Two years ago, on the 30th of August 2013, some of us present today were gathered in these very same grounds for a different occasion. If you may remember, the event was the ground breaking ceremony of this College. And I remember the scorching sun above us that showed little mercy for the vast and barren land that spread in front of us.
Sorry for this gloomy picture, but that was the reality.
That day could have been remembered as a morning that most of us took in a lot of dust and went home tired, but that was not the case.
The colorful decoration of the grounds and the confident smiles of all those present, gave that day an unforgettable radiance. I still remember how some of us here present for example Mr. Andrew Olea, took a chance at the jembe and made the first excavations on this ground. After that we were served some snacks (I am hopeful that some will be served today as well). That was indeed a day to be cherished.
Fast forward, two years later and here we are again. This time round, for the official opening ceremony of Eastlands College of Technology. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me, right now in giving a round of applause to all those who with their work, contributions, prayers and sacrifices have led us to this day! (Clap clap clap)
Ladies and gentlemen, the child that was born a few years ago is now making baby steps and trying to find its place in this world. We are indeed gladdened by the progress that has been made to date, but we realize that this is still just the beginning. We have to accompany the College, in a united fashion, holding it by the hands and walk by its side towards attainment of its goals. Strathmore Educational Trust is committed to ensure that the College will be a well-run technical and vocational institution that will be at the service of underprivileged youth, especially from the Eastlands area of Nairobi.
In the invitation leaflets that were sent out to you, you have read how thousands of young people enter the labor market every year in Kenya. Most of them are not well prepared for the world of work. I don’t need to go into the negative consequences of their unemployed status. It is the social concern to address these issues that has guided the Strathmore Educational Trust to promote this College. My dream for this institution, a dream that I hope we all share, is to see the College standing as a beacon of hope for many young underprivileged people. A place where relevant technical skills will be imparted, virtues and values will be taught and strong and reliable characters will be forged. We dream of an institution that will be at the forefront in working together with the industry in building our nation and giving opportunities to those who would otherwise not have had any. And taking cue from what the Holy Father Pope Francis asked us the other day, we need to “work with integrity and transparency for the common good and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society”.
I dare add, we dream of a College that will transform the landscape of this area. And why not? May the elegance and high standards of the College be an inspiration to the general neighborhood to up their standards as well.
The goals that we are setting for ourselves are not easy to achieve. But such is life. Anchoring our hope on the help of St. Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei, under whose inspiration this College was initiated, we will strive to do our work well and touch many lives in so doing.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we have in front of us today is a great means of doing a lot of good. But this goodness will only emanate from the College if we, the stakeholders, play our different roles to the best of our abilities. We call upon, the Industry to invest in the College by fostering partnerships that will enhance the training capacity of this institution. We call upon the parents of the students to take an active part in the training and formation of their children. We call upon the students of this institution to work hard and take pride in this facility which is for their development. We call upon the government to make it possible for the College to operate in an environment where accessibility to and safety while in the College is taken care of. Finally, we call upon all of you here today, our guests, to spread the word out there about this little known institution and to encourage both possible beneficiaries and benefactors to make their way here.
In conclusion, I would like to go back to the past that we reminisced at the beginning of this speech. The ground breaking ceremony came and went. The official opening ceremony will soon be behind us. I am begging the question, what will come next? Maybe the first graduation ceremony of the College? Maybe the opening of a new phase of the College? Or a cocktail to celebrate the performance of the students? Whatever it is the future has in store for us, let us all remember, will only come about thanks to God’s help and by dint of effort to do our work well. Asanteni sana and God bless you all.