In Kabiria, a slum area located in the outskirts of Nairobi, a school for small children, named “Happy Child Education Center” (HCEC), opened its doors last week. Joint enablers of this educational and social project are the foundations Cargo Human Care, Help Alliance, the Regine Sixt Children’s Foundation and the Anglican Church of Kenya – all of which are supported by Lufthansa Cargo and other donors, financing the facility which cost €160,000. Up to 100 children can be taught there one day, beginning immediately with a first group of 60 learners.
There is nothing much to add to the words of Bishop Timothy Ranji of the Kenyan Anglican Church. When superficially considered, “this project looks like being just a drop in the big ocean in view of the wide-spread heartbreaking poverty. But it’s much more than that, emphasized the man of God in his inaugural speech: “We are living in a global village. Laying the educational foundations for children growing up in the neighborhood of this school is good for them, it’s a blessing for Kenya and beneficial for mankind in general.” Besides learning reading, writing and arithmetic it is similarly valuable what is raised here: “the foundations of freedom, honesty, human understanding based on ethical rules of behavior,” the clergy said. He ended with this remarkable statement: “You all can see what happens in the USA today: there is no honesty. Or look at Syria – it’s a big pain to me.”
Lighthouse project in a region where grief prevails
Indeed, a remarkable and contemplative speech on the occasion of a joyful event: the inauguration of the “Happy Child Education Center” in the midst of shanty houses and barracks scattered across Nairobi’s suburb as far as the eye can see and surrounding the new educational lighthouse project.
The HCEC is the latest result of social and medical initiatives kicked off by welfare and charity organization Cargo Human Care. Built from scratch 10 years ago and based on a personal initiative of Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F captain Fokko Doyen in close partnership with the Anglican Church, CHC has meanwhile become an indispensable constituent of Nairobi’s imperfect system of humanitarian and social aid. This is documented by Mothers’ Mercy Home, housing and nourishing 120 orphans, the John Kaheni Residence, named after Fokko’s foster child who passed away due to an incurable heart disease at the age of 20, where up to 24 adolescents reside, getting vocational training and developing competencies supported by professionals. The list would be incomplete without mentioning the technically well-equipped medical center, where alternating German doctors provide free medical assistance to the CHC children, but also look after sick residents in the neighborhood. The doctors flight tickets are fully sponsored by Lufthansa Cargo.
Drop, after drop, after drop becomes a river, flowing into the ocean
All of these projects started very small but have meanwhile become quite big, financially supported by hundreds of godparents. This only applies indirectly to the new HCEC because it is not a member of the Cargo Human Care network, although initiated and kicked off by CHC. Entirely responsible for the institution’s further well-being is the Anglican Church, hence Bishop Timothy and his clergymen of St. Paul’s Riruta West Kabiria Parish. CHC’s Fokko Doyen handed over the big key to the Bishop, symbolizing the transfer of responsibilities for the Happy Child Education Center to the church.
A child without education is a lost child – J. F. Kennedy
Head teacher, looking after all educational matters and responsible for her future five colleagues, is Tabitha Njeri Njuguna. The children, all wearing uniforms, come from the neighborhood, attend lessons and return home after school is over. “It all starts with playgroups of two to three-year-old children and ends with them when reaching grade four. “But medium-term we plan to add a secondary school to our center,” she told CargoForwarder Global. Fokko Doyen joining in citing J.F. Kennedy who once said that “only one thing is more expensive than education – no education.”
German Ambassador to Kenya Annett Guenther stated it makes her very proud that her fellow countrymen, but also private German organizations and enterprises took the initiative, supporting the Happy Child Education Center. “This is a civilian project at its very best,” the diplomat exclaimed. In a meeting with officials following the inauguration ceremony Mrs Guenther indicated support by her Embassy as well.
Finally, member of Parliament John Kiarie exclaimed in his vivid and emotional contribution that the HCEC will hopefully lead to less drunkards and prostitutes. Because “if you enjoyed sufficient schooling, you can manage your own life as adult and do not run the risk of going off the rails,” he said.
The politician in his role as member of the Justice & Legal Affairs Committee promised to do his utmost in Parliament to introduce a waiver program for charity projects. If successful, this would greatly reduce bureaucracy and pave the way for foreign initiators to start social aid programs in Kenya without endless and nerve-racking approval procedures.
(Text and images with kind permission from Heiner Siegmund, from cargoforwarder.eu)