Carol W Margaret far right and staff

Tenderfeet Education Center in Kenya: An Opportunity to Make a Difference

by Carol Wright

November 27, 2017

3 minute read

When the Collette Foundation was searching for a project in Kenya that aligned with our hunger and education initiatives, we knew we had found the perfect partner as soon as we met “Mama Margaret.” (pictured above at the far right)

Margaret Nyabuto, a trained child advocate and certified teacher, is the founder of the Tenderfeet Education Center in Kibera, Kenya. It all started in 2000 when she opened her school called Tenderfeet. Her mission was to reach the most vulnerable children in the slums of Kibera. These orphans, victims of HIV/AIDS and children of prisoners certainly faced a very bleak future, but with help from an incredibly dedicated, tenacious and loving person like Mama Margaret, they now have a chance to escape their desperate circumstances and pursue their dreams.

Established Against All Odds

The road to establishing a school for these forgotten children of the slums was not an easy one. Margaret first started her school in a tin shack which had to move constantly due to turbulent political times. She faced financial struggles, forced evictions and even threats to her life and her school during terrifying riots. Still, she persisted, taking in the most vulnerable students and providing them with love, support and a chance at an education.

Tenderfeet Education Center and the Collette Foundation

Since 2007, the Collette Foundation has sponsored the school’s meal program which provides 2 meals a day to each student so that the children are not only fed and ready for learning, but more likely to come to school since this is frequently their only chance to get sustenance.

In 2008, Collette purchased land for the school so that they could build a permanent location in Riruta. By 2010, the Collette Foundation built a new school so that Margaret could move her 32 students out of their tin-roofed shanty and into a strong structure that could provide the children with a clean and safe learning environment. This new school building now houses 200 grateful and eager to learn students. Also in 2010, we partnered with Hasbro to donate a school bus that the Collette Foundation still maintains today.

Success Stories

As you can imagine, there are many happy stories of success that have come from our partnership with Mama Margaret. All these years later, Tenderfeet Education Center continues to provide food, education and hope to children so desperately in need. Alumni who have gone on to attend university often return to volunteer to help other children get a good start.

The Giving Continues

Since the story of Mama Margret and her school is so compelling, many people who visit are eager to help in any way they can. Visitors have donated gym uniforms and sneakers. Some groups raise money and others volunteer to pay medical expenses for children who are sick. The school is going strong and growing all the time thanks to a great team of partners and friends. For many children, the cycle of poverty is finally being broken.

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