Giving back to the community is good for Mara’s soul and it was one of the primary goals our MD/founder Kel set out to achieve when she started the company in 2014.
With a special connection to Kenya (4 generations of family from Kenya and the inspiration behind our company name), Mara has been financially supporting some of the most vulnerable in an urban slum area of Mombasa through the Mustard Seed Project. The family-run charity is supporting an entire community by providing essential services, food, education, health care, adult education, skills for women, and community outreach to provide the skills to help community members out of poverty.
It’s a hand up, not a hand out!
Tadd (fourth generation Kenyan) visiting the nursery school in 2012.
Helping a community out of poverty
Mustard Seed works in an urban area on the north coast of Mombasa. This area is very poor and overcrowded. Most families live in Swahili houses in a single room and share a toilet with five other families. Almost all of the community are malnourished, eating only maize-meal, but some often go without any food are starving. From the very beginning, the aim of Mustard Seed Project has been to give people education and skills to enable them to escape the poverty.
Growing a better future
In 2008, the Mustard Seed Project rented a small building with two classrooms and two teachers, supporting a deprived community and 17 children. Since then the school has grown, bigger premises were rented but quickly reached capacity.
On Christmas day 2015, stage one of the new Miche Bora Nursery and Primary School was completed, and now provides education for 275 children aged between 3 to 14 years of age across two buildings.
But there is still more to be done!
Since then Mustard Seed with supporters, have been busy raising money to complete the school, giving more room, better facilities and opportunities to take on additional students.
The ground floor of Miche Bora Nursery and Primary School was completed in 2015
What the new school building will look like when completed.
Our Christmas gift to Mustard Seed
Each year, Mara Consulting chooses not to send gifts and cards to our supporters and clients. Instead, we put the money towards completing the school. Kel and hubby Tadd have been personal supporters too, providing monthly donations for more than 10 years.
This year, our Christmas donation helped to push the fundraising to the target amount, meaning the school will be completed. Construction will soon begin on the upper storey with six more classrooms to bring all 275 children together in one building and room for more. Once complete, the school will have 12 classrooms, offices, a clinic, staff room, toilets, kitchen and a hall.
When the school started, we didn't have a clear plan of what to do. We saw children needing help, we had skills to offer but no knowledge of Africa or its culture."
Rita Fowler, Mustard Seed founder.
Quality education outcomes
The standard of education in Kenya for poor children is very low. Only 30% of 14-year old's have reached the level expected of an 8-year-old (UWEZO 2017). According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development, improve quality of life and equip them with skills to solve problems.
In impoverished areas like Mgongeni, without access to education, skilled teachers and resources, these children will be forced into inter-generational poverty and suffering.
For Mustard Seed, this was a challenge and the first goal of the school – to provide a quality education to all that come. In 2019, the oldest students at the school sat their KCPE (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education) exam. The results = AMAZING with the mean score B-.
Children at the school are selected according to poverty. All children got the grade necessary to go to secondary school and several achieved results necessary to go to the very best selective schools in Kenya. Better still, two of the girls have sponsors which have allowed them to go to one of these schools.
Find out more about Mustard Seed
Mustard Seed was set up by Rita and Geoff Fowler, a retired couple who set out to help improve the education, health and lifestyles of the Mgongeni community.
Head to the project’s website to learn more about their work and how they are growing a better future for the local community.