2010-2021: A Decade of Impact

KIWOCE (Kilimahewa Women’s and Orphan’s Center for Education), also referred to as Kilimahewa, began as a group of mamas from a subsistence farming community, who came together to find a way for their children – unable to attend formal schools – to keep learning. These women and their children gathered each day under a tree on the property of their leader, (Mama) Grace Lyimo.

From under the tree, instruction moved into a small two-room turquoise building on the property where volunteers (local and foreign) taught the children English and math.  In 2010, KIWOCE’s future changed radically when three of these volunteers joined forces to make it a focal point of their newly-created 501-c3 non-profit, EdPowerment.

Beginning with a Water Project and basic school supplies, EdPowerment's support enabled  KIWOCE/Kilimahewa to be a vibrant Open School and educational outreach to the community.  The center and school were a beacon of hope to so many left behind by the formal system.  For 11 years, EdPowerment partnered with Kilimahewa's teaching staff to activate critical thinking, nurture positive behaviors and build the foundations through which vulnerable students could achieve futures no longer limited by their backgrounds.  

As of 2021, KIWOCE Open School status was changed by the school's property owner and now operates as a private, formal school, the Kilimahewa Modern Secondary School. EdPowerment's  investment in KIWOCE provides much of the infrastructure and classroom assets that are the basis of the new school, as it begins its operations independent of EdPowerment.

The following outlines EdPowerment's programs and investment that impacted thousands of lives over our 11 year partnership, 2010 - 2021.

IMPACT STATEMENT:    KILIMAHEWA EDUCATIONAL CENTER/OPEN SCHOOL

2010 - 2021
Secondary School Equivalency Program569
Computer/IT Skills Courses:213
THRIVE Post Secondary/High School Skills Course:107
Teen Clubs1,010
Pre-Form 1 Course:1,032
Community Outreach276
Summer Enrichment Camps602
Outreach Seminars for Secondary Students1596
TOTAL STUDENT/COMMUNITY IMPACT:5,405
EdPowerment, Inc
EdPowerment, Inc
EdPowerment, Inc

The Kilimahewa Water Project

Blessed by a quick and successful bore hole drilling in 2011, the Kilimahewa Water Project, providing water for two 20,000 liter tanks, anchored development of the Center.  In 2016, solar refurbishment was undertaken to provide a more economical delivery system.

EdPowerment, Inc
EdPowerment, Inc
EdPowerment, Inc

The Hostel Project:

In January 2019, KIWOCE opened doors to a lovely second-floor girls’ hostel above one of its classroom buildings. In the past, distance and security concerns prevented many young women from attending the Center. A generous grant from the T&J Meyer Family Foundation and targeted support from EdPowerment accomplished this life-changing project. 

Other Key Projects

  • Clean, energy efficient and well-equipped classrooms with Internet Access. Desks, tables and chairs have been provided over 10 years to accommodate KIWOCE’s growing student enrollment.
  • Furnishings and reading materials for a Community Library including texts, review books, novels, newspapers and other reading materials in English and Kiswahili. The goal: to support and open learning for ALL.
  • A spacious kitchen and silo to prepare meals in an environmentally safe way and allow for optimum bulk purchases of beans and maize.
  • Three beautiful outdoor “study huts” with built-in seating for extended classes and informal tutoring and socializing
  • An environmentally clean incinerator, especially needed for waste from the Girls Hostel completed in 2019
  • A recreational field (to be reconstructed in 2021 because of other construction now in progress at the Center)
  • Outside handwashing stations for hygiene, funded during the COVID break.

Funded by EdPowerment, KIWOCE's teaching and administrative staff carried out the following programs that reflected our three cornerstones:  Core Academics, Employability Skills and Personal Development.

Secondary School Equivalency Course

Using diverse teaching strategies, hands-on and on-line educational tools, and individual attention, the Center worked to (1) compensate for the learning deficits of many of its students coming from poor areas with marginalized schools and (2) encourage mindsets open and able to learn.  It also provided those who had failed National Form 2 and Form 4 exams a way to succeed in "resitting" for these critical exams. 

IT, Computer Training & Short Courses

EdPowerment structured KIWOCE’s first computer program in 2013 with an initial set of laptops, projector, software and instructional guides. In 2015, a Rotary Global Grant that included complete Internet infrastructure and solar panels, boosted the program. A range of computer and IT training options enabled under or unemployed young adults and locals to seek better prospects.  Our impact stories attest to the real change that our program brought about in students’ lives.  [See downloadable Impact stories]

Boys and Girls Club

Saturdays offered KIWOCE students and neighboring teens inspiration, practical, and life skills  coaching not otherwise available in their local environment. Not only could they enjoy each other's company, they learned invaluable lessons from local entrepreneurs, and social service and other professionals. 

Agricultural Projects

The local component of the Rotary Global Grant awarded KIWOCE initiated the Center's husbandry projects. In 2020 KIWOCE redeveloped its crop production projects to educate locals and students on ways to choose appropriate crops, maximize small plot output, and seek and access local markets.  

EdPowerment, Inc

Pre-Form One Course

Standard 7 students complete primary school in early September, taking the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam).  KIWOCE offered these students (generally 12-14 years old) from neighboring schools an approximately 10-week program to prepare for  Secondary School the following January. This Course reinforced English language and math concepts, introduced the computer, and covered other academics and skills-building  - all at a manageable fee structure.

THRIVE (Pre-Form 5/Pre University) Program

Developed initially for our Sponsored Students, THRIVE was EdPowerment’s capstone program intended to boost the ability of Form 4 and Form 6 graduates to succeed in their next level of education, the workplace and independent living. 

The program for Form 4 graduates waiting featured advanced instruction in literacy level and conversational and written English, IT and computer training, academic instruction in subjects to be studied in A Level High School or College, and coursework in fundamental life/soft skills. 

The program for Form 6 graduates focused additionally on writing CV/resumes, developing skills for interviews and employment, and learning practical aspects of self-reliance such as money management.

The Kilimahewa Enrichment Camp

From 2012 - 2019  KIWOCE invited local secondary school students on the last week of semester break to enjoy hands-on learning in 6 daily sessions:  English, a math/science combo, healthy living, art and/or music, physical exercise and computers.  Over 100 teenagers experienced a “fun” way to learn, using internet resources, classroom and field equipment and group activities. It was just one week, but it lit the spark of curiosity and learning. In 2020, the Camp was suspended due to the COVID pandemic.

Through EdPowerment, KIWOCE was supported by the following organizations: