Greetings from the foothills of Mt. Meru! As I write this, the students and staff of Ikirwa School have just returned from their Easter break to finish the first term. Our 6th graders have taken over their new classroom space and made it their own. Following a donation of several laptops in January, the classroom has also become a makeshift computer lab for the whole school.
The start of the year was not without some excitement. Shortly after the school year began, we had to re-enforce the foundation and complete a retaining wall around the new classroom building to prevent soil erosion. About half of the school territory is on the hillside. Its soft volcanic soil is ideal for growing vegetables and flowers – the school shamba (garden) provides much of the maize used in school meals - but it is tricky for terracing and building. Rainy seasons have been bringing heavier than normal rains for the past two years, making soil erosion an ever present concern. So thanks to the donations that came it at the end of December, we were able to complete the retaining wall in early February, before the rains came.
With our 6th grade classroom complete and the academic year in full-swing, we now shift our efforts to planning the construction of classroom space for 7th and final grade of the Primary school. It will be added to the east wall of the new building and will sit on the strong foundation, that was already built with your help.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Maria Skuratovskaya, Executive Director on behalf of the board and staff of the Ikirwa School and Ikirwa School Project
What a difference 3 months make! As I write this, doors and windows are being installed in the classroom which this group has helped us fund. Through its windows you can see Mt. Meru and tall avocado trees which line the border of the adjoining yams farm. A week from now, its walls will be filled with voices of twenty 6th graders, preparing to start what may be their last year of Primary School (we await the final ruling from the Ministry of Education on that account).
The initial plan called for breaking ground on a flat strip of land adjacent to the Nursery building. However, upon further evaluation, we have decided that it would be better to preserve the flat ground for future athletic facilities. Instead, we have moved to location up the hill from the first Primary School building. The classroom will become an anchor point for the third building on Ikirwa School campus. Over the coming 2 years we plan to add on another two classrooms and an office, which would allow us to convert one of the existing buildings into a dormitory.
On behalf of the teachers, staff and volunteers we would like to with you a Happy New Year and thank you for your unwavering support of the Ikirwa School Project. Since 2013 we have been building our little school, one classroom at a time, with the help of grassroots donors like you. Without you, these walls would not be standing.
October is a busy month at Ikirwa School – children are returning from their mid-term break to begin their final preparations for National Examinations; new staff is being interviewed and families of perspective students begin visiting the campus. It has also traditionally been a month when we break ground on a construction project. Over the past three years we have completed our second building, one classroom at a time. This year, thanks to the funds we have raised to date through this campaign and a lead grant from the Great Visions Foundation, we will be breaking ground on our 3rd building. Breaking ground is in equal parts exhilarating and daunting - the giddiness of growth and expansion combined with a healthy dose of anxiety to finish before the next school year, which is only 3 months away.
When Ikirwa School Project was just an idea, our architect Mr. M was the first to give it dimension when he drew the original plan for the school campus in 2011. Since then, he has also been the builder, making those drawing a reality. This year, our plan is to provide for side and upward expansion. The foundation footprint will accommodate a building three classrooms wide and two stories tall. Until we can the other classrooms, the pillars will be used to support a roof of an open verandah extending from a single classroom over the foundation floor. Ikirwa School is not alone in its just-in-time building approach. Many schools, churches and even hospitals follow do the same – throughout Arumeru you can see building with unfinished joints, awaiting funds to construct the next room.
Thank you all for your generous support of Ikirwa School and its mission to bring education to children who need it most.
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