GATOTO COMMUNITY SCHOOL PUSHES AHEAD WITH STEADY GAINS
Gatoto is now in the third and final term of the 2017 school year.
The school has adjusted to its increased enrollment of 1,092 students, though Gatoto’s current capacity seems fully utilized and the need for more, larger classrooms is becoming pressing.
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Teachers continue to offer extra instruction before and after school to students in Grades 6-8. Alums visit campus to mentor current Gatoto students. This year, Gatoto has provided financial aid to 140 alums in secondary school and 20 at university, a total of 160 students compared with 130 last year.
The school’s soccer team competed in the Metropolitan Region. Impressively, the Gatoto choir won first place in one category of the Kenya National Music Festival Competition and earned a $1,500 award to support purchases of additional musical instruments.
GATOTO’S RELATIONSHIP WITH EDUCATION FOR ALL CHILDREN IS EXPANDING
Ruth Wekesa and Esther Mumo, the first two Gatoto students to be admitted into the Education for All Children program have transitioned successfully and perform well at the highly regarded Vanessa Grant School for Girls outside of Nairobi, where half of their tuition is paid by American Friends of Gatoto. In particular, Esther has already become one of the top students in her class of over 100 girls. It is a testament to the Gatoto experience and the support of EFAC that two girls from the Mukuru kwa Reuben slum have been able to succeed seamlessly in a competitive high school far from their homes.
EFAC has expressed interest in supporting additional Gatoto graduates — and in working with Gatoto in other ways. Already, other EFAC participants have visited Gatoto to mentor final year students as they prepare to take the important Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination.
We hope that more friends of Gatoto will be interested in supporting subsequent Gatoto graduates as these life-changing EFAC opportunities arise.
BETTY NYAGOHA, GATOTO’S DIRECTOR, LOOKS FORWARD TO U.S. VISIT NEXT MONTH
Betty Nyagoha, the Director of Gatoto, will visit the US, attending meetings and events in Washington and New York, October 16th through 20th. Early evening receptions in Manhattan and Washington are scheduled. If you would like to attend one of the receptions, or schedule a private meeting with Betty, please contact Board members Stuart Kerr or Peter Edwards.
AMERICAN FRIENDS OF GATOTO BOOSTS ITS SUPPORT
In 2017, American Friends of Gatoto continued to support of Gatoto financially, and board member Peter Edwards again visited the campus to meet with local stakeholders. In addition to providing $100,000 for the annual operating budget, AFG donated an additional $10,000 on short notice to help address the school’s remaining fundraising deficit. Another $5,000 donation is funding the resumption of Gatoto’s morning porridge program, which provides a modest hot breakfast to every student, in addition to the hot lunch that was already being offered.
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During his May visit, Edwards conducted video interviews with over a dozen Gatoto students and alums. These interviews are going to be edited and sent to Gatoto supporters in the months to come, and will provide a more tangible sense of the lives that Gatoto is so profoundly changing. The first interview follows.
The young woman featured is Josephine Mbaisi, a 23 year old graduate of Gatoto. Her father, who was unemployed, died in 2003; her mother cooks food and snacks to earn a modest living. She received substantial financial aid from GIDP to attend Gatoto, then Buruburu Girls’ High School and finally, the University of Nairobi.
She will graduate from the University of Nairobi in December with a bachelor of science in sociology and political science. She currently is mentoring young girls, three of whom are at Gatoto, and working with Empowerment of Youth, an organization devoted to teaching uneducated youth to make and distribute bead and art work.
PROPOSED CAPITAL CAMPAIGN AIMS TO BUILD NEW CLASSROOMS
Gatoto needs more classroom capacity. Gatoto’s relative longevity, success in advancing the lives of many children, and daily provision of hot meals ensure that demand for places at the school is always strong. The surrounding Mukuru kwa Reuben slum has many tens of thousands of residents and only two primary schools.
The two oldest classroom buildings on the campus are sided with rusted, rotten sheet metal–dilapidated, dark and under-sized. They must be replaced with more permanent structures that have additional, larger classrooms.
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AFG is in discussions with Gatoto’s management about undertaking a capital campaign to fund these new buildings. Many details are still to be worked out, in particular the budget, but a fund-raising effort is likely to begin in earnest in early 2018; a $50,000 pledge has already been received. In 2018, more than ever, Gatoto will your support.
Member, Board of Directors
American Friends of Gatoto