Tag Archives: Safari

Catching up – Kenya 2017 (Part 2)

In our last post we caught up with Amina, Isaac, Riziki, Saidi, Steven, Edward, Emmanuel and Josephine who all live in Mtwapa. Over the years some of the children Milele supports have started to attend boarding schools (this is the norm for Kenyan Secondary schools) which means the past few days have been spent travelling across coast province tracking down sponsored children and finding out how they have been getting on.

The eldest sponsored child in boarding school is Charo who is coming towards the end of Form 3 (of 4) at Chasimba high school. Charo is doing well at school and has really thrown himself into school life being an active member of both the student council and the Christian Union. As head of the Christian Union he often leads prayers in school assembly and holds services with the other students showing his natural aptitude for being a great leader. He is also now a prefect, which apparently means he gets to wear a special blue shirt instead of the normal white uniform!

Charo
Charo

We got to experience Charo’s confidence and leadership when visiting Chasimba. Charo was excited to have use visit his school and was keen to show us his classroom. He strode confidently into the classroom which to our surprise was still full of students (the lesson having finished a few minutes ago). When Amy asked about the swahili words on the board Charo immediately instructed a class mate to give Amy a summary of what they had been learning and to our even greater surprise all his classmates happily went along with this!

Chasimba High School
Chasimba High School

As well as seeing Chasimba, we also visited Kilifi Township Secondary School, which is where Safari and Kaingu have been attending. We were so pleased when they got into the same school – these brothers have been in classes together since they were 7 and 8 years old and it is lovely to see them continuing to support and look after one another through high school too.

Kilifi Township Secondary School
Kilifi Township Secondary School

Kaingu and Safari were both very smart in their uniform, albeit with Safari’s shirt slightly more untucked and his tie slightly more lopsided than Kaingu’s! Both boys appear to be settling into Kilifi Township well. They are now coming to the end of their first year there in Form 1 and have had a big transition from primary to secondary school. The first thing for them to get used to is the very strict rules and regulations which secondary schools in Kenya typically have. I’m sure you can all imagine how this can be a bit of a shock to the system coming from a small, nurturing primary school – I have to say I can remember my first days as a new year 10 student in a vast college, feeling like a very small fish in a very big pond!

Safari and Kaingu
Safari and Kaingu

Despite this, both Kaingu and Safari have made lots of friends and are getting to grips with their new school – learning the rules of the dormitories or ‘pods’ and the new canteen. They are taking Biology, Chemistry and Physics separately now as well as some new subjects such as History and Geography. The sciences seem to be causing them some difficulty, but we are confident this is just the new experience of learning them separately. We are going to try to get hold of some subject specific resources which Rieder could use to help scaffold their learning over the long December break. Kaingu is particularly good at maths and we feel he is likely to have a natural aptitude for physics too when he gets used to the subject.

Kaingu
Kaingu
Safari
Safari

Thank-you to sponsors who sent gifts for all three of the boys (Charo has started carrying his torch around in his shirt top pocket already… he will be the king of the school when the power cuts out!)

Stay tuned for more updates including the next child to join the Milele family!

 

The Big KCPE and KCSE Exam Week!

Exams are a very important part of the Kenyan education system and are taken very seriously indeed. This week is the week of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams for Safari, Kaingu and Pendo and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams for Josephine. We thought you might like a little bit more information on them.

The Kenyan National Exam Council

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams are ran by the Kenyan National Exam Council and take place at the end of primary school. They cover a wide range of subjects including English, Kiswahili, Maths, Science and Social Studies and are used to decide which school the child is able to attend.

Government run secondary schools are ranked and put into three categories:

  • National
  • Provincial
  • District

A good result (usually more than 75% average grade) will secure a place at one of the prestigious national schools which have the best facilities and usually get the best grades. For those who are not lucky enough to gain entry into a national school they may be offered either a provincial or district school depending on their grade.

Pendo is sitting her KCPE exams this week
Pendo is sitting her KCPE exams this week

Unlike with primary education, the government runs some the best secondary schools in Kenya. Private schools exist but they are usually either of a lower quality or specialise in progressing poorer students. Mtwapa Elite Academy (where many of the Milele sponsored students do their primary education) runs a secondary school and has had great success helping students to increase their grades between primary and secondary.

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams take place at the end of secondary school and are used to access college or university. If a student scores above a certain mean grade (usually B) they are automatically offered a place at university with some government funding. It is also common for students to take a college course which offer nationally recognised qualifications that can be ‘topped up’ to become a degree at a later date. This option is often preferable as it generally allows the student to work along side their education which is near to impossible at university.

Josephine is sitting her KCSE exams this week
Josephine is sitting her KCSE exams this week

All four children sitting exams this week have been working incredibly hard.  We really hope they will be able to achieve their full potential and go on to be very successful.

Richard

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

Our Boy’s Termly Reports

Mtwapa Academy 2009
Mtwapa Academy 2009

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!

