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East African Center Newsletter

In This Issue
Save the Date!
Haiti and Kenya
End of Year VJS Report
Education is Empowerment
A word from intern Mina Keyes
Matching Funds
A great way to make your contributions go even further is by checking to see if your employer matches charitable donations!

Many companies do! Check with your Accounting or Human Resources department to find out. Typically, you can still request to match funds from donations you made in 2009!

We would be happy to fill out any forms or send any supporting documents that your companies requests.

The East African Center is a 501c3 charitable organization and our EIN # is 91-2161222.

If you are a federal employee, you can donate to the EAC through the Combined Federal Campaign. Just indicate our CFC #, 12297, on your enrollment form.
In 2009:
1,522 children and 864 women were treated at our clinic

21,352 people in 6,745 homes were visited by our Community Health Workers

1,588 women received pre or post natal services

1,853 adults received HIV/AIDS education

304 children received standard childhood immunizations at our clinic

241 students received a quality education at our Vutakaka Junior School (Grades K-7) where students consistently score the highest in the Kilifi District which includes over 30 schools

251 adults were tested for HIV/AIDS

95 adults are attending adult education class, 90% are women

More than 400 children received free after-school tutoring

Our programs and services continue to expand with your support!

photo by Mina Keyes
Grant in Progress
With the help of Caroline Young, we are currently applying for a grant from the Oprah Angel Foundation to support our Community Health Worker HIV/AIDs Outreach initiative.

OLPC behind view
photo by Priyanka Rao
How you can help!
Enrollment Day KG1
photo by Mina Keyes
East African Center
EAC Social Networking
EAC on Twitter

EAC on Change.org

photo by Mina Keyes
Adult ed
photo by Mina Keyes
Home visit
photo by Mina Keyes
East African Center
Takaungu Map
map of Takaungu
Mina doing laundry
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January 2010
Dear EAC Supporters,

Welcome to a new year!

2009 was a successful year for the East African Center and the people of Takaungu, Kenya! The number of people we were able to serve more than doubled from the previous year. With the help of our head CHW, Mohammed, we received our first in-country grant from the Kenya National AIDS Control Council (NACC), and the OLPC laptops brought to the Vutakaka Junior School have become an integral part of the curriculum.

Looking forward to 2010, we have solid plans to strengthen and expand our services through partnerships with local NGOs and the government and income generating activities. This summer, we will conduct a series of EAC staff and community members to re-assess the needs of the people in and around Takaungu.

Thank you for your continued involvement and please feel free to contact us!

Save the Date!

The Power of One is the theme of this year's annual EAC Auction. Join us Saturday, May 8th at the Downtown Seattle Hilton!

Please mark your calendar and invite your friends. It is going to be the best one yet!  Expect uplifting entertainment and amazing silent and live auction items!

More info to come!

Bidding at 09 auction
Haiti and Kenya


Our thoughts are with Haitians at this time and the people who are working there now. When natural disasters strike in countries where the physical and political infrastructure is so weak, the ramifications go well beyond the immediate impact.

The chart below graphs the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Haiti (in brown) and Kenya (in green). Along the right side is average individual income in hundreds of US dollars and along the bottom are the years from 1980 to 2010.

Haiti and Kenya
Source: World Economic Outlook (2009), IMF Data Mapper

Until 1989, the average Kenyan made less than the average Haitian. Even today, the difference between the average income in Haiti and that in Kenya is only around $500 a year.

According to estimates, the average GDP of rural Kenyans is closer to $400 a year, which is 50% of the average income of the Haitian population today. This year, Kenya took part in their first national census. Once results are tallied, the world will have a better comprehension of the urban/rural stratification in Kenya.

It is our hope that our work in Kenya will help support individuals and the local government in ways that will contribute to resilience in the face of future natural or humanitarian crises.

VJS End of Year Report

Head teacher Catherine wraps up the successes and challenges of 2009 while looking forward to 2010!

Read her full letter on the VJS blog



  • Our academic targets were achieved.  VJS performance is well above average - most classes scored at the top of the Shariani Zone.

  • Computer classes were introduced to Class 4 and 5 this year through the OLPC grant.  The students are very excited!

