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Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum

by Mustard Seed Project (Kenya)
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Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Boys with food supply
Boys with food supply

Lots of good news as always. You may remember in the last report I told you about our volunteer Charlie who had made such a difference to our children and teachers earlier this year? Well, this morning Charlie joined at our trustees, meeting as a trustee. She was so impressed by the work we are doing that she agreed to become one of the board. And a very welcome addition she is. 

In October, when we shall be in Kenya we have another volunteer coming out but this time a professional photographer. It will be great to get some good photographs. I always intend to take some but I am always so busy that it gets forgotten and then there is a problem when it comes to writing reports! 

At school this is an exciting year. This is the first year that we have the entire age range in school. The first group  of children taking their KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education). There will be news of this when the results come out next year. This is also the year when the older children and their teachers are benefitting from a completed ground floor with electricity, running water, good toilets for boys, girls and teachers and a kitchen with a modern ecological stove. Hopefully we shall have the funds to start the upper floor soon. We are so proud of what has been achieved with your help and this seemed like a good moment to let the users tell you what they thought. Below are direct quotes from everyone either in English or translated by the teachers or secretary into English.

Teachers

The electicity has made teaching more effective due to use of laptops and projectors during teaching lessons

The 24 hour tap water supply has improved the living condition in the school in terms of hygiene and health matters.

There are enough separate toilets for both teachers, boys and girls unlike before

The school is now well equipped with a modern library which has created an ease for revision and learning process in the entire school

The classes are spacious thus easy to teach and also creating a high standard of hygiene

The school is giving a high quality education to the pupils from Mgongeni slums and the community at large.

 

Pupils

We are happy and proud of the new toilets

Happy with the balanced diet food cooked at school.

The library is assiting us to do our studies well and also has improved our revision mode to which we have improved in our academics.

The new jiko (energy efficient stove) has enabled us to have lunch in our locality unlike before when we used to walk to the old school for porridge and lunch. This has really saved our time

We are very happy for the chairs and tables which are not found in any other school in the entire community because others use desks

Cooks

Mustard Seed has done a tremendous support fot the new modern kitchen and more so for the steel jiko which has made our work more easier and efficient.

Parents

A big thanks for the feeding programme. Sometimes children lack something to put in their stomach for breakfast and even for lunch. But no worries ever because Mustard Seed has catered for them.

Thank you for the stationery facilities provided at school because our earnings could not cater for that. 

General comment

Thanks for the Mustard Seed Project for the great effort towards all these developments

A recent visitor from the UK

I was very impressed with the work they were doing. Even my driver - who has kids of his own at a fairly expensive private school  and took a surreptitious look around out of personal interest - said he thought they were doing really good work.

And from all at Mustard Seed Project

It is a priviledge for us to do the work we are doing but we could not have done it without your support. A big thank you to all of you who have made such a big difference to our people in Kenya. We really appreciate your help.

Happy teachers in new school building
Happy teachers in new school building
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What an exciting trip to Kenya where the ground floor of our school has been completed. Such beautiful toilets and kitchen. Taps with water coming out of them, separate toilets for our older girls and the building looking absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much to those of you who donated towards this. I only wish you could see what has been achieved and realise what a difference you are making to the people in Kenya.

I would have written about it before but a nasty Kenyan mosquito gave me chikungunya which is affecting my hands and feet quite badly. My brain is OK though so everything will continue as usual, just a little more slowly. Could take 6 months to recover apparently.

The initial illness is very painful but a video made by Irene the headteacher periodically put a smile on my face. Donors have been supporting Halima a little girl with severe cerebral palsy. She lives close to the school and her two sisters attend Miche Bora. 18 months ago she could not sit unaided and now, she can walk! She is going to a special school for children with cerebral palsy and they have done a wonderful job with her. 

In fact we had good news about the other children who have donors supporting them at a special school. Our deaf children are all doing well and Hope, the eldest of these, is doing so well that the headteacher has said that she has no doubt that she will get into the National school for the deaf. This is the highest level of secondary school in Kenya.

Of course it is what goes on in a school that matters and our latest volunteer was just great. Charlie had decided to take a year out and do the things on her bucket list. One of these was to support a charity. We were a perfect match. She did lots of research and found us. We are very fussy and took her. The teachers thought she was wonderful and they were right. She was working with the teachers in upper school, children aged 11 - 14 helping the teachers and children with English. And the best thing is that she was equally impressed with our school and the teachers. She has made a real difference and the teachers really miss her. Amazingly she is still supporting them through WhatsApp. 'We only want another volunteer if she is like Charlie' they told me. So if there are any teachers out there who would like to volunteer, please do. 

The clinic in the new school is looking great too. We have appointed an assistant nurse to work both in the school and in the community. Such a lot of clinics have sprung up in the community but what they do not do is preventative nursing in the community. The prevalence of 'old wives tales' is huge. Even intelligent, educated people believe incredible things. At least they are incredible to us. 

