Kenya Update – 03-2011 – Page 2

Visiting the Schools

In addition to the school supply shipment to the Gilesther Prep school, in between safaris on other days, Joseph took us to the Empopongi Primary School in Maasai Mara, The Mathare Child Development Centre outside of Nairobi and the Muruguru Girls High School. We were also able to visit with the leaders of the Maasai Village (Tribesmen) and various other Kenyans on our long journey around Kenya.

Gilesther Prep Primary School

Located in Ndaragwa, Kenya, this is a private primary school (grades one through eight) of approximately 300 students. About half board at the school. For the children who board, the parents are allowed a one-day visit every 3 months. The annual cost for boarding is 33000 Ksh (Kenyan Shillings) or $400; for those who don’t, the cost is 21000 Ksh (about $250). There are three terms per year, but again, these are annual costs, and very expensive to Kenyans.

The children’s days start at 5 a.m. and go through 10 p.m. to teach them "discipline and independence". They wore uniforms (sweaters and striped shirts) over their regular clothes. They leave their shoes outside the classrooms so they don’t get even filthier from the dirt floors. Classes include math, science (learn about machines and plants), Christian Learning Education (CLE), social studies, and physical education. Since they have no balls to play sport, PE includes running, dancing (traditional tribal dances) and stretching. Otherwise at "recess" they play with old tires and plastic jugs. One child was creative enough to use the lids as wheels and make a toy truck out of an old milk jug.

Nevertheless, all of the children were happy and singing, not fighting or competing. They were thrilled to see us and wanted to touch our arms and hair.

They eat maize, beans, cabbage, sometimes vegetables and rarely (goat) meat. It depends what Hiram can collect from community donors, or what can be afforded.

The staff consists of the Manager, Hiram, who started the school 12 years ago. His daughter, Jacqueline, is Vice Principal, and Ms. Gihuka is the Principal. I also met with Macharia, the librarian. They are in great need of more books, especially picture books and Christian learning books. Most of the schools fail because there are not enough of these "facilities". The Hartman Dadas brought many books and he hopes they are applicable to the school curriculum.

It is a Kenyan requirement that all children must go to school, but in the public schools, the teachers "relax and are lazy". The government says that these public schools are free but they cost nearly as much as private schools for those who don’t board (about 20000 Ksh per year).

Empopongi Primary School
in the Maasai Mara – Maywood Project by Rotary International, Kevin Williams of New Jersey, Mercy Purity, local Rotary Representative

We picked up Mercy from her home and drove many kilometers through the bush to the school. Mercy literally counted the trees – 1, 2, 3 – "ok now then turn left." During the visit and coaching session, Rachel noticed textbooks on the shelves, brand new and unused. Unfortunately they do not fit the curriculum. What they have are all different, torn, like old magazines – Readers Digest size – that are provided by the government. But there were not nearly enough. It is imperative that we ask what they need instead of assuming what they want and giving them what we think they need.

Mercy Purity is the local representative for Rotary. They provided a home for her and helped build two schools. Mercy travels between the schools twice a week via motorcycle through the bush. She is very grateful for their help in building the structures (classrooms) and is hoping for a dormitory. The students must walk 8 kilometers each way to and from school twice a day. Plus they walk far to the river to fetch water every day at 4 p.m.. Even the Early Childhood Program students (who are 3-4 years old) walk, often alone. "It is very dangerous because of the elephants in the bush after dark," Mercy said.

The Hartmann Dadas brought two bags of supplies and books for this visit.

The Mathare Child Development Centre/Street Kids Ministry

The Centre currently has 1,050 street children – from orphans to rape victims (who were seen huddled in a room holding teddy bears). Not many children are adopted, especially the older ones. Karen Canino attempted to conduct a brief coaching session with Mama Pastor to discover her school’s needs (Mama Pastor gets funding from churches and other ministries), but she was not specific and referred mainly to needing money. Karen got the impression that Mama Pastor prefers cash donations over being furnished specific supplies which is not what the Hartmann Dadas are about..

Mama Pastor did show a model replica of her vision for the property and buildings.

NEXT — Coaching in Kenya – Conclusions