Who We Are
Rafiki Ya Maisha, meaning Lifetime Friends in Swahili, is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide education and training for youth in rural Kenya. Created by Claire Mathijsen Roth, it was established as a nonprofit organization in France (Association Loi 1901) in 2004, and as a nonprofit or Community Based Organization (CBO) in Kenya in 2007.
Rafiki Ya Maisha came to life in Chepkanga, a rural village near Eldoret, in order to help give professional training to young Kenyans living in rural areas, who are jobless and often unqualified. It is a work of partnership and solidarity between France and Kenya.
The partnership between the French and Kenyan branches is both operational and financial. On the financial side, Rafiki Ya Maisha – Kenya pledged to raise 50% of the funds locally, and Rafiki Ya Maisha – France the other 50% internationally. On the operational front, we are partners in strategy and decision-making. Each branch of the organization has a board of directors.
Rafiki Ya Maisha – France:
- Claire Mathijsen Roth, President
Claire Mathijsen is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Paris, France, specialized in children, adolescents and adults; she works with local and international families. Claire is the mother of 3 children, all volunteers in Rafiki. She lived in Eldoret at Moi Girls’ High School where she taught swimming to adult women and coached the Volleyball team, leading the girls to a silver medal in the 1982 nationals. During her three years in Kenya, her friendship with Elizabeth Tunoi blossomed, leading to the village empowerment movement in 2007 and the Polytechnic project for the youth.
- Christian Roth, Secretary General
Christian Roth is an International lawyer in Paris, France, specialized in business law; former Professor of Law at the University of Paris I-Sorbonne, teacher for European Agricultural policy; past Chairman of the European Lawyer’s Association, UAE; former Head of department and French teacher at Moi Girls’ High School, Eldoret.
- Reid Feldman, Vice-President
Reid Feldman is an International lawyer in Paris, France, engaged in the practice of law in the United States and France and handling numerous cross-border corporate acquisitions and financial transactions.
- Marino Pulliero, Treasurer
Marino Pulliero is Doctor of Philosophy, with a focus area in History of Culture; he has published numerous books and articles on German culture; Managing Director of private psychiatric clinic in Blois, France
- Anne François-Poncet, Deputy Secretary General
Anne François-Poncet was the first volunteer to go to Chepkanga in 2007, and has remained involved in the organization since. After completing a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in Development Studies, she returned to Paris, France where she currently works for a corporate Foundation.
Rafiki Ya Maisha – Kenya
- Elizabeth TUNOI, President
The brainchild of Rafiki Ya Maisha, Elizabeth is also a farmer, a former bank clerk, and a women’s leader in the Catholic AIC Church. She started the Lelit primary school of Chepkanga.
- James Chirchir, Chairman
James Chirchir is an insurance agent in Eldoret and secretary of the Community Development Fund Uasin Gishu
- Michael KIMAIYO, Secretary General
Michael Kimayo is a farmer in Chepkanga, a retired town clerk. He worked at the city hall of Eldoret.
- Mary Kiprob, Treasurer
Mary Kiprob is a shop owner in Chepkanga.