Gap-Africa was born out of contact made with Kikunduku Primary School by the leader of Shiplake College Expedition Society guiding a different school in 1994, and welcomes working with other schools on this project. Gap-Africa oversees all projects, a few of which are detailed below. But a few trustees, and keen visiting volunteers, cannot accomplish everything. Gap-Africa tries not to impact on the incomes of local tradesmen by undertaking work that they can do, but we do facilitate any works by ensuring that all the required materials are in place.
What Gap-Africa welcomes is partnerships, particularly with other schools and colleges in the U.K., Europe and the United States, to take on specific tasks under our umbrella, this also gives them the opportunity to experience a lot of what Kenya offers the student traveller. Gap-Africa can advise on this and offer up all the contacts needed.
Building Latrines – This is the poor cousin of all building schemes because no one seems to want to be associated with Latrines! Yet this is an absolutely vital aspect of our work because of simple hygiene. The effect on pupil and staff health is hugely impacted upon for the better if latrines are built when and where needed. We are currently experimenting with trial composting toilets that will save huge amounts, when working as they should, as they are constantly reusable. Once perfected within our environment these composting toilets will be spread across all the schools we work with.
School Uniforms – The uniforms go to the neediest and the AIDS orphans. This project raises morale in the community and also provides local merchants with trade as they supply all the requirements (bolts of cloth, thread, buttons etc.). The local Technical College’s dress making school also benefits, as they get to work with real cloth in making the uniforms (instead of sewing brown paper as usual!).
Well Digging – In the past ten years several hand dug wells have been made, but these wells are easily contaminated (often permanently) and therefore unsuitable for human consumption. We need help with this. We are therefore seeking funding for all aspects of well-digging projects, from hydrology reports through to pumps and pipe laying etc. We would prefer boreholes to be sunk, instead of hand dug wells; this will ensure that wells remain uncontaminated. We have a borehole fund established and dedicated funds are being set aside until we have enough to commission our first project. We are also maintaining contact with specific water charities hoping to climb up their waiting list. (see www.wellboring.co.uk)
Other Irrigation Projects – Having undertaken a study at one of the schools on the banks of the Athi River, it was found that if it owned its own pump and had the required piping system, the school Shamba could be planted with 600 mango trees and provide most of its own vegetables from the 15 acres under irrigation. It is thought that within ten years this school would become self sufficient and Gap-Africa could move to another school in need.
*** This project has been completed and is now flourishing. See our Blog.
Secondary School Sponsorship – It has been recognized that most children in Kenya do not progress beyond primary education as secondary school education is not a right and many cannot afford the fees. The cost is around £420 per annum (just over £1 per day for a whole year’s schooling). The success rate amongst these assisted students is staggering and they all return to their community to ‘put back’, trained teachers tend to return and work in our schools permanently.
Textbooks and School Stationery – School syllabus textbooks and stationery are always in short supply and this forms a regular element of the support that we provide to the schools and happens each year ‘under the radar’.
Building and refurbishment – Due to our success in supporting education, our school numbers have risen considerably as children are taken out of less successful schools and brought into the Kikunduku Schools Project (KSP) schools. This places a strain on the existing infrastructure of the KSP schools and we find the constant need to provide new classrooms, but also to refurbish existing ones as the harsh conditions around Kikunduku takes its toll on the existing fabric.
New Schools – To take the previous paragraph further, we have found it necessary to build a completely new Secondary School to cater for the increased numbers. We are about to complete the new Kyaani Secondary School and have already started construction on the new Kikunduku Secondary School.
Desk Construction – It is the job of each contingent of visitors or volunteers to set up a production line during their stay and manufacture desks and sets of shelving. The harsh conditions found here means desks are constantly in need of repair, and as school numbers rise more and more desks are needed. There will never be enough desks!
Health Projects – Many things happen under this heading. We are not qualified medics and as such need to be careful what we involve ourselves in. But we do find areas where simple intervention has community benefits.
Jiggers: Poverty means many children have no shoes, or even sandals. This allows easy access to the Jigger worm that burrows into soles of children’s feet. There is medical intervention available but the most affordable and widely applied treatment is via big plastic bowls and a solution of Omo washing detergent. The children soak their feet at school every day for half an hour, one week’s treatment is usually sufficient. (see Sandal heading below) Another action, funds permitting, is to spray the compound surface with a suitable insecticide.
Worms: Common here and easily and cheaply treated with pills we supply.
Roundworm: This fungal infection, usually of the scalp, is rife in the conditions found here. This is also easily treated very affordably with a suitable cream that staff apply daily as needed.
Malaria: Treatment is available at Kyaani Clinic and the Kenyans are very good at simple diagnosis and front line treatment that is usually all that is needed. We have a phase planned and ready for implementation to supply each child with a treated mosquito net. Other funding pressures means we have yet to implement this strategy. In an ideal world a UK school would undertake this as ‘their’ project. Volunteers please?
Sandals: When funds allow we call in the sandal ‘fundi‘ (fundi=expert). The Fundi arrives with a supply of worn car tyres and sets about making sandals for the shoeless kids. Each pair being very inexpensive so a little goes a long way. Even though open-sided, sandals cut the Jigger infestation figures substantially.