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Karibu (welcome) to Mekaela Ratinga Primary School, the fifth school of Mekaela Academies. The opening ceremony at the newly renovated premises of the “old” school took place on 11th October 2014. Ratinga is located less than 1 km away from Likunda Primary School.

The jointly hoisted flags of the City of Ratingen and our Amina. Ratingen is not only the name patron of Ratinga, but also supports the school with donations. The founding families of the Hinssens and the Jacobs are ancient and reputable residents of Ratingen.

Currently Ratinga has one hundred pupils. The project was originally initiated (under a different name) with the support of Hinssens and Jacobs Unfortunately, the project was not able to live up to the expectations of its founders. Eventually, the two families who have been sponsors of Watoto for many years took on Mekaela Academies. Or, to describe it more accurately, they laid the school into our lap.

Ratinga plays an essential role in our new concept to make Mekaela Academies affordable for Kenyans with low incomes. Ratinga’s school fees are approx. two thirds lower than at our other schools. Naturally the low fees come with a price as we occasionally have to make concessions regarding quality as well as quantity.

This is Lewis, eight years of age and the “President” of Ratinga during his inaugural address. It appears as if the cheeky little lad is mimicking the German Chancellor’s famous gesture. Well, his speeches are funnier than Angela’s, and he even delivers them in fluent English!

Initially, the children and their parents were a little sceptical abou(e policy of cooperation and transparency Mekaela Academies had introduced at Ratinga, but now everyone is excited. They feel that Ratinga is “their”‘ school, because they are involved in the development and planning of the school.

To found and establish a primary school requires a huge amount of time, effort and money. Without outside help it would hardly be feasible for private initiators. Fortunately, the founders are well connected and very convincing and thus managed to persuade the Blumberg Foundation from Ratingen to sponsor the new “Blumberg Wing” with two class-rooms (to start with). Obviously the wing is still under construction, but we expect completion in a few months time.

The Hinssens and Jacobs are persistently raising funds in Germany, because we are still pretty much at the beginning, and many more donors will have to be – amicably – separated from considerable amounts of their money.

In a few months? Just a few weeks later the Blumberg Wing was completed. It will not have been the last new building for Ratinga, as we have more ambitious plans for the school.

Parents have to buy school uniforms for their children for about 10 Euros. Were they “for free” they wouldn’t probably last a year. But otherwise, we try to avoid additional expenses for parents if possible. We collect second-hand books from the other schools of Mekaela Academies. At noon, lunch is being provided from the LPS canteen, and teachers from the other schools work at Ratinga without additional reimbursements.

But because we keep the school fees so low, the free basic medical care of MMMS may not be provided. That doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem for these two little girls who attend to a tiny scratch themselves.