We already have our first 3 cows!
Thanks for taking a few minutes to have a look at what we are doing with this ‘enCOWment’ project for our little school near Ewaso Ngiro, Kenya. We - friends, school supporters, safari clients, neighbours, relatives – are creating a long-term, community managed funding source to help Building Hope Academy to help keep kids in the classrooms.
The enCOWment fund is a small but growing herd of Maasai cows that the children of Building Hope Academy and their families are raising. (And the Maasai really know how to raise cows!). As the herd grows, some of the ‘growth’ will be used to help with the school's finances – things like books, food for the kids, teachers' salaries.
The enCOWment idea grew out of a conversation I was having, at the school one day, with my dear friends Barclay and Robyn Bailey of Perth, Australia. Brainstorming ideas on how to help the school become self-sufficient, they realized that cattle, a valuable commodity in rural Kenya, could be incorporated into the financial sustainability plan for the school. The idea was simple; build a herd of Maasai cows that the children of Building Hope Academy and their families would raise. As the herd grows, some of the ‘growth’ from milk and beef sales, will be used to help with the school’s finances – things like books, food for the kids and teachers’ salaries. The Maasai really know how to raise cows, so this seemed to be a perfect solution! Rick ran it by David ole Nkuito who is the founder of the Nairoshi Foundation and the director of the school. He loved the idea – and so the enCOWment fund was born!
A little background:
Building Hope Academy was created in 2014, by generous donors, primarily from Southern Alberta. A group of committed educators, partners and students from Red Deer Lake School in Rural Southern Alberta started a little charity called The Building Hope Society in 2010. Initially, this charity was formed to teach Canadian children about Global Citizenship by raising enough money to add two classrooms to the government school in Ewaso Ngiro. Upon the completion of that project, a study revealed that over 95 young children from the rural community of Ewaso Ngiro were not attending school because they could not walk the long distance to the poorly equipped government school. Clearly, the work of this group was not finished. A conversation under the stars in Kenya grew into a dream to create a school where the local children could thrive.
The school has been a remarkable success in terms of providing a top notch education for children in the surrounding area and in bringing their families together, as a community, to keep it operating. What started as a Kindergarten school is now up to Grade (Class) 6. We are cautiously optimistic that with continued generous donations, it can expand to grades seven and eight in the next two years.
Supporters now come from all over Canada, the US and Europe, and our biggest challenge is still finding funding for teachers’ salaries, books, food, and buildings. With the COVID 19 pandemic turning our world upside-down, funding has become even more difficult. The enCOWment fund is one way to contribute to a sustainable funding source that the community and its international friends can build.
Here’s the deal – if you would like to help us to grow ‘the herd’ you can send a donation to the Building Hope Society, or directly to Rick Castiglione. A charitable receipt will be issued from the Building Hope Society, for anything over $25 CAD. If you’d like to buy a cow for the school, the current average price at the Ewaso Ngiro market is $275 USD. That’s about $350 Canadian. If a full cow is not in your charitable giving budget, please know that any amount is welcome! I will send you a receipt AND a photo of your cow after David has negotiated a purchase at the local Maasai Market! Your cow will stay with the herd and the babies, as they grow, will be sold when funds are needed for things like books, lunch program, teacher salaries etc.
You can etransfer the donation to Rick at , or you can send it to Elizabeth Critchley at Building Hope Society www.buildinghopesociety.com . Please make sure to include an email with your address etc. in it so a receipt can be sent). Alternatively you can mail a cheque to Rick at his home address:
178022 – 144 street west, Foothills, Alberta, T1S 0Y1
A little more news…..
I am starting to resume planning safaris to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda in the new year, so if you’d like, I can even take you and your family or some friends to see your cow, meet the kids and teachers at the school and go on an amazing private safari guided by me!
If you want to know a little more about how it started – you can watch an older documentary that I created called “Dreaming Out loud” which tells the story of how the school began. You can find it on the spiffy new Cielo Pictures and Expeditions website at cielopictures.com - under the heading ‘documentaries’ and look for “Dreaming Out Loud”.
Ashe Oleng for your support and kindness!
The new arrivals....