Being a young and modern NGO, the guys and girls at “Cheap Impact” have lots of energy and vision for the improvement of education and the children’s quality of life. Torsten, co-founder of “Cheap Impact” gives an overview about the idea and history of the project.
Your ‘Korando Educational Center’ is providing free education for over 200 students in Kisumu, Kenya. How do you sustain the school and what role do volunteers play?
The center was founded in 1997 by Mama Dolfine and has grown ever since. In 2006 Mama took care of so many children that she decided to start her own primary school to save school fees. Till today she survives on farming, some really small pension from her days as a teacher, bank loans and the irregular help from well-wishers.
It’s an enormous struggle for her as there has never been financial sustainability and continuous worries how to pay school fees (for 40 highschool children + currently 5 in university) and teachers salaries. She does an incredible job.
“Cheap Impact” aims to provide financial sustainability and better infrastructure.
Mama is the most amazing human being I’ve ever met, really one of her kind, and we felt obligated to connect as many people with her as possible. Those people are our volunteers. We had 7 so far and It’s been incredible for all sides. The volunteers had life changing experiences and became part of the family.
They went home and started to do what ever they could to help the center. For the children it’s been a priceless experience to have our wonderful volunteers around who spent so much time with them. Not even to talk about all the luggage’s filled with donated goods for the school and children.
Basically the volunteer program has become a great way to deeply connect people to this place, change their mindset about our world and leaves a long term positive financial impact for the center.
That sounds great. So how exactly did “Cheap Impact” begin as a sort of “extension” to Mama Dolfine’s center and what can you tell us about yourself?
A good friend of mine, Mathilde, and I started this project in January 2015 spontaneously in Johannesburg. I’ve known and supported the Korando Educational Center since my first visit in 2012. Last year Mama Dolfines husband passed away and left her struggling even more to sustain the center.
Our idea was to travel eastern Africa but traveling itself wasn’t fulfilling for us. We were looking for a way to help the center while traveling and this is how Cheap Impact was born. We re-purposed our travel budget of 3000$ to help the center. Now we only had to get there spending as little as possible of this budget.
Almost everywhere on the way we found accommodations who supported us, we hitch-hiked and even a ferry in lake Malawi gave us a free ride. After 2 month we reached Kenya with almost $2000 left + raised donations and that when we began to build up a volunteer program for the center.
With notable success apparently. Can you tell us a little more about the kids and their background? What do you hope to achieve for them and the community?
All of the children are half or total orphans or come from highly vulnerable families. Mama knows every single family and history of every child and she decides who joins her center. Most families have been destroyed by HIV. We are situated just outside Kisumu on the trans-African highway. It’s a hotspot for truckers to rest and look for entertainment.
Furthermore the community lies on the shores of lake Victoria with a great amount of the men being fishermen. A high risk mixture for HIV.
Mama’s goal which we share is to provide shelter and education for every child in need.
There is way more need than Mama can take care of for now. She had to limit herself to 200 children but the dream is far bigger than this.
Education is always a two way road. What do volunteers learn as the live and teach in Kisumu? Do you stay in contact with former volunteers?
Our volunteer program is still very young but it already changed the life of every single volunteer. We are offering a real life experience. Our volunteers live directly at the center with Mama and the children (31 stay at the center at the moment). Everyone can see the work that’s been done here by Mama Dolfine. Meeting her alone is life-changing.
Also, this place could be described as a farm with cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, fish and a dog and a cat. It’s a wonderful
experience to live within this warm and loving environment. Then the teaching experience. Our volunteers join classes for 1 or 2 days before they start teaching themselves already.
Our teachers are all local volunteers and with the teachers books it’s easy to pick up. Our volunteers bring a great mix of creativity and critical thinking to the classrooms.
Something that isn’t taught here in Kenya at all. The usual school is very boring and stiff. They learn books but not thinking. Volunteers actively change this and thus further the childrens development.
Your opinion: Do you believe the children you teach have the same as or better chances than other students?
I believe our children will have far better chances in the future, as our volunteers will continue to trigger thinking and creativity rather than just book-knowledge. Also, appart from the syllabus they learn about all other kinds of things.
Anything our volunteers come up with and feel like it’s worth sharing, they are free to do.
Something the children really enjoyed last month was art class. It’s in the syllabus but the locals don’t teach it nor value it. But it’s so incredibly important for creative thinking. Volunteers make it possible.
Thank you Torsten, for this interview. Keep up the amazing work!
Cheap Impact is a French registered non-profit organisation that operates at, and for, the Korando Educational Center in Kisumu, Kenya –a poor neighbourhood with low employment opportunities and low levels of education in the community. This non-formal school provides free education to 200 children and also sponsors older children to go to public secondary school and where possible, university. While public schools in Kenya are ‘free’, the additional cost of uniforms, supplies and transport can be too much for families living with low income. KEC focus on more than a basic curriculum, they also teach the children environmental sustainability and awareness, social and economic empowerment and women’s rights.
This project can have a huge impact for this community. The volunteers coming from all over the world will have the opportunity to empower boys and girls by giving them the skills they need to overcome poverty and to make their voice heard. Volunteers teach core subjects, help ensuing that pupils receive more personal attention and design workshops and extra-curricular activities about health, responsible social behavior, woman, empowerment, and even their own fields of interest and passion.
Cheap Impact is an amazing organization. Did they pique your interest as well? Then click here, learn more about them and join up!