Motorcycle Trip Leads to New School for Kenya Kids—Now They Need Pencils, Desks & Blackboards

Spurred by Dr. Michael Lewis's five-continent motorcycle trip, nonprofit Write Around the World built a much-needed school in rural Kenya, and is now working to find funds ($2190) to furnish and supply the new schoolhouse.
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Dec. 18, 2012 - PRLog -- Former Seattle chiropractor Michael Lewis, DC, founder and president of the 501(c)(3) organization Write Around the World, undertook a trip to five continents on his 2002 BMW 1150GS Adventure motorcycle.

On the way, he encountered the impoverished and neglected Kenyan village of Nangili, where 63 students from preschool through second grade were badly in need of a school building. Write Around the World ( took on the task of getting the kids a school before the next rainy season (May 2013), but when the Kenyan political situation made it smart to finish the school before the end of 2012, WATW was able to fundraise, streamline, and get local people to make and donate bricks, in order to get the job done with time to spare (

Now Write Around the World finds itself with a completed school four months ahead of schedule. The students have been used to crouching, or sitting on shared rough benches instead of at desks, and they have been writing their lessons on a dirt floor, using charcoal. Now, to move them into the new concrete-floored building, the children need blackboards, desks, and school supplies.

The school previously consisted of dirt floors, tattered plastic sheeting for walls, and a leaking metal roof. Without proper furnishings and supplies, the children squatted to perform writing exercises on the dirt floor with bits of charcoal. The same dirt floors housed the problematic Chilgoe flea that often burrowed into the children’s feet, causing painful ulcerations. During the rainy season, the school had to be closed for days on end due to the leaking roof and muddy floors. Many of the children contracted malaria during this period, with two succumbing to the dreadful disease this past year.

"Write Around the World vowed to build these children a new and safer schoolhouse… and we have done so," says Dr. Lewis. With the goal of getting the school completed by the next rainy season (May 2013), he and other WATW volunteers set about showing their PowerPoint presentation in Seattle, raising funds. When the need to accelerate construction arose, they were able to begin building in November 2012, and now, many months ahead of schedule, the three-classroom schoolhouse is complete. This was achieved through increased fundraising, lowering building costs by modifying the original design, and getting the locals to make and donate all the bricks.

The need now is to obtain school supplies and simple furnishings (blackboards and desks) for three classrooms and the teachers’ office. The students' parents are asked to give something to help, but there is not enough in this destitute area to make a significant impact.

The new school will be ready to occupy by Christmas – except for its lack of furnishings and supplies. The sooner those items can be obtained for the students, according to Dr. Lewis, "the sooner they can occupy  a healthy, clean, solid structure which not only makes it easier for them to learn but which also puts huge grins on their faces, knowing that they, and their education, are valued."

Previously, there was a waiting list of children who could not fit into the old school building, but they will now be able to attend one of the new school's three classrooms – with the result that the previous enrollment of 63 children will expand to an estimated 90.

Write Around the World's estimates for furnishings and supplies are as follows:

·      Locally made wooden desks and benches for 30 children per classroom will cost $300 per classroom, for a total of $900.

·      A large blackboard will cost $60 per classroom, for a total of $180.

·      Basic school supplies for the rest of the year and uniforms will cost $10 per student, for a total of $900.

·      Educational props and toys (puzzles, blocks, and wall charts) will cost $40 for each classroom, for a total of $120.

·      Rubber playmats for the concrete floors will cost $30 per classroom, for a total of $90.

Thus, the total estimated cost to furnish and supply the new school is $2190.

Local residents will be asked to build basic shelving and to assist in furnishing the teachers’ office. Supplies will be purchased locally, or trucked in from the closest major city.

Donations can be made via the Write Around the World website at, or by mailing to:

Write Around the World
c/o Elizabeth Anderson
2515 - 31 Ave W
Seattle WA 98199

Write Around the World is a 100%-volunteer-based, non-partisan, secular non-profit organization dedicated to supporting quality education for the underprivileged children of the world, while offering a sense of community service in America’s youth. WATW is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and currently sponsors school-related projects in Kenya and Guatemala. In 2012, 96.5% of WATW's income has gone directly to its projects, with only 3.5% used for administrative costs.
Tags:Kenya, Children, School, Poverty, Charity
Industry:Education, Non-profit
Location:United States
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