Grace Builds on Nature

After Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as Kenya’s president in the evening of Dec. 30, 2007, the country erupted in ethnic violence. Kisumu County, in west Kenya and about 200 miles northwest of Nairobi, was impacted significantly.

Dominican Father Martin Martiny established Our Lady of Grace School (OLG) in April 2008. The school in Kanyakwar, Kenya, 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.

The residential school was built on land purchased from Action Aid International, a relief agency that left the region during the post-election violence. 

From the beginning, finances were tight and the Dominicans struggled to provide the support necessary. 

In 2013, the school sunk to its lowest point financially, forcing the Dominicans to seek other groups, both locally and abroad, willing to assume administration of the school.

Grace came from within and without.

“I was already running this institution having come in earlier as an accountant,” explained Mary Casiraghi, the school’s current managing director. She applied her expertise; a cost-benefit analysis of the institution showed that the secondary school section was not viable. 

“We again restructured the institution and moved the primary section across the road and closed down the secondary school, transferring all the affected high school students to other quality institutions across the country,” Ms. Casiraghi explained.

It costs approximately 45,000 Kenyan shilling (about 368USD at the current exchange rate) annually to educate a child at OLG.

“While a large bulk of the funding into OLG school comes mostly from the United States, we have a lot of local support from the surrounding community and civic administration. We also engage in various income generating projects, including poultry which we supply to the local community. We also get regular donations in kind from commercial banks and other private organizations in Kisumu County,” Ms. Casiraghi said.

The school farm has more than 800 chickens, 100 pigs and four dairy cows, and grows bananas and vegetables. 

The farm is a key supplier of chicken to a neighboring hospital, which also receives its furniture from the school’s metal workshop.

In 2018, Our Lady of Grace School Foundation Limited was established to provide a stable financial foundation for the school. Its board, made up of Catholics in Kenya and abroad, is mandated with securing funding for the school. 

By purchasing coffee through Saint Basil Coffee, you are sending your support to these students. Proceeds from our coffee sales go directly to fund our partner missions, including Our Lady of Grace School.

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