Robin Kohl, PLNU professor of education, recently returned from Kenya, Africa, where she spent 12 days volunteering as an educational consultant for Sango, an organization that provides funds and support to Kenyan high school students.
Kohl works with Sango as a volunteer consultant for educational purposes. She gives an objective voice and opinion, looking at the students’ grades and test scores on their national primary school examinations to help Sango decide if the student should be supported in their secondary or high school tuition. She also looks at the effectiveness secondary schools for students. In order for students to do well, Kohl and other Sango members visit schools in Kenya to establish a rapport and keep lines of communication open.
Based out of Illinois, Kohl’s home state, Sango was formed in 2004 by Kenyans as well as friends living in the Chicago area. Their mission is directed towards high school students, specifically young girls and orphans in the Luo Nyanza tribal region of Kenya around Lake Victoria, where many of the Sango members are from. This organization specifically focuses on helping girls within the village because, most often in Kenyan families, parents will spend what money they have on their male child’s education. If they have a young girl as well, she will most likely resort to an early marriage, possibly as a second or third wife, because of her lack of options.
“The best chance Kenyan girls have is to be educated, which allows them to work” says Kohl.
Sango members are also able to sponsor Kenyan students individually, as long as they are not related, giving anywhere from $300 to $1,200 a year toward the education of a single student. Kohl and her husband have been sponsoring a girl named Grace through her high school education, and will continue to help through her college education as well.
“Grace wants to attend a university and study to become an agricultural expert. We are so proud of her and look forward to seeing what happens,” says Kohl.
In addition to providing funds for high school students, Sango is also working on other improvements for the Luo Nyanza region in Kenya. Members of the organization are in the process of building a library and communication center, and have already drilled a number of wells, partnering up with Rotary International and a local church in order to do so. Sango was also involved in food relief on behalf of Village Church of Barrington, Illinois, distributing $8,000 worth of grain and beans specifically for widows after a massive flood in the area devastated many lives. Sango has formed a partnership with the UFACODO church leaders in Nyanza as well, who provide the most for the region in times of need. The church leaders make the decisions in their community, while Sango is able to provide input, funds and support through their partnership. Kohl explained, “Sango members are able to help out wherever they can, and the Kenyan people are able to do their own work through this partnership.”
Kohl has travelled to Kenya eight times since 2000, and continues to travel there with Sango to provide her support, educational knowledge, and consultations for high school students in need.
More information about the Sango organization can be found at www.sangochicago.org.