By Christi Zaleski, Vice President of Operations at The School Fund

The School Fund is dedicated to increasing access to education for high school students in the developing world by providing high achieving students with scholarships. We support 250 students from 13 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.  This summer we returned to our roots in East Africa where we met up with old friends, and made some new ones.

Our trip started in Tanzania, where we support 75 students with scholarships. The goal for that trip was to set up a pilot after school program for our 40 students in Iringa, Tanzania.  In Tanzania class sizes can often exceed 100 students : 1 teacher, collaborative learning is rare. Our after school program aims at improving our students’ quality of education and build leadership skills. The program is using small class sizes, peer tutoring, and student led lessons to help our scholarship recipients succeed in school.

After two weeks in Tanzania we travelled north to Nairobi and the surrounding towns where we met with some of our partners and scholarship recipients. We were treated to singing, dancing, and lots of discussion with our brilliant Kenyan students, many of whom we were meeting in person for the first time.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

The walk up to Ganglionga Rock in Iringa, Tanzania. Ganglionga is a favorite among locals and tourists for its spectacular views of the small city.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

In Thika, Kenya, our partner Agape Mercy Children’s Center runs an orphanage supporting children from toddlers to twenty year olds. The children consider themselves siblings. We ate the East African staple, ugali, with the whole family for lunch.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

When the leaders of TSF partner organization, Flying Kites, were choosing a location to build their orphanage, the question that drove them was: “Where would I want to live?” The location, atop a hillside in the Kenyan highlands in Njabini, is breathtaking and the kids who live there are some of the happiest we’ve ever met.  Here, a student washes her socks after school.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

In the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, about one million people live in an informal settlement the size of Central Park. ­­Residents have limited access to sanitation, clean water, and other government services like police and fire protection.  French street photographer JR created this art installation on the tops of roofs in Kibera.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

TSF partner, Children of Kibera, in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya helps high achieving students from slums pay their way through prestigious boarding schools and eventually through University. Children of Kibera also runs a small, quality primary school in Kibera where we met this student.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

Our after school program in Iringa, Tanzania empowers students to learn from one another, as well as the adults they’re used to hearing. Our “Technology Ambassadors” here help students in our program learn how to use the internet.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

In Wamunyu, Kenya, we were treated to an assembly with the whole school. Students brought their own chairs to the outdoor gathering space and performed songs before the speaking began.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

Pulling into the bus stop in Iringa, Tanzania.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

Some of the girls in our after school program in Iringa, Tanzania wait anxiously for class to begin.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

At Neema Craft Café in Iringa, Tanzania, a student performs in a talent show to raise money to build a jungle gym at his school.

 

Photo Credit: Alessandra Hartkopf

We took some time to visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi, where caretakers feed baby elephant milk during their twice-daily parades.

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