Guiding Philosophy - The story of Foothills
Over the ten year, period 2003 to 2013, my wife Lucy and I, were immersed in the leadership of Kipipiri Constituency, where I was the Member of Parliament. Simultaneously, I was appointed by the President as a Minister in the Cabinet for the 10 years, which led to Lucy giving up her professional work to assist me in my constituency work. After extensive interaction with the people, it became very evident that the levels of education, attitudes to it, and facilities available were hampering the development of otherwise talented kids, and condemning them to a vicious cycle of poverty. Education became our passion.
Accordingly, we took it upon ourselves to identify, and support these bright, yet economically and socially disadvantaged kids, at least to take them through secondary school. At the institutional level, my Constituency Development Committee supported my vision and committed the bulk of the funding towards educational facilities improvement and bursaries, but this was not enough.
Lucy and I decided we needed to intervene at personal level. We established area based networks of Women leaders and committee structures, which searched within the community and identified the very bright yet needy, and passed them on to “Madam Lucy”. She proceeded to look for sponsorships, which proved hard in coming. This led us to registering Kimunya Trust, through which we would channel funding from family income, and the occasional well-wisher.
Over the period, we had as a family sponsored 146 boys and girls, through secondary school, and some proceeded on Scholarships we obtained for Engineering and Medicine studies in Russian Universities - the first batch is back, and the others complete in 2014. We also sponsored for three years from 2010, the popular August residential tuition and mentoring sessions running for two weeks that were competed for by all, and attended by the best students in the District based on the Mock exams. In total, 480 students drawn from all the schools in Kipipiri participated, and are now in various Universities.
Building on our initiative, its success, and the satisfaction we obtained from touching so many lives, we decided to put our resources towards creating an institution that can continue with our education empowerment programme, on a sustainable basis. Thus the idea of a school was conceived in 2011, and work began on preparing the stabilised soil blocks that are the hallmark of the school – driven by environmental sensitivity, and application of appropriate technology.
As fate would have it, and rather unexpectedly, the 2013 elections brought in new leadership in Kipipiri. We took this as another crucible in my political life, that helped us redefine how best to continue serving the community, but now from a different and wider perspective. Reflecting back after 10 years in top national leadership, and looking further within the Region, and Africa, it is clear that as a country, we have shifted our attitudes and expectations of leadership, away from the noble goals of service to mankind. Few leaders dare to invest their energies in what is good for the larger society, or even speaking about it; it will not get those votes! The youth, who are the future leaders are caught in this web, with little to inspire them to work hard, and to respect the values of social capital accumulation, hence the massive cheating we are witnessing in schools, the rising crime rates, vitriol in the social media, and a sense of hopelessness especially among the young men.
The Foothills School provides us an opportunity to plant seeds that will eventually create a critical mass of future leaders for our lovely Country. Leaders who will aspire to do great things for their communities, the organisations they will work in, and the country, while mindful of where everyone else is, down to earth. Leaders who strive to achieve the greater good, not self-glorification. Hence our motto; “maeistas per humilitatem”, or “greatness with humility”.
Thus, the fusion of the two compelling cases of provision of quality education, and developing our future leaders are the motivation and fire that drives our passion and investment in The Foothills School, Kipipiri. We hope to host talented boys from diverse backgrounds, from the wealthy to the poorest, and from each and every County, and take them through the leadership training programme, while also covering their chosen academic curriculum. As they get back to their Counties, or meet their colleagues in University, we hope they will spread the values and culture they will have learnt at Foothills School to influence an even bigger catchment than those who attend. We also plan to have re-union meetings where the boys can share their experiences and reinforce one another.
We have structured the school with Kimunya Trust (which is awaiting legal clearance to change to Foothills Foundation) owning 20% of the school. The Trust is committed to reinvesting all its income due, and any from fundraising initiatives, on the needy. Thus the fee paying students will not only be paying for their keep in the school, but will be contributing to uplifting the standards of the needy colleagues, for a better, fair and just society in the future.
Lucy and I have also opened our Kipipiri country home, “the cottage on the hill” for short lets to school guests and parents who might wish to share their boys’ weather experience, or are keen on a sun downer at 9000 feet above sea level! It gives panoramic views spanning from Naivasha to Lake Olborosat.
In travelling on this journey, we were inspired and supported, even if morally, by our parents, who at an early point in our lives inculcated in us the values of social equity, and community service. Our late father, Samuel Kimunya did not attend any school, yet he read the papers, spoke fairly good English, and documented his entire life of 85 years (to be preserved in the library). Our mother’s community involvement in Kipipiri has been more than inspiring. We owe them our great gratitude, for this inspiration and upbringing.
We are also very grateful to all those who have encouraged us, risked their finance as Angel investors, given us their advice, and those who have pledged to support into the future, you know yourselves, and may God bless you abundantly.
We welcome you to be part of the Foothills initiative, by giving to us your kids to transform, and should you have the means, by sponsoring a boy or boys of your choice. You can also participate by joining the list of mentors who will be working with the school staff to bring out the leaders in each of the boys.
We look forward to welcoming you at The Foothills School and to a brighter future for our boys.
Lucy & Amos Kimunya, Founders, Jan 2014.