Dorcas and Julia are the face of the Mwezi Foundation for our beneficiaries in Kenya. They identify new schools for us to support, visit them, and introduce them to the Mwezi Foundation. Furthermore, they visit each of our schools 2-3 times per year. After their visits, they advise the Directors on whether we should be donating more solar lights.
Dorcas and Julia travel to our schools (via the matatu minibuses and then by motorbike) to deliver the solar lights. During their visit, they explain how the lights work to the pupils and how to take care of them. They will also advise the teachers on how to monitor the solar lights robustly. After leaving, they maintain personal contact with each school via WhatsApp or text.
They collect information on each school, such as the total number of lights that have been donated, broken or lost. Finally, they take note of each school’s KCPE results and record which secondary schools the top students have gone onto.
They are in almost daily contact with the Directors but have a significant amount of autonomy. Dorcas and Julia are strict with the schools and the pupils about the importance of caring for the lights. They provide an excellent role model, particularly for the girls, of educated businesswomen in good employment.
Miss Dorcas Sewe
Dorcas is responsible for our relationship with all our schools across south-east Kenya. She has her own portfolio of schools, which she is responsible for visiting regularly. Dorcas joined the Mwezi Foundation in May 2018 and has overseen our growth from just a few schools to 50+ now.
Dorcas is exceptionally good at making sure the UK Directors understand conditions on the ground. She keeps up with our ever-increasing requests for data management and impact reporting whilst highlighting the challenges involved in collecting the data and assessing the impact! Dorcas also oversees Julia’s work and our hope is that one day she will be in charge of several schools managers as we expand.
Miss Julia Akinyi
Deputy Schools Manager
Julia joined us in May 2019 from a background in education. She has taken on her own portfolio of schools, and she visits each school at least twice a year. On each visit, she teaches the school’s students how to use their new Mwezi solar lights and how to take care of them. She then discusses the progress that the students are making with the teachers, and answers any queries or questions that they might have. Finally, she will take lots of pictures of the class weilding their new solar lights!
Mr John Ngunjiri
John is Mr Mwezi light. He assembles the solar lights, services them and fixes broken ones. He has been with us since the beginning, in 2014. John provides a weekly stock report and liaises with the Directors regarding component orders.
Mike is the original Director of the Mwezi Foundation, having been involved since its incorporation in 2014.
He originally qualified as a barrister in 1976 and worked for the Hong Kong Government for 10 years before returning to the UK. After qualifying as a solicitor, he founded a legal practice in 1993 of which he is still senior partner, though he has largely retired from legal work.
Claire joined the Mwezi Foundation in 2015 and is primarily responsible for liaising with the Schools Managers and the schools directly, where appropriate. In her day job she is the Research Director for an M&A Consultancy firm. Claire has extensive experience of travel in Africa, having grown up in South Africa and The Gambia, as part of a diplomatic family, then having led UK trade missions across Africa. She is familiar with the ‘challenges’ of operating in Africa and so helps ensure the Mwezi Foundation works at a grassroots level, in direct contact with the beneficiary schools, which she finds to be the most efficient and effective way of helping the next generation.
Sue Dawson-Coltman (Doods)
Through family connections, Doods was aware of the work that the Mwezi Foundation has been doing for many years before she joined the team in 2021.
Doods recently retired from a career in Human Resources within the Pharmaceutical Industry, and she has spent many years supporting businesses by helping them to maximise the potential of their employees. She hopes to contribute to the continuing success and growth of the Mwezi Foundation as it looks to widen its influence in Kenyan schools.
Helen is responsible for our emerging programme linking UK schools with Kenyan schools.
As a qualified primary school teacher, Helen has seen first hand the positive impact that can be achieved when you remove barriers to education. She is passionate about ensuring access to education for all children, and feels privileged to be working with the Mwezi Foundation as they seek to further educational opportunities in a very practical way.
We have been given some funding to support a Development Officer for three years. Juliet’s role is to increase our funding base and assist the growth of the charity’s activities.
