In July, Doug Granger (Educ ’06) visited Kenya with his wife and a couple of friends to take part in a mission conference through his church in Charlottesville. While in Kenya he visited a small school in the heart of Nairobi that provides education for children living in poverty. As an assistant principal in Albemarle County, Doug brought home a vision for excellent education and a desire to make Nairobi’s South B Slums a better place.
Most children who attend the Brine Academy walk to school through narrow alleyways cut through the middle of tiny homes made of tin. A sewer runs through the middle of the alleyway and carries away the sludge left over from the 400,000 residents of this two square kilometer living space.
In spite of these challenges, many children approach their education with a sense that it is the key to their long-term survival. Their families pay approximately $9 a year in tuition and must keep the school uniforms in good order. From the age of 4, children spend 11-14 hours a day at school, six days a week. Each of the 60-70 graduates is able to speak three languages—in addition to reading and writing in English—and goes on from the Brine Academy to attend either a four-year university or two-year trade school.
The academy was started 10 years ago by a Kenyan pastor named Justus Wafula. Justus and his wife, Suzie, moved to the slum and began by teaching their own children. Since its small beginnings, the student body has grown to more than 850 students ages 4-18 with a staff of 21—including the secretary and school administration. Each of the teachers puts in 12-16 hours a day, six days a week. For their efforts they are paid the equivalent of $70 a month. The books are provided by the Kenyan government, but all of the other money needed for these children comes through the children’s tuition or private donations.
If you would like to learn more about the Brine Academy, please contact Doug Granger at firstname.lastname@example.org.