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Catherine Survillas Speaks at International Peace Conference

posted May 9, 2018, 10:53 AM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated May 9, 2018, 10:53 AM ]

Catherine, president our board, recently had the honor of being one of the guest speakers at the 27th Annual International Peace Conference at California State University, Sacramento. Here is what she had so say about the experience:

What a honor to have been included on this panel to share our projects and how we help promote Peace in Africa. I was very impressed with the conference that was held over a three day period at California State University Sacramento, specifically the College of Health and Human Services and the Office of the President hosted. The key note speaker at the Dinner was the current President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Afuko-Addo who spoke passionately about the need for transparency in his Government to fight corruption and also about the challenges of population growth and work opportunities for the youth. 600 people attended the dinner, the majority Africans who were dressed in the colorful cultural dresses from their country. Drums and African cuisine added to the joyful festivities of this event. This conference was the 27th International Peace and African Diaspora Conference put on by the Center For African Peace and Conflict Resolution and partnered with Rotary International District 5180 which was awarded a Peace Award for its work internationally toward the goal of Peace. I was humbled to play a small part in this conference.

conference poster

Picture with other speakers
Catherine (far right) with other speakers.

Improvements Over Term Break

posted May 9, 2018, 10:26 AM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated May 9, 2018, 10:54 AM ]

It’s term break at Iruri so our non profit is funding more improvements. Take a look! Stairs added to the administration building and they are receiving a new printer/copier, their first!!! Classroom walls are also being painted and some ceilings being added to enhance the lighting. 100% of our donations go directly to our project to help this school.

New Steps and Windows

Classroom improvements

Plants Donated to the School

posted Mar 5, 2018, 11:15 AM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Mar 5, 2018, 11:16 AM ]

We got some great news and pictures from Geoffrey Kerigu, head teacher, today: "Today very early in the morning one of our community stake holders donated many flowers and trees for us to plant. He planted a palm tree near our new modern toilets. He is very proud of what has been achieved. Geoffrey." Thank you, Mzee Jack Githui!!! It is really wonderful to see members of the community excited about the school and wanting to help, too.

Jack Githui and students with donated plants

Mr Jack Githui and students with some of the donated plants.

Getting Ready to Plant

Getting ready to plant.

Thank you, Jack Githui

Asante sana (thank you), Jack Githui, for your donation to the school!

Meet the New Scholarship Students, Class of 2021!

posted Jan 3, 2018, 12:30 PM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Jan 30, 2018, 10:11 PM ]

Our 16 new scholarship students were announced at The Feast in December. This is the most scholarships we have ever awarded and we are so proud of our students as they continue to improve their mean score on this Government issued exam.  We don't have pictures of all the students yet as you can see below.  We have more information about each student on the "Class of 2021" page under the "Our Student Scholarships" sidebar and will update that page as we learn more.


Rose Wanjiru
Rose W.




Rose Mumbi
 Rose M.


 Eunice M.

 Eunice W.

Another Successful Annual Feast!

posted Dec 29, 2017, 6:01 PM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Dec 29, 2017, 8:01 PM ]

Catherine Survillas, president of our board, along with Lew Gray, board member, are back from Kenya after another fabulous trip. Once again we hosted around 400 to 500 people from the community for a full day of preparation and celebration at the end of the school year. Also along for the visit were members of the Elk Grove Rotary, who’s support made possible the modern bathrooms project completed this year.

There were also some special guests: the newly elected member of parliament attended and promised improvements to the school. There were also three female guest speakers from the Masai Mara that shared their stories of not giving up on your dreams and through hard work, education and vision you can fulfill your goals.

Village Visit

The visit included a walk around through village the day before the feast to meet some of the students and their families. This is Frank and Nancy Lucia with the mother of Lydia, the secondary student they sponsor.

The trip also included the 3rd annual Wildlife Day. The top three students from each grade level earned the reward of going on a day trip to Sweetwaters Camp in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. They drove by bus from Karatina and met the Safari group at the camp. We have partnered with the Serena Hotels and Lodges for the last three years to provide this experience to the top students and teachers. Along with a safari drive through in the conservancy to see the animals, the trip includes planting trees as part of a reforestation project: each visitor plants a tree.

