Board member Ken Kobe reflects
As a proud board member of the School of Hope Foundation, which supports St Aloysius Gonzaga High School, I want to share a story with you that exemplifies the importance of our educational mission.
In 1969, I arrived at a small Lake Victoria fishing village on the very western edge of Kenya to begin two years as a U.S. Peace Corps teacher. The school was only 2 years old and had only two forms – 80 students, 4 teachers. Seated in the front row of my Form 2 class was a bright 16-year-old who was interested in everything – science, language, history and public affairs. At the end of my tour, I returned to the US and, between career and family, lost touch with Kenya for the most part. So you can imagine my surprise, when sometime in the 90’s, I got an email from Calestous.Juma@harvard.edu. The barefoot kid at the end of a dirt road became a world-renowned academic at Harvard University in the US, using his considerable gifts to promote technological innovation in the developing world. Professor Juma was widely known by political, academic and business leaders throughout the developing world and was recently named to a list of the 100 most influential Africans. And thanks to the miracle of the internet, my former student and I were reunited and he became my friend and my teacher.
Calestous died in January after a valiant battle with cancer. He received a state funeral in Nairobi, where he was eulogized by President Kenyatta and other dignitaries. He was laid to rest in the small village where our paths crossed so many years ago.
The moral of the story, of course, is that if someone hadn’t built that school a half-century ago, providing opportunities to students without means or hope for a better future, none of this would have been possible. It is my fervent hope that we can honor Professor Juma by redoubling our efforts to assure that every student at St. Al’s has the ability to realize his or her full potential.