As mentioned on our Twitter feed and Facebook page (you are following those aren't you? :)) Jitegemee welcomed its first intern to Machakos a little over a month ago. Calum is taking a gap year to travel the world, experience life, and hopefully make a difference along the way. We're happy to have him working with our students and staff at Jitegemee, and we are excited to hear about his time there. Throughout the course of his stay we will occasionally be sending you updates from his blog "Merry Go Round." Below is the first such post, ENJOY!
For over a month now I’ve been working with the NGO Jitegemee in Machakos, Kenya that rehabilitates street children through formal and vocational education. I’m their first long-term volunteer and I’m working on developing a basic computer skills curriculum, a networked computer lab and a litter management program. Living with a local family has given me an opportunity to fully experience life here. They have made me feel like their son always referring to each other as “mom” and “dad”. Many of our conversations are spent comparing our cultures and asking each other questions. What I’ve found most interesting is how surprised they are when I explain how different life is back home. I remember their shock when I explained I didn’t know how to make chapatis because I don’t eat them back home. But they’ve made sure to teach me and now I’m pretty much an expert- I’ll post some instructions soon.
Over the first two week of January, we had many visitors to Jitegemee. Two Columbia graduate students studying international development came for 10 days to research the impact of the formal schooling programme. Not sure how they got anything done as we spent most of our time together dancing with all the students. Their findings fully support the huge, life changing impact that Jitegemee has on children’s lives. Just read "REFORMED", a poem written by several vocational students, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Last Friday we had three donors visit from the US who shared a day of performances and celebration with us here. Hopefully soon I will be able to find the internet power to upload some pictures.
Slowly I’ve been making progress teaching the students how to use computers. We have five (if we’re lucky and they all decide to work) in a mini-lab that is now decorated with some posters the students made about the different parts of the computer. Since the most of them had never touched one before, I start by teaching them about the parts, why its important to learn computers, and how many jobs can benefit from using them. Then we move into turning them on and off correctly, and how to hold the mouse and use the left click. My first major activity involves the paint application and they have all loved learning how to draw and color on the computer. It’s a fun way to learn about interacting with the computer using the mouse. Some of them have been able to create really detailed portraits, maps of Kenya and Africa, and 3D houses. It’s amazing to think that a week ago most of them had never used a computer before and now they’re able to do all that. This week I’ve been introducing them to the keyboard, going through what all the keys do and having the students practice using them. In the next few weeks we will continue to work on typing and formatting. I’ve also been working with the teachers on typing, word processing, powerpoint, and video editing. Hopefully by next week we will have the entire center connected to the internet so everyone can start playing with it.
For the litter project, we now have five bins for <del>taka taka</del> trash and a bottle of soap. I made some posters about keeping Jitegemee clean and healthy and put them up all over the place. I’ve started to explain it all to the students and already I’ve seen many people putting their trash into the bins instead of throwing it on the floor.And we’ve nearly finished the bottle of soap. Great success! Hopefully we’ll be able to get hand sanitizer dispensers which I think will be better for the limited water supply.
Now I’m off to Nairobi to spend the weekend with my host brother. What a crazy life!