A two hour drive from Wote in the Makueni district of Kenya lies the village of Ngomano. The last 9 miles of the trip to the village center takes a four-wheel drive vehicle and nerves of steel. Not only are you sharing the single lane road with goats, sheep, cattle and people heading to get water, but what is used as a road is often deeply rutted and washed out. Hold on to your stomach for this bumpy ride.
Just before you arrive at the village center of Ngomano a small side road to the left takes you a hundred yards to The Clay International School. This school was developed by PEI Kenya as an innovative way to teach, and in order to create a sustainable community.
I like that PEI Kenya is trying to work themselves out of a job, and the villagers like it too. While initially skeptical, and who could blame them with the numerous abandoned or partially finished buildings put up by western groups seeking to ‘help’, the community is a shareholder in this process.
Some of the amazing accomplishments that I’ve seen:
- A women-owned cooperative in the village make beautiful traditionally woven baskets for sale locally and internationally
- The village now has access to clean drinking water after a long struggle with drought
- The school grows a variety of crops that are native, provide a balanced diet to the students, and are more resilient for when ‘the rains fail’
But the question remains, what does it take to help a rural village in Kenya to become truly sustainable? While the answer is still in the process of being developed in Ngomano, it is clearly on its way.
I send my heartfelt congratulations to the first graduating class of The Clay International School!