We arrived in Mtwapa in the middle of the night on the 4th of September. Mtwapa was still awake and noisey as always!
We have been really busy over the last few days introducing Tomo, Faye and Helena to (almost) everyone. Over our first few days we have planning some extra tuition at Mtwapa Academy, helping out at Bethel Children’s Care Centre and sorting out all the items we have to give out!
All is going very well here and they boys are performing really well as usual! We will put a bit more detailed information up over the coming days. Watch out for more updates over the next few days including millions of cute photos of Kenyan children!
Today Charo in his role of elder brother (which he fulfils perfectly) escorted us around his and his brothers classrooms for a version of an English parents evening. You sit and talk through your child’s mark with the teacher, then receive their school report. We were very pleased to find that all four of our children had glowing reports in all areas.
Charo proudly showed us to his classroom where his teacher went through his marks with us. Overall he has done exceptionally well, getting 740 marks out of 800 and rising to position 2 in class. He only needs to rise one more position and he will achieve the coveted rank of first in class, meaning his name will go on the board in the school courtyard for everyone to see! Charo has achieved more than 80% in every single subject this term, in English and Swahili reading and in English writing he received 100%; and in maths he received a 96% score. These are clearly impeccable marks and he is justifiably very proud, showing us each piece of class-work bound together in his folder. Charo’s teacher reported to us that she is very happy to have him in her class, that he is a polite and extremely responsible boy and that he has the best handwriting in the whole class! She also told us that this term Charo has been given the honour of class monitor- someone the teachers select to be responsible for their classmates; he is (of course) carrying out this role perfectly!
Kaingu and Safari’s teacher was also very pleased with them. Both are achieving very high marks. Kaingu this term achieved a total of 709 marks out of 800, making him position 6 in class out of 24. In English and Swahili reading he received full marks, 100%. The teacher informed us that she will be working with him during tuition over the holidays to improve his spoken English (in which he got 76%) and social studies (74%), which are his lowest subjects since he prefers to talk in Kiswahili all the time!! We discussed his weakness in social studies, suggesting that this might be because it includes CRE (Christianity). The boys did not learn CRE in their previous home, so now approaching this subject in school is challenging for them. However overall she said he is a very hardworking boy, though a little shy, and very bright, always looking up to his brother Safari!
Safari’s report was just as positive, overall he managed to get 724 marks out of 800 in his first term in Standard 2, and got into the top three being position 3 out of 24 students in his class. Once again Safari managed 100% in English and Swahili reading, and English writing, and very high marks in maths (96%). It would seem that he takes after his big brother Charo in these things! Safari’s weakest subjects are Kiswahili (80%) and Social Studies (80%). He seems to have a specific problem in understanding ‘opposites’, within the Kiswahili exam and so the teacher is going to work on this with him during tuition over the holidays.
Emmanuel is in Standard 1 now and so it is his first year in the lower primary classes! Since he is such a big boy now this has meant a change in his uniform and he struts proudly around wearing exactly the same clothes as his big brothers, which he is extremely happy about! Emmanuel has achieved 3rd place in class this term, showing how well he has settled into proper primary classes. This move also means he has started computer classes, a subject he is throwing himself into and really enjoying. We have been told that if the teacher overruns in any subject and it is time for computer lessons, all the students in the class immediately let her know! Teacher, Teacher, it is computer time now!!
We are very proud of all of them and how hard they are clearly working to have achieved such high marks. After only four terms in school all the children have improved hugely. When they started at Mtwapa Academy, Safari was getting 640 marks out of 800, and was position 5 in class, after 12 months worth of schooling he is now getting 724 marks and has risen to position 3. Kaingu began in position 7, with 530 marks and since then has risen to 709 marks. Charo 12 months ago was position 14 in class, receiving 680 marks, and has since shot all the way up to position 2, with 740 marks. We are very pleased with how quickly the boys have caught up with their classmates despite their shaky start in life.
All the children’s sponsors will receive their full end of term reports in the post immediately after we return back from Kenya next week. Keep your eyes peeled, let’s hope Charo manages to get top place in class next term!!
