Our History


Our history

Rafiki Ya Maisha was born out of a long term friendship between Claire Mathijsen Roth and Elizabeth Tunoi. They met in the early 1980’s, when Claire spent 3 years in Eldoret, where her husband was teaching French in a girl’s school, in the context of his French Military Service.

At the turn of the century, Claire visited her friend in Kenya, who was increasingly focusing on youth education and training. One day upon her visit, she was asked whether she could help Elizabeth find second-hand computers in France, and send them back to the village of Chepkanga, where many youths have little access to training, and are thus left out of the economy. It seemed obvious to Claire at that moment that she could help find computers back in France, a highly developed society in the world of information technology.

Computer Shipments to Kenya

One of the first shipments of second-hand computers from France to Kenya

This is how the idea of an association came to light; it was officially created in 2004. Its name came naturally as Claire thought of her life-time friendship with the Tunoi family. Rafiki Ya Maisha, meaning “Friends for Life,”  was born. From 2005 to 2008, a total of 2 459 kg of donations (recycled computers, sewing machines, sport equipment, hairdressing salon, etc.) were shipped from France to Kenya.

Rafiki Ya Maisha’s activities and focus areas have shifted since its creation. Today, the needs of the community reside in creating the proper structure to house these materials and students, in order for them to receive professional training.

To better understand the organization’s evolution, below is a timeline of the organization:

Historical Timeline Rafiki Ya Maisha