HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD seeks to help vulnerable children around the world, encouraging enthusiastic and well-prepared volunteers to offer practical help, skill-sharing, support and friendship.
May 8, 2015

May 2015 Update

Lydia B and I spent March 2015 volunteering with North Meru Disability Community Centre (DCC), Kenya. It is situated in the town of Maua, on the slopes of the Nyambene Hills, at a dizzying height of 1700m. Depending on where we were heading on our almost daily journeys, sometimes we came across spectacular views of Mount Kenya, vast pea-green tea plantations but, most importantly, always a sincere and very warm welcome by Kenyan adults and children alike.

The DCC’s objective is ‘to empower the marginalised communities with emphasis to the disabled children’. We went into the field four days each week with the centre’s occupational therapist, Norah, and their physiotherapist, Anthony. On one occasion, after being dropped off by matatu, we ventured into the tropical forest on foot, following a dried up river bed, to find 8 year old Timothy, lying listlessly on a sofa in his family’s windowless wooden-built single room home. He is one of many children in the area suffering with cerebral palsy. After Anthony had spent time stretching his limbs and joints, helping to support him in a sitting position, he soon came round and delightfully engaged with his immediate environment and company. The work of the DCC includes seeking out families with a disabled child and encouraging them to access services that can provide support, encouragement and reduction of stigma.

Each Tuesday at the DCC is a drop-in clinic. Here we met 5 year old Judith; her parents were in consultation with Norah who diagnosed flat feet. Judith came back to the clinic the following Tuesday to meet with Julius, who, with conviction, got to work in his workshop to make a pair of orthopaedic in-soles.

DCC Julius makes insoles 0315

Julius in the DCC’s workshop making in-soles for Judith 

 DCC Judith insoles 0315

Judith trying out her bespoke orthopaedic in-soles.

We were made to feel very involved and were provided with an insight into the dedicated work being carried out to support and encourage some of the poorest families for whom daily life is difficult in their challenge to raise the quality of life for their dear children.

Apr 21, 2015

April 2015 Update

Wilson working in the newly-fitted out Classroom
Wilson working in the newly-fitted out Classroom


Since the mzungu volunteers left Mnukwa in November, Wilson (our carpenter and manager) has moved into the house next door to the classrooms with his wife and family. He has also spent 3 months building secure cupboards in each of the 3 classrooms so that the tools and sewing machines are safe, and has finished the doors to all the rooms.

The next “big” move is for the community to set up long term programmes using the equipment they now have. This still requires our help and encouragement, as having such a facility and the excellent tools is new to the village.

Hands Around the World has started working closely in Mnukwa with another British-based charity, ZOE, and two of their workers who are planning to visit Zambia in June will be following up our project.

They will also be looking at the next phase of our involvement in the community - to help build a new maternity ward next door to the Mnukwa clinic. The aim is to get the community to make all the bricks and do the work themselves with our financial support. Having successfully built the staff house last year we are optimistic this can be achieved, and look forward to hearing news about it.

Thank you to all those who have generously helped in the past, in whatever capacity. Your encouragement is much appreciated! And please help us to continue to support this great project!

Apr 20, 2015

My experiences of TEFL in Rwanda

In February 2015, I went to Bugarama in Southern Rwanda to teach English in St Paul Muko School. This was the first time I had taken part in such a project and I was accompanied by Dennis, who had been visiting Bugarama for several years. We flew from Heathrow to Kigali and after a long bus journey through some spectacular countryside we were greeted by Wellars and Georgine, the headmistress of the school.

On my first day in Bugarama, we were taken on a short tour of the school and we were introduced to some of the teachers. I then observed a couple of lessons and I noticed how well-behaved the students were and how motivated they seemed to be to learn English. It really struck me how difficult it must be for the pupils to concentrate in the heat and the class sizes were big. There were about 40 pupils in each class, although in each class there were 50 students on the register – it was usual for a few students to be absent each day. I got stuck straight in after that and ran the English club for that day. It was well-attended with around 60 students turning up! The students asked me lots of questions as they were eager to learn about me and where I came from.

Rwanda Ceri class 0215

I started teaching on Thursday and it was great to be in the classroom and the students were really excited to have a native speaker as an English teacher. The first lesson for each class was taken up with some introductory activities and ice-breakers. We also worked on the present simple tense. I tried to make the lessons as interactive as possible – this was quite a challenge given the large class sizes.

Saturday morning was given over to teaching the teachers. The session was really well attended with 20 teachers and it was a really productive morning. We worked on a few different areas such as extreme adjectives, narrative tenses, sport vocabulary, active and passive adjectives. I tried to make the lesson as communicative as possible and based speaking activities around the areas I have mentioned above which also allowed me to work on pronunciation. Possibly, the most challenging aspect of this session was that the teacher’s abilities varied greatly from having a post-beginner to an upper-intermediate level of English. We finished the lesson with a communicative “Who dunnit game”, which everyone enjoyed. On Sunday, we were kindly invited to attend a church service and introduced ourselves to the congregation. It was a great opportunity as it really helped us to feel part of the community.

Over the next couple of weeks I settled into a routine. My first lesson of the day usually started at 8.05am. I taught several different Senior 2 classes and we worked on grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and did lots of speaking activities. Although the students found it a little difficult to understand me to begin with, the use of pictures, graded language and gestures helped them to understand and by the time I left they had got used to my accent and I was able to talk at close to normal speed – this really helped them to improve their listening skills. I also started teaching some of the senior 3 classes later in the week and we focussed on their writing in these lessons. Overall, the children were a joy to teach and were excited at having a teacher from the UK. While I taught, Dennis took care of the painting with Moses and Carpophone.

Rwanda Ceri painting 0215

During the breaks, I spent some time with the primary school pupils who loved singing songs like “The wheels on the bus go round and round!” At the end of the school day, I spent some time teaching the teachers and I continued to run the English club which was always well attended.

All too quickly it was time to say good bye. After giving all of my students certificates, we were treated to a farewell ceremony.

Rwanda Ceri 0215

Teaching English in Muko School was an unforgettable experience and I’m hoping to visit again in November. Everyone was so kind and appreciative. Both teachers and students have a real desire to improve their level of English and I feel that it is important that the English teaching project continues. I think it’s a perfect opportunity not only for qualified teachers, but also for anyone who would like to spend some time talking to the teachers to improve their level of conversational English.

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