February 2011: Powering peace for Kenya

While each New Year fills us with anticipation and excitement, this January the enthusiasm of 40 young women preparing for their first day of school − high school that is − was unparalleled.

The brand new Kisaruni Girls High School, located in the Narok South District of Kenya, is providing these young women with the rare opportunity to continue their education. Built by Free The Children and powered by SELF, Kisaruni’s inaugural class boasts a bright future as they’ll become ambassadors in their communities and the visionary leaders of tomorrow.

Kisaruni means “land of peace,” and this is what the school aims to achieve by uniting members of the Maasai, Kisii and Kipsigis communities. This will be the first time these students will interact with an ethnic group other than their own, bridging cultural and socioeconomic gaps. Kisaruni Girls High School will follow Kenya’s national curriculum, with a greater emphasis on leadership and cooperation, both in school and in the community.

SELF partnered with Free The Children to solar electrify the Kisaruni school and the new Baraka Health Center. SELF’s team designed and oversaw the installation of a custom 8.4 kilowatt solar-diesel hybrid system. The array of solar panels provides electricity for lights in Kisaruni’s eight classrooms; and for 10 laptops, a color television, printer, VCR and radio cassette player. A diesel generator serves as a backup to ensure power is available on cloudy days.

In addition to the school, the Baraka Health Center is now benefiting from reliable electricity 24/7. The clinic serves as host to the community’s first ultrasound machine for prenatal care. Solar energy powers this device as well as a vaccine refrigerator, defibrillator, microscope, centrifuge, examination lights and computers.

SELF’s partnership with Free The Children was particularly unique due to the synergies between our organizations. We both have a deep commitment to serving communities from a holistic standpoint, and know that it takes their full involvement to ensure the project’s sustainability. It is obvious from the energy of the people in this village that these young women of Kenya have a bright future ahead.

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