Aug 9, 2021

News from home and abroad

School March 2021
School March 2021

Apologies for the delay in writing but I mistakenly thought I had nothing to report having been unable to visit Kenya for 16 months. We would have been twice in that time under normal circumstances and of course we have been unable to see our beautiful building. What we need now is a playground of course but the plot in front of the school, which we had been using, is about to be built upon. Unfortunately land is very expensive.

But life in Kenya has continued. The children went back to school in January, our 14 year olds took their KCPE, we were visited and considered Covid safe and as you can see everyone still wears masks with no mention of changing this! The Kenyan government, whilst having many faults, has tried very hard to keep its people safe in every way it can. It had planned to vaccinate all school staff as a matter of urgency but unfortunately it did not get the expected vaccine although this has now been promised under the Covax agreement. Despite the lack of vaccine the number of cases in Mombasa has been very low and so far no-one at our school has caught the virus.

And there is other good news. Firstly, thanks to some generous donations to Jude Bellingam’s fundraising page we have now managed to raise all the money needed for the feeding programme until the end of this year. Raising the £18,000 needed to feed our children each year is always a worry so that is a great relief. We are of course half way through the year so fundraising for the feeding programme will continue towards the following year.

Secondly, we had pleasing results in our KCPE (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education). The oldest children had been away from school for eight months having returned to school two months earlier than the rest of the school. Previously our KCPE results had given a mean score of B- when a C is considered a good grade by the Kenyan government. This year our teachers were so disappointed that the mean grade was a C+ but I thought that was pretty amazing. Rich children in Kenya had had online lessons whilst those of our children who chose to collect it were given homework, which was marked, but no teaching. Just as in the UK it was the poorest to suffered most. It has also made us realise how important it is to improve the IT capabilities of our children if they are to succeed in the world they will inhabit. New laptops are very much on the agenda.

Then, like many people during this pandemic, we have used Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp to keep in touch. In many ways we have been much closer to what is going on than we would have been in normal circumstances. Whilst school was closed we had weekly Skype meetings with the headteacher and even now we meet regularly on Zoom. In fact Zoom has now become a huge benefit as the teachers receive training. Our P1 teachers (qualification is for 6 - 14 year olds) are being trained by Charlie, one of our trustees and our ECD teachers (qualification is for 4 - 8 year olds) are receiving training from Christine a volunteer. Both are highly qualified teachers and are making a real difference.

And the response from the teachers? ‘We are very fortunate to get this training and we really appreciate.' ' It is helping us to get good grades for the children.' ' It is really improving our teaching and it makes us know that Mustard Seed Project is still thinking about us.'

Finally, a big thank you to all of you who have donated and enabled us to achieve this. We feel priviledged to be able to help this community and know that none of this would have happened without your help.

Feeding programme
Feeding programme
All are wearing masks
All are wearing masks

Links:

Aug 9, 2021

Feeding programme safe until the end of the year

lunchtime at school
lunchtime at school

Great news! Thanks to some generous donations made to Jude Bellingam’s fundraising page and the amazing people who make regular donations we have now managed to raise all the money needed for the feeding programme until the end of this year. Raising the £18,000 needed to feed our children each year is always a worry so it's good to know that the prgramme is secure until December.

Other news from school is that our children went back to school in January, our 14 year olds took their KCPE, we were visited and considered Covid safe and as you can see everyone still wears masks with no mention of changing this! The Kenyan government, whilst having many faults, has tried very hard to keep its people safe in every way it can. It had planned to vaccinate all school staff as a matter of urgency but unfortunately it did not get the expected vaccine. Despite that the number of cases in Mombasa has been very low and so far no-one at our school has caught the virus. 

The feeding programme also helped us to achieve other things in school. With a full stomach children can concentrate and this lead to other benefits as we had pleasing results in our KCPE (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education). The oldest children had been away from school for eight months having returned to school two months earlier than the rest of the school. Previously our KCPE results had given a mean score of B- when a C is considered a good grade by the Kenyan government. This year our teachers were so disappointed that the mean grade was a C+ but I thought that was pretty amazing. Rich children in Kenya had had online lessons whilst those of our children who chose to collect it were given homework, which was marked, but no teaching. Just as in the UK it was the poorest to suffered most. We had of course fed 78 families during the pandemic so that at least they did not starve. 

Then, like many people during this pandemic, we have used Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp to keep in touch. In many ways we have been much closer to what is going on than we would have been in normal circumstances. Whilst school was closed we had weekly Skype meetings with the headteacher and even now we meet regularly on Zoom. In fact Zoom has now become a huge benefit as the teachers receive training. Our P1 teachers (qualification is for 6 - 14 year olds) are being trained by Charlie, one of our trustees and our ECD teachers (qualification is for 4 - 8 year olds) are receiving training from Christine a volunteer. Both are highly qualified teachers and are making a real difference.

And the response from the teachers? ‘We are very fortunate to get this training and we really appreciate it.' ' It is helping us to get good grades for the children.' ' It is really improving our teaching and it makes us know that Mustard Seed Project is still thinking about us.'

Finally, a big thank you to all of you who have fundraised, made donations or set up regular donations. Our children and staff could not succeed without your support.

Feeding families in lockdown
Feeding families in lockdown
collecting lunch from the kitchen
collecting lunch from the kitchen

Links:

Feb 11, 2021

Our beautiful school is complete

Our lovely new school
Our lovely new school

I can’t tell you how exciting this moment is. The first section of the building was completed in 2014 and now (excluding the fence) the building is complete. A big thank you to all of you who have donated towards this project. You should all feel very proud of what your donation has achieved for this community.

There has been some delay completing the fence whilst we decided what would be best. We do not own much land in front of the school, two metres to be precise. A wall would have been the safest but would have blocked out the light. We have finally decided upon railings and I shall send you photographs as soon as they are completed.

For the first time all of our children are together and it should feel like a real community but of course they are all isolating in their bubbles. And wearing masks. There is currently no Covid in this area but very wisely they plan to keep it that way and even three year olds must wear a mask.

Of course, it is impossible to teach young children with additional needs without being close to them but mostly teachers of the older children can manage to do this. What a strange world we live in.

So, this project is complete apart from some additional furniture. We had most of what was needed but now that we have larger rooms we can fit in more. The staffroom has been made bigger and the clinic is now smaller. The result of my misunderstanding of the use of the staffroom in Kenya. Not a place to relax but a place to work.

Of course, the teachers have a lot to do. Children have been away from school for 10 months and the government has decided that they will be able to catch up in just one term. The mean score of B- for their KCPE that has been achieved in the previous two years seems very unlikely this year.

We can’t wait to get out to Kenya. Seeing photographs is not the same as the real thing. I feel as though my baby has grown up. We have 300 poor children in 11 classes of 25-30. We have excellent teachers producing outstanding results. We shall always need to support the project, providing additional training, salaries for teachers and the feeding programme. In fact, this latter is our most pressing need at present as the trust that had been paying for this has now closed.

It costs £15,000 a year to feed our children, £6 per child, per month and so far we have raised just £9,500 this year so we have a way to go. I shall set up another fundraising page for that but should you wish to make a donation towards this now then any donation made for this project will go towards the feeding programme.

teaching children with additional needs
teaching children with additional needs
I know colour red
I know colour red
Socially distanced teaching older children
Socially distanced teaching older children

Links:

 
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