Education  Kenya Project #13015

Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!

by Kenya Connect (KC)
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Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Empower, Engage, Educate in Rural Kenya!
Computers in the Classroom are Fun!
Computers in the Classroom are Fun!

Beep, Beep!  Our Magic School Bus is not only bringing books to our partner schools, we are now bringing chromebooks! The Kenyan Competency Based Curriculum includes basic computer skills such as how to turn on a computer and use a mouse, wordprocessing, and how to access the internet in grade 4. In grade 5, the students are supposed to learn coding. However, all of our partner schools are without computers.

Thanks to a grant from Team4Tech, we are now bringing 40 chromebooks to four of our partner schools in a new computer pilot program. Just imagine students getting to use their own computer in their classroom. For almost all of the students, it's the first time they have ever used a computer by themselves. The teachers are thrilled since it was challenging to teach computing from a textbook. As part of our work to make it sustainable, we are also training the teachers so they can also instruct the teachers.  

Patrick Munguti, Director of Technology said, "The students are so joyful when they are using the computers! When it is time to leave, they ask us to stay longer! Other students from the schools are so interested, they watch outside the window to see the class in progress!"

This program is an addition to our daily computer enrichment classes at the Learning Resource Center. We have also begun to teach robotics and the students are amazed when they can make their lego car or robot move!

We are grateful to donors like you who have supported our work so generously. These programs are making a difference for rural Kenyan students and we couldn't do it without you.

We will keep you updated as this program progresses and grows!

Every child has a Chromebook to use!
Every child has a Chromebook to use!
We wish we could be in the class too!
We wish we could be in the class too!
Computers in the schools is a game changer!
Computers in the schools is a game changer!
Robotics Fun!
Robotics Fun!
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Kwame Alexander and his step!
Kwame Alexander and his step!

Kwame Alexander, award winning poet, author of 21 books, and educator visited Kenya Connect this week! He delighted students, teachers, and parents through Read Alouds, storytelling, and writing instruction. He visited a homestead and enjoyed learning traditional dance from the Kyeengai Kithito Women's group and seeing woodcarving from the world-renowned Wamunyu Woodcarvers. However, at the heart of his visit was literacy. An ambassador for LitWorld and an advocate for libraries around the world, Kwame inspired our students and teachers to be readers and writers.

During a teacher professional development session he told teachers, "you can't teach writing if you are not writing too." Executive Director James Musyoka shared, "Kwame is not only a great writer but a great teacher! By sharing his written word, Kwame uniquely engages his audience, both students and teachers, in a way that sparks their literacy curiosity. During his visit to Kenya Connect, he greatly inspired students and teachers about the power of reading and writing." One of the elderly teachers attending his literacy workshop commended; 'Kwame you need to come back before I have retired from teaching!'" At the workshop, teachers worked on writing their own poem which they shared with the group. Professional Learning Coordinator Rebecca Migwambo commented, "I was so thrilled by how he demystified the writing process with the teachers during the workshop. It indeed takes a good writer to inspire writing."

In celebration of his visit, Kenya Connect added his award-winning book, The Crossover, to our "Steps to Reading" in the new Library Learning Center. Faith Doucette, Director of Partnerships and Mentorships shared, "It struck me how humble Kwame is given his success and fame. I had the pleasure attending the teachers’ writing workshop and watching a master writer at work. Kwame has a unique way of engaging his students and drawing out writing skills they didn’t know they had. As a result, I left the workshop feeling empowered to write. "

Reading and libraries has been at the top of our work as the construction of our new library is almost completed. Our Librarian, Esther Muinde, wrote a wondeful blog about our comprehensive strategy to become "The Village That Reads."  

If you are interested in donating a step in the new library, please contact sharon@kenyaconnect.org

Kwame visits students at Mbuini PS
Kwame visits students at Mbuini PS
Teacher Professional Development with Kwame
Teacher Professional Development with Kwame
Professional Development Rocks!
Professional Development Rocks!
Interested in donating a step?
Interested in donating a step?
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The Library Learning Center!
The Library Learning Center!

