Got Matar Secondary School
The school is located in Bondo District, one of the poorest districts in Kenya, where the incidence of HIV/AIDS is extremely high (33% of school aged children are HIV/AIDS orphans in one locality of the district).In 2006 local residents decided that their highest priority was the building of a secondary school to enable children who qualify for entry into secondary school to continue their studies while staying close to their homes and asked some of their friends to assist them in that endeavour.
SONIA joined other organizations and individual funders to bring this project to fruition. In less than 4 years the school was completed; it was built in a modular fashion in order to allow for increasing school intake since 2007 and it consists of four large blocks for a total of 12 classrooms, a school office/teachers’ room, a library, a small multipurpose science laboratory and a computer training centre for an intake of 600 students. In 2008 a bursary fund was created to enrol HIV/AIDS-related orphans, which has been well functioning since then. On average, there are between 150-160 bursary awardees per year out of the 600 pupils in attendance. The local partners then started an Institute of Technology that offers training in practical skills and that, as a by-product, generates income for the bursary fund through sales of products and services. The training programmes offered include tailoring, nutrition, cooking and catering, carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electricity. Additional courses in hairdressing/beautician skills and in Automotive Engineering were added in 2015.
The Kenyan government has paid for construction of a multipurpose science laboratory as well as teachers’ housing units. It also financed the installation of a main electricity supply. The Ministry of Education employs the majority of the staff and meets a large part of the school’s operating costs. The first phase of construction of a dormitory for girls was completed in 2015, with initial funding from an Australian NGO, Bricks and Cartwheels. It can house about 100 girls. Apart from saving them from the risks of walking to and from school in the dark, it will reduce the heavy domestic calls on their time when they are at home. In 2011 a Women’s Centre was also constructed to provide counselling and training opportunities for women who have suffered domestic violence and intimidation or who have become destitute following unwanted pregnancies or widowhood. Training at the centre is intended to improve life skills as well as reproductive health and to help members become more financially independent.