In 2018, Our Lady of Grace School Foundation Limited was established to provide a stable financial foundation for Our Lady of Grace School in Kanyakwar, Kenya. Its board, made up of Catholics in Kenya and abroad, is mandated with securing funding for the school.
Some of those “Catholics abroad” are the volunteers who run Saint Basil Coffee.
Houstonians Mary and Jim Boyles founded Saint Basil Coffee in 2005 in a direct response to St. Pope John Paul II’s call for Catholics to engage in social justice, a call which came through Basilian Father Vince Thompson. They’ve passed on the day-to-day management to John and Linda Howard, fellow parishioners at St. Anne in Houston.
The business plan is straightforward: buy coffee from small, independent farmers in Columbia, have it roasted and packaged by a Houston-based, socially conscious coffee company and sell it to folks who appreciate good coffee and the common good.
“Since 2005, Saint Basil Coffee has contributed more than $625,000 to missions that serve those most in need,” John Howard said. “We like to say we’re making an impact, one cup at a time.”
At Our Lady of Grace, Saint Basil Coffee is considered a key supporter; its contributions have funded the rehabilitation and expansion of the Early Childhood Development Education classrooms and playground, along with directly supporting the students.
Ms. Casiraghi said plans include building facilities for junior secondary students according to the Kenyan Competence Based Curriculum (CBC). The goal is to accommodate 500 students in the next five years, to meet a growing demand from the community.
“We need finances that will be used for hiring of new teachers, setting up of laboratories and other materials. CBC presents us with significant challenges as well as unique opportunities,” said Ms. Casiraghi.
Those challenges and opportunities translate into hopes and dreams for Our Lady of Grace’s students. Gordon, who is in second grade and whose father cannot walk due to an assault over land disputes, said he loves being at the school. “We eat chicken, beans and rice; these are foods we cannot eat at home because we cannot afford them,” he said. His dream is to be a lawyer when he grows up, so he can “buy a big house and help other children.”
Gordon is already making his dream a reality, with help that comes one cup of coffee at a time.