By Jerry Kallman, Past President of the Rotary Club of Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA
Rotary’s guiding principles were developed to provide Rotarians with a unifying common purpose and direction. The Avenues of Service have always served as a foundation for our relationships with other members and the type of action we take in the world.
For the past nine years, the Rotary Club of Ridgewood has been supporting students of Kishermoruak Primary School in the Maasai Mara Reserve in southern Kenya. I came across the school during my quest for international service; since 2008, we’ve invested in the school, its students, teachers and the community through various joint projects.
To truly embody the Avenues of Service, I wanted to incorporate vocational service and grow our projects by empowering others through training and skill development.
In partnership with the British non-profit organization Bees Abroad, we started offering bee-keeping training to 25 local women with the object of supplementing their family income through the sale of honey and other products such as candles and cosmetics. The group helps package and sell honey locally to stores or individual customers. Despite the international partnership with Bees Abroad staff, the program is administered by Mercy Mburu, our local partner lead at the school.
Over the years, we’ve sponsored more than a dozen primary school graduates to help them continue their education in high school. Select Eighth Standard (eighth grade) student who take a national exam but don’t rise to the top 10% achievers qualifying for high school receive sponsorship for their tuition, room and board at a two-year training program at the local Narok Vocational Training Centre. The center offers a variety of trades from auto mechanic, masonry, carpentry to dress-making, beauty care or food technology. The center expands horizons for students by offering them a ticket to a paying job as opposed to a life of cattle-herding for boys and early marriage or simple household duties and milking cows for girls.
We recently completed a deep water well adjacent to the school assuring students, as well as a thousand local residents have access to clean, palatable water at all times.
We hope to continue to invest in this community and work with local leaders to address needs. Contact me to learn more or with questions.