“I’m thrilled to have joined the Mwezi Foundation at such a pivotal time. From my very first day, I could see how great the need is for our solar lights, and how committed our partner schools and pupils are to making full use of them. It is truly humbling to see how much they can achieve, often in circumstances which are almost impossible for us in the global North to imagine. I also love the Mwezi Foundation’s sustainable, holistic approach. Not only does it help children to break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage and boost their self-determination and ‘agency’ – but it simultaneously benefits the environment, promotes girls’ attainment and even, in a small way, eases family finances.
I shall do my utmost to bring in funding to support the charity’s work and scope. The need for Mwezi lights is enormous – we must find a way to meet that need.“
Digital Media Manager
Izzy is responsible for promoting the Mwezi Foundation online. She creates content for our blog, edits and updates the information on our website, and converts the reports that we receive from our Schools Managers into content for social media. This highlights the achievements of the Mwezi Foundation, and keeps our followers up to date with any news. She recently graduated from Durham University with a first class honours and is currently undertaking a master’s degree in English Literature at Oxford University.
“I was keen to volunteer for Mwezi because the work they do has so many different positive effects: it helps improve the environment (as each Mwezi solar light saves roughly 92kg in carbon emissions), provides local employment (as the lights are manufactured, repaired and distributed by local Kenyan employees), as well as enabling young people to achieve their full potential at school. I can think of few charities that do so much good at once!“
Martin has worked in mental health services in England as a clinician, teacher and manager. In 1992, he joined the Department of Health to become Head of Mental health Policy. He established the Northern Centre for Mental Health, a multi professional development agency, in 2002. In 2005 he became a technical consultant for WHO Europe, working in the Balkans, other east European countries and Turkey, providing strategic advice at government level on reforming mental health policy and services. From 2008-2011, he was Director of High Secure Services at Ashworth hospital, Merseyside. He is an honorary Professor in the School of Life Sciences at York University.
“I am delighted to be supporting the foundation in its mission to bring lights to schools in Kenya. I came across the foundation by accident but was inspired by its commitment to using local knowledge and expertise to provide real practical help where it’s needed in a way that helps people work towards achieving their ambitions. I look forward to helping the organisation grow and develop.“
The teachers in the schools that we support are extremely significant in ensuring that their pupils have access to our solar lights. We keep in regular contact with them via regular in-person check-ups (led by Dorcas and Julia). Moreover, we communicate via email and the Mwezi Whatsapp group chat. Using these platforms, our teachers send us photos and case studies and keep us informed about their students’ performance or any difficulties that they are facing. We rely on them to keep records of the lights and to collect them in at the end of the year to pass on to the following year’s class 8. You can learn more about our teachers here.
George Nash MBE
George is Mwezi’s resident Olympian. He won a Gold medal in the men’s four at the Rio 2016 Olympics and a bronze medal in the men’s pair at the London 2012 Games. He’s a sports enthusiast and if he’s not running, swimming or cycling he can be found on the golf course.
George now works as an engineer in a manufacturing business in Surrey and is passionate about simple, robust product design.
“The Mwezi Foundation light is a brilliant example of how an innovative, simple design can transform people’s lives not only through the primary use of the device in schools and homes but also through the service and redistribution of the product. I believe wholeheartedly in the Mwezi Foundation mission and am very excited to be a part of the team.”
Alan Pover CMG
Alan Pover is a former British High Commissioner to The Gambia. His distinguished career included several years as part of HM Overseas Inspectorate, which involved extensive travel throughout Africa on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alan’s postings included Nigeria, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, Washington DC and The Gambia. His experience and advice is invaluable in helping the Mwezi Foundation to operate in Kenya.
Mike Sherry, Founder
Although not a patron, we want to credit Mike here as one of the Founders of Mwezi Ltd. He helped develop the Mwezi solar light and established the connection with Likoni in Kenya. Mike set up the Mwezi Foundation and has been a massive support since we became fully independent in 2016. He continues to run Mwezi Ltd.