Ali Macnaughton: The new classrooms are open! Update from Project Riandu in Kenya

Posted on October 1, 2015

As all the students in the UK have been returning to schools and universities this September, the deaf students of St Mary’s have faced a very exciting prospect.

The facility in Riandu is now ready for them. Some of them were working alongside other Kenyan and UK volunteers on site this August. They have helped to build their new classrooms and they have spent their first nights in their new dormitories.

They will not have to return to the previous, temporary facility. No longer will they be cramped into a tiny room with desks right up to the blackboard. No longer must they cram their bunk-beds into a small dormitory.

Not only does the new facility allow space for them but is also big enough for the school to recruit new students. This will start happening as soon as the current teachers’ strike ends. Welcoming new deaf teenagers to the school is something the current deaf students are very excited about.

The month of August saw the hard work and determination of volunteers on site in Riandu make this possible. They were brought together with the vision of being able to provide these deaf teenagers and many more, in years to come, with access to the undeniable benefits that education brings. The volunteers were Kenyan students, the future deaf students of the school and UK volunteers. I hope you managed to hear the stories from the build site via our blogs which can be found here.

Let us tell you more about the progress of the project this summer.


The big picture

This plans for this school are large. The need for it is great. This was particularly emphasised by the amount of recognition the build project received over the summer.

August 19th was a very special day; it saw the visit of the Archbishop of Kenya, Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala. Not only did he visit the site but he was accompanied by Mothers’ Union (MU) presidents from across the country.

It was an opportunity for the Mbeere MU to share the great work they are doing for the benefit of a marginalised group. Some of the deaf students proudly performed a song in KSL for their visitors.

The Mothers were very impressed by the project and supportive of Mbeere for its work. The Archbishop importantly recognised the school as a national school. With this level of publicity, deaf teenagers are sure to be sent from all over the country.

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The atmosphere on site for this visit was really quite incredible. There were 200 people present for an important tour and ceremony. This is not the easiest of events to host on a build site. (Ask some of the volunteers about the mad preparations).

Yet it was so clear to everyone present how important this facility is. The focus was on the students and what the school would enable them to do and become. The students all got the opportunity to tell everyone what jobs they wanted in the future. It was clear to all that these careers (doctor, counselor, secretary etc) would only be possible with an education.

The Mothers spoke about deaf children they knew of who would benefit so greatly to be able to come to this secondary school. It was an emotional day with so much positivity for the success of the school.

Have you seen the rough site plan below? It shows the future of the school. These designs have changed a bit but this does show the large scale and overall vision. It will be big and it will be well equipped. Five of these buildings are complete/ under construction. We cannot wait for the school to grow to its full potential.


The gatehouse is looking fantastic; the ironmongers are currently working on the gate to be put in.

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Note the perimeter fence that has also been put up.

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The dormitory is looking great. The framework has been completed, the roof and walling is soon to begin.

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A substantial amount of landscaping was done to make the site ready to be used and looking smart!

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The volunteers worked hard together in teams on the build site, learning to communicate across four languages (Kenyan Sign Language, Kiswahili, Kiembu and English).

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They made sure to have plenty of fun too: enjoying sports, stories, mountain walks, crafts, language lessons, mealtimes, games and learning about their different cultures. It was so great for them all to be together and to make lasting friendships. The sad farewells at the end of the trip just showed how much the teams had bonded over their time together.

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The teams are very happy with the progress; a lot has been achieved in two years. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project so far. All donations have been very valuable and really have added up.

The Kenyan team are continuing to grow the school: recruiting more teachers and students. They are also finishing the current construction work and fundraising locally.

The UK team have returned with this year’s fundraising target of £80,000, building designs to complete and the final volunteer trip to prepare for next August. (August 2016 will be the last trip to volunteer with the team in Riandu, if you have been following the project and are interested please do get in contact quickly as we expect spaces to fill up shortly.)

So, watch this space for our fresh, new efforts to bring in funds for this fantastic project. The next buildings to construct will be disclosed shortly.

The project has now raised nearly £50,000 of its £80,000 target. To donate to the project, click here:

Read more about Project Riandu here:

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Posted in: Ali Macnaughton