African kids with Kyle De Souza - photoKyle De Souza created the first Masaai night school in East Africa, where he spent seven months building solar and wind infrastructure that could power the lights for villagers who must work in the fields during daylight hours in one of the most impoverished communities in the world.

The mining engineer who graduated from the Curtin University Western Australian School of Mines volunteered his skills in Africa last year to help build a new classroom for orphans who had been abandoned or whose parents had died from AIDS or starvation.

Mr. De Souza, from Perth, said after a month at the orphanage, he received a phone call from community members requesting his skills in woodwork, engineering and project management to assist the building and completion of a school in the Maasai Land where people still live a traditional farming life.

“We started the first Maasai men’s education program which allows men who herd cattle during the day to get an education at night,” said De Souza. “We run classes for them during the day, and night classes between 6pm and 10pm, and currently have more than 40 students enrolled in the program.”

“When the challenge was set to start a school dedicated to Maasai men, I thought to myself, ‘if I can start a mine, I can start a school’.”

“Mining engineering is the broadest engineering discipline of all. The technical and practical knowledge I gained from laboring underground for two years and working as an engineer for that time gave me the tools to undertake building a school and managing the project work associated with it.”

The school is already in session with two full time teachers. Practical aspects of the school construction are being used to teach students how to cut wood, use a ruler, as well as teaching them addition and subtraction to calculate the measurements.

“Some of the students have to walk up to 2.5 hours each way to get to school, but regardless of that, they always show up; they are that keen on learning and making something of their lives.”

“We have also started a women’s program which seeks to empower women by giving them the skills to sell their crafts online. The women normally do bead work all day, so we are working on starting a website, called United Maasai, where we help to market the products produced by these women internationally.”

The Maasai school is expected to be fully completed before the end of the year, and will include essentials such as electricity, a library extension, concreted floors, windows, lockable doors, tables, chairs and hygienic areas for children to eat.

Kyle De Souza’s family immigrated to Australia from India in 1995 and share a long-standing involvement in charity work.

Thanks to Andrea Barnard for submitting the story, first published on the Curtin University news website.

WATCH a video from Kyle De Souza below…

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