
and early marriages.
Future themes will include peace and women empowerment.
A representative of the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture teaches
various community members regarding tree planting.
Free The Children: Making a Difference
Your support is crucial to maintain these initiatives:
A new medical clinic that will service surrounding
communities, providing health care and health education
A new high school that will service children in several communities
Many new classrooms, school kitchens and a library
New water systems , including several water wells
If you would like to support a community in Kenya,
please donate online at:
To obtain further information please email:
[email protected]