Interview with Gerd Hagmaier, an SAP Consultant and Manager who set his heart on helping children in the poorest regions of Kenya.
Gerd, you are actively supporting Nyota organization which is supporting children in Kenya. Tell me your story, how did you hear about it and what made you involved in it?
It all started in 2014 on a vacation trip with my friends. We met people there who told us about the West region of Kenya and about a school for kids there. It immediately occurred to me that I could become a “godparent” and take over responsibility for helping one child to get proper education. I shared this idea with my family and they immediately supported it. My condition was though that I would go to Kenya to make sure that the money we are sending there is serving its purpose.
Did you make that trip?
Yes, I went there back in 2015. I saw the school, talked with the people on-site and we discussed ideas about how to get further funding. To be honest, I was shocked with the level of poverty there and the appalling conditions of classrooms and school equipment. So we brainstormed together about how to get support from other countries as well. In the meantime, I am in the preparation phase for launching an own foundation enabling a sustainable support.
How did you manage to get extra funding?
I spread the word within my network about the situation in this region and I organized a charity concert, I ran a marathon and sold my kilometers.
The first two years I supported Kenyan Children Help in Eastern Kenya and since last year I am supporting Nyota in Western Kenia. I also approached Nyota organization with its office in Germany that is dealing with this subject. They have their people on-site in Kenya, and this is a kind of a local setup that works for me. We have regular phone calls and meetings with the local project manager, so in this way I can make sure that the money is well-spent and invested as agreed, and that our help is sustainable.
What are the exact problems of that region that you want to address?
We are talking here about a rural area. There is shortage of water and a high rate of unemployment. Also, there are a lot of orphans – for these kids it is really difficult to attend school and get education. In theory, school is free in Kenya. But in practice you need to buy a school uniform and books, which is often an expense those children and their families cannot afford. So we supply them with clothes, teaching materials and food for the time they are at school.
What is the political situation there?
Kenya is not a poor country when you look at the figures. But education is still a privilege and often it’s not in the rich peoples interests to make it widely accessible. So our role here is to work with local communities and stress the importance of education, show them a way out of poverty.
During the last charity auction at Datavard we raised money for the Nyota organization. Our donation was tripled by the Management Board and amounted to 9,420 €. How did you invest it?
This was a really great support. Thanks to all Datavardians and the management for that. The money is used for setting up an educational fund. We have selected 4 young people based on their school performance and financial situation, and we will help them finish their studies in the next years. I know them personally and I’m looking forward for them to succeed. More to come.
Bruce is 21 years old, he has been growing up without parents. He attended the Nyota school years ago and was afterwards supported by Nyota in the primary and secondary school. The education fund will support him during his studies in Mombasa, at the Technical University. He is a very strong student with top results. He is studying graphic design. Remaining duration of his studies: 2 years.
Emily is 20 years old. Her parents cannot afford her studies anymore. She has another two years of studies in front of her at the Medical Training College in Eldoret. She showed best results during her first year at College.