Waiting to see the teachers.

Newsletter March 2016

(Above photo – parents waiting to see the teachers)

Another school year; another class of 26 children. This brings the school numbers to 186. The vast majority would not have an education without this school and their sponsors. The £40 per term charged by the ‘free’ government schools is just too expensive for many Maasai.

We have our first male teacher, teacher Nicholas. You may think that this is not a big thing, but to some of the boys it really is. Some of the poorly performing boys in his class are now doing much better and asking for extra work. Maasai society  is male dominated, where the men make all the decisions and hold the purse strings. I guess that even the young children soon pick up on this.

Teacher Nicholas teaching maths.
Teacher Nicholas teaching maths.

Some of the parents have been to school but most are illiterate. This is the first generation of education for many families and it brings its own problems. The teachers notice a big difference in ability between the children of literate and illiterate families and absenteeism can be a problem with illiterate families.

For us, absenteeism is be be discouraged but for the government schools, it appears to be encouraged. We meet a government school child wandering the bush. She has been sent home because she does not have a plastic ruler, costing about 15p. She is given one, so she returns to school.

It’s the Kenyan elections soon so the promises are rolling out. Our rural school was recently contacted for a free connection to the country’s electricity supply, so sometime over the next year we may become connected to the electricity grid through many miles of wire running across the bush. However, we probably won’t use it as the Kenyan electricity supply is very intermittent. Our school solar electricity system is much better and has been 100% reliable. How can a teacher give a lesson involving the internet if it is likely to disappear halfway through?

Consulting room in the clinic
Consulting room in the clinic

We built the community clinic in the school grounds in 2014 and initially it was run by a USA charity. We have now taken over the running and funding of the clinic. A consultation costs 35p ($0.50c). Children from the school get free consultations and medicines for £2 per term. Our doctor, Sylvester, comes from the city and is struggling with the bush problems and mentality. If the sibling of one of our school children is ill, the parents often ask the school child to see Sylvester, pretending to have the illness – anything to get a free consultation and medicine! Also, a course of antibiotics is rarely finished; once someone is better, the drugs are kept until the next time someone in the family is ill. Many parents have to rely on their literate children to help with the drug dosage.

Parents' day - checking the child's progress.
Parents’ day – checking the child’s progress.

It’s parents’ day, when parents come and speak with the teachers about their child’s progress. Not much chance for privacy with this setup.

The orphanage and girls safe house is almost finished with just a few more plumbing issues to complete. The first 4 or 5 children will be starting here soon.

Orphanage and safe house - almost finished.
Orphanage and safe house – almost finished.

Another cornerstone for our Charity, clean water, is progressing well. Over the past 6 months, another 42 hand pumps have been repaired across Kenya. These are pumps that were installed by other charities but then left. Some have been unused for many years and just needed a simple rubber seal to be replaced; others are more difficult but still serviceable after a few hours work. Eric and his team have taught the local communities how to keep the pumps working so we hope for at least another 5-10 years from these pumps. We estimate that another 10,000 people now have access to clean water.

Another hand pump being repaired.
Another hand pump being repaired.

The solar pump we installed in November 2015 is working well. Many women are walking 3 miles less each way to reach water. The 1 acre food growing plot is now being prepared ready for 80 families to start growing food.

Measuring the school to make a map.
Measuring the school to make a map.

We were fortunate enough to have Jo, a teacher of Steiner methods, perform two afternoons of  teaching at the school. As you can see from the photo of Teacher Nicholas’ class, individual learning by rote is the norm in Kenya. So it was great for the children to be immersed in group based, hands on learning. Their project was to produce a map of the school compound thereby teaching measurement skills, scale, coordinates and mapping.

One of Jo’s messages to the teachers was that every task should be viewed as a teaching opportunity and the children should be encouraged to take pride in their school and environment, so we were happy to see these children cleaning classroom windows.

And for 2016? Shortly, we will start the construction of the next 2 classrooms and we will start fundraising soon for additional teachers’ accommodation to house the extra teachers. Four more classrooms and 4-5 more teachers and the school will be finished.

You are welcome to leave a comment below.

Helen & Roger   March 2016


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17 thoughts on “Newsletter March 2016”

  1. What a splendid newsletter. I do so enjoy hearing all the news and the plans for the future. Please keep me in the loop.

  2. How wonderful to read of aa charity which delivers what it promised and keeps on delivering, well done to all of you – my continued support is assured.

  3. So good to hear how your efforts are helping all aspects of the school and it’s pupils progress. A wonderful insight for those of us who are looking in from a distance
    .many thanks

  4. We found the newsletter very interesting. The children looked so happy cleaning the windows. The project is making a real difference to the lives of these children. Well done to all involved.

  5. Thank you so much for sending me this Newsletter, my first!
    I am enthralled to learn about all the amazing things that are happening within The Maasai community in Kenya.
    I’m retiring this month and I hope to become more involved!

  6. Great to see the work going so well.We have had an “interesting” four years of illness. My wife died last May but I am in remission from my cancer and now research fellow (honorary part time unpaid) at Exeter University writing my life in education.

    I very much want to bleep in contact with your work. People still remember the Warriors at our Hinton St George village hall.

  7. Your work is so valuable out there, and the Maasai society seems to be improvong on so many levels. Good to hear you have a Steiner teacher on board too! Power to your elbows!

  8. Have always enjoyed reading the newsletters. What a wonderful job you are all doing and with a good community spirit. Looking forward to the Warriors coming back to Arundel, Sussex for another stunning show.

  9. It’s great to hear about the progress being made in the Masai community, especially the school. Long may it continue and please thank the community for allowing us to enjoy meeting some of the Masai people and watch their fantastic display.

  10. I love this. You are doing awesome work and I hope to sponsor my child all the way through his education. one day maybe I will meet him.

  11. So nice to have the news letters. It keeps me in touch with the project and feel very much part of it. Thank you.

  12. Thank you for the news letter, I enjoyed reading about the progress you have made well done.

  13. Thank you for your most interesting newsletter, showing the many improvements that have been achieved, you must all be delighted.

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