Emori Joi revisited (literally)

The Building Walls of Wisdom Executive Director, Russ Morgan, recently took a trip to Africa to visit all of our active projects. Below is his reflection on his trip to our first school in Kenya.

This past November I had the opportunity to visit the very first Building Walls of Wisdom school house ever built. The moment was very surreal given that has been almost three years since we had contributors from around the world make a commitment to help this small community in Kenya.

As my brother explained with his visit a while ago, the facility was absolutely spectacular. There we tens of school houses (one of which being ours) each representing the 45-50 kids that attend class there regularly. I was then introduced to the school’s sustainable garden. It was incredible to learn all that a garden could provide this school, including:

  • An environment for the students to learn about agriculture – a very important skill in the region
  • A source of food for the students
  • A source of income for the school for supplies and food not grown in their garden

The importance of the garden was extremely important as the drought/crisis taking place in Northern Kenya meant that much of the aid that this community relied on regularly was diverted elsewhere. In addition, our charity partner Free the Children provided additional supplies where needed. The main goal, however, is to ensure that this school (and others like it) become completely self sustainable.

After leaving the school, I entered into a conversation with our local contacts surrounding communities and desire for education. One of our facilitators, Cameron, shared a story with me that still astonishes me to this date. The story, written from Cam’s perspective and paraphrased, is as follows:

“One year a small community approached us and expressed their desire to have a school built in their village. After conducting our due diligence, we discovered that the village was at least 4 kilometres from any road. Because of this, it was logistically impossible to get all of the required materials to the site in order to get the school built. As a result, we had to turn this community away with our sincerest apologies.

A year later, the same small community came to us asking yet again for a school to be built in their community. We explained to them, yet again, that there was no possible way to get the materials there. The representatives of the community replied simply that they had built a road and now it would be possible to get the materials to village.”

Now allow me to qualify this a little bit; this community has very little means. Over the course of a year they worked with no more than hand tools and determination to build a 4km road. Cutting down trees, moving boulders, and digging mounds of dirt are just some of the pain staking things they had to endure to give their children the possibility of a new school. Rest assured plans for this new school are now well underway.

I wanted to share this story with you as I feel it sums up very well what a community will do to provide their children with opportunities that they never had growing up. I believe this is a very common theme whether you live in Toronto or a small community in the Masa Mara. People in countries like Kenya, are driven to give their children as much as possible and with the help of our contributors, I believe we can continue to help bring these communities the basic educational opportunities that we often take for granted.

Following Emori Joi, I had an opportunity to visit an all girls secondary school called Kisaruni. There I met a number of students, however, one of the most memorable moments was when the question was asked which of these students came from Emori Joi. I was pleased to see a number of students raise their hand and to know that, in a very small way, Building Walls of Wisdom helped them get there. I say a small way because a schoolhouse is just a building until you get students, teachers, and community all dedicated to educational pursuits.

For a complete and up to date community report for Emori Joi from our partner, I encourage you to follow this link. I have also included some pictures from my visit below (unfortunately class was not in session).

Lastly, if you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you have already heard the news. I am happy to share that our first chapter, The Murphy Project, has recently raised enough funds to build another school house in the Masa Mara in Kenya. If you would like to know more about BuildWoW chapters, feel free to drop us an email.

Thanks for reading my incredibly long post & please feel free to share it and/or contribute to our current project in Ghana.

Best Regards,


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