Story

HOW KES GOT  STARTED 

The key person in our story is Noah Mweruphe who lives in Likoni which is an outer suburb in southern Mombasa with a large slum area. Noah has first-hand experience of what it is like to be brought up as a seriously deprived child in Kenya. You can read about Noah’s life in his own words below.

In 1992 Merle and Tony Ryburn, who live in New Zealand, sponsored Noah as a young lad to attend a very successful charitable school called Starehe College in Nairobi which is the capital city of Kenya. Merle and Tony sponsored Noah through a charity and later they privately funded Noah through university after which he became a qualified teacher.

   TWENTY YEARS LATER NOAH SET-UP HIS OWN SCHOOL FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN WITH THE HELP OF OTHER LOCAL KENYANS AND MERLE AND TONY

IT IS CALLED THE KENYA EXCELLENT CENTRE AND SCHOOL (KES).        

                                    

               

 

When Noah started KES in 2013 he was in his late 30s and had a wife and 3 children to support on his annual salary of Ksh 679,000 p.a. ($US 7,000 p.a.) from the State school where he is a senior teacher. Despite this Noah and his wife, Happy agreed that they had a duty (in his words) “to give hope and success to the needy and disadvantaged in our society”

Noah borrowed the equivalent of $US 20,000 at interest rates of up to 19% to get his school started. With this he purchased some land and with help from friends he built a few basic class rooms. With the unpaid assistance of his wife and two young teachers he then opened KES. Despite having no water or power on the premises, KES was soon operating at capacity with 33 pupils.

Tony and Merle found out about Noah’s school early in 2014 and offered to help KES grow by funding for text books, classrooms, a toilet block, and a well which provides potable water. Power has also now been connected. The school aims for gender equality and welcomes children of all religions with both Muslim and Christian children attending happily together.

Noah is still working full-time at his State school as well as managing the development of his own school. He needs his State school salary to support his family, pay miscellaneous expenses at KES and service the loan. His dream is to devote himself full-time to KES as soon as this is financially feasible.

 

NOAH’S STORY 

The story of Noah Mweruphe and The Kenya Excellent Centre and School.

The genesis of The Kenya Excellent Centre and School (KES) is embedded in the testimony of my life history.  I am the founding director of the school. My name is Mr. Noah Mwadundu Mweruphe.

I was born in a small village called Bahakwenu (meaning - better your home in native Duruma language) in Taru location in the upper part of the Kenyan coast located in the semi-arid area of Taru.

At an early age of 2 years (1979) life was unbearable here and the family moved to the lower coastal part of Kenya near the Tanzania boarder at place called Lungalunga.

My father borrowed a piece of land to settle his family and practice peasant farming to feed his family. This was only possible because the people around sympathized with the family of a father and wife with 8 children to feed and no place to settle.

They allowed the family to settle on arrangements that the family shall find means to own their own land in future.

The neighbours sympathised with our father not being able to afford to have us at school and advised him to seek permission from the local primary school to allow him take us children to school. The school was 2 hours walking distance away.

This happened but seven years later my older brothers had to drop from school due to ridicule from other children because they were too big to be in primary school.

I was lucky because I still had the advantage of age and therefore was spared the ridicule of age but had to survive the ridicule of my parent’s inability to raise school fees and activity fee.

Many times I had to survive in disguise of other families such as the family of Rev. Joseph Mtangi.

I resembled his children since I was light skinned like his children and therefore took advantage of our resemblance and camouflaged in their family. I would sometimes pay dearly for it when the trick was discovered. I would still not be bitter when am punished for I would understand the situation any way - I needed education!!

Two hours walking distance each way was more than the time allowed for lunch break and to enable me attend afternoon classes I automatically had to forgo lunch meals and to make up for this my mother who was determined to see that I got education would wake up at 3.30 am to warm the previous day left over food for me to carry with me for lunch. Many are the times I would eat my “lunch” at 5 am before going to school because it would have turned too cold by mid-day and that became a routine!

The way to the school was narrow and winding with tall grasses higher than the height of a seven year old and this meant that by the time I got to school, I was totally drenched from head to toes with the morning dew. I would sit outside the class because no child would allow me to share a desk with them because I was wet. Therefore it meant for the early hours of the day I would acquire knowledge through the window or through a hole in the classroom wall as the case may be convenient.  Still I would always be at the top of my class after examination results were announced.

My father died in 1988 when I was in class 5 and since the mutual agreement of the land we were staying was between the land owner and our father we had to go back to our ancestral land in Taru and learn how to survive where our father had found unbearable.

Nevertheless my mother was determined to see that I continue with education and here the distance to the school was even more. Two and a half hours walking distance and there was no way I could walk but run all the time something that found me earn a ridicule name from my fellow children "long distance runner”!!  An experience that up to date makes me hate any exercise that requires me to run as it brings back bitter memories of the past.

In my final year of my primary education my mother felt that I needed more time to prepare for my national examination and therefore persuaded someone who was close to the school to assist me with a room to stay for a year at a small fee which my mother could not pay. I paid back the debt for being accommodated for a year many years later. The fee for the room was ksh.30 ($NZ 0.50) per month. While staying here I would carry from home all I needed for a week - maize meal, traditional vegetables obtained locally, and charcoal for cooking as fuel. And would prepare my own meals every day of the week and go home during the weekend to get more requirements for my food.             

 While in the previous school (Mamba primary in Lungalunga) I had heard of a school in the Kenyan capital (Nairobi) that would assist needy children and that information became my only source of inspiration and hope and I knew that my future was wholly dependent on joining the school – Starehe (which meant comfort in native east African –Swahili language). And therefore I would sometimes sleep and dream I was in Starehe but only to wake up a disappointed child that it was but only a dream - and worried if I would ever make it! It required that you must have performed quite highly - I applied!!!

My big day came when I received my letter to join the school of my dream - and even more when after a few months of my schooling there I was informed I had received  sponsors - by the name Mr & Mrs. Ryburn from New Zealand. Great things were still to come when later I received a letter from them informing me of their visit to Kenya and to my home!! It was great! They were later to inform me that when they visited my home they found out that the situation was worse than they had been informed by the school about my situation.

 Life after this was a miracle after a miracle, when Mr & Mrs. Ryburn decided to sponsor me for my degree course in the university. I came to love how knowledge imparted in young needy children would change their lives and despite having qualified for a course that would enable me have a government administrative job (BA degree), I chose to do a course in education to enable me assist other needy children in similar circumstances.

Though am still a teacher in a government school, satisfaction with what I am doing remained incomplete till I made a personal decision to commit my salary into a loan to start my own school that will be able me to assist other children in similar background as my own - Something that was not easy for me to convince my family on.  But eventually when they understood, they supported me and  together with other people who were  ready to walk along with us, we  formed the first Board of the founding members that held its  first meeting on July 21st 2013 with me (Noah M Mweruphe ) as the chairman, David Ngao as secretary and Mwanajuma Chale as treasurer of the group.

We also resolved to start a self-help group to assist needy children and to register the centre as Community Based Organization (CBO) - as a requirement for registration of such an organization in accordance to the Kenyan constitution. As the founding director I further constituted another Board of trustees in January 2015 to provide technical know-how, guidance to advice in the day today running of the institution. 

The above story is about myself and done by me.

Yours sincerely

Noah M Mweruphe

(Director-The Kenya Excellent Centre and School)