benard (40k image)
This is Benard Mutua looking proprietorial at Kenbric Vocational Training Centre which he and his friend Patrick Keli (pictured below) have set up in Nguluni over the last month or so. I think the name of the college is formed by taking some of the letters from both guy’s names, mixing them up and then adding some and taking some away.

patrick (34k image)
This is Patrick Keli (what a great name) in the office at the college surrounded by the practise garments that his students made in their dressmaking and tailoring classes. They sew on the paper packages that packets of maize meal come in.
classwork (35k image)
They opened in January and already have thirteen students enrolled for dressmaking and tailoring. They want to teach carpentry and joinery, motor mechanics and driving (that’s why there is a model town painted on a board in the office, thats how you get the “theory” part of your test in Kenya).
classteach (36k image)
Oh and did I mention, they’d like to have a computer too to offer services and training in IT.


  1. Lydia Says:

    Funny how headmasters look the same the world over – what is it with men and ties? :crazy:

  2. Chris Says:

    That third photo is amazing… what colours! (esp the blue thread, leaping out)

    How was this place set up, do you know? I was reading about Tools for Self Reliance over xmas ( … as my only xmas gift this year was a bike repair shop that I bought "for" all my family.

    I loved the list of the businesses on’s website (list of recipients of gear from TFSR):

    Candle Light Service Garage
    Confidence Cycle Works
    Determination and Effort, success at hand (metal workshop)
    Give and Take Workshop (tailoring & furniture making projects)
    Honesty, the Best Policy (tailoring project)
    Kill-me Mate Tailoring Association
    Lydia’s Express Dressmaking Enterprise
    Never Give Up Welding Shop
    No Hurry in Life Welding & Fabrication Shop
    Six feet at Last (tailoring project)
    Suffer to Gain (furniture making project)
    Super OK Shoe Training Centre
    Talk and Work Carpentry Workshop
    The Magic Combination Skills Group (carpentry project)
    Together As One Carpentry Shop
    Wake up Poly-Tech Centre (mechanics & carpentry projects)
    Widows’ Might Tailoring Project

    I can do without "suffer to gain", but "Super OK" might become my superlative of choice for a couple of months now.

    Maybe you should come up with a similarly-styled name for your classes…? You should at least get them to write a JavaScript app that generates these kind of names pseudo-randomly!


  3. Mark Says:

    Im not exactly sure what you mean by

    … as my only xmas gift this year was a bike repair shop that I bought "for" all my family.

    I’m TFSR trying to clue myself in. It says here:
    Tools most requested
    – Woodworking
    – Blacksmithing
    – Building and Plumbing
    – Shoemaking and leather working
    – Car and bicycle repairing
    – Metal working and Tinsmithing

    Sewing Machines? Maybe

    This sounds like a conversation with Benard. He came to my house last night to confirm our trip to visit the VSO office next week to see if Kenbric can become a VSO partner and recieve a volunteer in the future some time. He told me they now have 18 students including 1 studying motor mechanics.

    I asked him what resources they have for motor mechanics and he said he has his notebook from when he was a student. He’s trying to get a wrecked car to work on.

    The carpentry teacher is not yet working as they don’t have students. There is a clamp and a saw in the office which is their total set of carpentry tools at the moment.

    Most of the students are working on tailoring and dressmaking of course. They don’t have enough sewing machines.. Pat has one and Ben has one and the other three they are renting. There aren’t any more to rent in Nguluni I think. He was trying to find some in Tala.

    Meanwhile the proprieter of Pat’s previous college is trying to sue him for a huge amount of money for leaving his job and for the fact that some of the students decided to transfer their children to Kenbric. The damages amount is way too high. Something like student fees for a whole year for six students plus three months salary for Pat. His contract had a three month notice period in it, but he’d not been paid for six months when he left. He suspects the case won’t stand and told them to go ahead and take it to court!

  4. Chris Says:

    "Im not exactly sure what you mean by

    … as my only xmas gift this year was a bike repair shop that I bought "for" all my family."

    erm, botched the grammar a bit there. I meant that’s all I bought for anyone.

    I don’t even think that TFSR operate in Kenya, but I love the idea.

    What an incredible thing to start teaching people stuff with so little kit.

    I guess it’s tricky getting computers out there, but flying out sewing machines must cost a packet cos they’re so heavy… And as for wrecked cars???!!

  5. Mark Says:

    Yesterday I took Benard to Nairobi to visit the VSO office and talk to the programme officer about whether VSO can work with Kenbric. On the way I first visited Kenbric and sat in the office waiting for Benard to get ready. The students had been carrying their sewing machines from Patrick’s house as I had arrived and now they were singing beautiful songs as part of their assembly. The songs were clearly christian (Bwana Yesu…) and unmistakably african: someone was banging what sounded like a pair of scizzors against a bench and knocking out a fantastic counterpoint rythm of the sort that I just don’t hear in Kenya.

    While I sat an mzee came in and signed up his son for the carpentry class. The number at the top of the form said this would be student number 21!

    Its so great to see a couple of young men who have made their vision into a reality and are having success. They are having hardship too: there is a legal battle raging between Patrick and his former employer, the details of which sound so bizare as to be almost funny, but its completely serious and the sums of money involved are enough to put an end to Kenbric if those comedy charges were to hold.

    Tools for Self Reliance don’t work in Kenya but maybe ToolAid or someone else can help these guys out. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. But don’t suggest posting your sewing machine or spare spanners out here, the postage and duty mean its not viable.

  6. G Reynolds Says:

    Dear Sirs

    How can I contact Mr Bernard or Mr Pat?

    I am the Chairman of an NGO with a work outside Nairobi in Rongai and I would like to explore how I could with these two men assist his students and even more.

    Seeking an early reply.

    Best regards,

    G Reynolds

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