There's been a buzz in Wamunyu.  "Look at that new big building at Kenya Connect?"  What's it going to be?  It's beautiful!"

We are very pleased to report that our Library Learning Center (LLC) is almost complete. As the new building grew, we realized that the LRC Annex was not an apt name so we changed it to include the Library in the title since it's an essential component. The exterior work is almost complete and all the painting has been finished inside. The contractor is putting on the final touches and we are expecting to take occupancy in April!

As you will see in the pictures, the building has beautiful features and was designed for good airflow and access.  As the structure and painting of the building is being completed, carpenters are busy building bookshelves for the Library. Our staff is selecting inspirational quotes to paint on the library and maker space walls.

Meanwhile, we have schools in the U.S. and beyond raising money for our Steps to Reading program.  Any school, inidvidual or group that raises $1000 will choose a spine of a book to be painted on one of the 53 steps in the building. Our goal is not only to have the building be functional, we want it to inspire our community to be lifelong readers and learners!

The entire team at Kenya Connect knows that this building is as a result of friends and donors making generous donations to make this project become a reality. Thank you for your contribution in creating the FIRST library and makerspace in our subounty and for helping Kenya Connect to expand our robust enrichment and empowerment programs!  

Another View of the LLC
Another View of the LLC
A view from the Hallway
A view from the Hallway
The Front Entrance
The Front Entrance
Sidewalks and the driveway
Sidewalks and the driveway
Library shelf with display option
Library shelf with display option
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Students Learning Scratch!
Students Learning Scratch!

On March 17, 2020, I cancelled my planned trip to Kenya that was leaving on March 20th, when the world shut down because of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Little did I know that nearly two years would pass before I could be back on the ground with the team. In the meantime we zoomed, emailed, and WhatsApped, but it wasn't the same as being with our talented team.

Last week I returned from two glorious weeks in Kenya. I wanted to take a moment to share some reflections.

  • Our team has grown with 12 staff members and 5 interns. James, Patrick, Cyrus, Esther, Monicah, Margaret, Primma, Rebecca, Faith, Brian, Brian, David, Jackie, Sharn, Rael, Vicki and Danson are energetic, passionate, and dedicated to improving education for children at our 62 partner schools. I saw staff members leading celebrations for World Read Aloud Day and championing reading at every level. I watched LitMoms learning to sew and creating crowns to celebrate World Read Aloud Day. I learned that several of our interns were children at our partner schools and had Kenya Connect PenPals which inspired them to pursue Community Development Work. Their enthusiasm, can-do attitude, and laughter inspired me in a profound way and I feel blessed I was able to be with them again.
  • I met with 60 Head Teachers and Principals from our Partner Schools. These dedicated men and women talked about the importance of our programs and how they are seeing a difference in student engagement and achievement as a result of our programs. They especially appreciated our School Library Day program and our work to build a culture of reading in the community. The Wings Poa Reusable Sanitary Pad program and Teacher Professional Development were also at the top of their list as priorities.
  • I saw teachers committed to learning new teaching strategies to make their classrooms more student-centered despite having few resources and crowded classrooms. They are grateful to be part of Professional Learning Communities that are also grappling with incorporating digital learning in their classrooms.
  • I witnessed the launch of our new Girl/Boy Empowerment Program which is part of our strategy to reduce teen pregnancy (see above MDM article). As we arrived at one of the partner pilot schools, I saw children eagerly waiting in their classroom for the Kenya Connect mentors to arrive. As I watched our talented mentors interact with the children, I was filled with joy seeing how the children responded to the activities.
  • One afternoon I walked into our Computer Lab and saw students learning SCRATCH, a basic coding program, and giggling as they programmed objects or animals to move. Another day I walked into the lab and saw Patrick, our Director of Technology and Education, working with one of our interns on creating a lego forklift using a robotics program.
  • I learned about possible income generation projects which will help sustain Kenya Connect programs while providing income to local community members.
  • And I saw the new building..... The Library Learning Center. Thanks to many of you, we have a gorgeous and functional building which will be opening later in March. It is spectacular and will bring us to the next level of programming and operations. There is so much to share, but the email would become too long.

