On 9 January, 2021 Kianda Foundation commemorated 60 great years of promoting the education of women and girls in Kenya. During this time many opportunities have been created for women to improve their lives and the future of their families. Present at the celebration was a founding Trustee, Dr. Olga Marlin and Ms. Mercedes Otaduy, Managing Director. There were contributions from long time partners and beneficiaries of the Foundation including Mr. William Orchard, the Managing Director of Cultural Interchange (USA); Mrs. Evelyn Eldon, the first African student of Kianda Secretarial College, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist; Mr. Ignasi Faine Project Director, Limmat Foundation (Switzerland); Ms. Carmen Gonzalez, Managing Director of Wonder Foundation (UK); among others.
Where it began
Kianda Foundation Educational Trust was established 60 years ago on 9 January 1961. The first Trustees were Dr. Olga Marlin (USA), Teresa Temes (Spain), Margaret Curran (Ireland, deceased) and Mary Mahoney (USA, deceased). These young graduates came to Kenya eager to help provide quality education for African women. Among the first friends they made was Mrs. Jemimah Gecaga a member of the Legislative Council (LegCo) who took interest in their plans and suggested the name “Kianda”, which means ‘fertile valley’. At that time, Kenya was still a British Colony and education was racially segregated. There were few opportunities for African women.
The way forward
In 1960 to be a secretary was a prestigious and well paid profession largely occupied by expatriates who constituted the backbone of commercial and government offices. Dr. Marlin realized that this could become a great opportunity for African girls. With a one year secretarial course they would be able to get ready employment. Kianda Secretarial College opened its doors in 1961 ready to admit students of all races and creeds. The first African student to be enrolled was Evelyn Karungari, now Mrs. Evelyn Eldon. She paved the way for thousands of African students who came to Kianda in the following years. With independence in 1963, an Africanization program got underway, offering limitless bursaries for the training of staff, including secretaries. This made it possible for thousands of women over the years to benefit from the courses offered at Kianda Secretarial College.
In 1967 Kianda Foundation established Kibondeni, the first women's hospitality college in Kenya. Girls from all over the country receive high quality training, supported by donors aware of the contribution they will make to society. Past students of Kibondeni are known for their professionalism and are readily employed after their studies.
Responding to the need for quality secondary school education, Kianda School was initiated in 1977. The Foundation continues to invest in education through institutions such as Kimlea Girls Technical Training Centre in Kiambu and Tewa Technical Training Centre in Kilifi County. Women and girls in Kilifi receive training in agricultural skills, tailoring and hospitality. Past students are now working in major hotels at the Coast. In addition Kianda Foundation runs other projects such as the Kimlea Clinic in Tigoni, the Kimlea Business Centre, Faida Youth Centre and Fanusi Study Centre. Its social outreach programs include the Children’s Health Program (CHEP), and a program for the promotion of women entrepreneurship known as the Business Women Support Program (BWSP).
A New Initiative
Kianda Foundation is very grateful for the generous help received from donors over the past 60 years. We are now focusing on strengthening the existing institutions so as to benefit more students. To this end, we wish to offer you the opportunity of working with us on a new adventure: the creation of Ambassadors for Transformation. As you have seen, a great deal has been done, but there is much more left for the future. In order to join the Ambassadors for Transformation, please contact us through the box below or email firstname.lastname@example.org