“We began giving out shoes, and scholarships came soon after. “Handing out shoes and sports equipment was used as an incentive to help people to make the first step. Discipline, dedication and determination are three attributes you learn through sports, and they are paralleled over to education. We also look for athletes who excelled in sports and education, and we build a school to honour their success and inspire the children to know that these heroes started life just like them, without special privilege or help,” said Toby Tanser to the Daily Nation on Dec, 25th, 2021.
1. Shoe4Africa Martin Lel Secondary School 2011 – this is our first school that we built, named after a local resident who had won the world championships, three London & two New York City Marathons. The concept that we have of naming schools after ‘homegrown stars’ is to empower the neighboring kids. They see Martin Lel as a global superstar and realize that he walked the same path that they do, he grew up locally in poverty, just like them, and through sport & education he conquered the world. Kids need relatable role models. (SITE) (Kimn’geru, Nandi County)
*CNN visits the school – VIDEO
2. Shoe4Africa Janeth Jepkosgei Primary School 2012 (SITE) (Kapsumbeiyo, Nandi County). Janeth, like Martin, is a world champion who grew up, often barefooted, in this rural region of Kenya. Many times she would go to school hungry; life was not easy. Again, hard work and an excellent school record helped Janeth navigate the ladder out of poverty. Today she coaches and mentors many kids and often visits her school.
3. Shoe4Africa Moses Kiptanui Primary School 2013 (Kamoi Chesubet region, Elgeyo-Marakwet County). Moses helped many years ago handing out our shoes to athletes in this region to help the young athletes help themselves. Toby met Moses in the 1990s at athletic competitions and the two have been friends since. There wasn’t a school in Kamoi (Moses’ birth village), so we decided to change that and honour Moses. After two years, counting 99 schools in the county district, we placed number three; only beaten by two private schools that had been established decades ago! Of course, our schools are free to attend.
4. Shoe4Africa Sally Kipyego Primary School 2014 (Kaptiony, Elgeyo-Marakwet) (SITE) Sally traveled to the United States to study nursing. She wanted to help Healthcare and as a student in Texas would call Toby asking, “How can I get involved, how can I help?” Shortly after we committed to building a school for Sally at the remote area where she was born, she won an Olympic medal! Today she’s an American citizen showing the kids what opportunities arise through education, sports scholarships and hard work.
5. Shoe4Africa Mary Keitany Secondary School 2018 (Torokwonin, Baringo County) (SITE next to Torokwonin Primary, not yet on google maps). Mary, who didn’t put on a pair of shoes til she was 14, ran her first senior race at a Shoe4Africa development event. She finished position #21; one place from winning $100 ( a substantial sum for her at the at time). She wasn’t disappointed, she was motivated. She knew, if she went home and trained harder, she could make a living from running. Mary discovered a career. This was the last race of Mary’s long career where she did not earn prize money. She retired in 2019 a three times London Marathon Winner, four times New York Marathon Winner, and the reigning World record holder in the Women’s Marathon.
Shoe4Africa classrooms at Kibugat Primary School 2013 (Kibugat, Nandi County). We visited this area and found classrooms constructed of wood, set in a mud foundation that looked likely to fall in heavy rains. Inside the classroom we feared the walls would fall. At once we committed to building two classrooms for this school.
Shoe4Africa Kuunga Mkono Classrooms 2018 – (Eldoret, Uasin Gishu) (SITE behind the main hospital, two blue-topped buildings) to provide quality education for long-term patients, and access to 15,000 books courtesy of Loius Brownstone.
6. Shoe4Africa All4Running Secondary School 2020 – (Kapchoroa, Nandi County). At this school the class rooms have been named after Vincent Kipchumba ( #2 London Marathon 2020 and 21), Benson Kipruto (2021 Boston Marathon Champion, Chicago Marathon Champ 2022), and Amos Kipruto (World Championship Bronze Marathon 2019 & Kenyan Olympic marathoner, and London Marathon winner 2022, and Evans Chebet, Boston Marathon winner 2022 & 2023, and NYC Marathon winner 2022, and Rene Admiraal, one of the founder’s of our partners, All4Running. When kids walk to the classrooms they are inspired stepping into the rooms of champions!
Shoe4Africa’s commitment is the public education. In Kenya, we can’t find an organization like Shoe4Africa that supports Public free-to-attend schools, over money-making Private Schools. Several athletes in Kenya have their names associated with schools, however the vast majority are for-profit ventures (Article)
Vision and design concept. The vision of the school is to create an open environment, a safe space, and an innovative learning classroom in order to help create lasting knowledge and boost healing. From above, the building is shaped like two clasping hands, reaching out and coming together. This aligns with the name of our project (thanks Harbour School), Kuunga Mkono, which means in Swahili “putting our hands together for something good.” The two hands coming together symbolizes teamwork, team spirit, and collaboration. It also symbolizes the fact that children in Hong Kong worked with children in Kenya — two sides of the globe coming together.
Highly recommended: Watch this 48-minute documentary following a group of Kenyan children on their way to school Click here to watch on YouTube.
Shoe4Africa’s Child protection policies
Shoe4Africa’s Child protection policies for equality, non-discrimination, and safety and comfort for each child falls under the guidelines imposed upon all public schools by the Kenyan Government. Shoe4Africa schools (public) look only to enhance and enforce the policies of the government. All Shoe4Africa staff are both briefed then trained on identifying the early signs in the playground, and in the classrooms. Upon Staff etiquette and behavior. Recognizing dangers and child security, reporting and documentation. All pupils are given a non-staff helpline call number should there be any suspicion of in-house wrong doings, and there is a procedure plan for in place for a child registering any concerns. During each new term teachers are briefed upon the CPP and updated with all school activities.
Kids, parents, guardians, teachers are all encouraged to read the rights of a child and to fully understand what constitutes abuse under Kenyan Law. The principal of each Shoe4Africa school will have, in their office, a copy of the latest year’s Child’s rights booklet.
Our teachers act with sensitively and are professionally trained.
Listen, be calm, and react by protocol. Reassure the child that a solution will be found. Inform the child that all information’s will be discreetly handled though not to promise to keep anything a secret, or that information will be hidden, especially from a parent/authority. Stress that step one is talking openly, and this is not a ‘police interview’. Staff never give an opinion, but rather are a sounding board. All information is documented and must to reported to child services within 24-hours. If the teacher believes the child to be in danger immediate action must be taken with child services. Sign, date and document, and inform the school’s head within the close of the school day.
Foot Note, We are very proud of the first set of ten pupils who graduated from our first school and went graduate from university; trailblazers from their community. Many, many others have followed in their footsteps.
Boniface Kipkosgei Aerospace engineering 2013
Bismas Kipkirui Computer Science 2014
Hillary Kibet Computer Science 2014
Caroline Maritim Teaching 2013 (now teaching at the school!)
Abraham Kipchirchir Teaching 2016
Ronald Kibitok Teaching 2016
Ezekiel Kiptoo Counseling Psychology 2015
Maximilla Jeruto Nursing 2014
Delphine Jelagat Teaching 2015
Cheruiyot Daniel Teaching 2014
Jerono Naum Nursing 2015
Resources for American Kids to learn about Kenyan kids: LINK and LINK