The beginning of the academic year is often seen as a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. However, we think it’s also the perfect opportunity to pause, reflect, and take stock of progress.
Here at African Adventures, we’ve been feeling somewhat nostalgic recently. This year marks 10 years since African Adventures began, and we’ve grown a lot since our humble beginnings in 2009. We now work in three destinations, and support over 20,000 children across 25 partner projects. Over 6,000 volunteers have travelled with us over the last 10 years, and, at peak times, we employ nearly 50 members of staff across Africa. That’s a lot of growth for a company that was started by our Director, Dan, when he was just 21 years old.
As we’ve always said, we aren’t worried about being the biggest; instead, we are focused on being the best. In honour of this, we are proud to introduce a new segment to our blog, named ‘Project Progress’. In this segment, we’ll be exploring the history of each of our partner projects, discussing the work completed by our volunteers, and looking at our projects’ plans for the future.
To start with, we’re going back to where it all began – The Walk Centre in Nakuru, Kenya.
What’s their story?
The Walk Centre was set up by Alex and Patricia Maina in 2005, after they recognised that many children in their local area could not afford an education. The majority of families in their community live below the World Bank’s international poverty line and survive on less than $1.25* per person, per day. Alex and Patricia wanted to provide a safe space for these children to learn and grow. Thus, The Walk Centre was born.
Initially, The Walk Centre was housed in temporary accommodation, consisting of two rooms, and provided a free nursery education and lunchtime meal to 60 children between the ages of three and six. All of these children lived in slum areas on or near the Hilton Dumpsite in Nakuru. As the number of students increased, Alex and Patricia secured a permanent site for the project, and, in 2006, The Walk Centre was officially registered as a pre-primary school. By this time, Alex and Patricia were providing an education and daily meal to 120 children.
African Adventure’s First Project Partnership
In 2007, our Founder and Director, Dan, volunteered at The Walk Centre. Dan’s experience in Kenya sparked his ambition to create a social enterprise which would benefit similar community projects while giving young people from the UK to chance to volunteer in Africa.
In 2009, the first-ever group of African Adventures volunteers from the University of Southampton visited The Walk Centre. By this time, the school was in desperate need of more classroom space to accommodate its growing student population. In the first few years of our partnership, the nursery classrooms were renovated and decorated to create a stimulating learning environment for the children. Not long after this, a perimeter wall was built to keep the students safe throughout the school day.
As the number of students at The Walk Centre increased, it became apparent that the cooking facilities at the school also needed to be improved so that Alex and Patricia could continue to provide a daily meal to each student. In 2012, a new kitchen, complete with energy-saving cooking stoves, was built to help with this.
In the same year, electricity was installed at the school, and seven computers were donated so that the school could introduce IT lessons to the curriculum.
The past five years…
By 2014, volunteers had helped to construct and renovate five classrooms, including a Standard One classroom. This classroom was built to allow the children to complete their first year of primary education for free, before they would have to find a place at a local government school, which often comes with costs.
In 2015, African Adventures Foundation teamed up with Chichester College to fundraise the money needed to construct a brand-new primary school, which would allow the students at The Walk Centre to receive a full primary education for free. This was one of the most ambitious construction projects ever undertaken by African Adventures. Construction began in 2016 and the new primary school officially opened in August 2017, ready for the new academic year to start in September. The following year, in 2018, the kitchen at the school was renovated in order to cope with the large numbers of students now attending The Walk Centre.
2019 and beyond
Renovations are ongoing at The Walk Centre in order to improve its facilities and the quality of education it can provide to its students.
Over the course of 2019, volunteers have renovated classroom floors, painted the interiors of the classrooms, and assisted with teaching, including sexual health and hygiene lessons. In addition, the students at The Walk Centre have received numerous donations from our volunteers, including bras, shoes, books, toys, and clothes. Funding from African Adventures Foundation has been used to cover the costs of the school’s feeding programme and has enabled further renovations to be carried out.
The Walk Centre now educates over 430 students between the ages of four and 14, from Baby Class up to Standard One. Next year, an additional floor will be constructed above the kitchen; this will be used as a school office and will give the teachers at The Walk Centre somewhere to mark their students’ work and plan their lessons. New metal doors and windows will be fitted in the kitchen to bring it up to the government’s safety and security standards. Finally, our volunteers will also provide support with teaching, as they work alongside Alex and Patricia to improve the quality of education The Walk Centre provides.