Wawira Njiru - On a mission to feed school children in Kenya
Founder of Food for Education
When she began her studies at the University of South Australia, Wawira Njiru was committed to making a difference back home in Kenya. Through her passionate and hard work she is now improving the lives and futures of hundreds of children.
Wawira is the founder of Food for Education, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health, wellbeing and educational prospects of children in Ruiru, Kenya. In 2010 Wawira studied a Diploma of Health Sciences at UniSA, before starting a Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Sciences in 2011.
Upon graduation in 2013, Wawira knew she wanted to use her education to make positive changes in Ruiru near Nairobi in Kenya.
“When I came to the University of South Australia, I had a clear goal in mind: to do something to benefit my community in the long term,” she says.
“Many children are forced to choose between staying in class to learn and going out to the streets to beg for food.”
Throughout her studies she learnt about the impact of food insecurity on communities, and began researching ways to improve everyday lives of Kenyan children.
“A feeding program was identified as something the schools and community really needed implemented, but did not have the resources to do.”
In November 2011, while volunteering with World Vision’s Vision Generation, Wawira organised Food for Education’s first fundraising event along with UniSA graduate Sam Odgers (Bachelor of Pharmacy 2012), who was volunteering with OakTree at the time.
“We held a community dinner in Adelaide and raised $1680 to construct a make-shift kitchen and purchase an energy saving cooker and utensils. We started providing everyday lunch to twenty-five children in January 2012 and have provided food to over eighty children in the three-and-a-half years since.”
Food for Education is based in Ruiru Primary School, where along with school lunches, it provides basic amenities and runs a mentorship program with local university students who give the children someone to look up to and aspire to be like.
“Our work has a strong focus on sustainability; we believe the most effective and long-term solutions come from within a community, not from the outside,” says Wawira.
Food for Education works on engaging with the entire community of Ruiru through its Double Portion Restaurant, opened in 2013, which serves nutritious, low-cost food to over 100 community members a day.
At twenty-four years old Wawira is also exploring the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Kenya through a Masters of Public Health at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
“My research will fill a gap in knowledge in an under researched area in this part of the world and hopefully provide insights that will form the basis for further research.”
Food for Education is working hard to reach more schools in Kenya, where millions of children are forced to choose between an education and basic survival.
“We are crowdfunding to raise money to reach all 800 children in Ruiru Primary School and are looking to expand to more schools in the near future,” says Wawira.
“We are seeking to raise $25,000 to construct a bigger kitchen and storeroom, purchase utilities such as water tanks and cookers, and lease land to farm to become sustainable.”
“It is an invitation to everyone to help us build the future of Kenya by investing in our work.”
“The kids inspire me the most. They work hard to be able to get opportunities that come so easily for others. I am so privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to their future.”
Learn more about Food for Education’s mission
By Anneliese Abela