As I have reflected on this trip I keep thinking about how remarkable Kenya Connect is and how we are changing the face of education in our rural community. Co-Founded and Executive Director, James Musyoka, has hired an extraordinary team that makes MAGIC happen each day in Wamunyu. James' tireless work and vision, and the work of the Kenya Connect Superstars is stellar. I am also keenly aware that our programs are made possible because of FRIENDS AND DONORS like you who provide the financial backbone for all our work. We could not host our many programs without your financial support. I know that each of us at TEAM KENYA CONNECT are deeply grateful and want to thank you for your generosity. It was truly a gift to be with the Kenya Connect Superstars! I can't wait to go back!

Principals Sharing Together
Principals Sharing Together
LitMoms Sewing Together
LitMoms Sewing Together
Library Days!
Library Days!
Team KC is full of joy!
Team KC is full of joy!
Girl/Boy Empowerment Program
Girl/Boy Empowerment Program
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Read Aloud at Wamunyu Special School
Read Aloud at Wamunyu Special School

2022 has launched with library teams visiting schools, teachers thoughtfully participating in professional development sessions, and students running excitedly to the Learning Resource Center for STEM classes. We have BIG plans for this year... our 20th anniversary.

Before we provide updates for 2022, we wanted to take a moment to share some highlights from 2021.  Despite the pandemic, our programs continued to thrive in our quest to break down barriers to education while providing robust enrichment and empowerment programs for students, teachers, and parents. Some of our 2021 accomplishments included:

  • 39,194 books checked out with our mobile library vehicles traveling 6,230 kilometers to do so!
  • 2,621 books donated to our library brining our collection to 12,593 with 20,000 books on a cargo ship headed to Kenya thanks to Books for Africa.
  • 422 students participating in STEM classes and 144 students learning basic computer skills.
  • 319 Wings Poa Resuable Sanitary Pad kits distributed to girls along with menstrual health and hygiene informaton.
  • 1,047 solar lights distributed so students to encourage students to read and do homework at their homesteads.
  • 12 sewing machines acquired for the LitMom Women Empowerment Program.
  • 69 teachers participating in weekly Professional Learning Communities at our Empowered Schools.

More important than the numbers, in 2021 we saw students, teachers and parents excited about reading, teachers shifting from the rote methodology of teaching to creating an atmosphere of engaged learning, and parents excited to be learning how to support their children in school while also being introduced to income generation projects. We invite you to peruse our 2021 Highlights be clicking HERE.

Staff member Monicah shared, "Seeing Expanding Horizon club members lead a read aloud activity during the community service day at the Wamunyu Special school was a great milestone as they used to be so shy and afraid to read."  Intern Rael reflected, "When conducting a Wings Poa training session at Kikaso Primary School, I loved how girls openly shared the problems they were experiencing in regard to menstruation while asking good questions."  Danson, our bus driver, commented, "I am glad that the library program is going so well.  It's exciting to see the children being able to borrow books."

All of our accomplishments are as a result of donors like you who are supporting our work to strengthen education in rural Kenya. We will continue to provide updates of our work throughout the year and we invite you to follow us on social media to see our activities on a daily basis. Thank you for making our story possible.

Learning about Wings Poa Kits
Learning about Wings Poa Kits
Our Library Collection Grew!
Our Library Collection Grew!
LitMoms Learn to Sew!
LitMoms Learn to Sew!
New Chromebooks!
New Chromebooks!
Teacher Professional Development
Teacher Professional Development
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Organization Information

Kenya Connect (KC)

Location: Wamunyu, Machakos - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @KenyaConnect
Project Leader:
James Musyoka
Wamunyu, Kenya
$204,023 raised of $250,000 goal
 
3,087 donations
$45,977 to go
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