Sunday, January 22, 2017

Solar Light Rent-to-Own Program starts at Lower Yatta Secondary School

January 17 was a great day with 206 Solar Lights being distributed to students at Lower Yatta Secondary School.

Registering for the Solar Light Rent-to-Own Program

Each student will pay $1/month for 8 months and then own the solar light.  The $8 received from these payments will then allow another solar light to be bought to be made available for more students.

Kenya Connect is helping us by administering the program in the cluster of 7 schools in the Kyaithani area of Kenya.

Kenya Connect has almost 1000 of these solar lights out under their own Solar Light Rent-to-own program in the Wamunyu area of Kenya, about an hour from Lower Yatta.  Their experience is that students are spending almost 3 times the amount of time every day doing homework and reading than they were able to do before.  And the monthly cost of the solar light is much less than the previous cost of paraffin.

The 206 Lower Yatta Secondary students with their new Solar Lights 

Everyone, especially the students and teachers, was really excited!

This is part of a Rotary Global Grant which will see 1100 of these solar lights made available to the students in 2 secondary schools and 5 primary schools in the Lower Yatta & Kyaithani area of Kenya.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Great Visit to Kyaithani Cluster October 9-12 2016

A team of Canadian supporters from St. Hilda's Anglican Church (Sechelt) and the Rotary Club of Sunshine Coast-Sechelt BC visited the Kyaithani cluster of schools  for 4 days in October 2016.  It was another life-changing visit!  For 3 of the visitors it was their first visit to Africa.  What a way to start!!

We first visited with members of our partner Machakos Rotary Club and with members of our partner Kenya Connect from Kenya and Maryland in the USA at the Kenya Connect Learning Resource Centre in Wamunyu (about an hour away from Kyaithani) to review the project progress to date and discuss plans for next year.  Our project members from Kyaithani and Lower Yatta Secondary Schools were also keen participants in the project team meeting.
Our project team includes Rotary Clubs of Machakos Kenya & Sunshine Coast-Sechelt Canada,
Kenya Connect Wamunyu Kenya & Maryland USA, and teachers and administrators of Kyaithani and Lower Yatta Secondary Schools in Kenya.

Then our team from Canada spent 3 days in the Kyaithani & lower Yatta area visiting all 7 schools in the Kyaithani cluster.  Members of our partner Kenya Connect accompanied us and we built a great partnership bond that we all hope will grow even stronger over time.

Our first stop was the new computer "Learning Resource Centre" at Lower Yatta Secondary school.  It will be so much more than just a computer lab!  We were very surprised to see that the principal Ann had already arranged to have dust covers made for each of the 21 computer monitors, screens and keyboards.

Lower Yatta computers with dust covers

Lower Yatta Principal Ann with her 205 female students

205 Kyaithani Secondary School students

As we toured each of the 5 primary schools and the 2 secondary schools we were amazed at the progress each had made in the past year.

At Kyaithani Secondary we could not believe the 100 students sharing the 20 newly installed computers in the new Learning resource Centre after a class break!
Kyaithani students share the 20 computers
Here are the 36 scholarship recipients at Kyaithani that donors support.  It takes $600 to provide a 4 year scholarship for each of these students.  Please consider helping.  It makes a HUGE difference in the lives of every recipient student.

36 Kyaithani scholarship recipients

We were honoured to acknowledge the teachers and administrators at Kyaithani and Lower Yatta Secondary Schools who work so hard to help these students achieve better grades and improve their future life options.
Kyaithani teachers/administrators

At each of the two dedication ceremonies we presented each school's Learning Resource Centre with a Plaque to commemorate the day and honor the donors who made this happen!

Kyaithani Learning Resource Centre Dedication Plaque
Lower Yatta Learning Resource Centre Dedication Plaque
The students in the Kyaithani Cluster area are so keen - beginning in Primary School.  Last year there was a big jump in the number of students carrying on from Primary to Secondary school.  We think that the availability of scholarships to attend secondary school is making a difference. 

There were 74 students in the Form 1 (entry level) class at Lower Yatta last January and all in one classroom!  How many will there be in January 2017?
74 new students at Lower Yatta - will make great use of the Learning Resource Centre
Lower Yatta girls are keen to learn about the computers
12 Lower Yatta Secondary scholarship recipients

With only 12 scholarships for a school population of 205 we have a long way to go to make a difference in the lives of these dedicated scholars.  We'd love to have your support of our scholarship program.  Visit to read more and contribute.

