Facing eviction from their land, Cher stepped in to prevent the Kenyan school from being forced to close its doors.
While watching tv from her hotel room in Europe, Cher heard a story on Sky News about a Kenyan school that was losing its lease and was being evicted. The school, serving the poorest of the poor, could not raise enough money to buy its own land or build a new school on rented land. Cher immediately called the school’s pastor and offered to help by funding the necessary five acre land purchase. She hired and architect and a builder to construct a new school for the children on the new land, the Shikimana School.
Since that time, the Cher Charitable Foundation has widened its support to encompass the complete well-being of Shikimana students. Cher has instituted a school feeding program that provides balanced meals with fresh produce, grains and meat. The meals are often the only consistent food source the children have. Since the feeding program began in 2007, student health has markedly improved, as has school attendance and classroom performance. With health an urgent concern, Cher has arranged on-going medical care for all children from a local physician. School staff members are now working to institute a community-level preventative health program to address issues such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, water born illnesses and neglected tropical diseases. An exciting new extracurricular program was established in 2008 involving students and their families and community leaders. Students now participate in sports, debate, drama, poetry, singing and dancing and guiding and counseling after-school – to name just a few of the activities on offer!
In the long-term, the school will serve as a community center and meeting space to fill a variety of community needs, including adult literacy classes and health education.