Global Awareness Club Aids School in Kenya

This article was published in Floral Park Memorial’s online newspaper, The Shield. You can view the original article here: http://fpmshield.com/3366/features/new-global-awareness-club-aids-african-school/

Reprinted with permission below.

Sophia Ramcharitar September 23, 2015

This year at Floral Park Memorial, there has been a surge of brand-new clubs; one of them is the Global Awareness Club (GAC). As its title suggests, the club’s initiative is to spread awareness about current social and economic issues that people face all over the world.

Unlike many students at FPM who complain about a lack of air conditioning or immense homework, a majority of students in developing countries don’t even have an institution to attend or basic school supplies. This was the story of students from Mtwapa, Kenya prior to the intervention of Reason2Smile, an organization the GAC plans on working with this year. The Jambo Jipya School was founded in 2004 by Kenyan native Christine Mwende. It is a private school and receives no government assistance. Jambo Jipya means “Something New” in Swahili. Mwende recognized the lack of care and attention being paid to many of the poor and orphaned children of her community, Mtwapa, and decided to act. A nurse by profession, Mwende decided to devote the rest of her life to seeing her dream (of building a primary and secondary school where every child can feel safe, healthy, and happy) become a reality. In 2004, the school started with Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. In early 2007, Keela Dates Grimmette, the founder of Reason2Smile, arrived at the school and these two women joined forces in their commitment to Jambo Jipya. Mwende is the heart and soul of the Jambo Jipya School and Grimmette has been the heart and soul of Reason2Smile. Together, through their tireless and selfless, work they have been able to build a better life for many children in need.

Jambo Jipya started with a couple of mud huts and a handful of children. Today, 240 children attend the school with a staff of more than a dozen certified Kenyan teachers. Twenty-two of the children live at the Jambo Jipya Children’s Home because they are orphans or don’t have family members to care for them. The school now consists of kindergarten through to 12th grade and students receive uniforms, shoes, school supplies, basic health care and two meals a day. The school’s monthly operational costs are approximately $5,000. Three years ago, a wall was built to separate the road from the school, providing a safer environment. Future projects include adding a second story to the school in order to better utilize the space. This would provide a larger play area for the younger children as well as critical additions such as a school library.

In 2013, Jambo Jipya School graduated its first class of 12th graders. Seven students (one girl and six boys) completed their secondary certificate! One of these graduates was accepted into university! This young man was offered a space at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, Kenya. He was accepted as a government-sponsored student due to his exceptional grades, so his tuition fees are very reasonable. Again, Reason2Smile is grateful to his sponsor for continuing to support him. This young man has paved the way for those behind him and proved that students who come from small local schools in Kenya (such as Jambo Jipya) can achieve great things. Other graduates are looking to pursue trade school certificate programs and Reason2Smile is working to make their dreams a reality.

Ms. Rosenblum, the advisor of the GAC, is the chair of Reason2Smile’s educational committee. She has travelled to Jambo Jipya many times, most recently this past summer. Rosenblum always describes with admiration how remarkable the students are and the tremendous impact they have had on her life. The members of the GAC eagerly look forward to working with Reason2Smile. According to Bryan Lezama, one of the club’s vice presidents, “It’s great knowing that many FPM students are coming together in order to help this organization and others like it. I’m really excited to see where this club goes.”

In December, the club will hold a bracelet sale for Reason2Smile. The rubberized bracelets will be available in a variety of colors and display the signature Reason2Smile logo – perfect for Christmas presents.

Listen out for more exciting events sponsored by the Global Awareness Club throughout the year!

For more information about Reason2Smile, see Ms. Rosenblum in the library or check out http://www.reason2smile.org/