If you would like to see more pictures from the event, just select the album images below that are links to the pictures.  Once viewing the first picture of the album, select the "i" button to see captions.

Feast Preparations
The Feast

Wildlife Day

Bathroom Grand Opening!

posted Sep 12, 2017, 1:52 PM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Sep 12, 2017, 2:13 PM ]

The Building
The project to build modern bathrooms for the students is complete! The planning began in February of 2016, and just culminated with a large community celebration at the school with our president, Catherine Survillas, in attendance.

Other attendees included members of the Nyeri Rotary club, a Meru Rotarian, a district officer and Joe, the contractor for this job. The Elk Grove Rotary, the Nyeri Rotary Club and our organization raised and donated money for the project. Rotary International matched our funds locally and internationally and we were able fund this $45,000 project.

Ground breaking was on Saturday, July 15th, and as you will see from the pictures, a beautiful building was completed in a timely fashion by the contractor, Blue Valley Enterprises. Former scholarship student and current University student, Caroline, said after seeing pictures of the new bathrooms, "They look so smart! There has never been such bathrooms in Nyeri County, not even in private schools."

The celebration was planned for September 2nd. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony, performances by the students, speeches, and lots of dancing. Thank you to everyone whose generosity has made this possible. Especial thanks for Geoffrey Kerigu, head teacher, for being both an amazing educator and construction manager. He has been taking on so many roles at the school that are not in the job description. Asante sana!

Catherine and Geoffrey are pretty pleased with the results.  Getting a little silly.

Student Dancing

Geoffrey joins in with the student dance.

The ribbon is cut

The ribbon is cut!  Catherine with Phillipa, president of the Nyeri Rotary Club and Joe, contractor for the project.  We provided the opportunity for local business to bid on this project.

Elk Grove Rotary Acknowledgement

Elk Grove Rotary of California is acknowledged for their contribution to this wonderful project.

Like to see more pictures of this amazing event?  View this album.

Additional Images

More Progress on the Bathrooms - August 2017

posted Aug 22, 2017, 1:21 PM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 1:23 PM ]

Bathroom Building
We continue to get exciting pictures from Geoffrey Kerigu that show the progress being made with the student bathrooms that are to replace the current outhouses. This project is a joint undertaking between the Elk Grove Rotary of California, the Nyeri Rotary Club in Kenya and our non profit.  It will include personal hygiene training from a local specialist.  Check out the album below to see more pictures of the progress.

Album of pictures

The Bathrooms are Progressing Rapidly - August 2017

posted Aug 6, 2017, 10:20 PM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Aug 6, 2017, 10:27 PM ]

We continue to get updates on the progress of the student bathrooms from Geoffrey Kerigu.  Nice pictures, Geoffrey!






Want to see more pictures?  Check out this album:

Geoffrey's Address During the Ground Breaking - July 2017

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:34 AM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Jul 21, 2017, 10:57 AM ]

This is a small clip from Geoffrey speaking today as our project began with lots of the students joining at school on this Saturday. He encourages the students to give back to the community as their educational opportunities improve and thanks the Nyeri Rotary Club for joining the efforts of our Elk Grove Rotary Club in working together in this successful project. (If you have trouble viewing the video here, try viewing it on FaceBook by following this link.)

Just want to give a huge shout out to Geoffrey! We could never have had the success we have experienced at Iruri without his guidance, cooperative spirit, friendship, leadership, and willingness to work with us, these sometimes crazy "muzungus". You should have heard his amazement when we asked him if we could put together a feast to honor our first graduates in 2015. And by the way we would like to have a bull slaughtered!!! After he got over his surprise he said I think we need two bulls! But he did it! And the community came together, 500 people for the big event. So we thank you Geoffrey for all that you do!

Ground Breaking for New Bathrooms - July 2017

posted Jul 17, 2017, 8:58 AM by Bill Rathfon   [ updated Jul 17, 2017, 9:10 AM ]

Breaking Ground
It is really happening! Groundbreaking today on the slopes of Mt Kenya! The bathroom project is under way!!!!  The village came out on this Saturday, along with the members of the Nyeri Rotary Club to celebrate the beginning of this project that will improve the hygiene, sanitation and health of these students. Hygiene education will be an important component of this project as well.

To see more pictures of this exciting event, take a look at this album.

Ground Breaking Album

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