Dear Friends and Relations,

Update on Got Matar 2018

Crowdfunding has recently become a popular way of raising money for good causes and perhaps I should be trying it out. I am rather old-fashioned, however, and I prefer to stick mainly our Friends-and-Relations Funding for supporting the Got Matar Community Development Group’s education programmes. We have been lucky to have been able to draw on the help of a fairly small but very committed group of dependable supporters.

We can take pride in what we have jointly achieved since I first pestered many of you for help just twelve years ago. I wrote to you in November 2006, after returning from a visit to Kenya during which I had reached an agreement with the Community leaders on a plan for the construction and operation of the Secondary School that they badly wanted.

The Community moved fast and, within 4 months of my visit, had built the first block of 3 classrooms and a teachers’ room-cum-office, hired teaching staff and enrolled 114 Form 1 pupils!

By the end of 4 years, thanks to your generosity, the Community had built 3 more blocks: each consisted of three 50-place classrooms and another room – first a library, second a computer room and third, a small science laboratory. The school thus reached its planned capacity of 600 pupils. Since then, a girl’s dormitory has been constructed, funded by donations, and the Kenyan government has financed a large science laboratory as well as teachers’ housing and an administration block. This year pupil numbers are up to almost 700 of whom 160 are funded by bursaries. The school’s performance in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams is steadily rising and it is already recognised as one of the top schools in the District. Already about 800 children have “graduated” since 2011, with many going on to higher education or into jobs.

Now our support for the Secondary School is confined to the bursary programme that enables well-qualified children from very poor families to attend. As the programme is vulnerable to donor dependence, we have agreed to phase it out progressively and so have cut new entries from 40 to 30 awardees for 2019. Got Matar Secondary School alumni and the Community are looking at options for funding bursaries locally.

Our main funding focus is now on the Got Matar Institute of Technology (IoT), which started in 2012 with a course on dress-making and tailoring in rented buildings. It is currently running a total of 8 practical skills training programmes and is in the process of building and equipping specialised training workshops at a single site. New workshops have so far been opened for dress-making, carpentry and joinery, and masonry. The beauty therapy and hairdressing workshop is nearly complete,

In contrast to the Secondary School, which is managed by the Ministry of Education, the intent is for the IoT to be self-financing community-owned enterprise that will eventually meet its running costs from income from tuition fees and the sale of goods and services. It now has around 250 students, of whom over half are girls, enrolled in courses lasting from one to 3 years, leading to nationally recognised certificates and diplomas.

The top priority for 2019 is to build and equip a permanent training workshop for the food and beverage courses which were started in 2012: there are currently 34 girls and 5 boys studying in a cramped rented building who aspire to find jobs in hotels, restaurants and the food industry. The building will have a classroom for 50 students, a well-equipped food preparation and cooking area, a store, including refrigerators, and a small restaurant. Building costs are estimated at about £40,000 and extra equipment at around £10,000. At first sight this seems a very big expense but it amounts to a capital investment of only £1,000 per pupil, a fraction of what it would cost in Europe.

Anything that you contribute will go towards IoT workshops and equipment, as Roberta and I take care of the secondary school bursaries and other overhead costs.

As long as finance can be mobilised, the IoT will go ahead with building training workshops for its other courses, including metal-work, computers, car mechanics. It also hopes to open new courses for training electricians and plumbers.

Got Matar has an excellent achievement record and what the Community has already done is bound to have a very positive long-term impact not just on the livelihoods of its students but also on the overall well-being of the local population which had been decimated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Its success is largely due to the programme being of the Community’s own making rather than something cooked up by well-meaning outsiders.  This sense of local ownership has been reinforced as no foreigners, apart from two Norwegian gap-year girl students, have yet been engaged in activities in Kenya. Nor have I visited the Community since starting to seek for funds but I am in regular touch by email and phone, and receive reports and photos that provide evidence of progress.

We are also fortunate to cooperate with two well-established registered charities – Ace Africa (UK) in London and Associazione Sonia in Rome, that kindly manage the collection and disbursement of your contributions. Ace Africa (Kenya), entirely staffed by Kenyans, runs its own complementary programmes in the area and serves as a mentor to the Community Development Group.

Given this year’s ambitious goal, I hope that you will be persuaded to continue to support the programme. It would be great if you could also draw it to the attention of your friends and relations as an attractive way of donating to children’s education in Africa. I always feel rather diffident about seeking more helpers until I realise that many people actually want to support programmes in Africa that offer better opportunities for children, especially girls, but don’t know of a reliable channel through which to donate. If you know of any charities or firms that you feel I should contact, please let me know.

One exciting possibility is that 2019 should be the year in which the IoT would enter into a twinning arrangement with a renowned technical training institute in Italy.  We have had promising initial discussions on this and I will keep you informed of progress.

You probably recall that, if you want to donate, you can use one of the two forms provided on the website (  and accessible through these links:

For Ace Africa (for £  and $ contributions):

For Associazione SONIA (for Euro contributions):

I must apologise for failing to keep the website up-to-date this year but promise to make it better soon…

With many thanks and best wishes,