Helping Communities to Help Themselves
12 August 2019

An artist needs canvass and paint and an artisan tools. For a student, a class room without the right “tools” is meaningless. One cannot build without blocks. PIL is helping to provide these building blocks to schools in remote Kenya in association with other like-minded institutions. Welcome to Project - Delta Education enhancement – Shipments of Donated Study Aids. From Singapore to remote hamlets in Tana River Delta on board PIL.

PIL through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program is working with the Tana River Life Foundation (TLRF), providing logistics support for schools in the Tana River Delta of Kenya in East Africa to receive study aids like desks, benches, black boards etc. The Tana Delta is probably one of the most economically backward regions in Kenya. The Tana Delta is one of the largest and most important freshwater wet land system rich in wild life and with a significant local community of cattle herders and other depending on these natural resources.

PIL is part of an effort to empower the people in the region so they can independently make a better life for themselves. The motto of TRLF reads – “Building Individual Lives, and thereby entire communities”.

The Tana River Life Foundation is a private charitable trust founded by Gabriel Teo in December 2005. It was later registered as an NGO in Kenya in 2007. In their quest at improving quality of life of individuals and communities, TRLF projects aim at integral development of the person, where academic and vocational skills development is accompanied by formation in values and character development. The holistic approach in assisting students and youth in the Tana Delta aim not only at development of education and vocational skills but to create opportunities for youth to live with greater integrity dignity and conscience. The main beneficiaries of TRLF programs are members of the marginalized communities in Tana River and Lamu Districts of the Coast Province of Kenya. These include AIDS orphans, children of subsistence farmers and nomadic pastoralists, and single parent families without any regular source of income.

Gabriel Teo Kian Chong is a full time social worker based in the Tana River District, He has been living amongst the villagers there since 1995, working with them to maximize their God given gifts and talents. In 2005 he started the Tana River Life Foundation with the objective of assisting the marginalized through education and acquisition of livelihood skills.

Prior to moving to Kenya, he was a Tax Manager at both the Schlumberger Group and Arthur Andersen. Inspired by the work of Doctors without Borders, he moved to Kenya in 1995. Mr. Gabriel reveals that 12 to 15 years ago during a visit to Singapore, he mentioned to his good friend Fr. Henry Siew about the lack of facilities in the schools in Tana River, where students had no choice but to sit on the floor. Gabriel voiced his desire to get used furniture. Fr. Henry immediately took him to visit the Principal of Holy Innocents High School to explain the project and the work done by TRLF.

The Principal with some teachers and parents made a visit to Tana River the following year. After witnessing the work done by the foundation first-hand, the school teachers have been helping to source used furniture from Singapore schools which are shipped back to Tana River. The furniture is given a new coat of pain and then distributed to public primary and secondary schools across the Delta.

Gabriel was introduced to our Chairman and Managing Director – Mr. SS Teo, by Prof Brian Lee, who was the former Singapore High Commissioner to Kenya. Upon being explained about the educational and human development projects, Mr. Teo readily accepted to ship the furniture to Mombasa pro bono since 2015. And PIL has kept the “promise” ever since and have been part of this noble project every year. In 2019, PIL assisted with shipping four forty feet containers from Singapore to Mombasa for this ongoing project.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill