History of our partnership

As with many relations, our connection to Kipevu Primary School started by a serendipitous encounter between a Mombasa safari driver and a visiting family (the Chorney’s) of Stratford Hall in 2006. The Chorney’s had just completed a safari vacation and the safari driver – turned taxi driver - was showing them around Mombasa for the afternoon before their scheduled departure that evening.

The taxi driver was Hemed Mukui, who also happened to be the chair of the parent management committee for Kipevu school. His suggestion that the Chorny’s briefly visit Kipevu on their way to the airport set fated our two worlds together. Touched by what they saw and with a wish to assist Kipevu, the Chorney’s returned to Vancouver and promptly met with Dr. McConnell. Immediately Dr. McConnell understood that an opportunity for a partnership between our schools should be explored and enlisted the enthusiasm of Chris McGuigan.

Upon contacting Kipevu School and Hemed Mukui in 2006, Chris learned that the school did indeed require assistance and saw that Stratford Hall students could also learn of international mindedness first hand and began to set the partnership in motion. The enthusiasm was there as our school community raised an impressive 10K by 2008 with the intention of sending the money to Kipevu for such things as books, chairs, teaching aids and other such educational devices. However, Chris quickly learned that the school did not want any of these things just yet – but what they did want was a wall.

Perplexed, our school community began to question the motives for such an educational device and hesitated about sending money for a wall. In 2008, Michael McGuire joined in and was asked to journey to Kipevu to find out exactly how a wall fit in with education. Michael had previously lived in Africa and had been involved in a school project in Ethiopia and so perhaps had some ideas about walls and education. After all, wasn’t education supposed to be about taking down those proverbial walls? In November 2009 Michael spent 7 days touring Mombasa with Hemed and met with the Aga Khan Academy where he resided during his visit. Each day was spent at Kipevu Primary School with the teachers and students.
It was obvious almost from the start – a wall had to be built before any learning was going to occur. Safety and security were non- existent at Kipevu. These needs were not met at the school and without them students could not even begin to consider reading, writing and arithmetic.

The partnership was officially established that November.