24 | April 12, 2018 | The Northbrook tower school northbrooktower.com Kenyan Senator makes annual visit to Northbrook schools Nathan Worcester Freelance Reporter Kenyan senator and education activist Fred Outa came back to Northbrook to speak to students at schools in Northbrook District 28. He has visited the community frequently since 2004, when the District adopted Outa’s K-8 school, Spurgeons Academy. Spurgeons Academy has roughly 500 students and is located in Kibera, which is the largest slum in Kenya. Most of the children at Spurgeons are full or partial orphans. Outa himself was once an orphan living in Kibera. He eventually connected with an American couple who helped him obtain an education in the United States. “Every year, we have a big fundraiser,” said Joli Fridman, who is president of the Fred Outa Foundation. “They help to raise money to help support the students in our adopted sister school over in Kenya. … We’ve sent school supplies, medicine [and] food over the years.” Fridman also confirmed that the Fred Outa Foundation has no administrative overhead, meaning that 100 percent of the money raised in Northbrook goes to children in Kibera. This year, the foundation’s fundraiser took place on April 7 at Athletico in Northbrook and featured food, games and inflatables. The money that was raised will help send two high-performing girls to high school. Outa noted that a previous Northbrook District 28 fundraiser had helped him build a high school for girls in Kibera, St. Esther’s Kenyan Senator Fred Outa talks with students from Northbrook’s Meadowbrook School on April 6. Photos submitted Girls High School, which has not yet opened. On Thursday, April 5, Outa talked to students at Greenbriar School and Westmoor School. On Friday, April 6, he talked to students at Meadowbrook School. At Meadowbrook, the attendees of Outa’s talk included Superintendent Dr. Larry Hewitt. Outa was introduced by Meadowbrook’s principal, Pat Thome. Outa first spoke to the school’s kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders. “Jambo!” he said, greeting them in Swahili. Most of the kids echoed him. Outa went on to explain the differences between life in Kibera and in Northbrook. “They do not have tarmac roads. They do not have clean water. There is no electricity,” Outa said. Pointing to a photograph of Kibera projected behind him, he explained that the pigs in the picture were eating filthy runoff from the slum’s human dwellings. He also explained that many of the children at Spurgeons subsist on one meal a day provided at the school. “There’s no TV,” said Outa to audible gasps. After the youngest children left, Outa spoke to the school’s third, fourth and fifth-graders. He gave them a more sophisticated description of how a place like Kibera comes to be. “Sometimes they have come from the village… in their rural homes,” he said. “So they came to Nairobi, the capital city, to look for a job, and when they get there, there is no job. So they end up in a slum, where they can build their own hut. … And there they live with their children. And in this slum, which is one square mile, there are one million people.” Outa went on to explain that many families have to live on one dollar a day. “Because of your support, we managed to buy desks,” he said, showing a picture of Spurgeons students sitting three to a desk. “Some of them now have gone to high school because of the support that you provide. And that’s why every year, I come here to tell you this story.” Outa went on to explain that providing education Outa speaks with students. Meadowbrook students listen as Outa discusses the important impact D28 has had in helping provide education for students in Kenya. for girls is especially important in Kenya because girls as young as 10 years old may be married off if they are not in school. He pointed out that many of the girls at the assembly might be vulnerable to that phenomenon if they lived in Kenya. Although Outa was frank when describing the challenges of life in Kibera compared to life in Northbrook, he also emphasized how appreciative he was of the community’s support thus far. “When you go back home, tell your parents that Mr. Outa says ‘thank you,’ because I don’t think that they know. … The little money that you’ve been supporting us with has helped a lot of kids get education, get meals, get pencils, get uniforms and get desks. And sometimes we treat them when they’re sick,” Outa said. Outa also suggested that Northbrook students could begin a pen pal program with students at Spurgeons.