Simbolei Academy: A Mission Opportunity

Aug 8, 2023

by Shar Hulstein, UPC, Denison

The Denison United Presbyterian Church became involved in a mission that was begun by a past member of our church.  Dr. Andrea Bachmann Kaitany and her husband Dr. Richard Kaitany have set about fulfilling a dream to give back to the community that brought Richard to Iowa State.  His school and community in Iten, Kenya, honed his skills as a middle-distance runner, and he was offered a track scholarship.  They married and raised four children in Michigan while they began their dream of starting a girls’ high school in Iten called Simbolei Academy.  

After years of fundraising, refinancing, searching for land, building, and hiring staff, the Simbolei Girl’s Academy has been the boarding school and educational home for Form 1 and Form 2 (9th and 10th graders) for two years. The school’s goal is to add the next two grades as the sophomores advance. Each of the girls go to school on a full scholarship or partial scholarship provided by the school.  Many of the families are impoverished so the girls are thrilled with this opportunity for schooling.  We were told by one of the students, “At least half of us that go to school here wish to become doctors.”   

In June, Shar Hulstein, Mary Goettsch, and Ann Platt, former Denison-Schleswig teachers, along with Michigan volunteers went to Iten to work with the girls on literacy, drama, science and presentation, volleyball skills, and board games/puzzles for fun.  The Denison United Presbyterian Church sent luggage full of donations:  athletic shoes, paints, crayons, and colored pencils, notebooks, etc.   We also acquired a list of needs to send for future use.  Along with spending time at the school, Andrea and Richard provided an opportunity to see the city and the surrounding communities. While visiting another culture, we see how blessed we really are.  

 “Greet your people in grace and peace”, was a request from one of the girls. (Done) Andrea and Richard make this opportunity available to anyone!  They are very hospitable hosts and love to share the Kenyan culture and education. The students share their love of singing and sharing of their faith and fellowship. If you would like to help them continue their mission monetarily or travel to Kenya next summer, please see their website.  Next semester they will be adding 20 more students who will need scholarships! Any small gift would help them in their mission.