26 May Creating Perspectives in a Polytechnic in Kenya
In 2009, when I visited the Sigul Youth Polytechnic in Anyiko (West Kenya) for the first time, it consisted of two rooms and a half. The front room served as the office of the assistant chief, who is in charge of administrative tasks in the village. The other one was a nursery school for a few children when it rained. Otherwise they sat outside under a tree. The third room had been built half way, but it had never been finished and the unprotected walls were withered.
The people in the community, especially the Board of Governors, a group of elderly men dedicated to make this thing happen, had started this project several years ago. School education is highly valued and obligatory in Kenya, but employment is scarce, especially in the countryside. Therefore the secondary schools regularly produce hundreds of graduates who have been trained to find a white collar jobs but end up back to their parents’ farms.
The community needed an alternative for young people becoming desperate and feeling neglected. They decided to set up a polytechnic school teaching tailoring, mechanics, electrical engineering, masonry and other practical skills. But mostly the school intends to provide a perspective even for those families who cannot afford to pay university fees or job hunting ventures.
With The Wandering Samaritan funds from the Miracle Bank, my husband and I bought a new sewing machine in Nairobi and transported it to Anyiko. There we had an old table fixed for it and brought to the school. Now, they have five sewing machines, and only two girls have to share a machine, so that everyone gets to sew and train a couple of times a day.
When we went there to deliver the machine, the girls took my measures and decided that they wanted to make me a dress for Christmas, when they will have done their exams. With those certificates, they can set up their own small business, or work for someone who already has one. They can continue learning and become constructors themselves. But most of all, they have something to present and to be proud of. They have a perspective and the good feeling of having accomplished something.