Education for Konyango is a Williams students project to support the educational initiatives of Konyango Mboto community in rural Kenya. Konyango community is in a transition from a subsistence economy that has relied on fishing, farming and rearing cattle to capitalist economy. The rapid development of Kisumu town and the upgrade of Kisumu airport to an international airport has seen the influx of foreigners in the region; both settlers and investors. The people of Konyango decided that education was their best tool for addressing these changes. The steps the community has already taken to improve education against all odds motivated our team. We come in to work with community to achieve their vision for the school and to share knowledge and mobilize resources for timely achievement of the overall goal of quality education.
In partnership with Konyango Mboto community, we strive to create:
- A model rural school in Kenya, offering quality and equitable education to all children.
- A fully equipped and comfortable learning environment that is built on strong community partnerships.
- A learning environment that nurtures individual student talents and challenges students through vigorous academics and activities to discover themselves, exploit their full potentials, and shape their future.
In January 2012, four Williams College students (Jackline Odhiambo ‘14, Bethany Dixon ’15, Adriana Mendoza ’12 and Sarah Lyon ‘13) had an idea of supporting a newly started school in Jackline’s home village, Konyango in Kenya. The team launched Education for Konyango Literacy Project through fundraising initiatives at Williams College campus. The goal was to build and equip a one-room library at Konyango Mboto School and conduct a summer reading development program aiming to cultivate reading skills and a reading culture at the school.
Education for Konyango was motivated by the idea that some of us fail to exploit our full potential because of life’s circumstances. The children of Konyango have the talents, the curiosity and the capacity to be exceptional in all their work. But they need an education that will give life to all these talents. As Williams students, we are experiencing the power of good education that allows us to discover what our niche’s are and importantly, equip us to effectively respond to what the opportunities and challenges in the real world are.
Although we had only planned for a summer project, our involvements with the community inspired us to build a long term relationship that would encourage and support education at the community. We met a people passionate about improving their community through education. This passion was expressed in parents volunteering during the library construction project. Women would even fetch water 10 times in a day and boast about how great their reward was, “better education for our children and educational prospects for ourselves.”
Education is a sure way of investing in a child’s future and we hope to see the children of Konyango, currently starting at the preschool and kindergarten level, rise above life challenges to overcome all their social circumstances and obtain the best and definitive education as they re-write the future history of their community.
“When I look at the 15 children in my afternoon reading development class, I see professionals of all kinds; writers, professors, journalists, managers, doctors, architects, social workers…yet all these are talents that we must nurture and must help develop for the greater good of the community.” Jackline Odhiambo (Williams College ’14)