About Rafiki Thabo Foundation

Rafiki Thabo Foundation is an Oxfordshire based charity which aims to enable children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Kenya, Uganda, and Lesotho to reach their full potential by removing the barriers to them attending secondary school and higher education.

We believe that a lack of hope and education is true poverty, and our vision is that young people, including those living with disabilities, will be empowered through education to fulfil their potential and initiate positive change in their communities.

Through our scholars programme, we provide bursaries to bright young people who have gained a place at school/university but for whom paying school fees are insurmountable, often orphans or living in single parent households where even putting food on the table is a daily challenge. Without support, these children would remain at home working manual labour to help feed their family or be married off at a tender age. With an education, they are empowered to believe in their futures and pursue their dreams; they can marry for love, they will secure paid, meaningful employment and can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. They will give back to their communities and contribute to the wider economic development of their countries.

We may be a small charity, but through the kindness of our supporters we are able to completely transform the lives of the young people who are empowered through education. By the end of 2020 we had supported a total of 390 young people and we are currently supporting a record number of 210 scholars, 38 of whom are living with disability. Read about some of our brave and inspiring scholars

In Uganda 63% of the population live on less than £1.50 per day, or £550 per year, yet the cost of the average secondary school is £322 per year and the average cost for a year at college or university is £840. With lower secondary education, a household in Uganda could increase their income by 56%.

Among the graduates of our scholars programme we have doctors, teachers, NGO workers, entrepreneurs and businessmen and women. Many are now themselves supporting others in their communities.

“My parents both died and there was no one else to pay my tuition fees. In 2014, my dream came true: Rafiki Thabo agreed to support me. Now I am sure that I’ll finally achieve my dream of becoming a capacity builder and change many people’s lives in my community. Thank you Rafiki Thabo Foundation: may you continue to change the lives of people like me”  Dora graduated with a BA in Community Development from St. Paul’s University, Kenya

Our words will never fully do justice to the transformative nature of Rafiki Thabo’s intervention, listen to our scholars themselves in our powerful short film that captures some of the excitement and hope that Rafiki brings to young people’s lives

Meet Praise, a remarkable and incredibly brave young woman, whose dream is to become a lawyer so that she can fight corruption and fight for justice in Uganda. She was born with normal sight but lost her vision completely as a young child. Her father abandoned the family due to her disability and left her mother as the sole breadwinner for four children – she could not afford to pay for their education, just food. Relatives were able to help Praise through her early years, but without Rafiki Thabo’s support, Praise would not have been able to start secondary school. We are delighted to say she is doing extremely well at school – and have all faith in her realising her dream of becoming a lawyer! It costs only £325 per year to help this courageous young woman transform her life.

Education does not exist in a vacuum, and at Rafiki Thabo we also support the development of school facilities in order to improve the environment in which children are learning. Such projects include equipping libraries, IT labs, supporting income generating projects for the schools such as constructing pig sties and chicken coops and building dormitories to keep the children safe. In 2015, we funded the renovation of the girls' dormitory at our partner school in Uganda after two girls were raped on their way home from school – they had been unable to stay in the dormitory as it was in such a poor state of repair. 250 girls now have a safe place to stay, do not need to walk several hours every day to get to school and therefore have time and energy to complete their homework and do better in their studies. The cost of this project was £1,290. We are currently funding the extension of the dorm to accommodate a further 150 girls as intake of girls at the school has significantly increased.

We also support ‘Eat Well to Learn’ – a school meals programme through which at least 70 of the very poorest students are provided with lunch each day at our partner school in Uganda. For many, this is their only daily meal, without which they would brave their long walk to and from school on an empty stomach, with little energy left to learn in class, making them more likely to drop out of school. Providing 12,600 school meals per year costs around £5,075.

“Rafiki Thabo is an amazing charity. They don't just worry about the children's education but also about what they eat, and they provide thousands of school meals to children who would otherwise go hungry.” Prue Leith, CBE, July 2020

In order to deliver our programmes, we work closely with in-country volunteer committees in Uganda, Kenya, and Lesotho. Our committee members are personally known to the trustees, hold central roles in their communities and all share our passion for education and the belief in its power as a pathway out of poverty. Our committees carry out the selection process from the many applications that Rafiki Thabo receives each year, ensuring that only those genuinely in need are accepted as Rafiki scholars. Our structure enables us to remain lean, transparent and grassroot – and able to guarantee that all money raised goes to our educational programmes.

The drive behind Rafiki Thabo is clear: positive and sustainable change in local economy, politics and health can and will happen. Gender equality and an end to poverty is possible. Underpinning it all is education!

And the best bit? It really doesn’t cost that much to transform a life! Below are some examples of how little it takes to empower these young people as Rafiki Scholars:

To find out more about our work and our impact please visit our website

We would love you to help us empower more young people in Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho by taking part in our events and helping us raise much needed funding to continue our powerful work!

We would also be delighted to explore mutually beneficial opportunities with businesses who wish to engage in or expand their CSR programme, whether through cause related marketing, charity of the year, event participation or longer term partnership opportunities. Please contact our Partnerships and Events Manager Janne Pilbeam or visit our main website

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Rafiki Thabo Foundation (registered charity 1193124)