I saw an inspiring film last month. It wasn’t one that won an Oscar. Rather, it was a documentary about a pair of architects who taught high school students in rural North Carolina about how to design and build things.
With the motto “Design. Build. Transform,” If You Build It wasn’t about a regular ol’ shop class. The “shop class +” introduced the students to concepts like design, creative solutions, model-building, incorporating feedback, and using their hands to make the final product. Students who weren’t comfortable drawing stick-figures at the beginning were amazed at what they could design and build together.
Together they made a beautiful, functional farmer’s market space for their town and it was so exciting to see the town embrace the finished project.
What was really inspiring, though, was to see the transformation in the students and the newly-felt sense of pride, accomplishment, and confidence.
So what does this have to do with Spirit in Action? Halfway across the world from North Carolina, Samro Polytechnic School is also providing technical training – with a blend of creativity and craftsmanship – in Eldoret, Kenya.
“We are going to make a difference in Kenya by producing professionals out of Grade 8 graduates,” announces Director Samuel Teimuge. So far there are twelve students (9 girls and 3 boys), many who graduated from 8th grade and were unable to attend a traditional high school, because of their grades or inability to pay the fees. The technical school gives these students an opportunity to continue their education and to transform their lives and communities.
Students will take classes for one full year, learning tailoring, sewing, and/or computer skills. Each of these skills are marketable and valuable. Already, there is high demand for Samro Poly-made school uniforms for schools in the area!
Those students who come from other villages, or who don’t have family, can live in dorms onsite. The dorms are ready for use but students will use their design and building skills to help construct kitchen building.
One new student is Kennedy Onyango. Kennedy is 20 years old and he traveled from Lake Victoria, which is six hours away, to get to Eldoret. Both his parents died before he was 10 and his grandmother, who was caring for him, died in 2012. His goal is to start tailoring business and become self-employed.
A SIA grant, and the strong, nurturing leadership of Samuel and the other Samro Poly teachers is helping to make this goal a reality.
For more about Samro Polytechnic students, read about Gladys, a Kenyan woman who gave up her illegal brewing business to learn how to sew.