Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Koins for Kenya

I just had a fantastic conversation with Bret Van Leeuwen about his organization Koins for Kenya. Bret's main focus has been building schools and educating children in southern Kenya. Bret first went to Kenya as part of a humanitarian expedition with CHOICE Humanitarian.
Bret Van Leeuwen decided to do his own project and with the help of some good friends developed Koins for Kenya. They have 6000
students in the schools that they have built. I love their model which requires the community to come up with at least 10% of the funds to build the school plus the sand and the gravel. He has learned the important principle that if they have a significant part in the building of the school they will feel ownership in it.
Now Bret and Koins for Kenya have realized another important principle. Educating a lot of Kenyan children only gives you a lot of educated poor people. Their next step is to help develop industries in the villages where they work. They want to build dams and bring in improved breeds of milking goats among other things. The dams would hold the seasonal water during the dry season providing water for the people, their animals and their crops. Their hope is that with the milking goats they can provide at least a glass of milk once a week to each student in the school. With better nutrition the students will be healthier and learn faster.
I have seen many "monuments to philanthropic ignorance" in these developing countries. Where well meaning people have spent large sums of money to give something to the people that they feel the people need. In too many cases these monuments are not cared for, not appreciated and become a sign of dependence. I am glad to see that Bret Van Leeuwen and his Koins for Kenya group are helping the people build their own structures that will be appreciated and cared for. Keep up the good work!

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