The Lifog School of Utange
The school (article from 2014)
The project to build a primary school at LiFoG in Utange started in 2007 with the inauguration of the water well. Alex Nicoletti was responsible for raising the first funds for the school.
The realisation that only a good education can somehow give people the chance to improve their lifestyle and standard of living made such a far-reaching project a reality. The funds were used to build the first four classrooms of the school. Alex had the honour of laying the first stone.
After a period of stagnation due to lack of funds, a substantial donation was received from the Air Europe - Volare Sailors Association, which enabled the completion of the other four classrooms and an attached library.
While the classrooms were being built, another friend of ours, Stefano Fierli, raised the funds to build the toilets for the boys, girls and teachers. These toilets were built according to modern hygienic criteria and are in fact the most modern in the village.
In all these years, from 2007 to 2014, the number of students has grown and next year about 30 students will fill the school's last class, the eighth, and at the end of 2015 the first state examinations will be held.
Education does not stop there. The youngest children are accommodated in our nursery, which was completed this year thanks to a bequest from Mr R. Pamini - Ambassador Club Ceresio of Lugano and a donation from the Andrea Anselmi Onlus Association of Rome.
As far as the interior is concerned, desks for the eighth grade are still missing, as well as teachers' desks and cupboards for the storage of exercise books and textbooks. The kindergarten is currently lacking interior furniture for the younger children.
Extraordinary maintenance of the classrooms and, in particular, a fresh coat of paint will soon be required.
The school is a very complex project, mainly because it is not just a question of building it, but also of running it. Teachers are paid a monthly salary, which needs to be kept going until some good student comes up with a good idea to boost LiFoG's local economy and thus the community's self-sufficiency.
"UTANGE SCHOOL" PROJECT (written by Alex Nicoletti in 2007)
Here we are again, and with joy, facing a new challenge.... the construction of a school in the village of UTANGE.
During my visit to Utange with Claudio Canton for the inauguration of the well, I was struck by several things.I met the poorest of the poor, I saw the conditions in which they live in Utange... unimaginable for us... .... and I had the opportunity to meet two extraordinary people like John and David and to hear stories of misery, despair, and despondency. But what struck me most was the kindness and affection of the people...everyone in Utange had a smile on their face. And what a smile when you consider that these people are not only surrounded by the blackest misery, but are also in daily contact with immense tragedy. The local reality is one of drugs, of HIV/AIDS, of HIV/AIDS widows, of HIV/AIDS orphans, of malaria... and therefore of despair. The concept of reciprocity, on which the projects in Utange are based, is very important. More people help others... a chain, we hope, without end. Water is life and the well inaugurated on 14.03.2007 will help save lives and contribute to the development of the local micro-economy by providing water for irrigating fields and crops.
It is estimated that the average African woman walks 5600 km a year to fetch the water her family needs. That works out at about 15 km a day... on average. So the construction of the well was a big step forward... but a journey is made up of many steps. So the project to build the school and the long-distance adoptions...another step forward...actually two.
Education, like water, is life... it is the future. The aim of the project is to make education accessible to those who cannot afford it, either logistically or financially. Education does not only mean learning to read and write, which is very important, but also learning to live honestly and, by overcoming ignorance, learning to have the awareness that one can succeed, one can go on, one can live; therefore, one can overcome despair.
School is also hope and protection. Think about it: just 250 euros gives a child the opportunity to go to school,
to have access to the necessary materials (books, exercise books, etc.) and to
eat for the whole year. That's 70 cents a day!...a drink costs 2 euros, if we're lucky. This is what our help is for: to make a difference. With a little, we give a lot.
8 classrooms of 6 m x 9 m, which would give about 250 children access to education... plus 6 bathrooms.
The estimated cost is around 4800 euros per classroom... everything included, building materials, labour, desks, chairs, blackboards, lockers! Just think that a blackboard costs 300 Kenyan shillings, the equivalent of 5/6 Euros; a double desk with folding seats costs 1500 shillings... or about 20 Euros. With a little, we can do a lot...and we will! The only contact persons for the project are Claudio and me. Every donor refers to me for the school and to Claudio for the adoptions. We will be personally responsible for the success of the project. Every donor (regardless of amount) will receive a receipt and an update on the progress of the project. Everyone will be able to track their donation through the website and by email... nothing will be left to chance. As soon as the money is raised for a class, construction will begin, and we will go in person to bring the money and oversee the smooth running of the work through John and David, who have our absolute trust.
Thank you all
PROPOSED SCHOOL PROJECT AT KIBOKONI VILLAGE UTANGE (Courtesy of Capt Claudio, Capt Alex and friends)
SUGGESTED NAME OF THE SCHOOL: Lifog Centre Primary School
SUGGESTED SCHOOL MOTTO: Working together to achieve our goal
UNIFORMS: Boys: pink shirt, grey short, Girls: grey dress - black shoes
The need for a school is based on the following grounds:
- The village and other nearby villages are becoming densely populated.
- There are many children loitering around who do not attend school due to the following reasons:-
- Government schools are few and far away from the village
- The few government schools cannot cater for the educational needs of the growing population
- Overcrowding of students in government schools, lack of enough teachers and insufficient facilities lead to students dropping out of school
- Due to poverty, many children opt to go out to look for casual jobs in order to get food and other basic needs.
After completion of the second borehole in March 2007, Capt. Claudio and his friends funded, the villagers were so impressed with this outstanding achievement that they wished the same friends who had saved them from the water problem in the area could also be requested to help in putting up a school in the village.
On the day when the water project was inaugurated, we presented this request to Capt. Claudio, Capt. Alex and the friends who accompanied them. We were very happy when they agreed to the idea of putting up a school in our village.
To prove that the villagers were so anxious about this project, they wanted the school to start immediately even if under a tree as we wait for the construction of the classrooms. Fortunately, we had a house at the borehole site which provided storage space for the materials for the water project. We started with this house in May 2007.
It has two rooms which have been used by KGI and KGII students. We have also introduced the baby class. There are 12 pupils in the baby class, 48 pupils in KGI and 40 pupils in KGII.
Some of the students in KGI and KGII are fit to be in KGIII and class 1. We have therefore started preparing the KGIII room and we hope that when construction of class 1 is complete, there should be a smooth transition of students from KGI, II, III and class 1
Currently, we have a total of 100 pupils. We also have received applications from students who wish to join KGI next year. We have 3 teachers 1 for a baby class, 2 for KGI and II.
- Classes 8 - Toilets 1 - Store / Library - Head teacher's office and staffroom.
SPONSORSHIP OF CHILDREN
- This is a programme which is very vital for children in this type of community for the success and sustainability of the school.
- Funds paid for sponsorship of the children will be used in paying teachers' salaries and other staff, general repair of the school, and purchase of stationery and other equipment.
- It is our position that this programme benefits only the underprivileged children such as orphans and those from very poor family backgrounds.
- It is also our intention to make the school one of the best in the area and maintain higher educational standards so as to attract even students from well-off families who are able to pay fees hence enabling the school administration not to entirely depend on funds from donors/sponsors in running the school.
- It is also our intention to be very creative and aggressive in starting other income-generating projects that will boost the financial position of the school and hence meet the school's requirements.