By Traci Yoshiyama, Kenya Client Relationship Manager
A humbling quality of many Kenyans I meet is their strong desire to help one another, whether it be assisting a lost pedestrian, or lending money to a struggling neighbor despite their own financial challenges, or even starting a school in hopes of providing quality education for all. Although I have been to many schools since my arrival in Kenya, I never tire of seeing the infectious smiles of the students or the staff working tirelessly to succeed in this admirable endeavor. I had the pleasure of visiting Vision King Academy for the second time, excited to see Pherister Ndoge once again, this time a new member of Zidisha.
Never envisioning what it is today, Pherister began her career as the director of a daycare, wanting to help working mothers in her community. With three children to start, the numbers quickly multiplied and eager parents persuaded her to embark on the creation of a school. Although Pherister’s background was in accounting, she took the ambitious leap into education. Finding a location was the first obstacle and due to the decrepit conditions of her newly rented space, many did not think she would succeed. Sewage lined the entrance of the school, the rooms were in no shape for a classroom, and the building was also shared with live-in tenants. Despite the onslaught of negative feedback, Pherister persevered. She fixed up the room and cleaned up the entrance, covering the walkway with cement. As improvements were made, more and more started to see Vision King Academy as a viable place for education.
Vision King Academy now has almost seventy students with classes ranging from baby class (children less than 2 years old) to third grade. Renting only one room last year, Pherister is now able to rent five! With palpable gratitude, she tells me how receiving the loan from her lenders has given her hope. Due to the high demands of other institutions (i.e. interest rates, savings, meetings, groups), Pherister had no options, but when Duncan Chege (Volunteer Mentor of Zidisha) introduced her to Zidisha, she knew she found what she was looking for. With the loan, Pherister was able to purchase wooden benches for her classroom, as the plastic chairs would easily break. She also anticipates painting her walls because parents would often say the red and white walls of her classrooms resemble a butchery (all butcheries in Kenya are painted red and white). With the help of Zidisha, Pherister hopes to show more families that Vision King Academy is a great learning environment for their children.
Pherister is currently taking Early Childhood Development courses on her holidays. She would like to see Vision King Academy receive more students, which will enable her to rent the entire building, no longer having to share the space with tenants. Intending to be a long-lasting Zidisha member, I know she will achieve this. Knowing I was coming, Pherister planned a special morning for the students, treating them to biscuits and colorful balloon hats. It was a sight to see and despite the pouring rain and chill in the air, our morning was filled with such warmth and heart. Thank you Pherister for a wonderful morning! I hope that attendance rises now that elections are over. I can’t wait to see how Zidisha can assist you and Vision King even more!
If anyone would like to make a donation to Vision King Academy, please feel free to send an email to service[at]zidisha[dot]org.
To view many pictures of my visit with Pherister, go to www.talkingstory.posterous.com/pages/snapshots.
To view a video of Vision King Academy students singing, go to www.talkingstory.posterous.com (I apologize for the darkness, the school has no electricity).