The Mnarani School Project

An update on where your money and books are going

The old saying that ‘there is nothing as constant as change’ is certainly true in respect of the Mnarani Primary school project. Since I wrote about the project only a month ago there have a number of major developments.

* The donation of land for the building of a Girls High School by the Kenyan government has now been completed, The actual area of land donate is not 15 acres as thought but 19, (land is inexpensive in Kenya). The plot has now been surveyed and the area registered by the schools committee. This school will also be used as an adult education center for the village. This further use is the result of requests from the villagers who have realized that the only way forward for the community is by education not from handouts by tourists. Incidentally the age-old tradition of begging from tourists is strongly discouraged by the hotel and the village committee.

* The small library, which has already been built in the primary school, is slowly being equipped with books, mostly donated from the UK. The role of the library has also changed, mainly as a result of the donations from the UK. It was found that many of the books given to the school were more suited to either older children or lees able adults, the decision was made to make the library available, albeit on a limited basis, to be used to initiate adult education classes.

* The transfer of fund to a foreign bank is always expensive, time consuming and a hassle. To overcome this, the Rotary Club of Somerset has offered to support the project by opening a bank account on behalf of the project. This means that any person wishing to either sponsor a child or donate money can now pay the money into a UK account. The Money will then be transferred in bulk a couple of times a year, thus avoiding major bank charges, this money since the Rotary Club operates under Charity status will also qualify under the Gift Aid scheme.

Another facet of the self-help concept operating in the area results from the acknowledgement that as rule the British do not like bargaining for souvenirs. Yet the income of many of the villagers results from the sales of such items. To overcome the apparent contradiction of the above, a fixed price scheme has been initiated.

The hotel invites the local traders to hold a market in the hotel once a week. All prices are fixed with NO bargaining allowed. A levy of 10% is made after the market on the total value of the sales; this money is then donated by the traders to be used by the community. The fixed price concept also extends to the shops/stalls in the village with no bargaining being tolerated. The result of this scheme is that the average price paid by the tourist is some 50% less than elsewhere in Kenya but turnover has increased to the traders in the region of 5times. An interesting experiment that to date has been of value to both sides.

Finally a big thanks to those in Wissey community that have generously donated books, they should be arriving in Kenya on the 20th November. More good news in that there has been great interest shown by a local Primary School in corresponding with the Mnarani Primary School on a regular basis. Such correspondence is invaluable in that it broadens the horizons on both sides.

Thank you again to all that have shown interest in the project.

Brian Harrison

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