Cornerstone Elites Nursery and Early Primary School

Community Work

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

This is seven-year-old Patricia,

one of the brightest and most beautiful children you will ever meet. But her smile hides a sad and painful reality. She’s the oldest of two siblings, from one of the poorest families. She and her four-year-old sister Irene, live with their single mother who struggles to make a living. She does odd jobs like selling vegetables, plaiting hair or washing clothes to make money but it’s not enough to make ends meet. Their father deserted the family some time ago. Patricia loves school and making new friends. She is an absolute delight, full of enthusiasm, and shows great support and care for her sister Irene and the other children at Cornerstone.

We’re delighted to be supporting Cornerstone in 2019, a beautiful little school in Shauri Yako Village, Mombasa, Kenya. It was founded in 2010 by Grace Wambete – a local woman who cares deeply about the welfare and education of the village’s many children. They’ve recently moved to a new location and we’ll be paying their rent for 12 months.

The school began with 25 students and has grown to around 80 students from kindergarten all the way to Class Four (the equivalent of Grade 4 in Australia). The school provides a much-needed safe haven and education for the children of this struggling community and Grace has created an environment full of love, warmth and security for these children to flourish and learn. Our friend Dianne Butler raises funds to run the school’s food program that provides a nutritious breakfast and lunch to the students each day of the school week. Before this many of the children were coming to school without breakfast and although they were supposed to go home for lunch most would just stay at school as there would be no one at home and usually no food for them if they did go home.

It costs approximately $16 Australian dollars (AUD) to feed all students (and the teachers) with a porridge breakfast and a rice and beans lunch each day. This is currently paid for by a very small group of supporters, but you can help keep it going by making a monthly, quarterly or one-off donation.

Donations from Dianne’s fundraising for the school’s food program also helps with other costs, such as the school’s annual licence fee and the provision of text books. Occasionally extra funding means children can be treated to excursions, to the beach or to Haller park, a local nature park.

No one is ever turned away from Cornerstone, and families pay minimum school fees if and when they can. Most families can’t afford the rest of the expenses associated with schooling. Without being able to rely on collection of school fees, paying teachers even a very small wage at the end of each month is difficult. The lack of revenue also makes covering the running costs of the school particularly difficult. Pencils, paper and chalk are precious resources that are difficult to fund.

Sponsorship Program

After visiting Cornerstone in 2018 Lissa Roy, a friend of Dianne’s, began a sponsorship program, recruiting friends and family to pay an annual donation which is used to purchase a school uniform and cover the school fees for one child for three terms. The purpose of this program is to reduce the burden of paying school fees for some of the poorest families, and to have money available to pay the teacher’s wages. Our Director, Sia Papageorgiou, visited Mombasa last year and the children stole her heart. Before she left, she sponsored three children and has vowed to spread the word about Cornerstone.

Where do donations go?

Donations range from 6000 to 7200 Kenyan Shillings (KES), the equivalent of between $84 to $100 AUD, depending on exchange rates and method of payment. The typical distribution of an annual contribution is found in this table.

Donation Class Uniform Term 1 and Term 2 Fees
7200KES Pre Primary 1 & Pre Primary 2 500 (around $7 AUD) 1500 (around $21 AUD)
7200KES Class 1 to 4 500 1800 (around $25.20 AUD)

The balance is available throughout the year to cover any medical or family emergencies for the sponsored child. If it’s not used it’s is added to the term 3 fees to assist with any shortfall for the teacher’s wages.

Cornerstone currently has five teachers including its founder, Grace, who is at school every morning before going to teach Adult Education classes in the afternoons and evenings. She also does all the food preparation and cooking for the food program at home before she starts her day at Cornerstone. The teachers are paid 5000 KES (around $68 AUD) per month with the head teacher, Rachel receiving an additional 3000 KES ($40 AUD).

How can you help?

Cornerstone gives the best chance for these children to receive an education that will enable them to continue to high school and a better future. If you’d like to donate to the school’s food program or sponsor a child at Cornerstone, so you too can contribute to the education and wellbeing of these wonderful students, email

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