FAFU Thrives Thanks to Community Support

Now, in its 13th year of collaboration, the New Canaan YMCA’s partner school, Facing the Future Child Development Learning Center (FAFU) in Kibera, Kenya, continues to thrive with life-saving food and resources, student and staff accomplishments, and facility renovations thanks to community support.

Located in Kibera, the largest African slum, FAFU is a necessary resource for local children from ages 18 months to 14 years who rely on the school for food, water, education, school supplies, school uniforms, and medical care. FAFU is described as an oasis for children in Kibera, providing a safe place to learn, grow, and thrive. Last year, FAFU served 380 needy children through feeding, education, and medical care.

Recent FAFU student and staff accomplishments include 24 eighth grade candidates for the 2019 KCPE national high school examinations who all had passed and qualified to attend high school, their music team emerged with a first place finish once again at the 2019 National Music Festival, and the opportunity for FAFU teachers to participate in two retreats for development and team building.

Recent facility renovations at FAFU included a newly acquired 5,000-liter water tank, staff quarters and empowerment unit completed with necessary amenities for five staff to maintain residencies, and the redesigned kitchen chimney for successful smoke release. In 2019, FAFU also launched the construction of four income-generating projects including a cafeteria, stationery shop, financial transaction services, and a thrift shop. In addition, the Y also played an integral part in supporting the development of an on-site health clinic, certified by the Kenyan Government, which will not only provide life-saving medical attention, but also generate income for the school.

“Our partnership has given individuals and families within our community an opportunity to make a truly meaningful difference in the lives of so many children at FAFU,” commented Craig Panzano, Executive Director, New Canaan YMCA.

FAFU’s ability to provide life-changing opportunity and hope for the special children in Kibera is thanks to the support of our community. Led by the Y, fundraising events include West School’s annual walk-a-thon, summer lemonAID stands held by local youth and families, the Y’s annual holiday bazaar event selling handmade jewelry, crafts, and note cards created by FAFU youth and its Women’s Empowerment Program, and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Buckets for Kibera, run by New Canaan High School interns; all contributed to a total of over $20,000 in donations to FAFU last year. In addition to fundraising events, the Y’s Craig Panzano High School Scholarship Fund awarded six FAFU students with funding to attend prestigious high schools in 2020. The Y’s sponsorship program also serves FAFU youth by connecting local families in the Y community with individual FAFU children in fourth grade to provide funding for education, two meals per day, school supplies and a uniform, medical supplies, routine check-ups, and two gifts on an annual basis. Over 30 individuals and families sponsor at least one child at FAFU to date, creating a lasting bond through relationship-building activities including skype calls from across the globe.

“We are very passionate about our partnership and our ability to contribute to the overall health and well-being of each child at FAFU, which would not be possible without the generous support of our community,” stated Panzano.

While FAFU continues to grow as a model organization in Kibera, the Kibera community has not been immune to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, recent support has included providing meals to students and families at home. “As the pandemic continues to impact FAFU today, it is through the support of the New Canaan YMCA and sponsorship families who have generously donated food to the most vulnerable FAFU families, cushioning children from starvation and malnutrition. We hope to continue providing a helping hand until COVID-19 neutralizes. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as we wish you safety and good health especially during this challenging time,” commented Simeon Ajigo, Executive Director and Founder of FAFU.