Irish Impact recently interviewed Boniface Njuguna, a South Bend resident and former FISH client that founded Green Youth Foundation. The purpose of the organization is to improve health and literacy outcomes in his native country of Kenya through the provision of STEM education and solar lamp kits. Read below to find out more!
II: Where did the idea for Green Youth Foundation (GYF) come from?
BN: The idea for GYF was born from watching CNN Heroes in 2010. A Kenyan was being honored for providing solar lanterns to his rural home residents. His lamp was made from fabricated material and breakable glass. I opted to recycle plastic pop bottles, which are easily available, and include a cell phone charger on my product. Also, I decided to empower the youth by teaching them how to assemble the lamp themselves…somewhat like giving them a fishing line instead of a fish.
II: How will you measure the success/impact of Green Youth Foundation?
BN: By partnering with rural schools in Kenya, and other youth-oriented groups in the U.S.A., GYF can monitor and track individual student academic performance and that of a school collectively. We have records showing current performance, which will be compared in one academic year to see if the desired results are achieved. We will also monitor attendance in the rural schools. Attendance tends to drop due to illness from toxic kerosene fumes. We hope to capture the changes in these figures with the introduction of the safe, reliable, and renewable solar lamps.
II: What has been your biggest challenge?
BN: The biggest challenge for GYF has been raising funds to support our operations and missions. We hope to use the media limelight we have received to cultivate worthy relationships with organizations and individuals who share the same vision as GYF.
II: What role did Notre Dame play in its development?
BN: Notre Dame has played a huge role in making and molding GYF. From Innovation Park, to the Gigot Center, to the Robinson Community Learning Center, to the Mendoza College of Business, and finally FISH, GYF has been provided and connected with the right channels and individuals who have helped propel us in the right direction.
II: What is your favorite memory to date regarding the development of GYF?
BN: There are numerous occasions that can be classified as favorite memory moments for GYF. I will focus on two; I remember walking in at the Innovation Park to meet with Joe Queenan, and I was carrying my brainchild idea in a plastic bag…. little did I know the weight (impact) my idea would have locally and abroad. Secondly, FISH stepped in at the right moment to help make the GYF mission trip a reality. Words cannot express and define what this gesture has done in the shaping and establishing of GYF.
Read more about the organization at its website.