Our History The beginning of So They Can
So They Can was founded in 2009 in response to the 2007 Kenyan election violence that saw more than 600,000 Kenyans internally displaced. The loss of lives, homes, employment and hope was immense.
In response to this crisis, co-founders and friends, Cassandra Treadwell and Keri Chittenden, committed to provide support to an internally displaced persons camp of 6,700 Kenyans who were living in UNHCR tents on a block of land in Nakuru. Together with the Government and local community, So They Can was born to deliver on a direct request from this community: ‘We need a school for our children- an education is the only inheritance we can give them’.
Existing primary schools lacked the capacity to provide quality education. Class sizes were between 60 to 200 children per teacher and one text book would be shared per class.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Kenyan Government and So They Can was signed. Outlining the Government’s commitment to fund teachers, water, electricity and roads and So They Can’s commitment to construct a school, provide much needed learning resources, teacher training and form part of the Board of Management.
In 2010 the doors to Aberdare Ranges Primary School opened with the life-changing home for vulnerable and orphaned children, Miti Mingi Children’s Village, opening in 2012.
Critical education needs of other communities could not be ignored. In 2011 we were introduced to the run-down rural primary schools in neighbouring Tanzania on a visit with So They Can Chairman, Peter Hunt.
In 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Tanzania Government and So They Can and local stakeholders was signed. This was the first public private partnership in teacher training in Tanzania, and the first education partnership with the joint objective to improve the quality of education throughout Tanzania.
In conjunction with our government partners we founded the Mamire Teachers' Training College in Babati, committing to training quality teachers and improving the capacity of teachers in local schools. This approach has the key objective of improving the learning and teaching environment in the rural schools that form part of our Education Collaborative that spans both Tanzania and Kenya. Since 2018 our Mamire Teachers' Training College has ranked in the top 5 out of 79 public and private Teacher Training Colleges across the whole of Tanzania.
In 2020, we finalised the reintegration of our Miti Mingi Village children back into their families; instead supporting the child and their entire family at home through our reunification and reintegration project. This important project demonstrates the progress that these families and the whole community has made.
Our holistic approach has seen expansion in both Kenya and Tanzania, implementing our Education Program, as well as our Community Development Program, which includes our Women’s Empowerment, Community Health, Family Strengthening and Child Development Projects. Collaboratively, these Programs and Project enable learning and the opportunity for communities' to break the poverty cycle.
Over a decade on and many lives have been positively transformed through our work in East Africa through the power of education.
Our Approach How We Work
So They Can is committed to implementing ethical, accountable and effective programs that support marginalised communities in East Africa. We place communities at the centre of everything we do, and as an accredited international non-government organisation our work is underpinned by best practices in international development. Our approach is consistently guided by the following principles:
Meaningful local partnerships are at the core of our work. Our impact iis a result of collective action sustained through a participatory approach. Students, parents, teachers, school leadership, local government and the broader community lead our development processes and as a result projects are responsive to the unique needs of each community.
We know that poverty is multifaceted and requires cross-cutting solutions to tackle its root causes. Our Community Development Program is delivered in parallel to our Education Program, to focus on improving the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of all. We improve the living standards of the whole community to break the cycle of poverty.
Inclusive and Rights-based
Undeterred by hard-to-reach locations, we prioritise the most vulnerable communities through our commitment to leave no one behind. Our work is guided by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and international protection frameworks. Every community member, regardless of their identity, is valued, and their rights are acknowledged, protected and promoted across our programs.
Scalable, Sustainable and Innovative
We work in a 6-8 year development cycle. School communities move through three phases of support - foundation, core, sustained - which advance their capacity until a level of development is reached that can be independently sustained, so that we can transition our support out and commence working in a new surrounding community that is in need. The lessons learnt and knowledge acquired from our experience of over more than a decade working within national education systems, enables us to be innovative and agile in our programing and respond to evolving needs.
First and foremost we are accountable to the communities with whom we work. This responsibility also extends to the staff, supporters and partners of our organisation. Transparency ensures that we maintain our accountability to all of our stakeholders. Our operations are regulated through comprehensive policies and procedures; our impact is measured and assessed through a robust monitoring and evaluation system; and our fiscal health is overseen by an independent Board of Directors.
10 years of creating impact...
In 2009 So They Can is founded by Cassandra Treadwell and Keri Chittenden.
In 2010 the doors to Aberdare Ranges Primary School opened, in Kenya.
In 2011 we were introduced to the critical education needs in rural Tanzania on a visit with So They Can Chairman, Peter Hunt.
In 2012 we opened our life-changing Miti Mingi Village for orphaned and vulnerable children.
In 2012 we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tanzanian Government and local stakeholders for the first ever public private education partnership with the joint objective to improve the quality of education throughout Tanzania.
In 2012 we founded the Mamire Teachers' College in Babati, Tanzania committing to training quality teachers and improving the capacity of teachers in local schools. The Mamire Teachers’ College has consistently been one of the top performing Teachers' Colleges in the country.
In 2018 we started working with the remote, rural community of Baringo County, Kenya.
In 2020 we finalised the reintegration of our Miti Mingi Village children back into their families and community.
A holistic approach
A holistic approach
Our Core Values
We believe every life is equal
Nurturing respectful relationships and working in partnership.
The determination to take on the hard projects and stand for what we believe in.
Delivering the outcomes we promise in order to make a positive change in the lives of people living in poverty.
Being true to the African philosophy of ubuntu - I am because of you.