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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.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mahiga Hope High School – An Incredible New Year!

It’s been quite a year for the partnership between The Nobelity Project and Mahiga Hope High School. We broke ground last March on the 2-story Classroom and Libraries Building and the RainWater Court, both of which are now complete and operating. But that’s just the beginning of the story. As we worked with the local community, Architecture for Humanity and others, the idea of a model school for rural Africa grew into a reality, encompassing the full infrastructure (and operating model) for what would give every student the best step forward in life.

The news is all good! Mahiga Hope High School is now open and operating as part of the Kieni West Education District. Facilities include the 8-classroom block, a Science Lab Building, the RainWater Court, new Kitchen and Dining Hall/Theatre, a library with a great book collection, a computer lab with 14 Dell and AMD pc's, and an Admin Building.

The RainWater Court has solar-powered UV-purification of the 30,000 liters of fresh rainwater it catches with every two inches of rain. And four more rainwater systems at the school expand our capacity to over 100,000 liters. New toilet blocks are operating and we have hand-washing facilities for proper sanitation.


In January, Christy and I were delighted to meet the schools great new principal, Jane Wainaina, who told us: “Mahiga means stones in our language, and stones are generally obstacles. This school had so many obstacles, but now we have Hope.”

Our Form One and Form Two students (grades 9 & 10) have moved up a grade and we have a big new class of Form One students, bringing High School enrollment to well over a hundred (heading towards capacity of 320).

Our students and our teachers (thanks to Isabel and all!) are enthusiastic about studies and other activities. Scouts Club and a Journalism Club with a focus on environmental work are both active, and the amazing RainWater Court is hosting lots of basketball games, including the Zonal Tournaments. The new soccer field and goals are also complete, with running track space and several athletes gearing up to compete as runners.

Christy and I were asked by nearly everyone we met in Mahiga to say thanks to the individuals, companies, schools and foundations who have helped make this all possible. And our thanks go to architects Greg Elsner and Christina Tapper – who lived so long in the community – and to our Kenyan architects and builders, Julius, Joseph, Bosco and Kariuki from Multiplex Systems, Boslika Construction and Minorah Contractors. In the U.S., Kenya, Spain and elsewhere, this was truly the work of thousands.

We are especially excited about the beautiful new pre-school which has a second classroom/second teacher for a total of 60 kids, ages 4 and 5. And I was very touched by the memorial donations to the Karen Webber Playground, which sits in a lovely wooded spot overlooking the school compound. (A second playground for the primary school kids is under way.)

I’m going to follow this blog soon with details about Building Hope, our new feature documentary about the school. Building Hope has been accepted into the 2011 SXSW Film Festival (out of 4,900 submissions). The SXSW screenings (dates tba) will be followed by a big April 6 premiere at the Paramount Theatre in Austin.

And mark your calendars for the 2011 Nobelity Project Artists & Filmmakers Dinner – April 10 at the Four Seasons Austin! It’s going to be amazing!

- Turk Pipkin, Feb 5, 2011


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.