The photo shows some of the 210 happy children with their new back-packs.
Burning tyres , riots and roadblocks. This is what we expected on Kenyan election day, the day we had to travel to the airport, past the known hotspot of Kibera slums. So this is why we left the school at 3:00 am whilst the rioters were asleep. We always try to avoid the elections due to past tribal violence, but this year has been a challenge. We bought our air tickets to travel a long time after the elections, to then find that the elections were declared void, the new elections being on the day that we left.
Visiting the children’s homes is a good reminder of why the Charity is working in this area. This hut, where the mother and 3 daughters live, is close to the school. The father has left and the grandfather helps where he can. Food is a struggle and the mother is skin and bone.
The teachers wrote a report on all the school children. Here are a couple, a boy and a girl:
Due to the challenges he face at home such as fetching water 4km away every evening, fetching weak goats left around, sleeping hungry at times staying most of times with step-mother since his mother and father are away from home grazing the few herd of cattle left after many died, Denis appears weak and often sickly. This makes him irregular in class and unhappy most of times.
Quiet, happy and regular pupil.She likes working independently. She offers voluntary services in school, i.e caring small children, cleaning teacher’s tables among others. Their five goats died recently. She finds it hard to fetch water 4km away every day when she gets home. She prefer school to home since she hardly get enough food at home.
The recent drought has been a real struggle for this area. Two years with no good rain – the worst drought since ’76 according to some Maasai elders. Torriken, 19 tells of his 5 day walk to try to find pasture with his cows and goats. He lost a third of his herd. Some have lost all. When an animal gets thin it’s unsaleable . That means there is no money to buy hay for the remaining herd. It started to rain last week. That’s good news but not during the torrential showers when many weakened cows die from cold. Now the grass is growing, the weak, thin animals are starting to return to the area. It will take 5 months to fatten up the animals and one or two years to build up numbers in the herd. For almost all Maasai, livestock is their only income.
What amazing generosity from our child sponsors who helped us provide a large food parcel for families of our school children. A Maasai mother warns us “don’t give it out all at once”. Friends and relatives from miles are watching and waiting. When our mothers get their food everyone will stop them just outside school, pleading for it. Sadly we can’t help everyone but 167 families will now have full stomachs for 3 weeks. The food parcels contain a lot of the cheap staples: maize meal and some much needed vitamins from potatoes, oranges and cabbages. Heartfelt and grateful thanks come from the mothers of Olepolos for the kindness of strangers.
The old academic curriculum is out (probably!) and vocational subjects will be added: woodwork, home science, agriculture and art etc. That’s great news in a country where children have to cram many facts which they often don’t know how to apply. There’s a big But. Communication of this new concept has been non-existent. Even the 100 pilot schools are mystified. Their training hasn’t yet started. The new curriculum starts on January 1st 2018 (maybe) and Kenya’s 300,000 teachers, now on a 9 week holiday have no clue what’s going on. Do we need new buildings, equipment, new subject teachers (if they exist)? Who knows? Only in Kenya……..!
With all the activities at the school, it is easy to forget the Charity’s clean water projects. Both solar pumps close to the school needed repairing this year due to general wear and tear, but they are both back pumping much needed water. Our project to repair the many broken hand pumps continues. Eric and his team are now approaching 400 pumps brought back to life. Hopefully, with the training given to the communities, we should not need to revisit them.
It’s the end of another school year, so an end of year assembly, or ‘closing ceremony’ as they are known in Kenya. Here are a few of the performances put on by the children. It’s the best ceremony we have seen so far, thanks to the new Head Teacher Bonface’s input.
And finally – it’s almost the end of an era. Later this month, we start the fundraising for the 11th and last classroom at the school. In 2012, we started with 5 classrooms and have added 1 classroom plus 25 more children every year since. We have been selected by The Big Give to receive matched funding . Donations are being doubled via The Big Give for one week from the 28th November. See this page for more details.
Thanks for reading this newsletter.
Helen and Roger