KWEST Kenya Watamu Educational Support Trust
Posted 6 months ago
Hi I am Lesley Churm
I am new to the charity sector. My background is in education and I am passionate that every child and young person should have access to learning. Currently I'm wading through all of the legislation and documentation for setting up a new charity and becoming increasingly frustrated with the banks who will not open any new business accounts for a charity so I cannot register with HMRC.
However, this has not prevented us from moving forward with our work. I hope you don't mind me telling you about our work.
KWEST - Kenya - Watamu Educational Support Trust, is a UK charitable Trust that is, initially, setting up learning opportunities and experiences for children in the coastal area of Watamu. For Kenyans, education is not free and families constantly struggle to afford the fees and uniforms. When your income is so severely drained there is no spare monies for books and any home learning. In the schools there is limited focus on developing the natural talents and interests of young people and almost no facilities for leisure activities. Consequently, young people spend a lot of time doing nothing and have no means to improve their lives. This is a major worry for parents. With COVID restrictions this year the children have had no formal schooling since March and there is no current plan for school re-opening. Only those families who can afford private tutors have had any education this year.
KWEST is a not for profit organisation run totally by volunteers in Kenya and overseen by myself and my husband in the UK. We go out three times a year but have three amazing Kenyan trustees who live and work in Watamu. One, Connie, helped us to set up of a swimming club 'Watamu Turtles' to provide outdoor fun and a support group for children from 4-14. The children are learning to swim, in the Indian ocean, so we provide swimming costumes, masks, snorkels, wetsuits and life jackets. It has been wonderful to see their confidence grow and their joy of being together and having fun. They are also learning about Marine Conservation in this protected marine conservation area, and before every swimming session they collect huge sacks of plastic from the beach.
The success of this venture drew local support and trust enabling us to start the process of building a local library and learning centre. We engaged two further local trustees who share our vision to expand across the region. We now have foundations for the first library at the Marine Conservation Centre and with the donation of two metal containers, from the owner of Hemingways, now in place the site is almost ready to open.
In the UK, through local FB requests we've had some amazing book donations which we currently have to take out to Kenya in our luggage. Still trying to find a way of shipping them out without incurring huge costs. At present the "Turtles' are accessing the books from Connie's front porch. The local people are extremely excited about the library and its aims to help their children. Local volunteers are going to help the children with reading and writing at the centre as well as being able to draw, paint, and try other leisure activities, they will also be involved in conservation work with the centre.
My TO DO List is long and I'm doing this on my own so any advice is welcome. I need help setting up a website, advice on fundraising and welcome any help if someone wants to volunteer.