Sir Richard Branson, the President of Virgin Atlantic, has helped to put the finishing touches to new school facilities in Kenya which have been partially funded by some of the airline’s frequent flyers.Sir Richard joined hundreds of local schoolchildren and VIPS as he attended an opening ceremony at the Sekenani Primary School in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The new facilities have provided the 650 children with separate boys and girl’s dormitories as well as a new kitchen area, play areas and solar water pump system. The project was made possible by a collaboration between Sarova Hotels, Water For All and 10 frequent flyer volunteers from Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club.
The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold Card volunteers, who collectively have contributed £30,000 from sponsorship and donations to the project, have been involved in a week long building programme to create the much-needed facilities. Each volunteer has put their DIY skills to the test by assisting in painting, decorating and furnishing the buildings for the children.
Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic said;
“While visiting Kenya when Virgin Atlantic launched flights to Nairobi last year, I became involved with the Sekenani School. The school continues to play an important role in the young lives of the Maasai children and Virgin Atlantic is delighted to have helped with this project.
“The skills of our volunteer Flying Club members have been invaluable and we thank them enormously for their fundraising and practical contributions. Their hard work has brought a much better standard of living for the children, who are the future of Kenya.
“I am looking forward to seeing the new buildings being used for the long-term benefit of the Maasai community and I am proud to see the difference our frequent flyers have made to the local area. Virgin Atlantic has also matched our Flying Club volunteers donations, making the total amount £60,000, which will make an enormous difference to the school”.
The Sekenani Primary school is situated 100m from the main gateway to the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The school was established in 1989 as a kindergarten school and 19 years later provides education for 650 boys and girls from the Sekanani township. The school has achieved exceptional grades in the National exams and sends many of its pupils onto National, provincial and district secondary schools. The Sarova Mara Game Camp, which is situated 2km from the school, has supported the Maasai children at the school since it was founded in 1997.
Mr. J.S Vohra, Managing Director Sarova Hotels said;
“Sarova Hotels has been supporting Sekenani Primary School since 1997 donating essentials items such as bedding and financial donations.
“Sarova Hotels believes and focuses all its Corporate Social activities around five fundamental pillars: education, environment, health, equal employment and children’s homes. We believe that by investing in the community’s welfare we ensure the growth and sustainability of that community. We have instilled at every level of the company a strong corporate culture of giving and supporting the community.
“Virgin Atlantics kindness in building these boarding facilities has changed the lives of so many in this community ensuring the education for boys and girls in years to come. Sarova Hotels will ensure that the school goes from strength to strength enriching the quality of education provided as best as we can. We will also ensure that our friends at Virgin Atlantic never forget the good that they have done for the Maasai community at Sekenani”.
Water For All has also worked in collaboration with Virgin Atlantic to provide clean drinking water for the school. The non profit-making organisation has launched a new initiative with support from Virgin Atlantic -‘Water For All’- which will provide schools and communities with access to clean drinking water using a variety of water technologies such as solar pumps, merry-go-round pumps, wind powered and water filtration systems. The Mono solar powered pump installed at the Sekenani Primary School provides the perfect solution to the school’s water needs while not relying on expensive fuel. With the power of the sun, approximately 24,000 litres of water will be pumped from underground and stored in an elevated tank for use by the children and teachers each day. In addition, Virgin Atlantic and ‘Water for All’ will provide each student with a “LifeStraw® Personal”, a portable water purifier which can be carried around for easy access to safe and clean drinking water.
Jill Rademacher, President and CEO of Water For All said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with Virgin Atlantic and Sarova Hotels to provide the Sekanani Primary School with access to clean water. Each year 443 million schools days are lost due to water-related illness each year. Africa’s water crisis and its impact on education is a problem that cannot be ignored. Today, our partnership with Virgin Atlantic marks the launch of our “Water For All” programme, which will provide schools and communities with access to clean water using a range of water solutions. We hope the success of our partnership at Sekenani Primary School is one we can replicate throughout Africa.”