Starfish Africa is a New Jersey-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that sponsors talented but needy Kenyan teenagers at top-notch Kenyan secondary schools. Over time, we hope to expand our operations into other African countries. Below are our organization's guiding principles and a synopsis of how we pursue our mission.
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Africa's per capita income hovers around 500 USD, and the continent is home to roughly two-thirds of the world's fifty poorest countries. Due in part to these economic hardships, Africa's educational system is sorely lacking, leaving its human capital potential untapped. In sub-Saharan Africa, just 3 in 5 adults are literate, and only 4 in 5 children enroll in primary school.
In Kenya, where we currently focus our efforts, hundreds of thousands of children benefit from free primary education, a product of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and the World Bank's Education For All (EFA) initiatives. However, fewer than half of these children will ever attend secondary school, and even fewer will graduate.
Since widespread access to education is a precursor to democracy and sustained economic growth, we believe Africa is ripe for targeted, proactive sponsorships at the secondary school level.
"One day, an old man was walking along the shore when he came upon a young man reaching down to the sand, picking up starfish, and throwing them into the ocean. "Why are you doing this?", he asked. The young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back in, they'll die."
The old man replied, "Do you not realize there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish along every mile? You cannot possibly make a difference!" At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference for that one."