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