Our four sponsored boys Charo (back left), Kaingu (Left), Emmanuel (Front) and Safari (Right)
Our four sponsored boys Charo (back left), Kaingu (Left), Emmanuel (Front) and Safari (Right)

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!!

Gifts for the boys!

Kaingu reading his letter from Uta; one of his sponsors
Kaingu reading his letter from Uta; one of his sponsors

The four sponsored boys Charo, Safari, Kaingu and Emmanuel received their letters and presents from their sponsors yesterday. Rarely has there ever been a more excited and happy group of children! They felt truly special and the attention was all on them for the first time ever!

We gave each boy a bag with all their presents and letters inside it, and they meandered calmly to the door to open them all up…then as soon as they thought they were out of sight ran and jumped all the way to the table!

Each of them was thrilled and opened their presents in their own way; Charo smiling to himself and carefully examining each item individually. Taking in every detail of the letter slowly; taking the lids off each and every pen to get a better look at them!

Safari ripped open the bag, grinning excitedly then quickly got everything out and spread it all out to see, picking up first one thing then the next; then sitting down to read his letters carefully.

Safari reading his letter from the PreSchool Playstation; one of his sponsors
Safari reading his letter from the PreSchool Playstation; one of his sponsors

Kaingu sat quietly on the chair to open his package, smiling secretly to himself, his face splitting into the occasional grin; then becoming super-cool again as soon he caught sight of you looking!

Charo proudly showing us all his presents
Charo proudly showing us all his presents

Emmanuel opened his blackboard first and just played with that, forgetting there was anything else! Then going back to the bag as if remembering that there was more, taking out another thing and once again getting carried away playing with that!!

By the time they had all opened their presents and read their letters they were proud as punch to have all these people wanting to sponsor them… I got the impression Charo couldn’t quite believe it!!!! We took lots of photos to try to capture the moments for you, and we really hope you enjoy them.

Once again thank-you so, so much to everyone who sent  letters or presents to the boys. It was so lovely to be able to show them how much other people care about them; an experience they have not been very familiar with so far in their lives.

Emmanuel practising his writing skills on his new blackboard!
Emmanuel practising his writing skills on his new blackboard!

I am sure your replies will be really nice, we are hoping to help them write all their letters sometime next week so we can bring them all back to you.

Takaungu

On our last day in Kenya we took the four sponsored boys Charo, Safari, Kaingu and Emmanuel to visit their family in their rural hometown of Takaungu.This is a coastal town, but it is very sprawling and much more spread out than many of the more urban areas closer towards Mombasa. Poverty is extremely prevalent here and there are many fundamental issues and challenges faced in normal daily life for all the families living here. For our part, the determination and cheerful optimism of everyone you meet inspires and deserves the utmost respect and admiration.

This was also our opportunity to say hello to the family, for Rich and Fai to become more familiar with the background and tribal culture of our boys and for us to let the family know all the details of their sponsorship.

The whole family together
The whole family together

They were very pleased to see us all and very proud of the boys when we told them how well they were all doing in class and how hard they are working. Charo settled into his role of photographer yet again and lots of funny photos with fingers over the lens ensued, just as at Riziki!

Kaingu and his cousin with the other boys playing with the camera
Kaingu and his cousin with the other boys playing with the camera

The boys rural home is still dilapidated, although the walls of the house have been partially repaired. There is still no furniture to speak of but there appears to be slightly more food with less mouths to feed and the boys’ older sisters, Mariam, Mpenzi and Kadzo, all seem healthy and strong. They are also all attending school, which is some improvement, although we got the impression their attendance is not very consistent and that the school is far from ideal.

The boys really enjoyed meeting with their Aunts, Uncles and sisters again and we encouraged the family to be visiting them in New Light Childrens’ Home as regularly as they possibly can. It was a wonderful way to spend our last day and gave us some true perspective on the trip before we returned to England. I really hope some of the brilliant atmosphere and the pure honesty of Takaungu itself has been translated in these photos.

Some of the cousins to the boys
Some of the cousins to the boys
Emmanuel is enjoying his trip home!
Emmanuel is enjoying his trip home!

We gave Charo and Kaingu bags of boys and clothes to distribute among their sisters and cousins. They clearly adored this responsibility and we hope you enjoy the photos of it as much as we have!

Thanks again, congratulations to those of you who can spot the toys and clothes you have donated personally among the chaos! Im sure you can tell how well used they will be!

Riziki Childrens’ Home Visit!

Hello everyone! We are now updating the website on the super fast computors and using wonderful internet connections of England, which means you will doubtless be inundated with news of the trip!!

So, on the final Saturday of the trip, we took the four sponsored boys to meet their younger sisters Dama, Karembo, Amina and Agnes at another children’s home called Riziki. Riziki is situated further up the coastline in a rural area near Kilifi town. The journey there only took around half an hour since we were lucky and managed to find a large bus which didn’t stop too often! The boys were pretending it was all perfectly normal and that they were just too cool for words…but were clearly secretly thrilled by the big bus and the speed they were moving at; craning their necks to look out of the window and pointing and chattering excitedly as we passed recognisable places near their homeland.

