School Motto: “Our Children Are Our Future“
Kanyala Little Stars Academy was founded in the early 2000s by Benter Odhiambo, who saw the effect the HIV/AIDS epidemic was having on her community and on the children, and decided that something needed to be done to ensure the children were still able to be educated. As a retired teacher herself, Benter decided to start a school for the orphans and vulnerable children of her community. Since then, the school has added a grade each year as the first class progressed. This year (December 2012), the first Kanyala Little Stars Academy class will graduate from Grade 8 and move on to Secondary School. This is a huge accomplishment for the students and the school, and is a testament to the dedication of the staff.
Kanyala Little Stars Academy has just over 300 sudents from nursery age to Standard Eight (Grade 8). Of these, 140 pupils are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), meaning that they have lost either one or both parents, and they depend on the organization for school fees, medical care, and feeding. The school serves the local community with small fees being paid to support it by the parents and families of the students who attend. These fees help support the cost of educating the OVCs who have no means of support from their families. The school is an incredible example of the dedication and compassion the Mbita-area community has to pull together what resources they have to support their friends and neighbors whose lives have been devastated by HIV/AIDS.
The school was registered with the Kenyan Ministry of Education in 2010 and follows the prescribed curriculum for primary education. The school also boasts as one of the best primary schools on Rusinga Island and in Mbita District; the school’s testing results consistently rank in the top three in the district. In addition, it is the only school which trains pupils in Tae-Kwondo as a life skill activity, which is especially important for the girl child who is vulnerable to cases of rape.
In addition to education, the group helps with medical supervision and nutrition for the children who attend. The students are fed a nutritious meal every day for lunch. The food is grown on the Little Stars Organization’s farm, and is supplemented by food which is purchased using the proceeds from the farm’s goods.
In 2009, the Kanyala Little Stars Group submitted an application to CanAssist for building a fence around the property (chain link) and for a water tank and pump to bring water from Lake Victoria to the field for irrigation. Thanks to helpful advice from Canadian Engineer, Andrew Forsyth, this project has unfolded nicely and the improvements are helping the group to be more self-sustaining both in terms of food for the children and some income to support the school/orphan facility.