Burkinabe Architect Diebedo Francis Kere, respected worldwide for designing buildings ecologically and socially adequate to their environment, an art that has earned him awards galore and lecture stints at leading universities, is soon to undertake his first project in Kenya. Kere, 48 has been selected to design the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation (MSOF) in Kogelo village, Siaya County, Kenya an initiative by President Barack Obama’s step grandmother. The architect, probably well known for designing the Gando School, which had the full participation of the Gando people including the school children, will have a chance to do the same for the people of Kogello.
The MSOF’s mission is to improve the education and welfare of disenfranchised children in order to help them successfully achieve their goals and have a better future. Today, Mama Sarah has developed a vision for her legacy that will build upon her actions, accomplishments and resources to make a lasting impression on the causes she believes in. This vision is being implemented through her work at the Foundation, and includes the construction of an Early Childhood Development Center, Rehabilitation of a Primary and Secondary School, Construction of a Medical Center and a Vocational Training Center as well as establishment of the Mama Sarah Scholarship Fund.
Kere was recently in Kenya to witness the launch of foundation and has already dealt with the master planning aspects of the project.
– As Prepared
Hamjambo, mabibi na mabwana. Habari za mchana!
Since 2009, the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation has worked to build strong households by supporting poverty-stricken families. Since 2007, Envirofit International has worked to reduce indoor air pollution through economically-sustainable enterprises in emerging markets. Together, these two organizations have done amazing things in Kenya to promote the use of clean cook stoves, empowering women as they work to build stronger foundations for their homes and families. I am honored to celebrate the success of this collaboration. Thank you to the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation and Envirofit for the invitation to join you today.
Indoor air pollution – pollution from traditional cook stoves – is a problem that affects millions of people around the world, but it is a problem that gets too little attention. If you have experienced smoke from an open fire or poorly functioning stove indoors, in a home or a school kitchen, you know the smell and soot in the air is unforgettable. Over time, breathing in that toxic smoke puts you at risk for cancers, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections. Indeed, it can kill you. And those who suffer most are women and children, because women are the ones tending to the family meal and school children often study by the weak light of an open flame.
All of us are stewards of our environment, and we have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our families and of future generations. Improving the health of our children allows them to perform better in school, become productive members of society, and live longer, healthier lives. Raising healthy kids means a smaller burden on the health sector and a stronger economy.
Clean cooking solutions are a simple, direct way to solve the problem of unhealthy indoor air and improve the lives of millions of people, while also reducing fuel consumption. To promote clean cooking, Envirofit unites clean energy research with consumer-driven product design. They now produce over 100,000 stoves annually and have a presence in over 20 countries in Africa. Kenya is Envirofit’s production base for all of Africa. The investments made here have improved the lives of more than one million Kenyans and have generated more than 1,000 jobs in Kenya alone.
I was fortunate to participate in Envirofit’s launch of their institutional stove at Makini School back in March. I was very impressed by the demonstration Envirofit gave us – the stoves reduce fuel consumption by 90 percent!
Today’s event is another significant achievement for both Envirofit and the Mama Sarah Foundation, but is also a significant event for Siaya County and the women in this room. Because of their partnership, this site will serve as a demonstration center for others to learn about clean cooking solutions, creating jobs and distributing efficient, safer technologies to the Kenyan people.
The United States has a long history of supporting the clean cookstove sector in Kenya. From the launch of the Global Alliance by former Secretary of State Clinton in 2010 to the American companies working here, the United States is committed to supporting the development of a robust market for clean and healthy cooking solutions in Kenya. The United States is also committed to addressing some of the health concerns related to indoor air pollution. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute, conducted an evaluation that looked at performance and acceptability of improved stoves in Kenya. CDC is looking at taking this research a step further to determine whether there has been a reduction of respiratory diseases due to improved indoor air quality so we can quantify some of these benefits.
The United States has been a strong partner to Kenya for the past 50 years. We have worked together on countless initiatives and projects during that time to improve the health and livelihoods of Kenyans and strengthen the Kenyan economy. Today’s launch, and the clean cook stove movement in general, is a good example of how the United States and Kenya, and the public and private sectors, continue to make positive changes for millions of people. We look forward to making these partnerships even stronger in the coming years.
I would like to thank the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation and Envirofit again for their extraordinary work, and to congratulate them on this event. The United States is proud to be a part of this important work. Keep up the good work.
Thank you. Asenteni sana.
US President Barack Obama’s grandmother Sarah Obama, is on a mission to mobilize resources and improve livelihoods.
The Mama Sarah Obama Foundation (MSOF) seeks to change lives through the construction of an Early Childhood Development Centre, rehabilitation of Senator Barack Obama Primary and secondary schools, construction of a health clinic and development of a vocational skills centre.
Speaking during the launch of the foundation at Kempinski Hotel, Nairobi on Thursday, Mama Sarah reiterated that even though she never went to school, she understands the value of education.
It pains me when children do not get an education and are left in the streets to beg. This is a job I do without a salary. I never went to school but I like school and that is why I taught the father of the most powerful man in the world,” she said.
The 94-year-old grandmother’s mission is to improve the education and welfare of disenfranchised children in order to help them successfully achieve their goals and have a better future.
“I want to build a school for the children of Kenya. They are smart. I want children to get good education even though I never stepped into a classroom. Education is life, if somebody holds a pen, they will do well and are assured of bright future,” she said.
Her legacy plan seeks to engage and empower local communities to invest in the futures of their children starting from birth, by collectively participating as key community stakeholders.
The Mama Sarah Obama Foundation helps approximately 100 children with food, tuition assistance, and other basic supplies annually. She was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the Great Lakes University for her work.
Standard Group CEO Sam Shollei lauded Mama Sarah’s initiatives for changing her community and the country by helping others selflessly. He expressed his admiration for the humble work she has begun.
“We should all emulate Mama Sarah’s work to transform Kenya. Nobody but us will transform our country. If we do not make a difference, then who will?” Shollei posed.
Mama Sarah also honoured Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Kenya, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, for her dedication to the empowerment of women and youth through programmes that provide meaningful opportunities for people in all corners of the globe. Nardos praised the grandmother for her exemplary efforts in caring for the orphans and needy children by transforming their lives to be productive and meaningful.
“You have shown us the way to be giving, sharing and bring so much happiness and satisfaction. You are a leading example and I wish to see many hearts transformed through Mama Sarah Foundation,” she said.
Former envoy to the US Elkanah Odembo, a member of the steering committee, noted that the legacy plan reflects the dreams of Mama Sarah. “Granny talks about the education of children doesn’t start from class one. She says they must be nurtured, taken care off before they go to school and also wants to make sure youths have a first class vocational training so that they can be productive citizens,” he said.
The foundation was established after years of hard work helping orphans and poverty-stricken families feed and educate their children.
PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete poses with Mama Sarah Obama, grandmother of US President Barack Obama at Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday. Mama Sarah briefed the president on her benevolent institution, Mama Sarah Obama Foundation (MSOF), which is expected to be launched on Thursday to support educational development in her Kogero home village in Kenya’s Nyanza Province. The president, who was in Nairobi to attend the AU Heads of State and Government Meeting on Peace and Security later flew back home to continue with his tour of Dodoma Region.He went straight to Kondoa. (Photo by State House)