(Above photo – the children receiving a gift of soap and flannel at the school closing ceremony)
We are delighted to hand over our newly built clinic in the school grounds to Medicforce, an American charity who will run it independently from us. They get off to a flying start by giving a health check to every child in school. The Baby (Reception) class are the first to queue and are expecting the worst: an injection!
They are in fact tested for temperature, sight, lung function, height and weight, teeth and something mysterious involving ear wiggling. The medics are superb, making everything fun. Lungs are tested by blowing a smiley face on a string.
The playground is now a dangerous place full of blood, vomit, screams and groans. One man lies at an awkward angle having fallen from the roof but really, all is well. For eight days a paramedic is training 4 local Maasai as community health workers. For the students and medics it’s very intensive work; for us in the office it’s great entertainment.
Gifts for achievement given out in final assembly are poignant. What Western child would be happy with a plastic plate or a toilet roll? This assembly has culture as its theme and all the children come in Maasai dress. The school drama club treat us to an exuberant, Kalinjin tribal dance and we are moved to tears by just how far these disadvantaged children have come. We are ever mindful that without their sponsors, most of these children would today be wandering with their family’s goats or collecting water and sticks rather than receiving an education.
Kisamis, our local town is buzzing. A crowd of thousands has come to watch the Vice President of Kenya open a county administrative centre. Numerous adults perform warm up acts for three hours before his arrival but our own drama group are the only ones privileged to perform their Kalinjin piece for him and the 30 politicians. The VP is from the Kalinjin tribe and grins widely during the performance. Our school is firmly on the map and we feel rather proud.
We understand nothing of the many speeches in Swahili but find out later that the Vice President is dismissive of older men marrying young girls: “My age mates, how can you think of marrying a girl under 18?”
Each year seems worse than the previous. The November short rains have come, but this year they have been very very short. We asked why some of the goats are now returning to the area when there is no grass for them. The answer is that there is almost no grass left anywhere in the Maasai lands of Kenya, so they might as well come home to die. Without torrents of rain soon, it will be desperate.
Food parcels from our child sponsors are a life saver. Each family received the following:
To quote Peninah, a Maasai woman:
“The mothers are very happy to have food as now it is very dry and they don’t have anything to eat. The cows and goats are very thin and you cannot sell them. Four out of 10 have died.”
Two words that should never be seen together: Drunk and electrician. After destroying some of our solar equipment, we sent him packing. Fortunately, his replacement was much better.
For the past 2 years, many donors have kindly supported the building of a new classroom via the Big Give Christmas Challenge. It will soon be nail biting time again. For a few minutes each day on December 4th – 6th, donations are doubled. We currently have 7 classrooms and we hope this year’s Challenge will allow us to build the 8th.
Finally, many thanks to our numerous donors and supporters as without your help, these projects would not be possible. Don’t forget to ‘like’ our facebook page for up to the minute news.
Helen & Roger November 2014
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