There were tears of joy and an immense sense of pride and achievement at the handover of the latest Mellon Educate building project to be completed in Kenya.
A new three-storey school building with 24 classrooms was officially dedicated today at the Ruben Centre in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi.
This building will make an enormous difference to the lives of the thousands of children who live in probably the most impoverished and desperate living conditions we have ever encountered at the Niall Mellon Township Trust.
Charlie O’Kelly and Ken Kingston represented Mellon Educate at the ceremony and were joined by many local education and government officials.
There was a real festive atmosphere and the school children put on quite the show – with dancing and singing and tributes paid to the many people who had worked so hard to make this happen, including Mellon Educate’s Kenyan Country Director Gabriel Karigey and the indefatigable Br Frank O’Shea, who is director of the Ruben Centre.
It was a tremendously uplifting day for the local community – the pupils, parents, teachers and other workers and volunteers who make the Ruben Centre the phenomenal place it is.
Quite simply, the Ruben Centre is an oasis of opportunity in the heart of one of the most deprived slums in Kenya. The Mukuru – situated in the industrial district of Nairobi – is home to some 600,000 people living in abject poverty. Their homes are the most basic of shacks – with open sewers, a lack of running water and high crime rates also making life very difficult.
All of which makes what the Ruben Centre provides even more important and is the reason why it holds such a special place in the hearts of all those who visit it. One can’t helped but be touched by the warm, nurturing, secure environment it provides for the 2,000 children who attend school there.
The centre is a safe haven, a place where they receive many of the basic things we take for granted – such as education and a secure place to play. It also provides meals for its children, many of whom don’t get enough to eat at home, including a distressing amount of orphans.
The new school building was paid for by the generous donations and selfless fundraising efforts of our incredible volunteers. It is only with your continued help that we can, together, help build better lives for such deserving children.
Speaking about the impact the 24 new classrooms in the new building will have, deputy head teacher Gedeon Dallu said: “Our largest class has 85 students. The teacher has a challenge in concentrating on every child to ensure no-one lags behind. The new classrooms will ease the burden of overflowing class rooms and allow for further intake of students – ensuring many more children receive basic primary education. It will also allow the Centre to recruit more teachers to improve the teacher student ratio.”
The Ruben centre consists of a primary school, medical clinic, community development and vocational training facilities. The Christian Brothers from Australia administer the centre, and Br Frank is keen to provide secondary education facilities at the centre in the near future.
Niall Mellon expressed his regret that he was unable to attend the ceremony due to commitments in South Africa.
“While disappointed not to be there myself, I am delighted that the wonderful people at the Ruben Centre – who do such incredible work – will have this fantastic new school building,” Niall said.
“The Ruben Centre is truly an inspiring place and everyone at Mellon Educate is extremely proud of our involvement there. This new school building will bring hope and opportunity to thousands of the most deprived children in Kenya.
“As always I must thank those who have worked so hard to make this happen. It is only through the donations and fundraising efforts of our incredible volunteers that we have been able to make a difference in the lives of these children who have such great need.”
In November 2013, Mellon Educate completed and handed over a new medical centre building at the Ruben Centre. It provides healthcare for 60,000 people a year in the form of general medical consultations and treatment, antenatal care, testing and treatment programs for TB and HIV, and preventative health education programmes. Some vocational training is also provided.
The handover of the medical centre came on the same day as the official handover of the first Mellon Educate school project, at St Catherine’s school, also in the Mukuru.
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