Posted by: Ali Osborne
Following a whirlwind journey: Vancouver – LA – Amsterdam – Nairobi – Kisumu, fellow Mama Hope advocate Lexi and I arrived a little under three weeks ago. We got right down to business and spent the next three days touring our project sites. I spent the first week buying local veggies at the market, learning my way around Ramba village where I’m living, staying as hydrated as possible in the heat, visiting the thriving tomatoes growing at the Akili farm in Obunga slum, sharing giggles, songs, games, and snuggles with the girls at the school, and meeting with the four teachers. I also had the opportunity to visit the construction site for the new school building. No one prepared me for how epically beautiful it would be! It’s out in Obambo village, overlooking the endless expanse of Lake Victoria and the distant Kisumu hills. It’s an incredible plot of land, absolutely perfect for the girls’ school.
Last week we welcomed 12 volunteers from the States and Ireland who helped move stones alongside local workers – it was time to build those classroom walls! It was incredible to watch the walls taking shape, and next we’ll start on the roof!
Now that we’ve bid our visitors farewell, it’s on to budgets, tackling the 5-year strategic plan (we recently coined the term "sustainakility" to describe our commitment towards achieving sustainability at Akili), and harvesting the first round of tomatoes at the Akili farm.
I’ve been so grateful for a smooth transition into working alongside Erick and David, the founders at Akili School. I’m witnessing firsthand how Erick and David’s commitment to their dream is bringing about real change within their community. The girls are Akili are given the opportunity to access an education, encouraged to grow and dream in a safe environment, and grow the Akili farm produce that will generate both income for the school’s operating costs as well as a nutritional meal for the girls during the school day.
Recently we had a three-hour meeting in the hut outside the school which ranged from business interspersed with topics flowing from their proposed poultry project to some deeply moving stories describing the impetus behind their commitment to educating and empowering girls to openly and frankly sharing our thoughts on the limitations and benefits of development work, voluntarism, and fund-raising. These guys just really get it. I am more inspired than ever by their approach, their resourcefulness, and their willingness to think outside the box and try new things. They already feel like playful older brothers and I appreciate our casual, lighthearted dynamic. I greatly admire and respect their tireless commitment to their dream, all while caring for their sweet baby daughters and lovely wives.
Interested in joining our journey to support the Akili girls? Please visit our Get Involved page to donate to the Akili School Feeding program. You can help us raise money to feed the girls daily meals for the next school year.
Riley Orton Foundation
Riley Orton Foundation (ROF) provides holistic education and promotes gender equality in STEM education to ensure girls and a community with the agency to realize their full potential