Where No Teacher Wants to Go.
In the summer of 2010, Julie Manuel contacted an organization that places volunteers in Africa. She told them, “I am a teacher with 6 weeks to volunteer. Please place me where no teacher wants to go.” They did just that and sent her to the village of Olosho-Oibor located outside of Ngong Hills, Kenya in a remote, rural area in the Great Rift Valley.
Not an Ideal Learning Environment.
It was in the village of Olosho-Oibor that Julie lived and worked among the Maasai people with whom she quickly fell in love. During her six weeks, she taught children from K-8 grades ranged in age from 3 to 21. One of her favorite students is 21 year old Samson. She thought he was a parent in the Grade 3 classroom, but quickly learned his story. Samson desperately wanted to attend school as a child, but had to attend to his father's livestock. His father promised him that if he still wanted to attend school by the time he was 18 years old, then the father would agree to let him go. When he turned 18 years old, Samson held him to that promise and he started grade 1 as an 18 year old. He wore his uniform with pride and there was no shame in attending school with much younger peers. He rose to the top of his class and demonstrated strong leadership skills throughout his years at school. He is now, in 2016, a thriving young man of 24 who is now in Grade 8. He hopes to find a sponsor so that he can continue his education at a boarding school. He wants to be a pilot. The school had approximately 650 students and just 7 teachers. It was clear to Julie and her host, Rosemary (also a teacher at the school) that this was not an ideal learning environment.
Starting Out in a Chicken-coop
With no buildings or funds available to support an additional school, Rosemary started teaching 5 of the students privately using an available chicken coop as a classroom. From there, Julie and Rosemary launched the idea of starting a new private school that would be run by English speaking Maasai teachers, but supported by Julies home town school in Littleton, Colorado, Shaffer Elementary within Jefferson County.
Raising Awareness and Enlisting Support
Julie met with the leadership of Shaffer Elementary school in Littleton, CO and convinced them that in addition to teaching our students about “community,” we needed to extend that further and teach them about our Global Community. The Shaffer community enthusiastically adopted and embraced their Sister School in Kenya and now supports the Ronesa Academy through yearly fund raising efforts such as Coins For Kenya, a School Supply Drive and Pen Pal programs as well as a Uniform program that provides uniforms for the majority of the 133 students so they can attend school. (If you would like to support Ronesa, see the "Donations" section for a list of programs available where your help would be truly appreciated.)
A Schoolhouse for Ronesa Academy
Ronesa Academy is recognized by the Department of Education as being an accredited Private school in Maasailand. When they came to review the school they asked Joseph (then in Pre-K class), “Joseph, do you know how to spell your name?” Without hesitation Joseph responded, “J-O-S-E-Puh-Ha! He said the first 3 letters and then pronounce the sound the P, and H make. The department chairman tells that story every year at Celebration day.
Vision Photography Lends a Hand
Vision Photography donates the money to build the office at Ronesa Academy. A school is considered legitimate once it has an office and the President’s photo on the wall. Staff from Vision Photography came to Kenya to see their good work and receive many thanks from the Maasai.
Namayiana Children's Home
In November of 2013, Gloria and Scott Scharton from Colorado, began the construction and implementation of providing a home for the orphans of Maasailand. It started with 3 precious children in 2013, and has now grown to 17 beautiful souls! They are thriving at the home, both physically and emotionally and many of them are the top students in their class at Ronesa Academy. They are so thankful for the giving hearts of their friends from Colorado who met this need. Every year, they bring volunteers to improve the conditions of the home and even have one large birthday party for all the children. The kids are deeply loved by the community and now have a family to call their own!
Raising Money to Drill a Bore Hole
In March of 2015, we launched our Water Fundraiser for Ronesa Academy. It was a joint effort, along with Namayiana Children's home directors, to raise money for our school and children's home. Several fundraisers started in Colorado to support the effort. To get the fundraising moving, Julie and her husband decided to use their hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro as a fundraising opportunity asking supporters to pledge funds for their hike that would go toward the cost of drilling a bore hole at Ronesa.
Mt. Kilimanjaro Fund Raiser
Julie, her husband Rod, daughter Ali and cousin Brad climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise support for the water project. Over $4000 was raised to top off the money needed for the bore-hole. Water is Life and it was worth every grueling step to reach the summit. A memory of a lifetime for sure!
Dream Realized! We Have Water!
A Dream Realized………we have water! A joint partnership between Ronesa Academy and Namayiana Children’s home was launched to drill a bore-hole. This bore-hole was drilled 137 meters down and will provide an abundance of water for the Children’s home, the Greenhouse, Ronesa Academy, Rosemary’s (Mama Sheila) home, and the crops that provide food for the children at Ronesa Academy.
Time for Soccer!
Playground Project Begins
In addition to building the new classroom for our Grade 6 kiddos in January 2017, we will be focusing on a new project for the coming year, 2016/2017. We would like to find a way to construct a playground for the kids to utilize while at recess at Ronesa Academy. Other than a few balls and jump ropes we bring once a year, the kids really have nothing to do while playing outside. We would like to build and install 3-4 full swing-sets, a few slides, and any other permanent structures we can afford. Playing IS the serious business of a child and we want to encourage and keep those precious faces smiling!