Starehe Boys

Starehe Boys Centre Crest
Starehe is a charitable boarding school for disadvantaged boys in Nairobi, Kenya. The school offers free secondary education to some of the brightest but poorest boys in Kenya, who otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn. The school has grown from its humble beginnings in two twin huts (still at the centre of the school campus) to educating 1000 boys at any one time. Competition for places at the school is intense. The school has an international reputation and has been graced by distinguished visitors including HRH Princess Anne.Martyn was a volunteer music teacher at Starehe from 1996 to 1998. During his time at Starehe he led the school choir to considerable success at the Kenya Music Festival, gave piano lessons, taught western classical music in the classroom and led the music-making in assembly. He found teaching at Starehe quite different from schools in the UK. The Kenyan boys were desperately keen to learn and fully appreciated their educational opportunities, it being quite literally the difference between life and death for many of them. Martyn was frequently woken at 7am by students wanting the key to the piano practice rooms! He found it a joy to be amongst such enthusiastic young people.

In Jan 2005, Starehe Girls’ Centre was opened, the culmination of a long-held dream for Starehe’s founder, Dr Geoffrey Griffin.

MDMT is supporting Starehe in a variety of ways. We have re-established the volunteer music teacher scheme, which gave Martyn his opportunity to work at Starehe, and you can read more about our volunteers on this site. We have been able to purchase and send a digital piano to Starehe’s Music Department. Also, a collection of donated musical instruments has been sent out to the school, following an appeal to brass bands across the UK. We are currently collecting musical instruments, music and books to send to the Girls’ School. If you would like to help in any way, please contact one of the trustees.
Group of Starehe Boys with Music Volunteer, Matt Brooks in the school grounds

Volunteer Teachers

Matthew Brooks

Matthew was the first MDMT sponsored vounteer music teacher. He took up his 2 year post at Starehe Boys’ Centre in September 2004. Read an account of his time in Nairobi here.

Chris Walters

Chris Walters worked at Starehe Boys’ as the music volunteer from Jan 2007 to July 2008. A report on his time at the Boys’ School is available here.

Barney Everett

BarneyBarney Everett started work at Starehe Boys’ as the music volunteer in Jan 2009, finishing in Dec 2009.




Georgina Hardiman

Georgina has been the music volunteer at Starehe Boys’ from Jan 2010 and is staying on until Dec 2011.   Here is Georgina’s report on her first 6 months at Starehe:

* Dan Abissi gets interviewed by BBC Radio Outlook and it is aired on the World Service Radio
* Ned Kirk, a pianist and music professor from the U.S., comes to Starehe Boys Centre to do a master class. Lots of other schools from the Nairobi province are involved

* Young Musicians Competition – 6 pupils took part and one got to the finals. Myself and Rob were asked to judge

* Young Musicians Finals
* Interhouse Competition on the last day of term. The different houses train their choirs and compete to the title.

* Performance of St Johns Passion that I took part in with Nairobi choir
* My UK visitor donates a clarinet and 180 reeds!

* Preparation for KMF and teaching the choir my composition
* My dad and brother visit and donate 30 descant recorders, one treble and one bass recorder as well as bringing another clarinet from Jim (visited in April)

* New piano arrives from MDMT!
* Rehearsals and busy schedules for the music festival

* Kenya Music Festival provincials – the best experience so far! Starehe lead the provicials and make us proud.
* Founders Day (17th) a fantastic day for all. I even got to meet President Kibaki and shake his hand!

Updates on Starehe Pupils

Read here about individual Starehe pupils, both former and current, who are connected with the Trust in a variety of ways.

Starehe Boys visit Macclesfield

In Sept 2008 we were delighted to welcome a group of pupils from Starehe Boys, Dan, Eliazaro, Clement, Isaac, David, Eddie and music teacher Franklin Etyang, who stayed with us for a week and took part in our fund-raising concert, Martyn’s Music 4.  It was an inspiring and exciting week for the pupils, their hosts and all who participated in and attended the concert. Reports from the boys about their time in Macclesfield, plus some photos, can be seen here.


We were delighted to introduce the youngsters of Macclesfield Youth Brass Band (MYBB) to the boys from Nairobi during their time in Macclesfield in Sept 08.  The Brass Band  generously selected MDMT to be their chosen charity during 08/09.  The boys were invited to sing and perform with MYBB during their appearance at the Bollington Transport Extravaganza, on which occasion they were also presented with a trumpet from the members of MYBB.  The instrument has been taken back to Starehe Boys’ School and is now in the deserving hands of student John Wamithi Wachira.  John has sent this account of his plans for his future musical career with the MYBB trumpet!

My name is John Wamithi Wachira and I’ll be turning 16 this year. I am the second born in a Family of three. My home is precisely located at the middle of the center of the country; Nyeri (on Mount Kenya slopes) in Central Province.  I started my schooling at the age of six at a local school in the vicinity. It took me eight years to finish my Primary education before I got an opportunity to join Starehe Boys’ Centre in Nairobi.
When I was a year old, a very painful thing happened to me. It still haunts me. Accidentally, I fell on hot charcoal. My forehead and three of my fingers on my left hand were thoroughly burnt. As I grew up, it was a big challenge doing my daily chores using my right hand. I felt an outcast. With time, I have come to be myself. Fighting everyday wars with much zeal and confidence; I will live my dream.
At Starehe, I fell in love with music. The challenge was that most instruments require double coordination using both hands. Now, that was a challenge…..only two strong fingers on my left hand! My ever encouraging music teacher Mr. Etyang’ noted my hardships .We settled for a trumpet…Wow! This is my destiny!  Recently, Mr Etyang’ brought back from the UK a very beautiful trumpet. I was honoured to use it. It was really moving playing a few tunes in the Assembly hall; I commanded attention from the entire school as they listened. Yes, I can do it!
I am determined to take Music as my future career. I truly thank the MYBB through the MDMT for the trumpet and I assure them one thing….I will be the BEST. I have great hopes to study abroad luckily if I get a sponsor. This will enable me develop my skills and many perspectives in life.
May the Almighty shower His blessings to the Macclesfield Youth Brass Band , the Martyn Donaldson Music Trust and Mr. Etyang’ for all the kindness and love shown to me.  Please accept my heartfelt thanksgiving.

Boys from Starehe with their instruments
In Sept 2005, we were delighted to welcome to the UK a group of boys from Starehe and their teacher. The visit enabled the group to take part in a special royal reception attended by HRH Princess Anne and the Vice-President of Kenya and also to perform at our second ‘Martyn’s Music’ concert. We were also able to introduce them to the wonders of fish and chips and Manchester United!
Read all about their visit through eyes of one of the young students here.


In July 2007, our volunteers Chris and Niamh worked together to produce Starehe’s first musical for many years, ‘Oliver!’.With combined forces from both the Girls’ and Boys’ Schools, the show was an astonishing achievement by pupils who have never been on stage or even seen a musical before. A resounding success, the show later transferred to a theatre in Nairobi for several performances. Click here to read a full report on the show by MDMT Chairman Andy Donaldson.