We arrived at the stop and walked down the track to Riziki, the boys exclaiming at the size of the place! Its a very large children’s home with more than 80 children staying there and a large farm and a nursery school on site. The boys met with their sisters and I got my first chance to see the girls again since i took them to Riziki a year ago! I must say all of us developed very watery eyes to see the family meeting up again and the excitement of the children to swap stories about their new home.

A bleary eyed Amy cuddling the boys' youngest sister; Dama
A bleary eyed Amy cuddling the boys' youngest sister; Dama
One of the boys taking a photo of Karembo enjoying a lollipop!
One of the boys taking a photo of Karembo enjoying a lollipop!

The boys had been given some sweets before we left for Riziki, and without our knowledge had quietly slipped them into their pockets, so when we arrived they pulled them out and immediately began to share them out among the girls, bringing yet another tear to my eye!

Charo, being the eldest and quite a thoughtful sort of child was a bit apprehensive at first, but once Rich had given him a digital camera and the title of official photographer he was in his element, showing his sisters photos of themselves and feeling extremely important in his role in ‘teacher’ of how to use a camera!! This means that many of our photos of Riziki are complete with added extras such as small fingers over the lens and lots of shots of the floor, but we did manage to take a few sneaky ones of our own for you to look at.

Safari showing Amina her photo
Safari showing Amina her photo
Big brother Charo explains to Dama about cameras
Big brother Charo explains to Dama about cameras

The girls are all doing really well, being in the kindergarten classes at home at the minute and clearly get on brilliantly with their teacher, whom they called over excitedly to meet their brothers. The manager of the home knew the boys immediately as she recognised the resemblance between the family straight away, and seemed to know the girls very well indeed.

We left many of the clothes which had been donated and were left over from Mtopanga School there with the manager to distribute to the children who needed them most at the time in the home, all of the items will be shared fairly amongst the girls and boys there, adding another 80 children to our running total of children touched by your gifts while we were out there!

It was a wonderful day. An absolute joy to bring them together again after so long, and to encourage a regular link between the homes which should allow them to be in contact with each other all the time.

Thanks once again for your support and enjoy the photos!

All the boys and their sisters; right to left; back- Emmanuel, Safari, Kaingu, Charo and Agnes, front- Amina, Karembo and Dama.
All the boys and their sisters; right to left; back- Emmanuel, Safari, Kaingu, Charo and Agnes, front- Amina, Karembo and Dama.

More about the Boys!

 

A Recent photo of the four boys; Charo (back left), Kaingu (Left), Emmanuel (Front) and Safari (Right)
A Recent photo of the four boys; Charo (back left), Kaingu (Left), Emmanuel (Front) and Safari (Right)

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.

 

The whole 'Kadowe' family at Takaungu recieving balloons, toys and some food
The whole 'Kadowe' family at Takaungu recieving balloons, toys and some food

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!

 

CRIM0473
The boys with all their sisters preparing to leave for the childrens homes, at the front in their sunday best are Agnes, Karembo, Amina and Dama ready to head off to Riziki..

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.

 

The boys on their first day at New Light, from Left to Right; the boys' uncle, Mr Samwel the guardian of the home with his small son John (front), Charo, Safari, Emmanuel and Kaingu.    .
The boys on their first day at New Light, from Left to Right; the boys' uncle, Mr Samwel the guardian of the home with his small son John (front), Charo, Safari, Emmanuel and Kaingu. .

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!

New Light Childrens Home

Hello All! 

News from Friday 4th September!

The sign outside the New Light Children's Home
The sign outside the New Light Children's Home

 

 

Yesterday we spent some time in the boys childrens home in Mtomondoni where the four sponsored boys live. Rich really amazed them all with his camera and photo printer, and we all had fun taking photos and looking at ourselves. Many of the children in this area have never seen photos of anyone, let alone themselves and many more don’t know what they look like, since there are very few mirrors in mtwapa!! All the boys at the home were extremely excited to be able to have a photo to keep and we all had a wonderful time with such simple things!

Children from New Light enjoying playing with a camera!
Children from New Light enjoying playing with a camera!

 

 

We spoke to Mr Samwel; the guardian and manager of New Light Children’s Home and his wife Beth; father and mother to all the boys there. They were very pleased to hear that Milele were able to sponsor the four boys Charo, Safari, Kaingu and Emmanuel and we planned with the boys and Mr Samwell to take them to get their uniforms after school on monday! Busy busy busy!

The four new sponsored boys; Charo (back left), Kaingu (Left), Emmanuel (Front) and Safari (Right)
The four new sponsored boys; Charo (back left), Kaingu (Left), Emmanuel (Front) and Safari (Right)

 

 

We have posted some photos here of the boys at New Light enjoying the camera and of the four sponsored boys, and there will be more detail about each of them individually soon too.

Thanks again everyone for your interest and support! We could never have sponsored these boys without you.