Albany helps school thrive

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser

The generosity of the Albany community has given a priceless gift to nearly 150 primary-school aged children halfway across the world — education.

Enrolment has skyrocketed this year at the Schield Centre Kindergarten and Primary School, situated near the town of Isinya, about 50km south of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

In November last year, there were 95 students from kindergarten to Year 5. Today, there are 147.

The school’s existence would not be possible if were not for the support of businesses and private donations from Albany, according to the school’s administrator Trina Mboya.

Ms Mboya’s parents, Don and Lorraine Pink, who live in Albany, have led the fundraising efforts in their home city as well as in Carnarvon.

Since 2012, Mr Pink has gone shop-to-shop, door-to-door, raising vital financial support for the school, predominately through the sale of calenders depicting Kenya’s wildlife. Last year alone, $26,000 was raised.

The money raised in Albany and Carnarvon has gone towards employing staff, building infrastructure and equipping classrooms.

Ms Mboya said like most of Kenya outside of Nairobi, the region around Isinya was neglected by the central government.

Most employment comes from flower plantations that export roses.

Alcohol and substance abuse are rife throughout the community.

“For a lot of people, it’s a struggle,” Mrs Mboya said.

“There are a lot of families that are broken ... a lot of women are struggling just to put food on the table.”

Ms Mboya said she hoped to build a residential dormitory at the school to help students focus on their schooling, because they were often denied the opportunity to complete their homework.

A building originally intended to be used for boarding had to be converted into a classroom to cater for the growing numbers.

Nearly all of the students at the Schield Centre are picked up by school staff in school vans each morning.

Life at home is not easy for the students in Kenya. Most will do labour around the home or be made to fetch water, while there is real threat of child prostitution.

The demographic of the school’s intake is changing.

Ms Mboya said that while most families were living day-to-day and struggling to pay modest school fees, they were starting to see more families move to the area from Nairobi.

Those families, who are generally more educated and put more value on educating their children, have slowly started to support the school.

But Ms Mboya said aid from WA was still vital.

“Without Albany, the school would not be there,” she said.

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