Year-round GVI supports the Nyota Ing’arayo or Shining Star School in the Shauri Yako slums on the North edge of Mombasa. During school holidays, as slums are not great places for children to spend much free time, GVI organises a ‘holiday programme’. Holiday programmes include much one-on-one reading, colouring, playing games with the children and sometimes some swimming lessons and swimming fun. Last April, with enthusiastic sports focussed volunteers, we managed to organise a full-fledged sports day.
The sports day was without a doubt the highlight of everyone’s week. During a full day of sports activities students were divided into four teams, with a mix of grades and ages to keep the teams even. Each team was assigned a GVI volunteer as a team captain.
The day started with sprints. Students of similar ages competed against each–other, we continued with a game of captain ball and a long-jump competition. Then, there was a circuit relay, which created lots of excitement and fun for the children; they had to duck under a desk, skip 20 times, jump over tires and last but not least, eat a mandazi – a local triangular fried bread type snack – as fast as they could before running back to their team. Both kids and volunteers loved this. Next up were shot–puts and eventually a game of tug of war, first across the teams and then volunteers plus local teachers versus students. Everyone had a great day.
Sports very much give children from the Shauri Yako slums the opportunity to have some active fun during their holidays, and broaden their skill set and experience beyond playing football with a ball made out of elastic bands and plastic bags. Throughout the years donations of sports equipment have enabled us to introduce children to very different sports like cricket and tag rugby normally only played in more well off societies in Kenya. Sports for these children very much illustrates the importance of working as a team towards common goals, promoting health, strength, endurance, discipline, tolerance and sharing.
As a Nyota Ing’arayo primary school teacher put it - “we are finally teaching the mind and the heart “