The Ndoto Project’s current projects can be briefly summarized in five key areas.
Fundraising and development to raise enough resources to put the project's first five participants through their college education. Our program intends to support not only tuition expenses, but living and transportation expenses as well; all is provided for the students in exchange for their commitment to devote time to service in support of the project's mission.
Equipping every student in our program with a laptop and full internet connectivity. This is their portal to the information age, and the power tool to help them tell their stories.
A shared blog, through which students/participants may share stories and media (photos, videos, etc) pertaining to their stories and everyday life/politics/social issues in Kenya. We are also exploring the idea of a Wiki to collectively share information and ideas for dialogue in a common space.
Forging partnerships with local organizations in Kenya who are working in the area of technology access and youth empowerment.
Online and in-person trainings and workshops for students on different topics: social media (Twitter, Facebook, and other media and information-sharing applications), photography and video, and personal development (social skills, conflict resolution, non-violent communication, and global activism).
The Ndoto Project is currently in its pilot phase, with two out of a total five students enrolled in college.
Having been inspired by their stories, our commitment is to find ways to invest in their futures, empower them, and as we discover ways to grow, reach out to others who need our support.
In a nutshell, our long-term strategy involves supporting our students through their education but also turning them into "evangelists" for our work:
Financed by loans and scholarships, the first five students are sent to college at home in Kenya, trained in the use of technology, and, with the help of mentors and guidance counselors on the ground, enlisted as empowered activists in social and environmental causes they care passionately about.
As the price of a fully funded college career, participants commit to eight years of service to the Ndoto Project’s mission to equip and train African youth, through education and technology, to be change agents in their communities. In addition to this work and their schooling, participants are also asked to write about their lives and stories, travel overseas, and help fundraise for others’ education to help carry out the Ndoto Project’s goal of empowering others.
Recruited by former as well as current participants through a carefully constructed screening process, more students are chosen to participate in the Ndoto Project, thereby scaling our impact.
In this initial pilot phase, we have chosen for our programs those youths who are not only aware of Africa’s social problems and their sources but have already proposed strategies and ideas to help solve them. We envision these future leaders uplifting not only their communities, but their country and in the end, the situation of Africa as a whole.
Central to our mission is the belief that everyone has a story to tell, summed up beautifully in Mary Pipher’s admonishment: “there are things that you alone can say.”
We believe the heart of true education is awareness, involvement and action. We also believe that education is about giving others a voice to tell their stories, to speak up, to express themselves authentically and tell the truth. We want to equip the young people of the world, especially those who have experienced poverty and struggle, with the skills and voice they need to engage. The stage is theirs, and we give it to them in the following ways.
Writing and Blogging. Students in the program share their thoughts, photos, and stories on a blog we create for them. Aside from minor edits for grammar and spelling, their thoughts are posted for the world straight from Kenya every week. Through this medium, the rest of us can glimpse and understand the students’day to day lives – their experiences, their challenges, their hopes and dreams. They are also encouraged to write their thoughts and reactions to current events and issues in both Africa and the world.
Active Discussion. As another part of the global awareness dimension of our work, we hold an active discussion group on our Facebook group page. Students are asked to respond to regular inquiries about matters which concern them, both at the organizational level – we believe their input is crucial to our success – and about issues that they may not have previously thought about or have had occasion to discuss (Examples: will Kenya’s new constitution change the situation of the country? Or, how might we tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS awareness?) In this way, we open the door to positively re-writing the future story in Africa, while also giving them a platform to engage one another and be part of a wider community.
Book Clubs. Books expand our horizons and influence how we think and see the world, but access to quality books is limited in Kenya. We therefore purchase titles for the students, which they read together and discuss with mentors via in-person and webcam sessions. Titles may include William Kamkwamba’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, or Wangari Maathai’s Unbowed.
Trainings and “JAM sessions” held on the ground in Africa. By holding multi-day trainings and gatherings in Kenya, participants continue learning new skills, get a chance to meet with one another, present about their experiences, engage with the Ndoto Project’s leadership team, and come away motivated and inspired.