There are nearly 445 students enrolled at Our Lady of Grace School, located in Kisumu County in west Keyna, which includes an Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE), or pre-school, and a primary, or elementary, school.
The school provides not just an education: it is a haven and hope for orphaned and vulnerable children who were victims of the post-election violence and who continue to suffer from the country’s political and economic woes.
Although the elementary school children still take their meals under the trees and attend classes in basic metal sheet buildings, and most students are orphans or have been traumatized in other ways, they excel in many ways.
Ebrahim Onyango, head teacher for the Primary Section, explained that Our Lady of Grace ranks first in Nyaera Zone-Kisumu County, out of 20 schools, and fourth in Kisumu West Sub County, out of 103 schools.
“We have 31 pupils in grade six, who are supposed to transition to junior secondary come next year. Most of them are under 12 years of age, the minimum age required to enter high school,” Onyango explained.
He said the primary school has also been exceptional in co-curriculum activities, including trophies won in football (soccer) as the school attempts to provide a well-rounded educational experience for its students. Its bright yellow bus transports children to activities outside the school, such as sports, music festivals and other co-curricular activities.
It’s an environment which also encourages generosity, according to Michael Ochieng, an alumni who is now a teacher.
“When my mother passed on, I was recruited to join Our Lady of Grace School by one of the Dominican fathers, together with my sister,” he said. “I joined the school in grade five, and we had no classrooms and took our lessons under trees. We were also experiencing water problems,” he said. Since then, he has seen the school transform into a “serene learning environment and lush playgrounds,” including computers for the students.
Ochieng decided to return to Our Lady of Grace to give back to the school and the community where he grew up. “I am grateful for the opportunity I received from Our Lady of Grace School and encourage all my students that they, too, can make it in life like their teacher,” said Ochieng.
Today, Our Lady of Grace School is thriving, due to effective local leadership and to the financial support of donors, including individuals who purchase coffee from Saint Basil Coffee. You can join us in our support of Our Lady of Grace by placing an order, signing up for a monthly subscription, or making a donation at saintbasilcoffee.com.