UBC student and volunteer, Janis Liu, at work in Kanyawegi Village, Kenya.
In 2005, UBC students, staff, and faculty began the work of restoring Oyiengo School, Kanyawegi Village, Kisumu District, Kenya. The Faculty of Education, Professional Development and Community Engagement (PDCE), Teacher Education Office (TEO), Diversity Cohort DivCo 2005/06, and Student Teachers' Initiative 2006/07) has been involved since the outset. UBC Education students participated in constructing the new building—Janis Liu volunteered her labour during the summer of 2007.
By 2007 most of the previously mud-walled school had been renovated with permanent brick-walled units. Two temporary classrooms made of wooden poles with tin sheet roofs remained to be replaced. And, as kindergarten was being conducted under a shade tree, it was agreed that these students also needed a classroom. $10,000 was the estimated price tag.
Further fundraising at UBC enabled construction of these additions. Dr. Samson Nashon, Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Pedagogy of the Faculty of Education, and Dr. Yvonne Brown (now retired), manager of International Initiatives in the Faculty's PDCE, helped organize fundraising meetings and offered professional guidance and advice. Approximately $3000 was raised by teacher candidates.
In the summer of 2008 work began on the classrooms. The funds helped stimulate the local economy as all the materials were purchased from small businesses in the village. Also wages from the fund paid for local workers. In this way, the money was dispersed through the community ending up in the pockets of parents to buy food, school uniforms and other learning materials for the students.
Dr. Nashon commented on the UBC involvement: "Do you know how it felt for me when I found the young Janis Liu of the Faculty of Education actively participating in bricklaying for a classroom at Oyiengo Primary School? I have personally been involved in similar projects and have never seen students of a University work the way UBC students have." (p. 6, OYIENGO SCHOOL RECONSTRUCTION: An International Service-Learning Project Progress Report to November 2007)
Janis Liu with Dr. Samson Nashon (second from left) in Kenya