The parents of an alumnus have made a gift towards the creation of a stained glass window within the Faith Centre of the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, in memory of their late son.
Jeremiah Gitau and Eunice Muringo Kiereini have donated £25,000 as a tribute to son Mburu (BSc Economics 1995) who passed away in August 2010. The gift follows that of Sebastian McKinlay (BSc Economics 1995), a friend and classmate of Mburu’s, and his wife Alison McKinlay, whose £50,000 gift has seen the room housing the Student Activity Resource Centre within the new building named the Mburu Kiereini Room.
“Mburu spoke highly of LSE, citing the unique social interactions that other universities did not have, as well as the very high academic standards,” said Eunice. “The hard work involved in obtaining his degree played a vital role in forming Mburu’s distaste for wasting time.”
As well as devoting time to his studies, Mburu also took it upon himself to visit schools where he helped students with career choices. “It was at LSE where Mburu was able to perfect his lifelong ambition to make a difference to others. He also loved teaching football to poor children and keeping them away from mischief.”
Eunice also cited Mburu’s courage in the face of being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2007 as inspirational. “For a fit young sportsman like Mburu, this was a particularly cruel illness but he did not once feel sorry for himself or complain. He often told his wife, Wambui, that he continued to be abundantly blessed. Mburu took charge and learnt as much as he could about the disease, and carried on with life as normally as he could.” In December 2008, Mburu and Wambui welcomed their son Gitau into the world.
Ultimately it was the influence the School had on Mburu’s character that prompted the Kiereinis' decision to make a philanthropic gift. “Mburu was a perfectionist – courageous, intelligent and not afraid to speak his mind, and LSE provided the perfect opportunities for these attributes to thrive. Because of this, we felt one way of keeping his memory alive was to donate a gift which might encourage young people to give back to the next generation. His son would be proud of his father’s contribution to LSE.”
Reverend Dr James Walters, LSE Chaplain and Interfaith Advisor, described the gift as an appropriate reflection of Mburu’s values. “The installation of this artwork is not merely a matter of decoration but of creating the right kind of atmosphere for the Centre’s work and activities,” he said. “LSE is a busy, sometimes stressful, campus where it is all too easy to lose focus on what is important. Within this new Faith Centre we are trying to create a space where people can stop and reflect, pray or worship if they wish, and encounter others in a welcoming, hospitable environment. That sounds like a fitting tribute to the kind of man Mburu was.”
The Faith Centre sits on the second floor of the student centre, which opened its doors over the Christmas break. It combines existing religious provision at the School with facilities that can be used by all the different faith communities at LSE, as well as non-religious students. The Students’ Union, LSE Careers and Residencies have also moved into the new building, with a formal opening ceremony set to take place later in the year.