Elphas was born in Kakamega County – Western Kenya where he attended his basic education before moving to Nairobi for his higher education. His early upbringing and experience made him understand the challenges the community is going through. His interest in the tourism industry saw him pursue professional training at Kenya Utalii College in Tour Guiding and Administration. Elphas has worked with major tour companies in different capacities and departments but mainly in customer care service. As a customer service expert, he has accompanied groups and families all over the country and outside Kenya on both holiday and humanitarian engagements. Such groups include Millennium Development Goals, Millennium Promise, World Vision and many others. His passion for service encouraged him to partner with friends to co-found Africa Untamed Wilderness Adventures and Akhonya Development Community Based Organization (A-CBO). His dream is to partner with friends to empower and impact the community.
We started our first library at the Youth Empowerment Centre, Kongoni Ward, Likuyani Sub-county, Kakamega in 2016. This was a government institution whereby our chances for expansion were limited. By the time we were asked to vacate the premises in mid-2019, we had already acquired some piece of land just adjacent to this library. We then moved to Kongoni Primary School where we were temporarily accommodated as the construction work for our library was going on.
Operating from our own premises: We are so grateful to our friends and partners who believed in us and they have been supporting us so generously to get us to where we are. We are now operating from our own premises.
Growth in the number of library users: When we started the library operation, the response was so slow and sometimes negative. We thank our partners and staff who worked tirelessly and also through innovation to see to it that our services are accepted and appreciated. We are witnessing steady growth in the number of library users.
Introduction of Network schools: We started with library services only and now we have grown to a resource, recreation, and empowerment institution. We have successfully partnered with schools not just from our county but also from other counties around the country. We are still spreading to more counties and the number of schools is increasing too.
More activities: Our network schools have introduced book clubs and debating clubs in order to improve the reading culture as well as communication skills.
Introduction of computer programing and coding: We started with books distribution but our strength has now grown to the donation of laptops, computers, projectors, and internet service to all our network schools with the aim of encouraging innovation.
Improved performance: The number of students taking computer studies has gone up so is the improvement in performance. We are now partnering with several institutions majoring in computer technology to impact students with computer skills like coding and computer programing. They are also using the computers and tablets they have been given to make learning in other subjects easier, like mathematics and sciences.
We have introduced baseball in all our network schools and supplied them with basic training equipment.
Image: We are continuously partnering with schools to improve their libraries and computer rooms. This has also improved the image of the schools.
Diverse activities: Our activities at the centre are now diverse. We have Dream Gardens where our readers can rest under a shed after reading. We also have a kitchen and a restaurant where we can have meals prepared especially for the groups coming for a visit or just meals to share with the vulnerable kids. This restaurant is not for commercial purposes.
When the construction work is completed, our partnership with our network schools is going to grow even stronger as we expect to have more interactive activities that will involve the need for accommodation.