By Sandra V., Grand Circle Foundation Project Manager, East Africa
Lemong’o Primary School was founded in 1991 with no classrooms—lessons were held under a tree. It took until 2013 to complete the building of the school, which serves the local Maasai community in rural Kenya. When Grand Circle Foundation began our partnership with the school in 2014, 63 students attended.
When I first visited Lemong’o, I witnessed poverty at its lowest. There were no school textbooks—only copies for the teachers. One class had three pencils for eight students. One piece of chalk was being shared amongst five teachers. The Maasai school board chairman is tenacious in trying to get funds from the parents in the community, but the money simply isn’t there. Early Foundation projects at the school have included a new classroom, desks, benches, water tanks, textbooks, and miscellaneous school supplies.
We also supported a feeding program that encouraged students to stay at school for lunch instead of returning home—after which few come back for afternoon classes. While morning attendance was 100%, afternoon attendance dropped to 30%. When the children were properly nourished, exam performance and class participation improved by 20%, and school enrollment improved by 27%. Thanks to fruit trees and a greenhouse, the food program is now completely self-sustainable.
Today, enrollment at Lemong’o is thriving with 231 students—but one crucial structure was lacking, particularly for the girls. When Maasai children are sent home after school in the evening, they are sent to collect water and firewood or care for livestock, instead of studying and doing homework. Boarding facilities enable children to concentrate on their studies.
We had one classroom that doubled as a boarding facility for the boys to sleep in, but there was nowhere safe to house the girls. Believing that a dorm would improve enrollment, academic results, and attendance, I worked with the local community to propose the construction of a 48-bed boarding facility at Lemong’o.
I’m pleased to announce that the dormitory is complete, and we can now offer 48 girls a safe place to board and empower them to access a full education. It comes at a poignant time for Lemong’o, as they will soon have a record 13 students sitting for their Kenya Primary school exit exams. I hope to see these numbers increase in the future, especially with this new opportunity for girls to make the most of their education.
Thanks to all the generous O.A.T. travelers who have been moved to contribute to projects at Lemong’o. Our progress would not be possible without your support.
See firsthand the difference Grand Circle Foundation is making in Kenya, and perhaps meet the students of Lemong’o School, when you join O.A.T. for The Best of Kenya & Tanzania.