The Power of One
Updated: Oct 28, 2019
“Since day one when I met them all, I fell in love with them,” recalls Genevieve Radnan as she admires the photos from her trip to Kenya.
Going straight to university to build a future is a path well-travelled for post-HSC students. However, for 18-year-old Genevieve Radnan, a degree at university will remain postponed until impoverished children in Africa have access to a basic education.
Genna, as she prefers to be called, spent her summer holidays on a volunteering expedition in Kenya. The youngest amongst the volunteers, her time was dedicated to working on community development and education programs at Karunga Primary School, which is located in a poor, rural area just north of Kenya’s capital.
“Despite good economic growth in recent years, Kenya is a poor country. Fifty percent of Kenyans live below the poverty line. A small class of very rich Kenyans takes a great deal of money out of the system, often through corruption, which according to the NGO MS Kenya accounts for 42% of the country’s GDP.” “A 2005 report by the United Nations ranked Kenya as 154th out of a list of 177 countries, in terms of life expectancy, literacy levels and overall gross domestic product.”
Apart from assisting to build two new classrooms, and teach the various years English, Mathematics, Art and Physical Education, Genna has involved herself in mentoring, supporting, and forming friendships with the children.
“Money isn’t the only answer…the real difference comes from interaction, communication, and giving emotionally as well,” Genna informs.
“The children have very little materialistically. But emotionally and mentally, they have so much to offer…they thrive to learn, and I want to help nurture that. I want to help them set up a great future for themselves so that one day they have the opportunity to attend university.”
“18 students shared a classroom that was more like a little shack made of literally wood and cardboard.
“Some children had lead pencils and booklets to write in, however, not all of them did, which meant they had to share their limited facilities. The school didn’t have running water or electricity; the bathrooms contained only squat toilets; and the ‘toys’ in the playground didn’t exceed five old tyres and two deflated soccer balls,” Genna explains.
Whilst the decrepit state of the classroom may have surprised some, Genna states that the “biggest shock [to her] was that none of the children knew how to colour in.”
“I’m used to five-year-olds knowing how to colour in. At Karunga, the ten-year-olds just had no idea. They didn’t even know basic shapes.”
Genna has opened her own charity for Karunga Primary School. The activities of the charity involve hosting fundraising breakfasts, encouraging community involvement, and selling her handmade arts and crafts to generate funds for the Karunga society.
The profits, which are currently in excess of $7000, “will be used to purchase resources that will improve the condition of, and facilities available to Karunga, as well as subsidise the cost of education for suffering families so that their children aren’t kicked out of school as a result of late payments.”
Despite the recognition she has received, she remains humble, and stresses that her attempts are no different to anyone else’s.
“I’m not trying to be heroic. I’m not personally trying to save the world, just the world of a few children.”
Genna leaves on the 1st of July to return to Kenya for six months where she will spread her time between volunteering at Karunga Primary School and New Hope Children’s Orphanage.