This is going to be a long one! Over the past few years I have posted bits and pieces about our “KITA journey”. I want to take a moment now to get more in-depth and share some of our successes, challenges, and lessons we’ve learned along the way.
We officially opened in September 2018 after 10 years of studying and learning about the Nigerian environment. We experienced some monumental failures and setbacks that were real heartbreakers before settling on the current course. The scale and level of corruption was a disappointing and shocking reality for us. As was the total distrust in any institutions (both public and private) from the general population; mixed in with a disbelief that a non-profit organization is “actually there for the good of the people”. We established beautiful, helpful and effective resource centers in Kaduna, Kano, and Jos that were simply dismantled because a new “government” was put in place that simply wanted a bribe or just outright theft. We visited countless government offices seeking their help only to find that they only cared about what “they could get”. Though disheartening we pushed on with the belief that “this is what we are called to do”.
Enrollment for our first school year was 21 students between the ages of 12 to 14. We have invested heavily in the Kwoi community because it is the village where Paul has roots and where his family and name is well known and respected. KITA has become one of the area’s largest employers with a full time staff of 8 teachers/administrators/coaches, 3 security guards, 4 cooks, 2 cleaning ladies, 1 maintenance, and 6 building specialists. Numerous part-time employees come and go and are thankful for the opportunity to work and feed their families. We have invested heavily in families throughout the community; from providing seed money for new or expanding businesses, to sourcing clothing or food for families in desperate need. Did you know that $120 in seed money has helped 2 families actually start and maintain a small business that feeds their families?
Security has and continues to be a real concern for us as Nigeria is going through some very difficult times. Poverty and inflation have substantially increased over the past few years, terrorism is very much a threat in the area, and rampant uncontrolled kidnappings are a weekly occurrence. Despite the tragedies that seem to surround us, we feel blessed that KITA has remained a safe space. We continue to be vigilant and cautious as we move forward.
Throughout this first school year we have, often miraculously, managed to provide 3 square meals for our students each day; despite the tight budget due to some families who were unable to pay the school fees - which directly go to the food budget. (Thanks Mason High School staff). We continue to move forward in faith, trusting in God’s provision for each day.
Our short term challenges are vast and varied. We plan on expanding in the coming school year in order to give more children the opportunity to be impacted by KITA. We must limit our growth to 50-60 students next year (30-40 new students in addition to the 21 that will be back). We will need to establish 2 new classrooms; add more beds and desks, establish our farm that will be used to feed our students; and furnish our kitchen.
Our long term plan includes a “teaching garden” where our students and the community will be taught best practices in agriculture. Adult education will be provided for the greater Kwoi area. We will establish camps addressing moral, ethical, and religious issues. Build staff housing that will allow our employees and staff to stay on site.
We believe in self-sufficiency. We invest in infrastructure and building an institution which must then sustain and justify its existence. To that end, not only will we farm our vast 60 hectare farm to produce enough food for our school consumption, but we also want to grow enough to also sell at the market. The Hyraform block making machine will also be used to make blocks we can sell to outside individuals and organizations (when not in use by us). We are asking for thoughts and prayers and whatever contribution you can make. So many of you have helped in the past (and we thank you so much) but we still have such a long way to go! We KNOW we can make a difference in so many lives. Thank you!
Priority developments for next year
1. 2 new classrooms which will allow us the ability to convert our current classrooms to dorm rooms. $6,000
2. Power - we need to develop a cost effective way to generate constant electricity to power our water pumps, allow for proper classroom instruction, and help in securing the premises. $8,000
3. Transportation - we need reliable transportation as we have to purchase food and other needs from the market. We also need a way to transport students to competitions and in emergencies. $6,000