Sep 182015


Maureen, a prospective student

Dear Rafikis,

Maureen, 20 years, and a prospective student of the school says :

“ It is rare for a community to have a tertiary institution within it. We as the community and more specificly the youth of Kosyin are privileged to have one.”

 She continues by pointing to a hard fact concerning the young people in the area.

“The youth for a long time have been wasting their time on unproductive activities because of lack of advancement in school.”

With a smile on her face, she adds:

“The building of the polytechnic in our region will totally change our lives for the better and enable us to be more productive members of our families and our society.”


22 year old Isaac, also from Koshyn, confirms this view, adding :

« In particular, most of the youth get their skills through learning and eventually get employed or rather employ themselves. »

Both students marvel at the three buildings that have come up in less than a year. Before the end of next month, the horseshoe shaped school center will be fully apparent.Our next goal is to open at the start of the new academic year in January 2016 ! Onwards, now!

The students say a resounding « KONGOI » – Kalenjin for thank you – to all those in Rafiki Ya Maisha who are involved with this transformation.There are many more buldings to go and we can’t wait for the 1st step: to fill the classrooms with trainees.

Aren’t you proud to be agents of change and hope for these youths with Rafiki ?

Claire Mathijsen

Administrative building shaping up

Core buildings of the school

Jun 152015


French Ambassador unveils plaque

Dear friends,We have not lost anytime with the school construction project: 1 wing is fully constructed and 2 more will be ready after the summer.

The highlight of our recent events was the official inauguration of the 2 classrooms sponsored by the French government. These classrooms were funded by the French Embassy’s Social Fund for Development. H.E. Ambassador Rémi Maréchaux was the guest of honour at the inauguration ceremony held on May 14, 2015.

The Uasin Gishu County governor Jackson Mandago, the Member of the County Assembly for Tembelio Ward Pius Kigen, the land donor and former Minister of Education Prof. Margaret Kamar, and other personalities were present. Please check the link for the online article published in THE DAILY NATION, the widest circulated paper in Kenya.

The other two classrooms donated by close friends and supporters of RAFIKI YA MAISHA were also officially inaugurated on that day: the Katy and Matthieu Debost room and the “women’s” room sponsored by the Association of American Wives of Europeans in Paris, France and the Association Femmes d’Europe in Brussels, Belgium.

The students from our school who train at our first campus in Chepkanga sang spirited songs, the elder of the community offered the traditional rungu or staff to the men dignitaries and the ladies got adorned in traditional kangas or wraps.

This first building plus the new ones under construction constitute the central quadrangle of the school. The first students will be expected for the beginning of the new school year in January 2016 thus inaugurating the academic purpose of the institution.

More classrooms and workshops are being built at this time. Our goal, given the high buidling standards –  is to transform the institution from a rural ‘village’ polytechnic school into a regional Institute for Technical Education.

“ From nowhere… to somewhere!” exclaimed Theresia, an older community member, as she proudly showed off the new building. I hope you can feel the excitement that is radiating out of that field. Aren’t you happy to be providing hope & change for a whole new generation of underserved youths?

Cheers!  Claire

Inauguration ceremony

Viewing a finished classroom

Energetic songs by school girls

Community members show their support

Construction of next buildings continues

Construction of next buildings continues


Mar 112015
Brand new classrooms/workshops  WING 1

Brand new classrooms/workshops WING 1

Dear Rafikis,

This is a happy moment to be sending you a report. We have just returned from the field and experienced how much is happening. The recent visit of Irish Ambassador Dr. Vincent O’Neill and his wife, to our Koshyn polytechnic campus made the constrction site seem like a party site!

Indeed, thanks to a very generous grant from Irish Aid, attributed to RAFIKI YA MAISHA through Misean Cara, the Irish Ambassador to Kenya – the first after a 27 year absence from the country – set the corner stone in mortar on the foundation walls of WING 2. March 1st, 2015 was a double celebration : we admired the finished building of the 4 first classrooms/workshops of WING 1 and we officially started the construction of WING 2. In actuallity, WING 3 of the main quadrangle of the school has been planned and will also be finished at the same time as building 2.

