“There’s nothing better than to tell our students and community that our old furnishings are going to live on, making a difference and helping provide a better education for children far away.”
Theresa Garcia, Principal, Hermosa Heights Elementary School, Las Cruces, NM
STARTING POINT – LAS CRUCES, NM
On June 7, 2017, an IRN installation crew loaded 260 pieces of school furniture into overseas shipping container SEGU-636375-9. The furniture came from an upgrade project at the Hermosa Heights Elementary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Included in the shipment were over 100 student chairs, 53 student desks, 35 activity tables, plus bookcases, storage cabinets, teachers desks, and additional seating.
JOURNEY – 13,000 MILES BY RAIL, SHIP, AND TRUCK
SEGU636 was transported by truck and train to the Port of Long Beach, California, where it was loaded onto the CMA-CGM Group container ship Tage. The Tage sailed on June 17, and made a stop in Mombasa, Kenya on July 30, where SEGU636 was unloaded. The container cleared customs on September 20, and embarked on a 700-mile journey by truck to the Shimbir Fatuma Primary School in Mandera, in northeast Kenya. SEGU636 was unloaded there on September 26.
Mandera County is an arid, remote area near Kenya’s borders with Ethiopia and Somalia, 600 miles from Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Nomadic pastoralism is the major economic activity; livestock include camels, goats, sheep, and cattle. The climate is hot and dry and the region is largely undeveloped. Mandera’s Malka Mari National Park is home to large and diverse populations of wildlife, but its remote location and challenging climate have deterred development as a tourist destination.
Eighty-eight percent of Mandera’s population live below Kenya’s poverty line (compared with a national average of 46%). Less than three percent of the county’s population have access to electricity. About two-thirds of the county’s citizens have some primary education; fewer than ten percent have attended secondary school. Among males 15 years old and above, nearly one-third are illiterate; among females, two-thirds are illiterate.
The Shimbir Fatuma School is one of 36 primary schools in the county, serving a student population of nearly 400,000. The county’s student:teacher ratio is 600:1. Although it is government-funded, the school was almost entirely without furniture when SEGU636 arrived from Las Cruces.
Here are photos of Hermosa Heights desks and chairs unloaded and in use in Kenya, making a difference in the lives of desperately needy children. You can click here for a PDF of this story and photographs.