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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, July 16, 2011

We are just back from Kenya and a fantastic working trip to Mahiga Hope High School. Now part of the Kieni West Education District, the school has a fine principal, deputy principal and a growing staff of teachers. Enrollment in the high school has grown from our first nine students two years ago to over 150, now in grades 9 - 11 with an even mix of boys and girls.

Construction on the last two buildings - the science labs and the new primary school classrooms - is also complete. On the primary school side, both the new preschool and primary school
playgrounds are gorgeous, and we were thrilled to cut the ribbons on the final four stone classrooms. Once and forever, the mud floors are gone! The combined schools now have 600 students, all of them working hard to take advantage of this opportunity for a quality education.


We still have some funding challenges. A desk, chair and classroom materials for one student costs $50. We're almost a hundred kids behind and growing by 100 per year, so it's important to raise $10,000 in the coming months.

The story of Mahiga Hope High School is told in our new feature film, Building Hope, an inspiring work which won major awards at the SXSW Film Festival and at Maui Film Fest. Just like the miracle of the amazing changes that have come to this community, the film ends with a miracle of it's own. After months of no rain in this very dry area, The Grand Opening of the high school and the first basketball game on the RainWater Court were rained out by a beautiful, heavy downpour that nearly filled our 30,000 liter water tanks.

That miracle seemed to repeat itself on this trip. With the entire high school, we gathered in the dining hall/theatre. After the drama club put on their first play for us, it was our turn to turn out the lights and show the
students the film in which they star. The room was filled with laughter and joy as we watched how this community's dream grew into reality. As the film progressed towards the miraculous rainstorm that ends it, I began to hear scattered raindrops on the roof above us. Once again, this was the first rain in an extended period and the local farmers were on the verge of total crop failure.

Within minutes, the rain was pouring down in a giant flood of huge drops mixed in with small hail that had been formed high in the clouds above Mt. Kenya. We turned up the movie to overcome the deafening clatter on the roof but it didn't matter for the sound of rain from the film and the skies above us were all one.

To everyone who contributed to building this school - or who is thinking of contributing - you are a part of great and wonderful miracle. Your faith and partnership in this great community will provide real opportunity to young people for generations to come. That's the kind of miracle we can all believe in.

Turk Pipkin, The Nobelity Project, www.nobelity.org

- Don't forget to watch the trailer to Building Hope at nobelity.org. Our New York premiere is coming up on Monday, July 25 at the Tribeca Cinemas.

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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.