History of Kilifi Kids

It all began over e-mail. Marc Olsen, a Rotarian in Atlanta, Georgia, met Janet Midega in October 2006. Janet, another Rotarian from Kenya, was searching for a partner for an educational project in her small town of Kilifi. Janet belonged to the Rotary Club of Kilifi, a 30-person club that was a mighty force in the community that, in past years, had created a school lunch program, replaced dirt floors with concrete ones in several primary schools, and built a malnutrition ward at the District Hospital.

Well, Marc and Janet hit it off instantly, and along with Marc’s brother, Michael, designed and funded a project that would add four computer labs in Kilifi. Quickly, the plans to simply get computers into the classroom blossomed into two additional programs: high school scholarships and deworming. In July 2007, a small US-based team traveled to Kenya to meet their new friends and plan the year’s projects. In Kilifi, they met many of the people who are now leaders of Kilifi Kids, including Dr. Charles Mbogo (KEMRI) Jonathan Mativo (then, Plan International), Ben Tsofa (then, Minister of Health), Alex Maina (KEMRI), Lucy Ochola (KEMRI), and Zena Mlacha (KEMRI).

Over the next months, the Kenya/US team brought others together, including funding partners and project experts, to scale the work and provide technical guidance. Several volunteers in North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin proved critical in building support and promoting our cause. A major fund raising campaign successfully raised funds from the Rotary Foundation, businesses, and individuals from 25 states. And in spring 2008, the first class of high school scholarship recipients was chosen and the first round of de-worming 27,000 primary school children began. More than 120 people helped in the effort to make our work possible.

In 2009, Kilifi Kids officially incorporated as a nonprofit and sharpened its mission to focus on health and ways to maximize its investments for social return. Kilifi Kids enlisted more help from leaders in the media and technology sectors and is now launching a new mobile health campaign. The pilot, which started in July 2010, aims to help 25,000 more in Kilifi. It is anticipated that this pilot will be replicated across the country and improve health outcomes for more than half a million Kenyans.