Editor's Note: This is the last in a series of blogs by Daystar U.S. development officer, Walt Avra, reflecting on his time in Kenya during a recent trip. Read the first installment HERE
One of the many pleasant surprises during my first visit to Daystar was discovering how advanced and modern the facilities are. Daystar is a world-class university ready to meet the challenges of the African continent in the 21st century.
Our Daystar U.S. team stayed in apartments on the 7th floor of the new DAC building on the Daystar downtown Nairobi campus. From the top of this impressive building which was built just a few years back, you can see all of the modern buildings of Nairobi and the hustle and bustle of life. Nairobi is Africa’s fourth largest city with a population of over 6.5 million people. According to one website, “Nairobi’s a vibrant commerce, technology, manufacturing, industrial, and financial hub for East and Central Africa. As such Nairobi contributes 60 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product, or the nation’s wealth. Major airlines and charter plane companies operate from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, thereby opening East Africa to the rest of the world.”
Daystar University is strategically located in the heart of this impressively modern city and African business hub as it educates the future leaders of Kenya and the world. The downtown campus hosts many evening students who work full-time and complete their degrees in the evenings. This downtown campus is also the location of the nursing school. Daystar nursing students have their practicums in the leading hospitals in Nairobi and its suburbs. The new law school downtown is prepared to begin educating lawyers who will bring servant-leadership and Christ-centered integrity to the injustices of the poor.
Several times we visited Daystar’s Athi River campus which is located about 45 minutes south of Nairobi. On our way, we passed dense slums and traveled around the newly constructed bypass of the city which borders the Nairobi National Park. One morning, we saw a giraffe reaching for his breakfast at the top of a tree as we made our way to the Athi River campus.
The Athi River campus has the opposite feel of the downtown Nairobi campus. As you leave the main road, you feel as if you have reached the beginning of a safari as you move onto a country road. After 10 minutes on this country road, you arrive at the gate of the Athi River campus. You feel like you have reached a resort in the wilderness as you move through the gate to see the impressive Athi River campus entrance, its stairs leading to a courtyard with fine landscaping all around. You walk around the campus and see modern facilities and a beautifully manicured plants and flowers that rival many U.S. universities. Toward the peak of the Athi River campus, you can walk up the stairs that lead to the entrance of the library in a peaceful and beautiful atmosphere.
The climb to the top of the solid rock peak at the center of the campus, reminds me of the solid granite at the top of Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia. From this point you can see the 300 acre campus spread on all four sides with Daystar buildings and plenty of room for expansion. From this point, you can also see the area where 25% of the population of Kenya, including Nairobi, live. There is a white cross at the highest peak where students and staff commit to pray 24 hours a day for Daystar and all the surrounding peoples of Kenya.
Experiencing life on the two Daystar campuses made me realize the huge impact that Daystar U.S. donors have had on Daystar University. Almost every building was built and the land itself was purchased with the support of Daystar U.S. donors. What a cause for celebration and thanksgiving to be a part of this great work. Daystar has come so far and Daystar U.S. donors are a big part of that story!
Looking out from the top of Athi River campus also made me realize the great potential for the future. In the library there is a detailed map that shows the plans for the next 40 years at Daystar with new dormitories, new athletic facilities, and many more buildings dedicated to educating Daystar students to reach every sphere of African society. Countless future students will shine as lights for Jesus that the world may see their good works and give glory to God.
We are already seeing the plans of one Daystar’s first leaders, Stephen Talitwala, unfold as so many of his dreams are becoming a reality. For example, you can see the water project on this original master plan and the water project is now almost halfway completed. Daystar Athi River Campus was originally designed for 1,200 students. With the 2,500 students and staff that are currently at Athi River Campus, the water supply is grossly undersized for its current use. Currently, the two water sources supply only 40% of the daily water requirements for the campus. The remaining need is met by purchasing truckloads of water each week, an expensive and unsustainable solution (over $96,000/year!). Sadly, this lack of water is limiting Daystar’s growth and impact.
But the expansion of Daystar’s dam system will capture rainwater and hold of over 42 million gallons of water (over 60 Olympic size pools!). The creation of this distribution system will channel water across campus and to the local community. When completed, the catchment system is expected to have an estimated reservoir capacity providing the university with an average constant flow of 300,000 liters per day, twice the current water need for the university which averages 120,000 liters per day. With this new system, we are an anticipating an unprecedented opportunity for enrollment growth to a 5,000+ strong student body at the Athi River Campus with many more future African leaders.
It is exciting to imagine the potential for the educating of many more Christ-centered servant leaders for Africa and the world! Below are some exciting ways that Daystar can bring increased future impact transform Africa for the glory of Christ!
Optimistic Bridge-Builder | Impact Focused
I love to learn from my brothers and sisters in Africa and South Asia where my family lived and served the past 7 years. It was a joy to be involved in installing water hand pumps and providing basic education in villages without clean water and without the good news of Jesus.
I became passionate about Daystar University through my strong friendship with a Daystar graduate, Julius, who became my mentor while in graduate school. I am inspired by the great faith of others and how God can multiply our efforts as we work together.
I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my wife, Mercy, and our two children. I also enjoy reading books and the news.