H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria is a dedicated patron of the Gundua Foundation. The Crown Princess takes her assignment very seriously and looks forward to continuing the work with the foundation and its efforts to create a vocational school and health centre in Ex-Lewa.
Why has the Crown Princess involved herself in Gundua Foundation?
“I’m involved in a number of charitable foundations, and several of them involve working with children. It’s impossible to not be inspired by my mother, who always has been a driving force and focal point for the World Childhood Foundation. The goal – to improve the conditions for development of prosperity and democracy in poor countries through concrete efforts in education– is naturally an urgent one. The foundation presented a detailed and thorough plan for its first project, the school in Ex-Lewa, Kenya. That’s why I chose to agree to patronage of the Gundua Foundation.”
“There was a request from Kenya through contacts in the country with local knowledge. That started the though process around the Gundua Foundation. Kenya is a country with many problems, but also with great possibilities for development”
What is unique about Gundua’s way of working?
“The most important thing is that the foundation assumes a great responsibility for the practical details of the projects. This requires strong partners and good workers locally, preferably with drive like Charles Dyer in Kenya. He donated land and other resources to the different projects in Ex-Lewa, and is also the Foundation’s local manager in Kenya.”
Gundua was founded on the basis of the UN Millennium Development Goals. How have they worked out?
“The Millennium Development Goals were an attempt to prioritise what needed to by done to make the world a better place and consequently to set ambitious goals to generate real change by the year 2015. One of the specific goals is that all children in the world will be able to read, write and count. In Africa alone, there are tens of millions of children who receive no schooling whatsoever. Gundua focused on the educational goal, since education is a foundation for so much else; not just prosperity but also a well-functioning democracy.”
If reading and writing skills are the issue, why is Gundua focusing on creating a secondary school?
“Gundua has a holistic view of education. Primary schools already existed in Ex-Lewa, but no further public education was available. At secondary level, there were only boarding schools with substantial fees. Many children and young people in this poor region also have to help out at home, since this is a farming community, and boarding school is not an option for them. That’s why Gundua chose to build a secondary day school. Subsequently, Gundua has brought the existing primary school into its organisation to ensure the quality of basic education. The next plan is to build a vocational school so that everyone who wants a practical education can get one – and be able to stay in the area. This program also includes basic business administration, and Gundua is also looking into the possibility of granting microloans. Our hope is that this will make it possible for many students to start their own small companies to meet the area’s many needs, and trigger dynamic development.”
Gundua is also building a health centre in collaboration with the pharmacy – how does this tie into the overall goals?
“In addition to primary healthcare, Gundua Health Centre will offer education in preventive healthcare, as well as sex education.”
The Crown Princess mentioned the World Childhood Foundation earlier. Are there similarities between the two foundations’ ways of working?
“There are both similarities and differences. The main connection is of course the concern for children and their rights. Childhood focuses on children who are exploited and vulnerable, children who live in poor conditions both physically and psychologically, and aims at restoring their right to a dignified childhood. Gundua, on the other hand, focuses on children and young people who have difficulties building a viable future because of lack of infrastructure and poverty. Gundua wants to help secure a good and dignified future through better education.”
The Crown Princess opened the school in Ex-Lewa two years ago. What is the best memory from that ceremony?
“The best memory is seeing the students’ happiness over the possibility to go to school. By watching their songs and dances we were able to experience what the school has given them in the form of strength, dignity and hope for the future. And it was impossible not to be impressed by the enormous pride of the parents. I will never forget the atmosphere that day. It was so heartfelt.”
What is the biggest challenge for Gundua in the future?
“Obviously to find more devoted people, especially locally where the foundation is working – people like Charles Dyer. Gundua has started the process of looking for new projects after Ex-Lewa, and one of the most important criteria is a local driving force with high integrity. They exist, of that I’m sure. We just need to find them.”