The school is now complete. We have 275 children, the complete age range and are fully staffed with fantastic teachers. Now we 'just' need to build the upper floor. It would be so lovely to have all the children under one roof and it would enormously cut down on our monthly outgoings. We have great contractors ready and waiting for when we have the funding. Let's hope this is the year. 

Our beautiful toilets
Our beautiful toilets
Our happy cooks
Our happy cooks
Charlie in school
Charlie in school

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Johnny has a sponsor
Johnny has a sponsor

We took out 50 pairs of shoes for our children in October. A whole suitcase full! Not enough for everyone of course but it will certainly help. Northborough Primary School donated their school shoes at the end of term and went home in their trainers. If you saw the state of the shoes the children at our school in Kenya are wearing you would know why they could not access the so called 'free' primary education in Kenya. Free education is only available, in classes of 100, if you can afford shoes, uniform, stationary, afternoon tuition and exams! 

In fact we have just got back from an extremely fruitful visit to Kenya despite four public holiday (three as the result of the election) and unseasonable torrential rain non-stop for seven days. School had to close early because of the election but this meant that I had six days of in-service training with the teachers including some planning time. 

Many of us know the situation, you go to a really good training course with lots of ideas you are going to put into practice and then you get back to work and events overtake you. Having six days gave people the time to immediately think about how they were going to put all these things into practice. One day following a training day on planning, Irene (headteacher) was so thrilled when she came to tell me, 'That was such a good training session. I have been trying to encourage Amos to plan like that but he felt he couldn't and he just told me that he understands now and thinks he'll be able to do it.' Such a lovely feeling knowing that people are appreciating and acting on your advice. Mind you I only have to see what professional teachers they have all become and how hard they work to know that. 

The other great thing was the teacher's I.T. skills. When I left in March I said that I would not get internet access for them until their computer skills were better. Many of them could use a smart phone already but a laptop has a lot more to offer than the internet! If you ever wanted to see which worked best, carrot or stick, this was a prime example. Collins, our secretary had been giving lessons and the difference was amazing. They now have a mobile router.

One of the nicest things to happen was being able to tell parents that we had a sponsor for their child. Some were completely overwhelmed as they had been so worried about how they would manage to find the fees. It was really heart-breaking to see them. It is hard for us to imagine what it must feel like to have to choose between food and education and then sometimes not having the money for either. For some, like Johnny who is profoundly deaf, getting the specialised education he needs was only a wild dream for the parents. They were just so elated. 

The school year has ended in Kenya. In January we shall have standard 8 who will be taking their KCPE exams which determine which school they will be able to go to if they have the money. More importantly we need to complete the ground floor of our school building before they start school in January, comprising the toilet block and the kitchen. We have some of the funding, the builders are on stand-by and hopefully we shall manage to raise the remaining money as the result of the Big Give Christmas Campaign at the end of November with £4,000 for matched funding. The £8,000 will enable us to reach another milestone! Not sure how we shall build the next floor though. I suspect it will be difficult to do so one room at a time!!

Thank you so much to everyone who has made all this possible. Whoever would have believed when we started our school with just 17 children eight years ago that we would be where we are now with 275 children, 12 teachers and ancillary workers all achieving such amazing results and it's all thanks to you. So very much appreciated by all at Mustard Seed.

Shoes from Northborough School
Shoes from Northborough School
Training session
Training session
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Poets with Italian photographer Monia Antonioli
Poets with Italian photographer Monia Antonioli

I’m so proud. 28 children from Miche Bora Primary School took part in a Kenyan National Music Festival, including choral speaking and amazingly they came second out of 200,000 applicants! There were five heats with the final being in Nairobi. It’s just so amazing! This has been such an opportunity for the children and certainly something which would normally be completely unattainable for children from a deprived area like Mgongeni. Of course, there were financial implications. Far more than we had anticipated as it had not occurred to us that they would reach the final but… well, let the children speak for themselves. Everlyne, 13 –‘I was so proud of myself being an ambassador for Mombasa. I want to work hard to get the trophy next year’. Margaret, 9 – ‘I was the best remember’ (well she was nearly) And finally, Irene, our headteacher -- ‘These events have made Miche Bora the centre of interest to all schools in Mgongeni if not Mombasa county.’

Our aim to provide quality education certainly seems to be paying off.

The feeding programme is an annual worry of course but fortunately, as last year, we have been saved by a donor at the last minute. And then a visiting donor from CARE, an American charity, visited with enough dry food for two weeks and some toys. As a result of the drought in Kenya some staple food is rationed and the prices have naturally gone up. It’s hard to imagine how people would cope with feeding their children if it were not for our feeding programme.

Other good news is that we are close to being able to complete the toilet block in the new school. Another £2000 and we shall be able to complete the new toilets. This will be a relief as we shall have another 25 children in the new building in January. The years pass so quickly.

Reports from school continue to be positive from the point of view of parents, children and staff. One great weakness amongst the teaching staff is their IT skills. Those who have them can operate a smart phone but need time to learn the value of Office etc. without the distraction of the WWW. Knowing that access to the internet was dependent upon their IT skills improving they have been having weekly lessons from our IT literate school secretary and I am expecting to set up internet access for our laptops when I return in October.

