ReachOut has been in existence since 2016 as a means to offer scholarships to students in Africa (below the Sahara) who otherwise would not have the money necessary to go to school. The starting point was when the ReachOut Education Support Foundation was established as a formal Dutch legal entity (in Dutch: a ‘stichting’), building on two important facts:
- Jaap and Gerda Smit (Lelystad) were willing to donate part of their capital to the foundation on a yearly basis.
- Previous contacts in Malawi and with EBM International made it possible to establish a management structure for ReachOut in Malawi. Here, in particular, Rev. Fletcher Kaya and Mr. Benson Makwasa have played a crucial role in setting up a management and control system for arranging and effectuating the financial support process.
Since 2016, ReachOut has supported a group of around eight students. In the first years, the supported students went to a secondary school. A number of them successfully completed secondary school and were interested to move to the next level, that is, a vocational training or a university education. ReachOut has continued its support to these students as it is ReachOut’s goal to help the students until they reach the capacity to take care of themselves by finding a good job and being independent and responsible citizens.
Developments in 2019
At the end of 2019 and continuing into 2020, the following students were receiving financial support:
Each month ReachOut received a financial report from Malawi as well as verbal information on how the supported students were doing. ReachOut was also informed of the students’ educational results and about special concerns such as health conditions. By communicating about this information, there was a common understanding of how to deal with the various issues that arose.
In 2019 no new candidates were accepted because the current budget was needed for the support of the already supported students.
Sadly, in 2019 ReachOut’s chairman, Jaap Smit, became seriously ill and eventually passed away. This meant a change in perspective; suddenly, ReachOut’s survival became doubtful. However, Jaap and his wife Gerda could guarantee the continuation of their contribution for another two years. By this, it was possible to guarantee that the above-mentioned eight students can be supported until they have completed their current studies. Therefore, the remaining board members decided to continue their involvement and keep ReachOut going. Fortunately, Dr Hellen Kimanthi was willing to join the board as governor and secretary.
In Malawi, as a new step, for the ReachOut work, a special steering committee has been erected, which will be responsible for the direct management and control of the support to the students there. Members of the steering committee are the two persons who have already been involved in the work in Malawi – Rev. Fletcher Kaya and Mr Benson Makwasa- and two new non-executive members: Dr Ellen M. Chirwa and Ms Jane N.K. Phiri.
The new situation brought back and intensified the idea to acquire the ANBI status (recognition by the government as a social organisation so that donations by civilians can be tax deductible). Having the ANBI status helps to become effective in raising funds, obtaining donations from a much wider public. It is planned to apply for the ANBI status in the first quarter of 2020. After obtaining that status, ReachOut will start a fund-raising campaign to make sure that the funding can go and expand.
The 2020 budget is exclusive of expected results of the intended fund-raising campaign. It is purely based on the commitment expressed by Jaap and Gerda Smit. However, the available resources will be broadened if new funds can be raised.
The further development will continually be published on ReachOut’s website.
Chairman and treasurer