The Nobelity Blog is a running series of reports on the film and education work of The Nobelity Project (, 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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peace, Love and Education!

I’ve just returned from a 7,000 kilometer drive-and-work tour of East Africa and was amazed and inspired by the progress at all 15 of our Kenya School Fund projects. In the arid lands of Samburu, Daaba Primary is a dream come true. A year ago, fifty students were attending outdoor classes in the dust and sun, and climbing 40-feet into a dangerous open well to fill their water jugs with unclean water. The school now has 8 permanent classrooms and - thanks to a new solar-powered well built with our water partners Well Aware – a safe supply of water for the school and community. These accomplishments are even greater in light of a deadly conflict last Fall that over-flowed into this area from the war against Al Shabab in Somalia, shutting down construction for long and frightening months. 

The courage of the community and our contractor has resulted in over two hundred kids enrolled in the school, half of them girls in a Turkana tribal area where girls have rarely received an education. Daaba is as close to a miracle as I can possibly imagine and I will never forget the amazing welcome and thank you’s from this great community. (If you want to visit the school, our partners at the beautiful Sarova Shaba Game Lodge can arrange it.)

A 10-hour drive to the South, the enrollment at Mutaki Primary has more than doubled – 200 students through grade 4. The new classrooms are a thing of beauty, as is the new solar-powered purified rainwater water system. Thanks to the Beebe Family, Mike Mutaki, BR Cohn Winery and one of our favorite bands, The Doobie Brothers, for making this work possible. 
If you’re fans of the Doobies, you could join the work and help us build a 5th grade classroom at Mutaki.

For the first half of my month-long working tour, I was accompanied by Christy and a group of Nobelity Project supporters who were eager to meet great kids and teachers at every stop. Some of the highlights were  – the first permanent classroom at Mogawka Primary, new water systems at numerous schools and site surveys for more to come. and the grand opening of the Joe Gracey Library, Computer and Music lab at Amboni Primary/Simbara Secondary.

Also at Simbara Secondary School, we cut the ribbon and I filmed the first high school chemisty class at the new Ronald F. and William A. Inglehart Science Lab. An extra special thanks goes to John and Tamra Gorman and family for their underwriting this great science lab. We are excited for it to be named in honor of two distinguished scholars, including Nobelist Ronald Inglehart, author of seminal works on global values and gender equality.

Mahiga Hope High School and Primary continue to grow and blossom. Enrollment is now over 600 students in 14 grades from pre-school to Grade 12 (Kenyan Form Four). Our group was welcomed with dance and music performances that have already earned the students special honors in national competitions. We were happy to unpack new AMD/Lenovo computers for the computer lab, and all toured the gardens that are producing at astounding 45 pounds of greens per day, fresh Kale and other veggies that go directly into the giant school lunch pots! These kids are growing their own food and working hard to shape their own futures! The students and the community of Mahiga have become another great building block and a true inspiration in the global work for Universal Secondary Education. 

The last stop of my tour was to return to Mahiga with NPR's great radio reporter John Burnett. Give a listen to his report on All Things Considered that is set at three of our favorite partner schools, including Mahiga.
Click here to listen to John Burnett's NPR/All Things Considered story
on Kenyan Education challenges and triumphs at three of our key high school projects.

If you'd like to support our projects for the coming year, we're still raising funds for mosquito nets, library and textbooks and several new classrooms. Every dollar counts for something good!
Peace, Love and Education!

Turk Pipkin
The Nobelity Project

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 ( 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.