And talking about my return visit, I shall also be taking shoes that have been donated by all the children at a local primary school. So important when you see the state of many children’s shoes in Kenya. It’s a miracle that there are not more injuries to their feet.

I shall also meet up with one of our latest volunteers who is going to spend three months with our youngest children. Exciting times as always.

Thank you so much for all your support. You have enabled us to grow and enrich the lives and futures of these children more than any of us could have imagined.

CARE donated food
CARE donated food
Shoes from Northborough Primary School
Shoes from Northborough Primary School
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Halima in her new wheel chair
Halima in her new wheel chair

Dear supporters,

I'm so glad to be able to tell quite what a difference your support has made.

We have just returned from Kenya and a very busy time. The school is amazing and making such huge progress. It's hard to believe that in September 2009 we started with just 17 children and two teachers (only one of whom was qualified). Now with 250 children and excellent academic results it is just so exciting. Last month we had to appoint a new teacher and the calibre of the candidates was so high we spent a sleepless night deciding who we should appoint to join our committed hard-working staff. If I had had any doubts about the calibre of our existing teachers they certainly disappeared at the end of the month. Two of our teachers did a training session for the rest of the staff for the first time. The one given by Eric, our maths coordinator, earned him a spontaneous round of applause from the rest of the staff. I felt so proud.

There was great excitement for us all whilst I was there when half a pallet of books were delivered from Books Abroad, a Scottish Charity. They had given us books before but the great thing this time was that most of the books sent out I had collected and wanted to get out to Kenya. It would have taken us years to get them out in our luggage and I was just beginning to accept this when the offer came to send them to Scotland. Absolutely brilliant!

Whilst I was there the electricity was finally connected in the new school building meaning that I was able to give some IT training to the staff using laptops and the projector. It's an odd situation there as the teachers are IT literate on their smart phones so they are way ahead of us when we first had computers. When it comes to simple word-processing to create, change and save a document they are right at the beginning. They are desperate to get internet access but need to develop other skills first. Fortunately, Collins our school secretary has good IT skills and will give the teachers an hours' training each week.

Then this week I have had WhatsApp videos showing that the borehole has finally been dug and the quality of the water is excellent. By the time the school holidays are over there should be running water in the school. Fantastic!

Exciting progress has also been made in the clinic as one of our nurses, Flora, has expanded her role to include health visiting which has been very much appreciated. In fact nurse Flora said the neighbours were asking, 'Can you come to us too?' The answer being that we shall, as soon as we have completed visiting our own parents.

Flora is also collaborating with the local branch of an international charity called 'Days for Girls'. They gave a joint presentation to the oldest four classes (9 - 13 year olds) on puberty and contraception and Days for Girls also provided packs of washable sanitary towels for parents to buy. We had of course first discussed what we planned to do with the parents, giving them the right to withdraw their child. A very heated discussion followed in Swahili in which parents had differing views as you might expect. Finally we all agreed about the importance of preventing pregnancy. We have put far too much into these girls let them waste their education!

Of course regular screening and identifying medical problems comes with its own issues. Like the fact that Tumaini and John are short-sighted but the parents cannot afford the £30 needed for specs. In fact I've never seen anyone with specs in our community and then I think how desperate I feel when I can't find my glasses!

It was also great to get a visit from the manager of Diamond Trust Bank whilst we were there. I live in hope that they may decide to support us. 'It's fascinating listening to their discussion. I never realised small children talked like that,' he said whilst watching a group of children around a water tub. Of course the young children in most Kenyan schools do not get the chance to talk and learn in this way as they sit with paper and pencil all day.  

You may remember in the last update I talked about Halima a delightful four year girl with cerebral palsy. (Her photograph is attached). Thanks to a donor, Halima is now at a special school for children with cerebral palsy and is learning to sign as she has no speech. The same donor is also paying for the school fees for her older sibling who is in our school. Halima can be seen in a special wheelchair from Bombolulu workshops (another local charity). Mum still works very hard to support her children but it's hard to fight back the tears when you see quite how much difference this is making to the family and how grateful mum is.

And Hope, our first deaf child, has settled down well in her new school and is making great progress with signing. You may remember that she was able to sign to read but would not sign to communicate otherwise. Another grateful mum who was first a mother helper at our school, then a teaching assistant and now a trained teacher.

Lots and lots of great news, I feel so proud of them all. I just live in hope that I shall be able to raise the money to complete the toilet block and kitchen before the next intake of children. Especially the private toilets for our oldest girls.

Many thanks to you for all your support. We would not be where we are today without it.

Water play for nursery children
Water play for nursery children
Enjoying the books from Books Abroad
Enjoying the books from Books Abroad
Other activities for the nursery children
Other activities for the nursery children
The far end of the school is not complete inside
The far end of the school is not complete inside
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Organization Information

Mustard Seed Project (Kenya)

Location: Peterborough - United Kingdom
Website:
Project Leader:
Rita Fowler
Peterborough, Lincolnshire United Kingdom

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