Hamish Grant’s grandfather arrived in Gogar Farm, Rongai in 1912. In 1946, Gogar Farm started a primary school for children of employees which then became the primary school for Rongai in 1963, run by the Kenyan government. As well, Emily Dudgeon, Hamish’s aunt, became involved with the primary school and soon started a small school for physically handicapped children, subsequently relocated to Menengai. Naomi Ndungu (the founder Head of the Vanessa Grant School) then started a unit for mentally-handicapped children within an empty building of Gogar Primary School. This was in disrepair when Vanessa, Hamish’s wife visited it in 1997, prompting a commitment from her to reinvigorate it.
She died soon after and Hamish founded the Vanessa Grant Trust (VGT) in 1998 in her memory, honouring her wish. The Vanessa Grant School for children with special needs was officially opened on 28th June 2001, built with funds donated by friends and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. It then became a “sponsored public school” run by the Kenyan Ministry of Education. Teachers are appointed by the Teachers’ Services Commission and the school is subject to the regulations of the Ministry of Education and run by a Board of Management.
Staff salaries and some other costs are met by the Kenyan Government, but the Board has to raise funds to meet the remaining costs, including most of the costs associated with boarding. As the Vanessa Grant School has become established, the Vanessa Grant Trust, with supporting organisations in England, Australia and the United States has raised more than US$ 2.2 million for new schools and educational projects within the Rongai area to support the population.
Johnny Onlsow Project manager, VGT