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Catching up – Kenya 2017 (Part 3)

In the third installment of the catching up series we have been seeing how Linet, Peris and Tamira are doing at boarding school.

Tamira started boarding school around a year ago; she was the first of the Milele children to join the school which must have been a little daunting for her but she quickly made friends with the matron of the school and settled in well. Tamira has really started to hit her stride over the last few months, she seems very much at home in the school environment and her confidence is improving everyday.

When we met Tamira this week we were very lucky to be able to give her some truly lovely gifts that her sponsors has sent. Tamira is such a wonderful girl and instead of hastily rummaging through her goodies (something I would have done at her age) she really took the time to appreciate everything which has been sent and carefully write replies to the letters included. We will dutifully be delivering the letters once we are back in October.

Tamira with her smart new bag
Tamira with her smart new bag

Linet and Peris joined the same boarding school as Tamira at the start of 2017. When they arrived they were greeted by Tamira who showed them the ropes and helped them settle in to life at boarding school. The three girls were always quite close as they are similar in age but living together at school seems to have really cemented their friendships.

When we arrived, Linet was her usual smiley self. She has always been one to wear her heart on her sleeve and she is clearly enjoying being at her now school and has even taken on the role of school bell ringer. Amy gave Linet a gift from one of her sponsors which she absolutely loved and following Tamira’s lead, wrote a lovely reply to the letter she received.

Peris has always been a bit quieter than Linet (although it would be hard for anyone to match Linet’s boundless energy) but she too seemed settled and contented in the school and seems to be coming out of her shell more and more. Amy gave Peris some reading books which were very well received. Peris told us that she has been borrowing reading books from children in Standard 7 and 8 because they are more interesting than the one she gets to read in Standard 5 so she clearly has a talent for English.

Linet (left) and Peris (right) at their school.
Linet (left) and Peris (right) at their school.

It was great to catch up with the girls and wonderful to see them all so happy in their new surroundings.

Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment, with news updates of the last few children on our programme!

Linet the Bell Ringer!

This month Linet takes on new responsibilities as the school bell ringer!

Only a few months ago we moved Linet to a new boarding school some distance from home in Malindi. She settled in really well and school has provided an excellent, stable home environment for her.

She has clearly made an impression already as she has been given a new responsibility as the school ‘bell-ringer’! This means it is her job to ring the large bell that signifies the beginning and end of each school period, the start and end of break-time and lunch-time too.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Linet (somewhat cheekily) suggested to Rieder that really, to make sure she is accurate with the timings, she should have a new watch!!

Linet, Peris and Tamira have all moved school this year and have settled into their new school remarkably well. Their discipline and attention to their school work has really improved this term especially so Rich, Rieder and I decided to treat them all to posh new watches (each one cost around £2.50).

They were pretty chuffed with their prize! Now there’s no excuse for being late to class either!

The girls with their new watches - Left to right - Tamira, Linet, Peris.
The girls with their new watches – Left to right – Tamira, Linet, Peris.

Trip to the beach for our sponsored children!

Visits to the beach are extremely rare for children from Mtwapa; since, despite being just a few miles away, they are mostly owned by hotels and therefore completely out of bounds for local people and children. However there is one public beach about 15 minutes drive away, so whilst out on our trip to Kenya we arranged for two buses to take the whole Milele group plus all their brothers and sisters out on a trip to the beach, in total 32 people.

Excitement brewing on the bus!
Excitement brewing on the bus!

The children were extremely excited and had an absolutely amazing time. It was a great fun day out for all of us and of course they were all absolutely perfectly behaved!

Splish Splash! The whole Milele crew plus all their families enjoying the beach outing!
Splish Splash! The whole Milele crew plus all their families enjoying the beach outing!

We played and splashed in the sea (some of the littler people went skinny dipping and others wore spare t-shirts and shorts because of lack of swim kit) and had a wonderful time! Even our co-ordinator Rieder joined in, splashing all the children and having great fun!

After a couple of hours I was keen to get everyone out and dry, so suggested that they might all like to have a camel ride (a very popular pastime on the beaches in Kenya… perhaps the kenyan version of the english donkey ride…) and never have I seen children move so fast! They raced back to the beach at lightening speed and we all enjoyed a fab picnic with juice and biscuits all round – a real treat. Little Emmanuel (who isn’t actually that little anymore) was allowed to take charge of taking back the leftover biscuits to the children in New Light Children’s Home (where he lives) which he was absolutely THRILLED about. Regular readers of this blog will know Emmanuel as the child who can never be given quite enough biscuits!!

