Christmas and end of the Year summary
Another challenging year with some amazing plans for 2022 at Volunteers Foundation
As we are approaching the festivity season and the end of another year, it is a perfect time to share with you some thoughts about Volunteers Foundation (VF) achievements and some insights about the year to come.
Obviously, as for many people around the world, 2021 has been another challenging year due to the on-going pandemic. As we write, we don’t know yet how long we have to wait before the world will go back to some sort of normality. But in this end-of-the-year letter we want to focus only on the many positive events that have occurred at VF.
First, we want to thank all our supporters and donors for your continuous support and donations throughout the year. You made a difference! Without your help we wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much in such unique and challenging conditions.
We have summarised this past year VF's activities around three main concepts: Impact, Resilience, and Innovation.
What is the impact we are making in Kibera? How are we going to measure it?
Making an impact is our key objective. Seeing that all the efforts in time, dedication, money, and know-how are really transforming children mindsets and improving their living conditions is re-energising and give us the motivation to push even further.
At school, we had some very good results from our students at the end of the primary school cycle exam: six out of twelve ranked up in the top 10% of the overall national students. This means that six of our long-standing students have had access to some of the best schools in the country and the other six to very good boarding schools.
Through the teacher2teacher program, we have implemented a comprehensive knowledge exchange program between our team in UK and the local teacher and administrative staff at Volunteers Foundation Academy. All involved had the chance to learn from each other about educational best practices, use of technology tools with the result of making them more confident and technology savvy.
The initial refurbishment works at the academy are completed, so to ensure enough space is allocated to each class. Overall facilities have been improved and made safer within the limit of the current budget and the constraints of the location.
The creation of a safe environment is key for the overall wellbeing of our students, and it is an ongoing task which absorbs a lot of energy and resources. But it is a critical priority until we expand the building.
Looking at the future, as we have now been operating for ten years, we will be able to analyse more in details data so they can be used for future impact analysis and to support our policies and decision making.
Have we developed a reinforced sense of resilience?
They say that “When the going gets tough the toughs get going”......and this has been so true for the VolunteersFoundation team and our community! Thanks to the effortless work of our volunteers’ team, during the school closures, we have put together a remote teaching program for our students and we delivered more than 4000 hours of teaching, 50 hours of mentoring and more than 400 hours of VF EDU Team work. These have allowed to keep the students busy during lockdown, keep studying and learning and away from dangers and distractions.
Futhermore, as many of our students' families started to have health and financial problems, we supplied more than 70,000 packed meals to more than 200 households throughout the lockdown period.
Do we need to change in 2022 and how? Is it innovation the driver of our future activities?
There is always room for improvement. And one key differentiator of Volunteers Foundation is being an agent of change and innovation. More details will unfold in January, but it is clear where Volunteers Foundation is heading in the future. We have identified three main areas of development: Technology, Sports and Environment. In addition to the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), being introduced into the Kenyan Educational system and therefore at our academy, our extra curricula activities will be designed around those areas as we think those are the ones will matter most in the next few years for any children education, either in Africa or anywhere else.
Technology (or STEM, Science/Technology/Engineering/Maths subjects) - we are thinking of setting up IT/Coding courses and/or maths tutorials. We are looking for Technical Vocational Training institutions we can partner with so that our students have this option at the end of the secondary school cycle.
Sports (and physical activities in general) - apart from improving the VF Football Club and review the overall physical education program, we have started a research project together with UCL (University College London) which aims at gathering data around impact of physical exercise and movement on brain activities and performances. We are working to include in the study additional schools so to be able to collect more data and make a larger impact.
Environment (i.e. recycling, savings, growing, etc) - we are more and more promoting the importance of environment protection across our students and the staff that goes beyond the CBC implementation. It involves all aspects of everyone life, from vegetables growing, to what/how recycling waste, from harvesting rain water to saving/reuse resources.
In the next few weeks, we will elaborate a more detailed program after an internal brainstorming and consulting experts and institutions. The aim is to define not only some guidelines but a detailed activities plan and assign time and resources.
So let us finish with thank you again for your amazing support. Everything we achieved, it would not have been possible without you!
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year 2022. Hope that all your dreams and expectations will come to reality.
Incidentally, we are in Rome and and the city Christmas tree this year has been dedicated to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. We thought there is no more appropriate picture to show.
If you would like to put Quality Education to our children under the tree this year please follow this link.