So here it is… the Official Mtwapa Academy School Photo 2009.
This is one of many photos taken (including a serious one which Madam Director requested before the thumbs revealed). It took around half an hour to organise the children into a vague semblance of order before the photos could be taken (which took about 2 mins).
We thought you might be chomping at the bit for more information about the first four sponsored boys on the programme, so we thought we would give you a bit of background to them and why they are sponsored now.
When we first met Charo, Safari, Kaingu and Emmanuel they were four brothers in a family of 11 children, all staying in a dilapidated mud hut in a rural village called Takaungu; about 40 minutes north along the coastline from Mtwapa. The family consisted of 7 girls and 4 boys, their (estimated) ages ranging between the eldest at 15 years and the youngest at 2 years. The ages are all estimates since the children don’t know their dates of birth and because they were not born in hospitals but in the village they do not have formal birth notification cards!
The boy’s father had recently passed away, and his three wives, the mothers of the children, had all abandoned them. They had one uncle who was attempting to help them with food and clothing, but who was also struggling to feed his own family. Consequently, they were living alone. The boys were working in a local quarry making bricks to earn a small amount of money for food, but the family were struggling to make ends meet. The house they were sleeping in was impossibly small, with almost no furniture and all four walls were in a state of severe disrepair; it was clear they could not remain in this situation any longer.
We began to look for alternative accomodation for all the children, hoping to find them stable places to live where they would recieve food, water and access to education. The chief of the village and the district childrens officer along with some relatives of the children we traced in Takaungu all suggested children’s homes to be the best option and the search began!
After finding many homes full to the rafters we came across Riziki Children’s Home, and New Light Boys Home. The guardians at these homes were happy to accept the 8 youngest children and so four of the girls are now staying in Riziki and attending school there. The eldest 3 girls are now living in the village with their uncle, but without the babies to look after, are able to go to school and feed themselves more easily.
1 year on, Charo, Safari, Kaingu and Emmanuel are now fully settled into the New Light Children’s Home in Mtwapa and are firm friends with many of the other boys living there. They are also now attending Mtwapa Academy, one of the best schools in the area, and are newly sponsored as part of Milele.
We are intending to help New Light and Riziki Childrens Homes in their respective endeavours to begin a regular connection and link the boys and girls together again. We also hope to instigate visits between the boys hometown of Takaungu where the eldest sisters are staying and the two homes so the connection between them does not weaken.
Over the next few days we are hoping to post some individual profiles of the boys so you will get to know them with us!
Today we visited Mtwapa Academy Primary school, this is the school where the children on Milele sponsorship program will study. The primary school system works slightly differently to the one in England. Children normally start in the Kindergarten classes (KG1-KG3) at around 2-3 years old. They then progress on to the Standards (STD1-STD8). Each child takes a test at the end of each school year which dictates whether they can move up to the next year or not. This means the schooling is not based on age, but on capability.
The boys which we seek to sponsor are in years KG3, Standard 1 and Standard 2 this means they are near the start of their school lives and will benefit hugely from being part of Milele. All four boys are very bright and are performing exceptionally well in school with some of the highest grades in their classes!
We will be posting more information about the boys over the next few days so watch out for more news and photos!
We have arrived into Mombasa, Kenya after a short 9 hour flight and have settled in wonderfully! We have been spending most of our time so far in a shanty town called ‘Mtwapa’ which is just north of Mombasa on the coastline.
The schools are doing tuition as it is the holidays at the minute and only a few of the children are in class, but we have been welcomed by the director and headmistress of Mtwapa Academy and by some other friends here.
Our friend Fai has also accompanied us on this trip and she is settling really well, already she is nearly a resident!! Fai will also be updating the website during the trip so keep your eyes peeled for the latest!
Thanks to all your kind donations and support we have been able to identify four brothers who will be taken onto the sponsorship programme, which is very exciting news!! The four boys are living at the New Light Children’s Home in Mtomondoni, a neighbouring residential area near Mtwapa.
Keep watching out for photos of the new sponsored children and more news soon!!
Thank-you again for all your support! It really is making a big difference here.