Susan’s school brings hope to slums

Suan Saleeba (centre) with her children Adam and Sarah.
Suan Saleeba (centre) with her children Adam and Sarah.

WHEN mother-of-two Susan Saleeba first volunteered in Nakuru, Kenya in 2007, she was struck by how “great the need” was for children and their families in the slums.

‘They were lucky to eat once a day, went home to a mud hut crowded with immediate and extended family members and many were sick,’ Susan said.

‘I initially paid thousands of dollars to a volunteer organisation to spend three months over there and very little went to the children and their families.’

Seven years on, Susan’s own children Adam Contos (39), of Cottesloe, and Sarah Contos (36), of Mt Lawley, have made the journey to the Kaptembwa slums for the first time to officially open Nakuru Hope’s new building.

While the project was established in November 2009, it operated in a rented house at the edge of the slums and there was little room for expansion.

Adam said he was quite emotional seeing the school for the first time.

‘I was amazed. It was beyond what I expected,’ he said.

‘The kids wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for this school.’

Sarah, an artist, adorned walls with African animals and positive sayings during her visit.

She said the new school was so much bigger and the children had plenty of space to learn and play.

The building journey started in 2011 when Susan bought four plots of land and it took her another three years to raise enough money to start building.

‘The building has been done by Kenyans with the money coming from generous people in Australian and no grant assistance,’ she said.

‘Everything’s done by hand here with no machinery apart from a cement mixer, they used natural resources and all our trades people and materials came from our surrounding slum areas.’

Tomorrow, inaugural staff members operations manager Christopher Makokha, teacher Robert Simiyu and Kenyan treasurer Rosemary Njenga will watch on as Susan and her children launch the new school building that will improve the lives of her African family.

Visit www.nakuruhope.org.