Recent months at Ondati have been busy, and students have enjoyed a well-deserved break from their studies at School. The beginning of December saw the students nervously take their end of term exams and the boarders were seen studying late into the evenings; a scene not common in rural Kenya, but one permitted thanks to a new battery purchased with project income. Despite these academic pressures, students maintained their roles in the school businesses, demonstrating that the girls really value what they learn from being involved in the enterprises.
As a reward for earning 11 stars or more, 20 students were taken to the District Livestock Farm on a day excursion led by their teachers. The Farm has over 100 high quality dairy cows, each producing over 20 litres of milk a day. Spending time on a working dairy farm really gave the students something to think about, and they were able to take away invaluable information about dairy management which they will learn to apply to the Ondati School dairy.
The term ended on a high with a project and academic award ceremony, but this hasn’t stopped activity surrounding the school’s dairy! The lack of dairy cows in the district means there is continually a very high demand for milk and thus preparations were being put in place for the arrival of two high quality dairy cows. The dairy unit saw an expansion and a hay store erected so that the cows are fed well even in times of drought. Land is also being leased to grow more feed for the cows and a fuel-run cutter is being bought from the sale of some of Ondati’s bull calves. Just to add to the excitement, a new calf was born in the School’s Dairy. Unfortunately it is the fourth bull in a row, and the students are hoping that the next will be a heifer! It has been named Les, after accounting volunteer, Lesley, who has been helping Ondati with its budget for this New Year, and has also given the team vital accountancy training.
January saw the arrival of our new Kenyan Field Officer, David Ramsay. We wish him all the best and look forward to catching up on his latest news!
Victoria Ouma is one of the many girls to benefit from the two-fold education at Ondati Girls Secondary School in Kenya. Her favourite subjects are agriculture, business, history, religion, and kiswahili. Her goal is to go overseas to university to study business or history. She acknowledges that she gets a more diverse education than those at other Kenyan schools. In addition, she finds the extra business lessons and workshops scheduled at Ondati “really interesting”.
All the students at Ondati are divided into project groups. Victoria is in the tree nursery group and was elected as the leader of the group. She is responsible for motivating fellow students and ensuring that they contribute to the manual work in the project, as well as keeping the project register up to date. Victoria says she has learnt many things from the project since being at the school, such as how to bud and graft fruit trees, how to prepare a seed bed and plant new seedlings, and how to manage the nursery. She has also been able to learn about the challenges and realises that businesses require a lot of attention and hard work. The trees need regular watering, especially during the dry season, and also must be protected from animals (especially the school dairy herd who enjoy the odd tree to munch on!).
Ondati School for Girls has seen some positive changes over the past couple of months including the arrival of a new principle, Mr Reuben Omollo. All six projects have been blooming and the school has been participating in the School Enterprise Challenge, a global competition run by Teach A Man To Fish, which has seen the creation of a beauty salon run solely by the students.
There has also been more involvement of the projects on the academic side of the girls’ education as a project class slot has been scheduled between classes at the middle of the day and a business class will be starting next term which is great news!
The girls received training on budding and grafting the fruit trees as part of Nursery Tree project which will also have a positive impact for the production.
Project officers Zoe and Samina have noticed an increased involvement of the girls on these projects with one of the girls coming in during the holidays saying "Who's taking care of the tomatoes? I'm worried that they are not getting enough water. I'm going to try and come to school some days to water them with a friend"
Even one of the parents commented to say he was very pleased with the business and practical skills his daughter was getting from Ondati and that he had seen the impact it had had on her in her involvement in business at home. She had even started milking the cows where culturally in Kenya women generally have little input on the field.
After a few months without the support of Teach A Man To Fish project officers, Ondati Girls School is now happy to welcome Samina and Zoe! Here are their first impressions:
We have been overwhelmed with support from various parties since our arrival. We can’t thank everyone enough for making our move to Kenya so stress free!
After a 5 hour drive, and lots of laughs, we finally reached Ondati. The staff, at Ondati Secondary School for Girls, were eagerly awaiting our arrival. We were greeted with smiles, kind words and a huge meal of ugali, boga boga and mayai (the local starch staple with vegetables and egg). They commented that they were pleased to once again have on the ground support from Teach a Man to Fish. We’re both really looking forward to getting stuck in and helping to make 2011 a great year in Ondati! The pre-existing projects appear to be going well, although there’s a lot of scope for improvement, expansion, and new projects. We realize it’s going to be challenging, but hopefully once school resumes and the girls and teachers are back from their Easter holiday, we can start to make some positive changes.
The builders are working very hard to get the new house up and work is set to finish in 2 or 3 weeks if all goes according to plan. Until then, we’ve been given temporary accommodation on the school grounds. Our laptops, Kindles and other gadgets look very out of place in our mud hut! We have also been sharing our lodgings with our new feline friend! About 10 minutes after we arrived in Ondati a gorgeous little kitten came to greet us at the hut and everyone suggested we keep her. She’s been great company and entertainment, clambering around on all of our stuff and pawing through the mosquito nets to wake us up in the morning. A very welcome addition to the TAMTF crew, we hope she’s here to stay…
Harambee in swahili means, "all put together," and the community surrounding the Ondati Girls School has fully embraced this concept as a means to see the further development of the school and joining efforts to fundraise in December, helping the building of a third classroom. The beginning of a new term means new hope and a new group of eager students ready to take on their futures. The second year and third year students number in 50 total, with an additional 40 girls in the first year class.
Getting off to a good start and ensuring another year of valued returns is a goal shared by all involved in helping create a positive and educational environment. This brings in five new teachers to the Ondati Girls School, one of whom will be the new head teacher and very committed to self-sufficiency. Meanwhile the current partnership with AfricaNow has come to an end, which means a new plan for the year is in process of being created. Teach A Man to Fish is also working on creating a Distance Learning Guide, which may help strengthen the schools progress.
Below are the businesses that the Ondati Girls School is maintaining:
Bees: 2 of 6 hives have been populated and producing honey
Solar: A mobile phone charging business is up and running
Dairy: All the milk produced is being sold locally
Pineapples: 1000 pineapple suckers of the best quality were purchased in June and are being installed
Tree seedlings: Mangoes have been planted. Seedlings are being sold locally
Grain store/office: Grain has being sold
As the new term continues, and school businesses grow, with that working together as a community effort, it will continue to grow.
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