S4L 6-Years-Celebration – ASANTE SANA!

Dear Friends of School4Life,

ASANTE SANA! Thank you for celebrating with us our 6 year anniversary of School4Life!

6 years… That equals to:

– The Board members spending a total of 386 days in Kimilili – over a year!

– a total weight loss of 55kg while enjoying local cuisine of ugali

– an uncountable number of children shouting in their best English: How is you?

– 1 mio raised leading to 1073 handwritten thank you and Christmas cards

Let’s take a moment to look back to how it all started. We remember when we were planning our first volunteering visit to the school. The idea was simple: volunteer our time, teach and play with the children, and enjoy our holiday. We completely failed. Those children, that didn’t even have a school, taught us what life is really about: Sharing and caring.

The plan didn’t work out, because there wasn’t a school. It was simply a mud hut in a field. The walls were falling apart, including the ones around the toilet.  There was no electricity, no running water, not a single school book and the teachers were untrained. The ministry of education was about to close the school due to the inadequate facilities and resources.

For us it was unacceptable to close the school and leave those children without a future. Having seen the smile in their faces and the eagerness to learn, we decided to support the school beyond our initial volunteering.

This decision – this turning point is turning 6 years old today. Would we have been told at that point that just 6 years later this little mud hut would be transformed offering 800 children an education and over 60 staff members a monthly salary to life off, we would have called him a dreamer. But dreams did come true thanks to your support.

Since then, the little mud hut has grown to host a kindergarten and a primary school. A secondary school was added a few years later. In addition, 30 children are being offered a permanent home in our children home. Our School for Children with Special Needs was opened last year and we are currently looking after 30 special children. We are pioneering integrational education in this area as this offering for special children is unique in our region.

Beginning of this year, the School4Life Board sat together thinking about our children: do we continue to do it the way we were doing it? Or do we dare to dream even bigger? About professionalising it and significantly increasing the impact in the local community of Kimilili? Was it feasible? All dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them! So we started to dream big.

Dreams don’t work unless you do! We developed an action plan.

The first step was a complete rebrand. CBSM Switzerland, the name we started with, was based on the Kenyan School name CBSM. We are very proud to officially have launched our new brand during the event: School4Life.

The second big change was to establish an Advisory Board. The members are Franziska von Weissenfluh, Silvia von Ballmoos, Jürg Frick, Dr. Ole Wiesinger und Guido Scherer. You will read more about them our website soon. We are very thankful to have their expertise and passion join our forces.  They are pushing us to dream even bigger while providing us with the support to have the courage to continue to pursue them.

The third big step is to establish collaborations. The first one we are thankful for is Deloitte. School4Life became their chosen charity for their Corporate Social Responsibility Program. We are also very thankful for the collaboration with University St. Gallen with the Pieces and the SIM students, both sending out volunteers to support Kimilili.

A special ASANTE SANA – THANK YOU for making sure we had a wonderful evening goes to:

 — Phil and the St. Peter Restaurant staff members, for not just sponsoring the food but also voluntarily making sure we are all being served and well looked after

 — Landolt Weine for sponsoring the drinks

 — Deloitte for partially sponsoring this event

— Our core team for their support: Teamwork makes the Dreamwork

Last but not least and most importantly: A big ASANTE SANA to all of you. We can’t express enough how thankful we are for all your contributions to make this dream come true. All of you – in your own way- have made a huge difference to the life of those children.

Asante sana

Agnes, Astrid, Alex & Miriam