The Got Matar Community Development Group (GMCDG) was formed by local residents in 2002. Its main initial focus has been on improving education in the community, but, in the longer term, it may diversify its activities. Its first action was to improve the condition of buildings and amenities in the 10 primary schools serving children living close to Got Matar in the rural settlements of East Yimbo location.
Improvements included re-building of 2 pre-primary school buildings, repairs to collapsing classrooms, construction of rainwater tanks to improve drinking water supplies, and development of school gardens. The Group made very good use of the quite modest amounts of money given by friends.
Got Matar lies in Bondo District in Western Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the River Nile. Bondo is ranked amongst the poorest districts in Kenya. Its economy is based on fishing in the Lake and on small-scale farming, which is very susceptible to frequent droughts. The economic problems facing people in the District have been exacerbated by the very high incidence of HIV/AIDS which has killed a substantial proportion of the working age population. About 2,300 of the 7,000 school age children in East Yimbo location are orphans. They live as members of the families of relatives, which are often headed by grand-parents whose coping capacity is usually already over-stretched.
Most of the people of Got Matar are from the Luo tribe, the tribe of Barack Obama’s father! One of their cultural traditions is of “wife inheritance”, whereby a brother takes into his family the widow and children of a brother that has died. Under normal conditions or in times of war, this is an admirable system of insurance, but, when bereavement is as a result of death from AIDS, it contributes to the very rapid spread of the infection.
In order to finance their educational programmes, in 2006 the Group formally invited Dr. Andrew MacMillan, whose family and friends had helped to fund improvements at the primary schools, to assist with overseas fund-raising. Andrew, who retired in 2005 from serving as a Director in the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), accepted their request. Having got to know the community at first hand over several years, he was confident that the funds raised would be applied diligently and would make a big difference to the future livelihoods of large numbers of children from very poor families in and around Got Matar. Their highest priority was to construct a 600 place secondary school over a period of 4 years – see Progress.Read a personal note from Andrew MacMillan
Instead of setting up a separate charity, arrangements have been made for the receipt of funds and their transfer to the GMCDG by registered charities in Italy (Associazione SONIA) and UK (ACE Africa). For more details, see Donations page.
The Group has also raised funds locally with which to support the expansion of the Secondary School’s facilities. Individuals have contributed money to buy a bus that is used to take students on school visits and to transport sports teams to matches. The Kenyan government has paid for construction of a multipurpose science laboratory as well as teachers’ housing units. It also financed the installation of a mains electricity supply. The Ministry of Education employs the majority of the staff and meets a large part of the school’s operating costs.
Got Matar Community Development Group intend to raise funds locally to pay for bursaries to the Secondary School, so as to reduce dependence on external donors. The Community launched its first income-generating enterprise in 2013, on brick-making, and has financed 15 bursaries since 2014.
From its outset, the Community had always envisaged offering training to young people in practical skills. Once the core facilities for the Secondary School had been built, it began the creation of the Got Matar Institute of Technology (IoT). See Goals.