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The Nobelity Blog is a running series of reports on the film and education work of The Nobelity Project (www.nobelity.org), including reports from our partner project Mahiga Hope High School in Kenya, and numerous other school projects from our Kenya Schools Fund. The blog also includes reports on our films, including the recent SXSW Audience Award winner, Building Hope, and on our advocacy for specific issues related to a more sustainable and just world for children everywhere.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mahiga Hope High School: “It’s getting real!”

I just received a great update from Kenya about progress on Mahiga Hope High School. Greg Elsner, our AfH Design Fellow says ground-breaking for the RainWater Court and the Classroom/Library block will be in early February. Hailing from Minnesota, when Greg says "It's getting real!", he means months of hard work are turning into something truly amazing – a modern high school that will change this community forever, and will be a model for schools across Africa.

Check out Greg's amazing design for the Rainwater Court that will house organized sports, an outdoor classroom, community meeting space and provide clean drinking water for the school! Photo below by Greg shows our first class of 9th graders using the age-old 3-4-5 method of laying out a square to site the RainWater Court on the campus. (And note the trees in the background that I helped plant as seedlings 4 years ago.)

After months of hard work in Mahiga, Greg came home for Christmas and I joined him in Fargo, ND for a sold-out screening of One Peace at a Time at the historic Fargo Theatre. It was 11-below zero outside, but warm and welcome inside where we had a great screening response and raised $2,000 for the school, funds that have been designated for the toilet block at the RainWater Court. (Sanitation facilities are crucial – particularly for teenage girls – and it’s not easy to raise money for toilets.) Thanks to everyone in Fargo and to everyone else who's been inspired by the movie to help with this rewarding task.

Two weeks of screenings at Regal's Arbor Cinema in Austin also generated lots of support for the school, and thanks to Bank of America and the Dell Foundation, we were able to buy movie tickets for hundreds of public school teachers, many of whom brought or sent their students to see the movie and get connected to the "real" world.

After 8 months of hard work – with One Peace screenings from Nairobi to Maui and a hundred places between – we’ve funded two of the three main facilities at the school.

– The Nike GameChangers Award is funding construction of the RainWater Court (and providing Greg’s important services on the ground). Big thanks to Nike and Architecture for Humanity!

– Donations from individual classroom sponsors, screenings and a lot of other supporters who care have funded construction of the classroom and library block.

The biggest challenge remaining is construction of 3 Science Labs – Chemistry, Physics and Biology. We are searching hard for underwriting sponsors of these labs.

For a tax-deductible donation of $10,000, a company (or a family) can name one of the science labs and provide a science education for hundreds of students in Kenya. Contact us or make a donation at The Nobelity Project's site, Nobelity.org.

There are no middle-men, no bribes, no government skimming – we work directly with the community of Mahiga and the local education board, and have reliable oversight from Greg and our community partner Joseph Mutongu and hundreds of parents who know this is THE BIG OPPORTUNITY FOR THEIR KIDS!

Two Addition Ways to Support This Work:

1000 Voices for Hope – Our fundraising partnership with GlobalGiving.com has raised $17,000 for the school. Watch the Video and you'll be inspired to donate $100 and Join the Choir with Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Emily and Martie of The Dixie Chicks.

1000 Voices for Hope on YouTube

The 12-year-old Kunik Triplets in Austin have launched the Kunik B'ai Mitzvah Project with a goal of raising $5,000 for the kitchen at the high school. We all know you can’t learn on an empty stomach! Check out their FB project page at the link above

Thanks to everyone for your support, and for all the messages about the inspiring things that are happening in your lives because of One Peace at a Time and Mahiga Hope High School. Turns out that we all need the same thing - each other.

About Me

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People know me from different things I've done, and often seem to remember me from whatever I was doing when our paths first crossed. If you first saw me on television with Harry Anderson or doing stand-up comedy, you may be disappointed in my current level of funny. On the other hand, if you first saw me as that idiot narcoleptic guy in The Sopranos, I could really use a nap, so I'm still playing that part well. The last few years have been occupied by making three feature docs, Nobelity, One Peace at a Time, and Building Hope. All three were produced by our education and action nonprofit, The Nobelity Project (www.nobelity.org). I've also written ten books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the NY Times bestseller, The Tao of Willie, co-authored with the very awesome Willie Nelson.