  • Electricity was hooked up to the school, also through the OLPC grant.  This will mean many exciting things in the future!

  • The teaching staff received more development from the Ministry of Education this year.  Many teachers attended workshops and seminars on new curriculums, and two teachers even traveled to Rwanda for the OLPC computer training!

  • The students participated in many extracurricular activities - interquiz competitions with neighboring schools, a district girls football tournament, camping for the Brownie's troop, a school field trip to the law courts in Mombasa, and many Stay Alive drama presentations.

  • We introduced extra reading time and a handwriting class for students who were struggling with the basics.  This has boosted the performance of the remedial students greatly!

  • Many teachers began their bachelor's or master's degree work this year.


  • Lack of sufficient school buildings.  There are no administrative buildings and too few toilet facilities

  • With more resources, the teachers could offer more exams and quizzes to the students.

Education is Empowerment

Nat Katin-Borland, EAC Board Member

In much of the developed world, a primary and secondary public education is an expected service provided by the government.  In Kenya, however, the educational landscape is much different.  Despite a 2003 law mandating universal free primary education for all Kenyan children, the reality is that insufficient funding forces schools to charge students for admission, making a quality education prohibitively expensive for many families. 

Financial barriers prevent many young children from receiving anything beyond a basic education and higher education remains restricted to those lucky enough to have financial backing. Education is often thought of as the best weapon against poverty, but in Kenya if families fall behind on school fees, children are forced to drop out of school, perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and lack of educational opportunities.  It is easy to see why.  

In rural Kenya, it is estimated that over half of the population lives on less than $1 per day - that is over 9 million people living in dire poverty.  Weak overall infrastructure for the country means that nearly all the individuals residing in rural areas are forced to rely on subsistence farming for their own food as well as monetary income.  Jobs are scarce, leaving people with little opportunity for employment. 

Women provide the backbone of the rural economy in much of sub-Saharan Africa.  In rural Kenya, about 80% of the economically active female labor force is employed in subsistence agriculture and women comprise about 47 per cent of the total agricultural labor force. Food production is the major activity of rural women and their responsibilities and labor inputs often exceed those of men

Despite their active role in local communities, women have traditionally been denied access to formal education and training, which the UN has identified as a key barrier to women's employment and advancement in Kenya.  In Kenya, female literacy rates hover around 54%, compared to 71% for men.  This disparity stems from many factors including parental preference for sending boys to school, adolescent pregnancy, early marriage and girl's and women's greater responsibility for day-to-day household tasks. 

Data Source: United Nations Development Program

A word from intern Mina Keyes:

Mina Keyes just returned from a 10 week internship in Takaungu. Here is what she has to say about her experience:

"For the first month or so I spent the majority of my time shadowing Community Health Workers (CHWs) and primary school teachers employed by the EAC and observing their daily work routines.  I quickly found my niche with an after-school program designed to teach children how to prevent themselves from contracting HIV/AIDS called Stay Alive.
Mina Keyes
The Stay Alive program teaches children to be active and positive members of their families and communities and how to value your life. Once a week a CHW and teacher from the EAC travels to a different school to teach Stay Alive. After spending time in various village schools, I decided to focus my time on enhancing the Stay Alive program. For the last month and a half of my stay in Takaungu I created an outline to be infused with the regular 2010 Stay Alive program consisting of detailed facts about puberty and fertility.

I feel that the combination of values from the Stay Alive program along with this new curriculum that focuses on the truth of what happens to our bodies as we grow and mature and how to deal with these changes will help these youth move more smoothly through the awkward time in their lives that is being a teenager.  If they can correlate what they are feeling physically and emotionally as they enter their young teenage years with values and morals, they stand a greater chance of winning the war against HIV/AIDS.          

My incredibly enlightening and life changing experience with the EAC is due in large part to its organic and grassroots approach to development. I found that the people who work for the EAC care about it because it is a part of their community, it is teaching their children and providing health services to their husbands, wives and loved ones." 

Mina is back in New York where she continues to research curriculum for the Stay Alive program and to assist with various US side projects and fundraising.
Thank you for staying connected to the EAC and the people of Takaungu! We would love to hear from you! How did you come to know the EAC? What would like to hear from us or see us do?

Thank you for your interest and support!
Emma Nierman