Akili Newsletter – August 2011

Welcome to the latest Akili Trust e-newsletter

August 2011

Our projects in Kenya continue to flourish and develop, so this newsletter provides us with a chance to update you on recent events.  We keep in regular contact with the librarians and we put their quarterly reports on the website so you can also get a flavour of life in Kenya from these.
We are absolutely delighted that our first two bursary students graduated this year with very high grades, which should mean that they can get subsidised university places. This is very rewarding for the whole community and a great recommendation for the bursary scheme.  We hope that we are going to be able to fund two further places for girl students next year; one in partnership with Hutton Dabaso and one as the result of a private donation.

In the UK we have been working hard to sort the books that you have all donated to get them ready to ship.  We are just waiting for the import documents in Kenya. The libraries are very much in need of children’s books (which get so worn out) and new novels – as ever the new John Grishams are eagerly awaited, as are the new Guinness Book of Records. When the books arrive we can move towards opening our new library, which is a partnership project with one of the local secondary schools, Canon Mweri.  We are providing the books and training and the school is providing the building and paying the librarian’s salary.

Our Annual Trustee Visit

Lucy Evans, our treasurer and the treasurer of our NGO (Akili Community Libraries) visited at the end of June and was able to have meetings with staff and friends of Akili and the wider communities around Dabaso and Kakuyuni.  Lucy was accompanied by her husband and his son who were visiting for the first time and all were made to feel very welcome.  She was able to return with an up-to-date view of all developments and fill all trustees in on current issues. A key concern is the Kenyan economy and the very high rate of inflation which will impact on all our costs.  We are currently considering an increase to our librarians’ salaries and this together with our higher costs means that your donations are going to be more important than ever this year.

Dabaso Library

New mural at Dabaso Library
New mural at Dabaso Library

As part of the ongoing improvements to the outside area at Dabaso, some of which has been directly funded by a UK charity, a most beautiful mural has been painted on the outside of the library.  This was created by a local artist who has included children reading books, computer use and studying as well as geographical features of the area.  The children are wearing the uniforms of the three schools serviced by the library – Dabaso Primary School, Ngala Girls and Canon Mweri. In addition the artist has drawn members of the community to reflect the other uses of the library.

Most of the outside work is now finished and the space is much tidier and more usable. The tree planted in honour of Nicci Crowther some years ago is flourishing, and the library looks a key part of the school compound. A few overhead fans have been bought which make the indoor room a more pleasant environment for study and for people to come and read.  Josephine and Fred, the staff at Dabaso, enjoy interacting with the children and are in the process of creating a “Kenyan Corner” – something they felt would be good for learning more about the wider community.

Children play around Nicci Crowther's tree and makuti shelters
Children play around Nicci Crowther’s tree and makuti shelters

Work has now started on a giant makuti shelter which is a joint project between Akili and the school. This will provide a large area for reading, study or teaching.  The children all helped in the creation of this by bringing pieces of makuti (palm leaf fronds) for the roof.

Kakuyuni Library

Children perform a Mshago, a traditional Giriama dance for happy celebrations
Children perform a Mshago, a traditional Giriama dance for happy celebrations

Kakuyuni is a thriving community that uses the library well and regularly.  The school celebrated the Evans visit with an afternoon of traditional dance, singing and speeches and a football match against a team made up of school leavers in the community.  Despite a very strong ringer with 21 year old Gareth Evans playing for the community team, Kakuyuni’s football team won the match and have continued a recent winning streak which causes great pride.

Inside Kakuyuni Library
Inside Kakuyuni Library

Salim, our Library Assistant, left to join the army in June and the UK and Kenyan staff are planning to recruit his replacement. Library users are now able to read newspapers and books as well as check internet and type up documents – something that long term is intended to create revenue for the library with the development of a cyber cafe.  Fans have also been added in Kakuyuni library.

Mjumbe and Cornelius, our computer trainers

The computer training project that we set up with a grant from the Leggatt Trust has been so successful that we have continued the funding for a further six months. School staff, librarians, students and members of the community are all eagerly joining the programme to learn basic Microsoft skills and email. There are five working computers in Dabaso and now eight at Kakuyuni (thanks to an individual donor). All are networked with the internet and a printer. Mjumbe at Kakuyuni held his first certificate presentation ceremony during Lucy’s visit – a very celebratory occasion.
The computers have attracted new readers to the libraries, which has meant readership figures have increased from last year.

Lucy presenting certificates at Kakuyuni School
Lucy presenting certificates at Kakuyuni School

We thank you all for your support in the past and hope this newsletter gives you some idea of the ways in which your donations are being used.
What you can do to support our work or to find out more:
•    Visit the website www.akilitrust.org
•    Make a donation via the website or directly to one of the committee
•    Offer to organise a fundraising event – however big or small, all funds are useful to us – we can help and advise
•    Consider funding a bursary student
•    Buy some of the postcards designed by our students
Email us on mail@akilitrust.org for further information.

Anne, Cleo, Laura, Lucy, Pam, Ruth – the UK Akili team