Welcome to the Akili Newsletter, July 2016

2016 marks 10 years of Akili working in Kenya. It has been a time of many challenges and much success and we want to mark it during the rest of the year. We are launching a 10-year appeal and planning a party for the autumn. We will be let you know the date soon. In the meantime, another date for your diary is the popular Akili Quiz night which this year will be on Wednesday 16 November.

All is well with our schools and libraries and we will be able to update you with further information when our one of our recently appointed trustees, Jess, returns from her trip where she is working on the Debate Mate Summer programme. Once again the wonderful children and teachers at Garden Suburb Infants School have done their cake and biscuit making and raised a large sum of money to buy books for the schools. They have selected man of their favourites as you can see in the photo. Many of these have now gone to Kenya with the Debate Mate team.


Debate Mate summer programme

This year Kenya has been added to the Debate Mate summer programme alongside Nepal and Rwanda. You may remember this was proposed for last summer but had to be cancelled because of the travel advisory from the Foreign Office.

The team has arrived in Kenya and the programme starts at the beginning of August. They will be working with secondary and primary students in all the schools we work with – and will also be working with our bursary students.

The full details of their programme can be found on our website. You can follow them on #DMinternational hashtag on Twitter or through their blog.

Jess, Debate Mate’s Executive Director and an Akili Trustee, with Cindy and Marie France, both Programme Directors will be co-ordinating the programme

Marie France, Jess and Cindy with two of the bursary students at Ngala Girls
Marie France, Jess and Cindy with two of the bursary students at Ngala Girls

Marie-France Roche graduated from Western University, Canada with a degree in Media and the Public Interest. She has worked at a primary school in London as a Learning Support Assistant, and volunteered at a family welfare organisation in India. 

Cindy Ma has completed an MSc in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and a BA in Media, Information, and Technoculture from the University of Western Ontario. She has worked extensively in children’s programming, having mentored with Debate Mate throughout her time at LSE and taught creative writing and theatre for over five years in her native Ottawa.  In 2015, she led a group of nine UK mentors to deliver Debate Mate’s summer programme in Jamaica and now serves as the Senior Programme Director for the region.

The Debate Mate team are all university students and debators who have been trained to work in the schools programme in the UK.


Beth Armitage studied Law at the University of Birmingham. It taught her (as Debate Mate has) that your voice can be used as a tool to achieve great things. Beth is looking forward to meeting the new students and to watch them grow in confidence as she has witnessed before in Birmingham with her old mentees. 

Esther Olusanya 
 is a second year student at UCL studying Human Sciences. She is most looking forward to learning more about the culture and language in Kenya.
Edwina Buenor is in the second year of Law at the University of Nottingham. She is really looking forward to meeting the kids and getting stuck in with debating. She anticipates that the ideas and opinions they will have will differ greatly from some of the children she has taught in Nottingham, and is really intrigued to hear what they have to say during the debates.

Lauren Holgate is a University of Warwick English Literature Graduate 2016. She is most looking forward to meeting students and young people, whilst sharing varying perspectives through important discussions which affect us all. However, she also looks forward to and hopes to facilitate situations which can encourage and empower students in communication, confidence and leadership. 

Emily Clarke has been working with Debate Mate since 2014. She studies French and Spanish at UCL and has just completed her third year abroad studying in Montpellier and Valencia. She will graduate next year. Emily applied to work with Debate Mate because she is passionate about what it stands for: giving children and young adults the confidence to achieve their potential, improving social mobility. Emily can’t wait to do the same in Kenya, and to learn from and explore the beautiful country.

Iranga Tchecko is going into her third year of History and Politics at Warwick University. She is looking forward to experiencing the rich history and culture of Kenya, as well as the great food! 

Best wishes for a happy and safe summer from the Akili team

Remember if you want to support our work or help fund our bursary programme please contact us at mail@akilitrust.org or visit our recently re-launched website www.akilitrust.org