Nairobi, Kenya. Creative Commons CC0

Nairobi Is Back at Teaching

In the heart of Africa, the project of a new school: A not-for-profit organization formed by some families who decided to become protagonists in the education of their children.
John Njoroge

It was during one of the many discussions with Fr. Alfonso Poppi (our parish priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Kahawa Sukari, Nairobi), that a proposal for a school on sale was brought to our attention. The proprietor of the school had approached Fr. Alfonso and proposed the purchase to the church.

At the beginning, as is the common mentality, we all looked to our church to purchase the school. After all, parishioners and parents of “Emanuela Mazzola Kindergarten,” a project of the parish, generally expected the priests to put up a primary school where the kids would continue with education. We were moved by the proposal and witness of Fr. Alfonso and Stefano and this has opened the doors for us, a group of parents, to become aware of our desire, the desire to get involved, to take full responsibility for our children’s education. Through Stefano, Fr. Alfonso, and their fraternity, faith was communicated to us. The search for happiness for us and our children can be explained in the witness of Peter Karanja, one of the parents.

At two in the morning
“As a parent, I had the desire for proper education for my children. I had just moved my daughter from one school to another when I noticed that she could not cope with the demand for academic excellence at the expense of personal growth. One night, our daughter, who was only 10 years old, awoke at 2 a.m. to read. This, I later learned from her, was the order of her nights, out of fear of her teachers who were punishing the poor kids if they did not excel in exams. My fear of losing my daughter was real and I had to do something. My choice was to look for a school where the person is respected as he or she is. It was during this time of my daughter’s crisis that the proposal to participate in running a school came to me and I was to become aware that, like all of us, God has put a desire in me. I became aware that I had a desire to participate in setting up an educational institution where all effort is directed toward the desires of all involved–the child at the center, teachers and other staff, and parents.”

True educators
Although the starting point was the desire for the destiny of our children, we as parents were soon to become aware of the need for educating ourselves. To educate ourselves, we needed a place. We came together and set up a place: the St. Joseph Urafiki Foundation. For us, the Foundation is the place where we are helping one another in the call to be true educators; it is a movement, a community school, and at the same time our company/business. Here is where we experience friendship–friendship in educating ourselves, friendship at work–where we are continuously invited to be protagonists in all aspects of our life. Through the Foundation, Fr. Giussani has reached our lives and in it a correspondence has been found. This has become a place where the education of my heart, each member’s heart, is happening. This has been a sure way to improve our life as can be shared through the following short witness from Teresa Mwaura, one of the members: “The friendship (Foundation) has touched my life. I can contribute money to the Foundation without expecting any monetary return and I am happy.”

Through the Foundation, members have now started the school project, Urafiki Carovana School (Urafiki means friendship and Carovana means caravan).