What we do

What we do

Everything we do involves supporting individuals and their communities in Kenya, Lesotho and Uganda through education that embraces their differing abilities, and leads to our vision of empowering young people, including those living with disabilities, through education to enable them to reach their full potential and initiate positive change in their communities. As such, our key thematic areas are education and disability.

‘Rafiki Thabo …. don’t just worry about the children’s education but also about what they eat, and they provide thousands of free school meals for children who otherwise would go hungry.’ Dame Prue Leith, DBE

We are so grateful for Prue’s support and passion for our work!

We work with our committees in Kenya, Lesotho and Uganda to identify the children and young people who most need our support. All our scholars are from households who are struggling to make ends meet and can no longer afford school or higher education needs, more than half have lost one or both parents, and several are living with a disability. Our committees also identify particular education projects that fill gaps in the communities in which we work. We also work through partner organisations in Kenya who implement projects specifically enabling children living with disabilities to access an education which is suited to their special needs.

Our work falls into four main programmes:

Rafiki Thabo Scholars Programme

Through our scholars programme, we provide bursaries to bright young people who have gained a place at school/university but whose families have run out of the means to pay their fees. By the end of 2022 we had supported a total of 556 young people through education. Simply by paying their fees, we empower these young people to reach their full potential and pursue their dreams through education. Their ability to subsequently secure paid employment or start their own businesses means they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty, give back to their communities and contribute to the wider economic development of their countries.

Meet some of our scholars and graduates

Eat Well to Learn

Through our school meals programme, ‘Eat Well to Learn’, we provide at least 70 of the very poorest students with lunch each day at our partner school in Uganda. For many, this is their only daily meal, without which they would brave their long walk to and from school on an empty stomach, with little energy left to learn in class, making them more likely to drop out of school. The school’s former headmaster, who is also the chair of our Uganda committee, writes:

When I heard the news about lunch fees, I walked house to house calling those who had left school because of hunger to come back and I am happy that they can now smile.”

Read more about 'Eat Well to Learn'

Improving the learning environment

Education does not exist in a vacuum, and at Rafiki Thabo we also support the development of school infrastructure and other ‘holistic’ projects in order to improve the environment in which children are learning. Projects we have funded in this area include building teachers’ accommodation, training girls to make reusable sanitary kits, reequipping an IT lab, constructing pig sties and chicken coops to generate income for the schools, electrification of classrooms, and the renovation of dormitories.

Read more about our infrastructure projects

Removing barriers for children with disabilities

As a result of our merger with ACACIA UK, in April 2021 we adopted partnerships with three organisations in Kenya with whom we work to reduce the barriers to education for children living with disabilities. Our partner organisations are the Autism Society of Kenya (ASK), AIC Kajiado, and Dadashi Special Children’s Centre. We work with them to identify suitable projects which we fund and they implement.

Read more about our disability programme
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