Congratulations to Steven and Saidi, who both graduated from Kindergarten in December! This week they will start in their new primary classes. They won’t be changing schools as Mtwapa Elite goes right through, but they do get a posh different coloured PE uniform!! Very grown up!
They are very excited – lets wish them luck in their new classes and all have a little nostalgic moment remembering how much they have grown!!
Yes I wilt! When even the palm trees are withering, you can imagine what the sun is doing to us!
Contrary to the opinion I had before arriving, everybody and everything works hard for a living here, whether it is a two-year-old starting school or a matatu taxi. I experienced my first matatu ride on Sunday the 13th (“black Sunday”!) For the uninitiated, these are Toyota Hiace vans with a driver and two passenger seats up front. Entry is via the sliding side door, there are four rows of three seats inside, very cosy. So, 14 passengers in all plus a conductor, although on Amy’s last trip she had a competition with her friend for the most crowded matatu ride. Amy smugly reported her entry of 32 passengers but was trumped by her friend with 36! In a Toyota Hiace! The truth needs no exaggeration in Kenya.
Now I bet you know some Swahili without realising. “Hakuna matata” (copyright Disney’s Lion King) hakuna = none; matata = worries. This must be where the name comes from, matatu – worry on wheels!
With so many people living in close proximity, one obvious problem is litter. There is no council refuse truck to clear streets so the locals sweep their own patch maybe twice every day and simply set fire to the pile, so the air is thick with the smell of burning, especially plastic. Just remind me of the smell the next time I complain about my council tax.
In spite of the circumstances the vast majority are very cheerful and completely honest. Once in a while you meet an exceptional individual like Madam Susan. She runs Victory Academy a daycare centre at her home for kindergarten aged kids. In theory parents pay and those that can do pay, but many can’t. Madam Susan draws no distinction, they are all loved, fed and taken care of. The parents are all doing their best to support her, as is Milele, thanks to your efforts.
Next time… ‘baby-faced robber’ and goats in the high street… no ‘kidding’!
During the most recent trip to Kenya we have embarked on a very exciting new project which we are looking forward to telling you about.
Many of you may remember a project called Bethel Children’s Care Centre from new blogs on this website. We have been working with them for some time now, using the centre as a base for handing out your clothes and shoes donations, as well as supporting them with some educational materials such as exercise books, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers etc.
The project is based in the residential area of Mtomondoni, in the home of the founder, Elizabeth and her husband, Bill and provides nursery level education to young children in the area. Schooling in Kenya is done in three stages; nursery, primary and secondary. Completion of each stage is necessary for progression to the next one, however primary level is the only level which is provided free of charge by the government. Bethel, therefore, provides a crucial service to aound 80 local families, educating more than 80 children aged 2-6 in kindergarten (nursery) level schooling such as basic maths and english in preparation for primary schooling at the local government school.All the children who attend are from very poor backgrounds, with many being from single parent families, orphans or affected by HIV/AIDS. Therefore the facility is extremely useful to local parents or carers, especially those from single parent households, or those caring for orphans, as it enables them to go out and work during the day to put food on the table, whilst the children are looked after at Bethel.
Bethel charges just 100/= per month (around 70pence) which is enough to cover basic facilities such as pencils and paper, exam papers, desks, benches etc, whilst still being affordable to the local community.
However, the small amount the children and their families contribute is not adequate to pay wages for a teacher; meaning that Bethel have had a succession of volunteer teachers all in temporary roles and many underqualified for the job.
During the trip this time, with the assistance of the friends of Milele group fundraising here in the UK we have managed to take on a nursery teacher named Janet Dawa who will work at Bethel on a trial basis until the end of the year. If the trial is sucessful and funding can be secured long term, there is the hope that we will extend it indefinitely.
We also gave out many of the school uniform clothes which had been donated to the project, so the children have something smart to wear to school!
Thank-you to everyone who has donated so far, it will make a huge difference to very many children.
We would like to create some links between Bethel and some schools in the UK to help fund the teaching project. If you are a teacher at a school and would like to help us or to find out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Amy on 07950329398