The Kileva Story
I first visited Kenya with my wife (Jane) on holiday in September 2001. Even though we’d stayed in the most exotic of resorts and seen some fantastic sights and animals on safari, it was meeting a waiter called Kilele and his family that was the highlight of the trip for me.
The Kenyan economy took a turn for the worse following 9/11 and so Kilele, Grace (his wife) and their two daughters Naomi and Joyce returned home to Sagalla in 2002. Sagalla is a beautiful mountainous region about a third of the way between Mombasa and Nairobi. Although I’d never visited this very poor, underprivileged area, I felt I was beginning to get to know it and its people through Kilele’s letters.
By 2005 Kilele had bought a mobile ‘phone and it was on one of our regular calls that he told me his wife Grace was pregnant. I was of course delighted, and you can imagine my astonishment when his son was born and he named him Cliff after me. I felt very humble and honoured.
Later that year Kilele told me that he was going to get “properly” married, i.e. have a full religious ceremony. When I asked why he was explaining the duties of a best man he sad because I was going to be his best man and Jane would be Grace’s best lady! And so it was that on Valentine’s Day in 2006 we attended the most remarkable wedding ever! Over 1000 people came from remote villages all over the remote Sagalla Mountain and the celebrations went on for 3 days.
After returning from that trip I realised just how much the people of that savagely beautiful part of Kenya now meant to me, and I knew that I had to find a way to help not only Kilele and his family, but as many of his people as possible. Consequently by September of that year the Kileva Foundation charity was formally registered with the Charity Commission of England & Wales, then in October I went back to Kenya to register it in Nairobi.
It was during that trip, just after hearing pre-school aged children from the village of Mwakoma singing “twinkle twinkle little star”, that I committed Kileva to what would become its major focus over the coming years, namely to build the children not only a new pre-school but also a brand new primary school. Eight years and eight classrooms later and that’s just what we’ve done. We’ve also built a Medical Dispensary and Community Centre in the village of Kirumbi, and have helped a number of dairy, goat and poultry farmers throughout the region, including building bee hive fences to protect crops from marauding elephants!
All in all it’s been a remarkable journey that none of us that have been involved will ever forget, particularly the kids that have grown up almost as fast as the Kileva Eastfield Primary School has! Now that the basic structure at the school and at the community centre is in place, we are establishing a farm at the school and using it as a showcase to teach both the pupils and their parents how to improve the farming techniques they use, while protecting and conserving the local environment.
Please give us your support and help us to continue making the future brighter for the entire Sagalla community.