Back to Front: Linet, Naomi, Peris and Janet enjoy their camel ride
Back to Front: Linet, Naomi, Peris and Janet enjoy their camel ride

After the beach everyone had a go on the camels and shrieksof nervousness and excited delight rang out all afternoon(the camel holding Tamira, Linet, Peris and Pendo’s younger sister Faith was particularly noisy!!)  and I’m sure the children will be talking about it for years to come! When we dropped off some of the children that evening and stayed for a brief chat, Shakeel, who is just four years old just kept exclaiming “mummy, we went on a camel…. we went on a camel mummy… It was really big!!” every few minutes!

Little Saidi with his older sister Riziki have a turn!
Little Saidi with his older sister Riziki have a turn!

The whole thing came in at less than £40… camel rides, picnic, beach, private buses and iced lollies for 32 people! Unbelievable! We finished up a trip back to Mtwapa with some very sleepy and happy children. A huge success all round. Enjoy the photos!

Best of friends already! New sponsored child Thomas (left) makes friends with Kaingu
Best of friends already! New sponsored child Thomas (left) makes friends with Kaingu

New Sponsored children – Linet and Peris

Hello everyone!

Thank-you for your patience waiting for all the photos and news from the trip to Kenya! The internet was pretty sluggish so we struggled to make updates as regularly as we wanted to!

First and foremost let me tell you about one of the most important things we did on the trip – sponsoring three new children.

The first two are 8 year old girls Linet and Peris.

Peris (Left) and Linet (right) in their home
Peris (Left) and Linet (right) in their home

They live together with their two younger sisters Janet and Naomi, elder brother and the girls’ guardian who is Linet’s mother and Peris’s grandmother in a mud built house in Mtomondoni.

(Left to right) Linet, Ferndinand (their older brother), Janet, Peris, Naomi and their mum (back) in their house
(Left to right) Linet, Ferndinand (their older brother), Janet, Peris, Naomi and their mum (back) in their house

She works in a local Shamba (farm) as a farm worker to try to raise money to feed her family; but unfortunately she has never had the money to send the girls to school at all. By 8 years old, it is crucial that they begin as soon as possible so that they do not feel too out of place in the lower kindergarten classes. Whilst starting school late is common in this area, at their age we wanted to be careful not to make the girls feel too conspicuous whilst still ensuring they begin in the appropriate class for them academically. Both girls have begun in Kindergarten 3 with a view to moving them up into Standard one as soon as possible. Whilst we were not able to sponsor all four children, the director of the school we send the sponsored children to has agreed to take on the two younger girls as ‘complementary’ students, allowing them to study there for free without paying fees.

They are both such lively and happy girls, despite having a very difficult home life. Their positive attitude and energy is quite incredible. Linet is clearly the ‘big sister’ of the other three girls, always making sure she is looking after them and that they are ok. Peris is the quietest of the four, but is super excited about being able to go to school, full of smiles and happiness. All four girls were understandably nervous on their first day – Just the experience of being in a concrete building is enough of a shock for them, and I found them following me around like little lost sheep! Everywhere we turned there they were, grinning at us! But very quickly they have adapted and begun to make friends and feel more comfortable in their classes.

When we collected them for their first day at school they were clearly wearing their sunday best clothes, but despite this none of them even had any underwear. Kindly, the JCC school group who were also in Kenya at the same time as us donated some clothes to them, and their faces absolutely lit up. They were twirling around feeling like a million dollars. Seeing Peris’s reaction when I pulled even the most bare essentials out of the bag of donations was one of the most wonderful moments of the trip for me. She immediately jumped up and down with excitement pointing and shouting ‘For me! For me!’

The girls taking breakfast before their first day at school
The girls taking breakfast before their first day at school(Left to right - Linet, Naomi, Janet and Peris)

To see them all so smart in their new uniform for the first time on the last day was extremely emotional, and they were so so happy and pleased, they couldnt stop saying thank-you and kept asking us to take photos so they could see themselves in their posh clothes.

Linet in her smart new uniform with her hygiene kit
Linet in her smart new uniform with her hygiene kit
Peris in her new uniform with her hygiene kit
Peris in her new uniform with her hygiene kit

They are all incredibly excited and cant seem to stop smiling. I can’t wait to watch them grow and progress in school, to begin to feel like they belong there and to do well. This opportunity truely has changed their lives, I cannot thank all our donors on their behalf enough for what they have done for them.

Enjoy the photos – as always they say far more than I ever could!