Share Tweet Share Email

NIU student groups work to support school in Kenya

April 11, 2016
Students, faculty and staff at JAMS in July of 2011.

Students, faculty and staff at JAMS in July of 2011.

“Education should be a right, not a privilege.”

Members of NIU’s Northern Lights Ambassadors and Zeta Sigma Chi agree with this statement – and, to demonstrate their commitment, are collecting donations and raising money for an all-girl boarding school in Kenya.

A pair of NIU professors – Teresa Wasonga (College of Education) and her husband, Andrew Otieno (College of Engineering and Engineering Technology) – started the Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS) after they decided that young women from Kenya were in particular need of support and education.

“They worked for two years, largely using their personal funds to finance the endeavor, and opened the school in 2011 with 12 students,” said Ashley Kyle, a senior Northern Light Ambassador. “The school has grown immensely in that time and now has over 100 girls in attendance and has prepared a vast number of its graduates so well that they qualify to attend university.

“Compared to other schools in the area, this is a tremendous accomplishment,” added Marilyn Lorch, engaged learning coordinator for the NIU Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.

Otieno and Wasonga have ensured that the girls who attend JAMS all have their basic needs met while attending school.

This includes clothing, food, personal care products, health care products and school supplies.

“In addition, they eschew the common practice of corporal punishment that exists in many schools throughout the country,” said Kyle, who also is a student employee at OSEEL. “They have found that this approach of meeting all of their basic needs and no corporal punishment allows the girls to focus on their studies and, thereby, become more successful students.”

Jane Adeny ShieldCollection boxes are available across campus throughout the month April. Donations sought include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Vaseline
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Women’s socks
  • Women’s underwear (size 5-6 preferred)
  • Q-Tips
  • Soap
  • Tissues
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Colored pencils
  • No. 2 pencils
  • Protractors
  • Compasses

In addition, the school is currently participating in grant challenge to fund a new science building on their campus. The NLAs and Zeta Sigma Chi are also overseeing a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to raise $1,000 toward this effort.

The grant challenge was proposed by a private donor who is willing to match dollar for dollar up to $60,000 toward the school’s science building. The grant is currently at about 60 percent of its goal. All funds pledged will be released directly to Friends of JAMS.

For more information, contact [email protected].