In June, Blair history teacher Quint Clarke ’88, founder of the independent nonprofit “Blair in Kenya,” and Associate Dean of Students Caroline Wilson led a summer trip to Africa that included a wide variety of activities aimed at supporting Blair in Kenya schools in Iten and Kisumu.
Accompanied by seven current Blair students, three members of the class of 2019, an alumna from the class of 2017 and 10 U.S. medical professionals, the chaperones organized and oversaw classroom work with children, community service projects, cultural immersion experiences, a wildlife tour and a village-wide medical clinic. The medical team was led by Jane Ferry P’11, MD, FACEP, MMM, an emergency medicine physician in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, who has served as chief medical officer at Grand View Health-Sellersville since 1990.
The group’s itinerary included working in classrooms and painting the Blair Educational Center and the Blair-Serem School, as well as helping with logistics as doctors and nurses attended to the medical needs of villagers, many of whom had never met a doctor before. The travelers also had the opportunity to learn about Blair in Kenya’s sponsorship of more than 210 local students, the nonprofit’s microfinance project and enjoy the simplicity of village life and Africa’s magnificent landscape as they lived with families, played soccer and basketball with Kenyan students, and went on a safari at Masai Mara National Reserve.
“Our goal is to help our Blair and Kenyan communities learn more about each other, and we do this through active interaction,” said Mr. Clarke, who has visited Kenya 24 times since founding the nonprofit in 2005 and has worked tirelessly to ensure that the neediest and most deserving students get an education that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. “I hope that, at the end of our two-week visit, both groups better understood the other and that, despite coming from such different places, everyone learned we are more similar than different.”
Adding that the trip included “lots of smiles and laughs and many fascinating conversations” that keep him coming back to the African nation, Mr. Clarke appreciated the open minds and mental toughness demonstrated by the Blair students in the face of travel challenges. “The students never complained and kept a positive attitude that allowed them to take as much from the trip as they gave,” he said.
The Blair Educational Center and Blair-Serem School are primary schools, meaning students attend them from nursery school through sixth grade, so Mr. Clarke and his fellow travelers had the opportunity to interact with kids of all ages. Looking forward, Mr. Clarke plans to finish the schools’ infrastructure in the next two years, and projects will include building dorms to create a boarding population at the Iten school. “The end goal is that the schools and communities no longer need us—that the schools become self-sufficient and can stand on their own without our involvement.”