Notice: as of June, 2018, World Teacher Aid has rebranded as a new non-profit organization called Village Impact. Please visit the Village Impact website to stay up to date or to make a donation to World Teacher Aid

One Dollar (Really) Can Make a Difference

The one dollar campaign that World Teacher Aid has launched is a straight forward concept:  1) you give a certain amount, even only a dollar, to WTA, 100% of which 2) goes directly to helping students in displaced communities in Kenya, and then, 3) you tell all your friends.  4) Repeat.

The title at the donation page asks “Can One Dollar Really Make a Difference?” The short video on the page answers: Yes, it can. $1 can cover 15 meals!  Which is great, but if you’ve never eaten Ugali and Sukuma Wiki, that can be hard to put into perspective.

Many other charities out there are already offering a bit of perspective: “For a dollar a day, you can sponsor a child…” or “For the price of a coffee, you could feed a family…” or “The average Canadian family has about $4.33 in loose change lost behind the cushions of their sofa, which could buy ten school uniforms…”  And so on.  (Full disclosure: I made the last one up)

As of yesterday, the Kenya Shilling stood at 85 to $1 USD.  From living here these past six months, my own perspective has been to think in terms of shillings before dollars. So, when I hear $1, I think of all I could purchase with 85 Shillings…

All four= $1

All of this was purchased for $1 in Kenya

Like in the picture above: with $1, I purchased a pen (15 Ksh), an 80 page notebook (15 Ksh), a toothbrush (30 Ksh), and a little snack pack of spicy peanuts and mixed chips (25 Ksh, and full of carbs and protein).  Any kid in Shalom would go ‘nuts’ over a gift of these four things.  Education, (dental) Health, and uh, Food Security:  with $1, we just addressed 3 of the 8 UN Millennium Development goals! (Full Disclosure: I’m being tongue in cheek.)


500 ml bag of milk (40 Ksh) and a loaf of bread (45 Ksh) = $1

These are some other things that you could purchase for around $1 at my nearby provision shop. I felt a bit ridiculous when I asked if I could take some pictures of things that are only about 85 shillings. Samson, the shopkeeper’s assistant got right into the spirit of it though and kept handing me items to snap a photo of.


One package (2kg) of Maize Flour, used to make Ugali, will feed a family of five for at least three meals: $1.64 (140 Ksh)

These aren’t the best prices, they’re just my friendly local shop, but I’m hoping it puts things into perspective for you. You already know how much a cup of coffee costs, but now, you know what we can do, right here, with a little donation, like the price of a coffee, or even of just $1.


Dettol, Kenya’s Favourite multi-use antibacterial soap concentrate: $1 (85 Ksh)

How many kids in Shalom Primary could use a new notebook and a pen? Many, if not all, of the more than 230 students need this right now.  Many confess to not coming if they don’t have a pen or some paper.

Let’s work this out then:  3 notebooks and 3 pens for (roughly) $1. There are (roughly) 530 students at Shalom Primary.  If we wanted to give every student a notebook and pen, it would only cost around $169. That’s not very much money, and yet this would profoundly change how every student at Shalom attended school and engaged with the material.


Two 250 g bags of sugar: Less than $1 (80 Ksh)

I’m as guilty as anyone of paying more attention to the big moments and missing how important the small details are.  But! It’s the small details that are keeping many kids in Kenya from regularly attending school. Those details are often concerns like not having enough food, not having a working pen, or not having any more pages in their notebook, or not having access to the shared textbook, or even, missing that 20 shillings to take the end of term exam.  That’s right: children in Kenya fail terms of school because they don’t have 23 cents to spend.


Samson, assistant at the shop, with a kg of rice: $1 (85 Ksh)

So let’s spend some time focusing on the details and their small little solutions.  We’ve seen that just one dollar can make a big impact here in Kenya, whether you’re buying rice or stationary. The ‘difference’ then, is all up to you. Will YOU make a difference with $1?

Donate Here : Can $1 Dollar Really Make a Difference?