Thanks for your interest and support.
Terry and Jan

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kyaithani Cluster Teacher & Student Computer Lab Training

The week of 22-16 Aug 2016 was a wonderful week at Kyaithani and Lower Yatta Secondary Schools in Kenya.  Teachers and students from all 5 primary and 2 secondary schools within the Kyaithani Cluster of schools were trained in how to use the 42 new Aleutia computers, Edubuntu software and almost 500GB of educational software included on the computers for offline access.  They also learned how to use the Libre open office applications and how to access the internet with the newly installed satellite links.  In addition they learned about a key component of the computer lab system, the Epoptes software, which allows the teachers to monitor and control the 20 student computers in each lab from their teaching computer.  These computers and software are specifically made to work well in the sub-Sahara environment.

The teachers and students were so excited!  And so were we!!

Patrick with some of the 44 teachers and students on day 5 of training

Most of the students and many of the teachers had never touched a computer before.  They were so keen to learn.

Student on day 2 eagerly accessing Khan Academy knowledge base

There is 500GB of information available offline for teachers and students

The girls at Lower Yatta Secondary are absorbed in learning

And the students at Kyaithani Secondary are all keen to get involved

James and Patrick from our project partner Kenya Connect (Wamunyu, Kenya)  and Laura, a director of Kenya Connect from Maryland USA conducted the excellent training for the project.  We could not have accomplished this without their help!  They are a great organization.  Check them out at  or at  to learn more about the fantastic work they do in Kenya.

James teaches how to run the computer labs

James does a lot of training for the students at the 55 primary schools that Kenya Connect work with near Wamunyu village in Kenya.

Here are some of his comments about the training this week:

"The highlight of the first 2 days of training at Kyaithani Secondary School was the Khan Academy content.  All of the students were totally immersed in the program researching the offline content on the Aleutia computers on many different topics in different subjects."

"I am pleased to say that the students from Kyaithani who attended the training will be quite instrumental in training their fellow students.  We noted that every time we went on tea or lunch breaks a group of students would fill the lab and the students participating in the training would coach the other students about the new technology."

"What was most amazing was that after we concluded the training, the lab was filled with over 60 students all eager to learn the new technology.  Ruth, one of the students we trained took over and started training the students!  We were so moved to see this student who had never worked with a computer before take a role of a "teacher" after only two days training!!"

We provided custom built desks and benches
so 2 or 3 students could share a computer

In addition to teachers and students from Kyaithani Secondary and Lower Yatta Secondary Schools where the 2 new computer labs are located, teachers and students from each of the 5 primary schools in the area also attended.  These primary schools are Nandini, Kyaithani, Muusini, Ndunguni and Nthilani.

Laura introduced the teachers to integrating Kinesthetics into teaching (activity breaks).  Everyone enjoyed this very much and it helped keep everyone focussed and intent on more learning.

Students loved Laura's teaching techniques

The teachers loved the breaks too

On the final day of training Laura lead everyone in a review of the training content over the past week using a volley ball review game.  It was much fun for the teachers and students as they had never experienced arts integration and kinesthetic learning before.

It's volleyball, even without a proper net!

James concluded:

"We are confident that the students and teachers mastered a lot of the content that we taught them.  We hope that the two labs will soon blossom to be an oasis of knowledge for all the cluster schools of the Kyaithani area."

Thanks to The Rotary Foundation, the Government of Canada, Rotary District 5040, and our 11 partner Rotary Clubs for their financial support of this project.  And to Kenya Connect for their valuable partnership with us!!

It is so wonderful to see these students and teachers so eager to learn about, and use, the new tools in the 2 new computer labs.  The same as the Kenya Connect computer lab in Wamunyu, we will be calling our 2 new computer labs "Learning Resource Centres".

Here are some more pictures.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Computer Labs now installed!

We are so happy to have seen the progress made these past several weeks with the installation of the computer labs at Kyaithani and Lower Yatta secondary schools.  Each lab has 20 student Aleutia T1 computers and 1 teacher Aleautia R50 server computer, all networked together and connected to the internet by satellite.
The desks and solar system arrive
Custom built desks and benches

Secured cabinets for the solar batteries
Excitement is building!!

Panels for the new solar system
As well, each lab is powered by its own solar system, and each lab is outfitted with custom built desks and benches so that up to 40 students can easily have shared access to the 20 computers.
The lab at Lower Yatta awaits its computers

The computers being installed with the desks at Kyaithani
Next week Kenya Connect will be conducting training sessions for the teachers and some students from the two secondary schools.

