The Kilgoris Story
What started as a brief meeting in 1999 has blossomed into a project that is transforming futures in rural Kenya. Jon and Caren McCormack, from Los Altos, California met Kilgoris villager Wilfred (Willie) Lemiso while on safari in Kenya’s Maasai Mara game reserve. At Kichwa Tembo safari camp, where Willie works as a waiter, the three struck up a quick friendship and bonded over their mutual Christian faith. The McCormacks asked Willie about his family and village. He told them about his church and their desire for musical instruments. The McCormacks parted by exchanging addresses and giving him a small donation.
Through correspondence over the next few years, the McCormacks learned of the church’s desire to help the community by constructing a church building that could be used as a preschool during the week. Many children in this rural community would be able to attend school for the first time.
Through a series of donations from the McCormacks, the church began building in May 2001 and completed the structure in late 2003. Congregation members provided much of the labor for the building. Enkijabe Empiris Preschool opened its doors to two teachers and 75 students in January 2004.
With the success of the first school/church building, the congregation wanted to offer the same blessing to a neighboring community. They began construction in mid-2005 and opened the Oloowang Preschool building to students and worshipers in January 2006. In 2017, Oloowang Preschool expanded to a Lower Primary School with the additional of class 1.
After a generous donation of 10 acres from the community and the labor of many villagers, TKP opened its third school, Intimigom Preschool in January 2008. This site is now home to two schools: Intimigom Preschool and Intimigom Primary School. The campus now serves more than 400 children from preschool through eighth grade and is viewed as a leader in education throughout the Trans Mara region.
Since January 2008, TKP has opened four additional campuses, all in the Kilgoris area—Oltikampu Preschool and Primary School, Nentekeny Preschool and Lower Primary School, Oloturot Preschool and Oloilale Preschool. All schools practice a holistic focus on education, with nutrition and health programs integrated into education. All students receive breakfast, lunch and clean water at school and access to well-child check-ups, immunizations and health teaching.
With the growth of the schools, TKP looked for ways to become more sustainable in both the short and long term. In 2013, it launched Kumea Mizizi, a for-profit Eucalyptus tree farm, whose earnings will be used to support of TKP schools and programs. Additionally, to help families earn income at home, and thus help their children, TKP sponsors three women’s co-ops. In these groups, women find financial literacy training, business support, matched savings, encouragement, friendship and camaraderie.
In partnership with the community, TKP continues to grow and flourish since that very first meeting at a safari camp. The 1,100 children who attend TKP schools are learning and growing. Parents see hope for the future. And the community sees a visible expression of God’s love.