The youth, the community, RAFIKI YA MAISHA International and Kenya team, Patrician Brothers from Kenya and the world at large, Misean Cara representatives fromDublin and numerous officials (govenors to Members of the Constitutional Assembly, Women representatives in the National Assembly,former minister of Education, a High Court  judge, a woman engineer from the Ministry of Works, the director of all the Youth Polytechnics in Kenya) the Sergoek YP principal and our students were all present.

“We really enjoyed and learnt from the visit. What a great opportunity to see good development in practice and th coming together of so many committed people towards a common dream – which is on its wy to becoming a reality.” 

Thank you all for coming together with us and making this celebration possible. It would not have happened without your support and your friendship. I trust you feel the joy of participating in this dream with us?


Irish Amb Dr. Vincent O

Happy women of Koshyn celebrate

Happy women of Koshyn celebrate

Official day on new campus March 1, 2015

Official day on new campus March 1, 2015

Ambassador O

Ambassador O’Neill encourages the youth

Kenya National Anthem closes the day

Kenya National Anthem closes the day

Dec 112014
Wing I - First 4 workshops

Wing I – First 4 workshops

Dear Friends, Dear Rafikis,

Let’s Celebrate! This month, Rafiki Ya Maisha celebrated its 10th anniversary! Ten years on, we are thrilled to announce that our Chepkanga school graduated with a class of 97 students this November. As you may recall, our new Koshyn school broke ground in February and is putting finishing touches on its’ first building with 4 workshops. The Koshyn school will be ready to register students in January 2015.

As 2014 is coming to an end, we would like to share with you this years’ accomplishments. From February to November, which corresponds to the Kenyan academic year, 97 trainees have followed classes. Below are some key points:

  • 8 vocational training courses are offered: 1. Fashion Design 2. Electrical Installation 3. Food Technology 4. Carpentry and Joinery 5. Building and Masonry 6. Information Technology 7. Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy 8. Plumbing.
  • 6 instructors teach these courses.
  • The student ratio is 57 girls/40 boys training in the two-year program.
  • 27 students sat for national exams and 34 students sat internal exams – all passed.
  • 45 graduates have either found employment in local firms or become self-employed and 5 students have gone for further study since the school opened in 2010.
  • The Electrical Installation course has been designated as the flagship course for the Chepkanga school and the Automotive & Welding course has been designated as the flagship course for the Koshyn school.

You have contributed to a fantastic success this year. Our efforts have paid off. Let us see this as a first step. Many more are needed. One wing is now completed and three more are needed. Additional workshops, dorms & washrooms, refectory and sports fields are also programed.

We are filling a dire need in the emerging economy of Kenya by giving basic education and technology to the rural youth. They are learning to support themselves. The social economic fabric lies in the hands of small & middle business.

To close, I want to thank one and all for your participation in this grassroots project and for your belief that 10 years can build a solid International-African partnership. I’m proud of our collaborative success at this anniversary time. Aren’t you?

Happy future students

Happy future students

New church gates built by students

New church gates built by students

The Chepkanga community waves Thank You!

The Chepkanga community waves Thank You!

Sep 092014
The first wing

The first wing

Dear friends,

Progress is unstoppable: the fist wing of our building has the roof structure! The rains did not deter the carpenters from putting up the frame.The enthusiam of our local partners and your generous donations allowed us to overcome the unusually long rains and the impassable roads.

Wing I for 4 workshops constitutes the first element of the larger buiding. Three other wings will complete the main building and form a quadrangle with a garden in the middle. Paths from each corner will lead to the garden and to each separate wing.

The local members of Rafiki Ya Maisha and YOUR donations have galvanized young and old, enthusiasts and sceptics, parents and future students. WIthout your help this project would not be changing the lives of a whole community, left for naught for the past 50 years. Aren’t you happy to participate in this successful project? The local community cannot thank you enough and would be happy to welcome you in Kenya anytime. Please continue your support until the school is built and up & running. Thank you.

The roof structure

The roof structure