• Chris Hirst

AGM 2018 - Chairman's Report

Dear trustees and the supporters,

I will start by thanking you all for continuing with us for another year.

I thank the trustees for their continued voluntary service; I thank the supporters for their continued generous giving; I also thank our prayer partners who have continued to pray for us and the school throughout the year.

This past year has seen some great strides forward at the school, particularly I think of electricity from the Kenyan grid. We are now in the 20th century at least.

Still the annual problem of drought remains. Kenya is used to living with drought and dry conditions but when wells run dry it is difficult because we have to buy water from those who have taps, then market forces of supply and demand seem to come into play. Operating in a peaceful rural environment, somewhat isolated, is good for the educational needs of our many children, but not when we are so far away from a mains water supply.

A borehole, I have been informed, is a possibility, but the cost of £27,000 is beyond our means.

Our children continue to perform well in all examinations, and we are continually in the top three for exam results in our region. This is testimony to a dedicated teaching staff.

We now have 31 full-time staff working at the school and orphanage; the good thing is that there are 31 families with a wage coming in every month. On the downside, it is very expensive and once more we have had to raise the monthly amount that we send to cover this cost.

Over the last year we have had a number of fundraising events, some more successful than others, but each one entered into with the spirit of hope and cooperation amongst all the trustees that a good outcome will ensue. We look forward to holding more in the coming year. We are always open to suggestions of tried and tested fundraising ideas.

A big well done to all your hard work.

That brings me onto the future. We have on the horizon a landmark event, some two years from now. It is the considered, unanimous opinion of the trustees that the school should become independent and self-sufficient by then. We have achieved what we set out to do in 2007, that was to provide a school for the needy who would otherwise have no access to education. We have done that and more, much more. On that hill near Ringa, Kenya, where there was nothing but scrubland, now stands a large, walled community, encompassing an infant school, a primary school, a secondary school, an orphanage and a church. Within the walls there is everything needed to take children from 3½ years of age and ultimately take them to university. This we have done. We have at the moment four children from amongst our school at university. I consider this a success story and something that brings glory to God.

Having done exactly what we said we would do, what next? How do we cause them to be totally independent of outside assistance; how do we give them dignity? Sadly, it is not going to be easy; for the last 12 years, everything they have has come from us. To say, at the moment, that they are dependent upon us is an understatement; however, whenever children reaches maturity it is difficult to let them go out on their own and become independent. This is the nettle we have to grasp.

We do have a plan. Over the next two years we will guide Risper and her staff in to the ways of running a successful, commercially run private school (which I might add are very common in Kenya). The orphans and the needy will never be cast away. The main thrust of the plan is to attract students from wealthier backgrounds who can pay the going rate to send a child to school in Kenya. We will attract this type of student by promoting the school vigorously over the Internet and social media, something that is not happening now.

The mathematics are simple and workable. Profit from the paying students will pay for the needs of our remaining 32 orphans and many day students who have little or no resources within their families. I consider this to be the kindest thing we can do for them. We all want to see Kenyans supporting Kenyans. This in itself will give them a great sense of achievement and self-worth.

I am not so naïve as to think that these changes are going to be easy or readily accepted. We're not going to take their crutches away – we’re going to give them new ones.

My request from everyone who reads this, as always, is that you pray for this endeavour and pray without ceasing. I'm totally convinced that this is in the providence of God and is part of His plan and purpose for that school on the hill that give thanks to Him continually.

I sign off now, praying that you have God’s tangible presence with you as you seek His face in prayer.

Chris Hirst


for The Olive Branch Foundation

Enthusiasm at Primary School

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