[Obama] told the assembled press, local politicians (who included current Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga), and students: “Hopefully I can provide some assistance in the future to this school and all that it can be.” He then turned to the school’s principal, Yuanita Obiero, and assured her and her teachers: “I know you are working very hard and struggling to bring up this school, but I have said I will assist the school and I will do so.”
…Seven months ago I travelled to Iowa to cover the start of the US primaries and was impressed by Obama’s charisma and integrity as he kicked off a thrilling battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Now, with only John McCain standing in the way of him making history as America’s first black President, and amid the fanfare over his current world tour, nowhere is this possibility more eagerly awaited than in Kogelo, the place where his father and grandfather are buried. Yet there is disappointment and hurt here, too. Granting us access to the school and its records, Principal Obiero, 48, tells us: “Senator Obama has not honoured the promises he gave me when we met in 2006 and in his earlier letter to the school. He has not given us even one shilling. But we still have hope.”
The letter Obiero refers to - dated 22 June 2005, signed by Obama and addressed to her - was written after his election to the US Senate in 2004 and hangs, framed, on the wall of her spartan office alongside photographs of Obama’s visit to their school. It says: “I am honoured that you have decided to rename the Kogelo School in my name.
The land that the school is built on was donated by my grandparents and I am proud to carry on the tradition of supporting the school.”
Obiero and her board of governors followed up his letter offering ” support” with a bald, formal request for funds in the form of a nine-page proposal, a copy of which has been provided to the Evening Standard, laying out their ambitions for the school. In it they ask for 8.2 million Kenyan shillings (approximately £65,000) to upgrade the school. The money would be used, they say, to bring water to the school by sinking a borehole and building a water tank, erect a perimeter fence, complete the science laboratory and add muchneeded new classrooms, additional latrines, and a school dining hall.
Obiero recalls: “When the US Ambassador William Bellamy came to visit the school for the official renaming ceremony in February 2006, we gave him two copies of the proposal, one for the Embassy and one to give to Senator Obama. But we have not heard anything from either of them since.”