Everyone is so excited!

Thank you to all the donors and supporters of this Rotary Global Grant.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Project progress on all fronts

It's now about 6 months since we were notified that we had received approval of our Rotary Foundation and Government of Canada grant applications.  We are well on our way with the project.

Computer Labs:
The 42 Aleutia computers for the two secondary school computer labs have arrived safely in Nairobi and are now at Stonehouse (the Nairobi distributor for Aleutia computers).  Stonehouse has been installing smaller computer labs for 45 primary schools in Kenya under a contract with Safaricom (Kenya's major cell phone company).  Stonehouse is fabricating desk/benches for our labs and will be installing these along with the computers and solar panels/batteries in mid-July.

In conjunction with the computer installation, we will be arranging for the installation of satellite service for the two labs so that the teachers & students can be connected to the internet.  Our partner, Kenya Connect, regularly conducts joint classes linked by satellite between the 55 schools that they currently support and schools in the USA.  We will be working to get Kyaithani Secondary and Lower Yatta Secondary schools, our two schools with the new computer labs, included in this network.

In mid-August James and Patrick from Kenya Connect in Wamunyu Kenya will be conducting a week long computer training and computer lab orientation session for the secondary school teachers of Kyaithani and Lower Yatta schools.

Solar Light rent-to-own Program:
Sample lights are now available for the teachers and parents at the 7 schools in the Kyaithani Cluster to try.

Sun King Pico solar lights will be made available for each student, at a cost of about 50 cents per month for 24 months.  Sun King Pro All-Night solar lights (with cell phone charger) will be made available for each teacher, at a cost of about $1.25 per month for 24 months.

This monthly cost is much lower that the current cost of paraffin that parents and teachers are spending for the only current source of lighting in this area.

We are expecting that by the end of July we will have lists of the students and parents who have committed to the solar light program and hopefully have the lights available for the start of the school term at the beginning of September.

Primary School Teacher Online Training:
Our project intends to pay for the enrollment of 70 primary school teachers from the 5 primary schools within the Kyaithani Cluster of schools.  Four teachers from each of the 5 schools will be enrolled later this fall for the online KICD (Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development) PTO (Primary Teacher Orientation) 8 month certification course.  The remainder will take the course next year.

There currently is no electricity, and no computers, at these primary schools.  The teachers will take the online course using the new computer labs at the secondary schools.

Scholarship Program:
This is not a part of our global Grant project, but has been a project that we have supported for about 6 years.  The scholarship program is made possible by donations from individuals and Rotary clubs.  This year we have just provided 48 scholarships to 20 boys and 28 girls at Kyaithani Secondary and Lower Yatta Girls Secondary Schools.  Check out our scholarship blog for more information. .


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Computer lab progress update

This past weekend Terry and Jan attended the Rotary District 5040 conference in Whistler BC where some 500 Rotarians, spouses, Rotary Interactors (high school Rotary club members) and Rotary Exchange Students attended.

As part of the conference, Terry and Jan worked at the Poster Showcase sessions where they shared information about the 1300 solar light project for Kyaithani cluster students and about the computer labs for Kyaithani and Lower Yatta Secondary Schools.

Terry highlighted the support that we are getting from the Kenya Connect people both in Maryland and in Wamunyu Kenya.

We are glad to report that we now have two Aleutia computers operational at the Kenya Connect Learning Resource Centre in Wamunyu and that James and Patrick from Kenya Connect are working on updating their training materials to reflect our new computer hardware and software.

We have on order all the equipment required for the two computer labs.  We expect both labs to be installed during July and training for the 20 secondary school teachers will be done in August.

Rotary Foundation Honours our work in Nandini/Kyaithani

What a huge honour last night for Terry at the Rotary District 5040 annual conference in front of almost 500 attendees. Terry received the Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service presented by the District Governor John Anderson at the 5040 a District Conference in Whistler BC. This award was for Terry's long years working on Rotary Foundation supported humanitarian projects in Kenya .

Only 11 of these have been awarded to all members of District 5040, so it is a real honour from the Rotary Foundation.

Terry adds that without the tremendous support of his wife Jan, none of this would have happened.

Thanks Rotary and Thanks Terry & Jan.

Terry receives Rotary Foundation Meritorious Award from
Rotary International Director Julia Phelps and District Governor John Anderson