April 1, 2017 The Maasai community of Endonyio Sidai sits at the edge of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, a thousand feet above the valley floor. School aged children living here used to walk an hour and a half every morning down the escarpment and across an open plain to school and then make the return trip home at the end of the day. One of the hazards on this journey was crossing paths with the wildlife living between home and school. In 2007, Endonyio Sidai leaders asked FKSW to help them build an eight-room primary school nearer the students’ homes. One year later, with funding provided by FKSW and labor and some of the materials contributed by the community, the first classroom at the new Endonyio Sidai Primary School opened and sixteen children in Class 1 became the school’s first students. By 2015, six of eight classrooms had been completed and all of the students in the community attended classes from first through eighth grade, with classes 5/6in one room and 7/8 in another. In August of that year FKSW matched $4800 raised by the residents for the seventh classroom. Now there is only one to go!
FKSW has also been providing primary school scholarships to students here since 2005 to help with the cost of uniforms, books, shoes and school fees. Some of the students who joined the program in at the beginning are now attending secondary school, also with scholarships from FKSW. One of those students is Diana Kipaliash, who first received a scholarship to begin nursery school in 2007 at the age of 7. At the end of the 2015 school year, Diana took the national exam that would determine her eligibility for high school. Scoring well on the test, she was invited to join Baraka Oontoyie Secondary School near Nairobi at the beginning of last year and in January of this year, she began Form 2 (sophomore year) at Baraka. At 17, she is a lovely young woman, confident and funny and an exceptional student. She has her sights set on university but isn’t sure yet what she would like to study. She still has time to decide.
Today, the Board of Management (BOM) at Endonyio Sidai is a vibrant group of teachers, parents and community members whose collaborative efforts demonstrate their intention to provide the best education they can for their children. Other outcomes of their partnership with FKSW and NECOFA have been construction of a fence around the school compound, toilets for students and teachers and a water system to bring clean water to the school. Last year, with our partner Samuel Muhunyu’s encouragement, the BOM met with the County Government officers and secured a promise from them to provide funds for the eighth classroom.
The progress at Endonyio Sidai over the past 11 years is a wonderful example of the power of collaboration and empowerment of a community over time. But most of all, it is a testament to the commitment and efforts of a community dedicated to achieving its goals for the education of its children.