School is an impossible luxury for families in Kibera, many of whom subsist on two dollars a day. However, Carolina for Kibera (CFK) has taken an enlightened philosophy: a family's economic situation should never limit a child's potential to succeed in school. CFK creates sustainable, positive solutions by seeking out local leaders to champion change both inside and outside of the community. Having founded Carolina for Kibera in 2010, Darius Getanda works through his organization to realize the impact of giving through education in Kibera.
1. Why did you start Carolina for Kibera?
My inspiration in working for Carolina for Kibera is to give students a chance to succeed in education, especially for students in high school, which is not affordable for many in Kenya. These are kids that almost dropped out of school. To be given them a second chance, it gives me satisfaction. I believe in education is one way you can escape poverty. I love working in the communities. It was like a calling: “This is what you need to do.” Education will change lives and help students reach their potential.
2. How do you measure your impact?
We have three areas we focus on: Economic, social and health. How we measure our impact is first through the numbers of the children we are able to reach. In 2010 we reached around 55,000 children and come 2011, we have reached approximately 60,000. Two, [we measure] impact on what our contribution has been through the success stories. We are able to treat and give primary health care to 300 people every day. In terms of education, we look at how many people were dropping out of school. We were able to help 25 students who were almost going to drop education, because they couldn’t afford it.
3. What makes Carolina for Kibera different from other organizations in the region?
What makes us unique is that we give opportunities to the youth so that we can help develop local leaders and positive change to relieve poverty. We provide opportunity for people in terms of health and economically. We give opportunities and the support to achieve. That’s what makes our work unique. In education program, we give opportunities by identifying students that are almost dropping out of school and then mentorship to these students for them to explore their careers. As they pursue secondary school, they are in a position to bring change to their communities.
4. Who are the mentors?
We have people in the corporate world and different careers to speak to students. These people are volunteering their time to come and speak to children and facilitate sessions and help them see their lives and inspire them.
5. In starting Carolina for Kibera, what was the best lesson that you learned along the way?
The power of the community. As much as we are working in Kibera, run through the community to invest in education and health, in terms of supporting the people and Kibera. It’s something inspirational and people are living in poverty and we need to rise up and act. As a leader, I think it’s important to provide opportunities to young people, especially the expensive secondary education in Kenya.
6. What’s the greatest challenge that [organization/initiative] faces today?
The expectations are huge and the need is still there because there are still so many students that cannot access education and primary healthcare. There is a need that we still have not addressed in Kibera, but we are doing our part with the resources we have.
7. Five years from now, where do you envision your organization?
According to our strategic plan, which is 2011-2015, we are going to scale up our work to provide more scholarships, in terms of expanding our health facilities, in terms of providing economic opportunities to more young people. We want to reach out more to address the need that is there.
8. Could you share a memory or experience you’re particularly fond of from your time with CFK?
We have a football program. The students have been participating in the football program and are in a big league club in Kenya. There are success stories of five of them in this big football club, which makes us proud. It helps them in different ways by giving them an opportunity to share, play and express their talent. It’s more than football. There is a program for mentorship and personal development. They are able to gain life skills through football, through a league club or some of them end up becoming coaches or referees. Of course, education program has not been there long but we have seen how we changed the life of someone.
9. How can one person make a difference in the world?
I think it’s the small contributions someone can give. Making that contribution to alleviating poverty, basic things like education and primary healthcare. In a small way, whatever contributions someone can make, it’s important because it can make a whole difference.
10. What advice do you give to other potential social entrepreneurs?
I can say, try to make as much of a difference on your own. Community development work is good. It’s about giving. Believe in yours skills, your resources. As a leader, you should go beyond yourself and consider how other people are living someone where else. Make that contribution.
11. On a personal level, what does giving mean to you?
You give out ideas. It could be sharing ideas, it could be giving time, giving a donation. It comes in many ways. But as leaders in communities, we appreciate what we receive as ideas, donations, or someone coming to volunteer. That’s my definition of giving.
Students participating in a jump rope activity.
Students participating in a role-play activity.
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