Building A Dream
Six hours west of Nairobi, Kenya, there's a tiny village where
you can run forever on the dirt roads, past miles of green
fields bursting with tea leaves. But although Kapsabet, Kenya is
a runner's paradise, the village is extremely poor. With an
average income of $100 a month, large families live in tiny
homes with dirt floors, no windows, no plumbing and no
electricity. There also aren't any telephones, refrigerators,
washing machines, ovens or any of the basic appliances that most
Americans can't imagine living without.
"You immediately see the overwhelming need," said Creigh Kelley
who recently visited the town, "You can taste the need and see
that with small amounts of money, you can make a major change."
Kapsabet, Kenya is the birthplace of one of Colorado's fastest
5K and 10K runners. Peter Tanui grew up in the village and
graduated from the town's Kipture Primary School more than a
decade ago. "In Kenya, the rich are really rich and the poor are
really poor," Tanui noted. Tanui left Kenya for America when he
was awarded a running scholarship to Lubbock Christian
University in 1994. After four years at the school, he became a
12-time All American and the Kipture School's first college
graduate. Tanui now lives and trains in Colorado, but he hasn't
forgotten his hometown or the tiny school with inadequate space
Just a few months ago, Tanui started the Kipture Primary School
Fund to help rebuild the crumbling school. So far the foundation
has raised a few thousand dollars, enough funds for the library
walls, the floor and the roofing materials. More than 400 pounds
of school supplies and books were donated by Sandburg Elementary
School in Littleton. But there's still so much to be done.
Tanui's goal is to raise a total of $65,000 to build a kitchen,
to complete the library, to provide better sanitation and
outhouses, to bring electricity to the school and to eventually
endow a scholarship so that the village's children can become
more educated. The school was originally built by the British in
1942, but because of insufficient funds, there wasn't enough
money to complete it. Still, more than sixty years later, the
school is the only source of education for more than 400
students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Tanui first had the idea of raising money to help the school
while in college. He felt fortunate to be able to attend college
in America and wanted to help others. "It's always been my dream
to give back to the school if I could succeed in America, but
when I finished college, I had nothing. I didn't know where to
When Creigh and Annie Kelley traveled to Kenya last year with
Tanui, they were shocked at the conditions. Yet they were amazed
at how intelligent and hardworking the children were. When the
students first saw the couple, they swarmed around them
shouting "Mzungu! Mzungu!" which means 'white person' because
they had never seen white people before. They were fascinated
with Annie's red nail polish and thrilled when she gave each
child a stick of chewing gum (she bought 600 pieces for just
"They're extremely bright, they just don't have any money,"
Creigh remembers. "And because the school doesn't have a
kitchen, many of the children had to run for several miles just
to get home for lunch." It's hard to imagine many American kids
running to school and back several times a day, only to have to
gather firewood or fetch water when they got home at night.
After spending a few days in Kapsabet, the Kelley's decided that
something could be done to improve the children's education.
They had seen that the children read from school books that were
decades old and they didn't have many school supplies to use.
The parent's committee also made a plea for help to Creigh and
Annie. "I've decided that this is going to be a labor of love,"
Creigh said, "And it won't take huge amounts of money to make an
enormous difference." Tanui said that the Kelley's inspired him
to make his dream come true, "I was surprised and delighted that
they wanted to help. Creigh told me that we could do this. He
gave me hope."
Tanui knows why people should help rebuild his former
school. "For me, the best way to help other human beings is to
give them an education. You can buy them better clothes and buy
them food, but with an education, you are helping them become
self sufficient and get out of poverty."
You can help Tanui by sending a donation to "Kipture Primary
School Fund" at BKB Ltd., PO Box 4184, Englewood, CO 80155. The
foundation is a nonprofit organization run entirely by
volunteers. After the project's completion, Parthenia Jones,
president of the Potts Trotters running club, plans to travel to
Kapsabet to dedicate the new buildings in memory of Steve Muniz,
who was a friend of Tanui and a Potts Trotter.
You can look at more pictures by logging onto www.bkbltd.com/kenya.htm.
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