Giving back! S4G at St Martin’s School, Kenya
As part of S4G I was fortunate to participate in the most valuable and satisfactory project I’ve ever been in. Embraced by Salesforce, and lead by Kelli Angevine, St. Martin´s School sponsorship program gives the children of Kibagare the opportunity to access education.
Our involvement in this amazing experience started with the donation for a Saturday open lunch organized by the school. On that occasion, the whole company worked together as a team to raise the 2,000 USD donation and on a later visit by Alfred Aswan to our office, he showed us the children’s joy, happiness and gratefulness. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine that sometime after, I would be the one that felt grateful and completely overwhelmed meeting these children and the people that devote their lives to taking care of them.
As Salesforce consultants, we support St. Martin’s School initiative by implementing their own Salesforce platform, focused on helping the school in managing students’ information and tracking of their sponsorships. This was the first idea and main objective with which the project was born.
We worked on the analysis and understanding of St. Martin’s needs, which resulted in the first version of the Salesforce solution and, although nowadays technology facilitates communication across the world, on this occasion it couldn’t replace or come close to the experience of being there and personally meeting and listening to the children and people of St. Martin’s community.
Because that is what St. Martin’s is; a community of people working together on behalf of Kibagare’s children. Each person involved with the cause, contributing in the best way possible and putting their heart and soul into each action.
The sisters are the foundation of the school. They dedicate their lives to taking care of St. Martin’s children. They welcomed us to the school and their lives over one week and shared with us their love and their humanity. We were witnesses to their complete devotion to the children and the community. They showed us what they have created with dedication and love; St. Martin´s School is Kibagare’s heart, it is home for many children, it is their future and the place where they can dream and embrace their lives.
Working with the sisters and St. Martin´s School staff has been enriching. As well as fun, teaching them Salesforce and introducing them to new technologies has been inspirational. It is incredible to feel the love and commitment in everything they do. There was no moment at which I can say I didn’t see them smiling and although the journey is long, every day we get closer to our objective, have a platform that can sustain St. Martin’s growth and help more children.
The children, the reason why St. Martin’s exists.
When I came back from Nairobi, people asked how the experience was and the first thing that comes to my mind every time is the children’s happiness. The pure expression of joy just for having us there.
Sometimes I stop what I’m doing and for a few minutes I am back there remembering. Remembering their faces, their laughing, their dancing (even without music) their hope, their goodness. It’s inevitable that this gives us some perspective on our own life.
I want to talk about all the good things that we are doing for them, but the reality is that they do much more for us.
We had the opportunity to talk personally with the students. To ask them about their likes, their dreams, their families. Knowing them this way underlines the importance of this project and gives much more meaning to the help that we can give for the future pilots, doctors, teachers, fashion designers.
It is in this context that we as a community can help. The network of volunteers and sponsors that has sprung up around St. Martin’s school is an example of altruism and deep commitment towards young people and their future.
Something that impressed me during this experience was the coordination of everybody who attends, knowing exactly what they are supposed to do, when and for what purpose.
At St. Martin’s every action counts and the opportunity for one child to attend the school has a huge impact on his or her life, on his or her family and, in that sense, on Kibagare’s community.
Volunteering is not limited to the children, but also involves their families and the creation of spaces in which they can learn and empower their life and future.
From my experience, I came back with a completely new perspective on my life, a deep commitment to continuing this project, with new ideas and the certainty that with the new St. Martin’s Salesforce Team we will be able to help more children.
If I had to summarize this experience in one word, I would say LOVE. Love of everyone that works in and for the school, love of all the sponsors and volunteers that chose to help build Kibagare’s future and, of course, the pure, innocent and selfless love of St. Martin’s children.
And, building on the strength and thrust of our experience, when we returned from the trip, with Javier Heitz, our CEO (who was also in Kibagare with me), we decided to organise a couple of actions to foster more support for our friends at St Martin’s School:
- We decided to organise a new concert to sponsor another meal this year.
- We created a “Corporate Matching Scheme” which will see S4G sponsor a child from St Martin’s on behalf of a team member if they sponsor another.
Even though we have been collaborating for some time now, in some ways we feel this is just the start…
Juana Valenzuela. Philantropist at heart