Sharesight co-founder’s most rewarding investment
I’m Tony Ryburn, Executive Chairman and co-founder of Sharesight. Today I would like to share with you a side project that I have been working on for some time. Unlike Sharesight it is guaranteed to never make a profit. But it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Let me explain why.
It all started way back in 1992 when my wife Merle and I sponsored a seriously deprived young Kenyan boy, Noah, to attend Starehe, a charitable boarding school in Nairobi.
We frequently received long handwritten letters from Noah telling us about his life and expressing his gratitude for our help. We were so captivated by Noah’s story that in 1993 Merle and I took our three sons (including Sharesight CTO Scott Ryburn) to Kenya to visit Noah in person. We visited him at school and also visited his family who lived in grass huts in a small village which was several hundred kilometers away from Nairobi in desert-like conditions.
Noah (on the right) with 2 of his brothers and the Ryburn family (including Sharesight co-founders Tony and Scott) in Kenya in 1993.
Receiving food and education totally changed Noah’s life and he committed himself to ensuring that as many deprived children as possible benefit in the same way that he did. Inspired by his dedication, we decided to privately fund Noah so he could attend university and qualify as a secondary teacher. After graduating, Noah got married and had three children of his own. Because he was so appreciative of our help, he decided to name his eldest daughter and son after us, Merle and Tony.
Merle, Mercy and Tony
While keeping in touch with Noah over the years, he always made it very clear that he wanted to "give back" to the next generation of children who suffer as he suffered as a child. So in 2013, Merle and I helped Noah set-up his own school for underprivileged children in the slums of Likoni which is just south of Mombasa in Kenya. It is called the Kenya Excellent Centre and School (KES).
There are many under-privileged, malnourished young children of all ages in Likoni. They spend their day helping their parents earn a meagre living or begging and scrounging for food. Merle and I visited a number of these families in Likoni last year and it is no exaggeration to say that for many children going to school would mean getting little or nothing to eat. Often children have no parents due to AIDS or other problems.
Without education these children and their families cannot break the poverty cycle. The result is that disease and destitution continue for another generation. To make matters worse, lack of education and consequent unemployment frequently leads to drug abuse, early pregnancy, crime, and other at-risk behaviour.
None of these children were going to school when this photo was taken because they could not afford to. Now the older children attend KES.
KES staff identify seriously deprived young children in Likoni who are not attending school. They meet with the child’s caregivers whether they be parents, older siblings or relatives and explain to them the importance of sending the kids to school.
Parents must make a contribution to KES for their child's education if possible. Most parents can only afford a token amount and often it is clear to KES staff that caregivers cannot adequately feed their children, let alone pay school fees. KES provides food for these children at school.
KES has grown rapidly with nearly 200 children. More than 40 of these children are fed at school.
Sadly there are many more children who need our help.
If you would like to join the Sharesight team and help us meet this need that would be fantastic. Every dollar we receive less any bank fees goes to educating and feeding seriously deprived children.
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