Monthly Archives: April 2012

This is Not the End Only the Beginning!

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Day 14

So it is my last day at school and I can’t even begin to explain how sad I am to leave.  writing this (both at the time and now I am typing it) is bringing a tear to my eye.

I arrived at the school a little later than planned.  Having being woken at 4am by Anna who forgot the key and was then her usual inconsiderate self with her loud voice waking us all up.  (There is no baby by the way, false labour.  Contractions have stopped!)  I was then late getting up, and somehow managed to forget my water so needed to go back!!

When I finally did arrive I got the best welcome I could have ever imagined.  You know those films you see on Comic relief…kids running up to the celebrity visitor…THAT!!! about 6 of my kids ran up to me and just threw themselves at me.  I was right outside the directors office as well but didn’t think he saw.  He did, and mentioned it when I was leaving stating you can see the positive impact I have had here at Shikamana just by the greeting I received that morning.

Today I think a few of the kids realised something was up.  Teacher Gemma was sad, but I don’t think they all knew why.  Little Ruwa was definitely sensing the sadness in the air.

I spent most of the day with the kids climbing all over me, giving me cuddles and asking to have their picture taken.  I also added a final poster to my collection.  I really don’t think I will ever make it as an artist!

 

Madam Mariam did explain to the children that I would not be coming back on Monday and some of them were saying (in Swahili so I am going from Mariam’s translation)that they did not want me to leave.  Little did they know that I didn’t want to go!  I was also told that when asked who their teacher was they said Teacher Gemma which is really, really cute.

A few rounds of Wheels on the Bus, Heads Shoulders Knees & Toes and Paka Paka Paka (which means cat cat cat) later and it was nap time. I used this time wisely – finishing off my picture above with Siti, spend a bit of time with the staff and other classes before my last day drew to a close.  I have to be honest I was holding back the tears.

Lunch time was on major delay today,  I really hope it was not my attempt to help:

Ugali is NOT easy to mix!

I spent the afternoon and most of lunch time with my little soldier attached to my hip and just hanging out with the kids, taking pictures, doing some last minute bonding.  I really didn’t want to say goodbye so I took every chance to hang out with my little angels! This is why I love them all:

 

Despite their earlier nap some of the children still managed to fall asleep after lunch.  So off I went to a CRE lesson where the teacher didn’t seem to accept I was a practising Christian.  Slightly strange but interesting all the same.

Actually, I have totally missed a section of the day! Whilst we were waiting for lunch to be ready the kids had a mass colouring session. Big Saidi was super cute with this…every picture he coloured he would come and show me, looking for approval.  They also had a little bit of a mad hour which was kind of funny.

 

As the day drew to a close, I made my way to my class, tears in my eyes camera in hand ready to snap away.  The pics below show how sad I was to leave.  This SUCKED!!

The plan was for a group shot…but the children didn’t realise exactly how this should work and all wanted to be next to the camera as usual!  eventually we got it right and although they are all looking in different directions and at different things…here is (most) of my class in 3 photos I will treasure forever!

I said my teary goodbyes to them all as they left for the day and walked to Jackson’s office unable to really see where I was going!  I wasn’t the only one who was emotional, Jackson & Mariam were too.

As a thank you for the work I had done (which felt like nothing to be honest) they gave me a stunning ostrich egg decorated with Maasai beads.  It apparently brings good luck so will be hanging in my room if it clears customs. (It did, and I look at it every day)

And that was it.  A quick exchange of contact info, a promise to stay in touch, some pictures and I was gone.  Not even sun glasses could hide the tears!

Madame Mariam

Pst Jackson & Madame Eunice

There is no way I can leave this place and not come back.  It has been one of, if not the best experience of my life!

The children, despite their poverty are so happy (well, except when they fall over, stub their toe, etc)  They are full of love, no matter of race or religion.  They want to learn despite the lack of resources, I have seen 6 pupils share 1 book.  And the teachers continue to give the best education they can to these children in order to better equip them for their future.

I have sworn to do all I can to help Shikamana.  As soon as I get home I will be looking into setting up a fund for the school.  Now that seems insane right now but I can not sit back in England and go ah yea, Kenya was cool, nice place, would go back there! It will take a lot of work, and require a lot of support from friends and family.

if from reading these posts you feel moved at all, please check out the other areas of my blog (how you can help…) drop me a message, tweet me, or just comment below and I will happily give you more info.

So, bye for now… Next post my last night/day in Kenya 😦

Gem

 

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“Twa Mpenda Teacher Na Wetu”

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Day 13

Only 2 days left 😦

I am amazed at how in such a short time I have managed to feel so connected to a town.

Ukunda is so vibrant and busy.  I think there are currently 4 wazungu here so everywhere I go I meet people who have seen me around town or even met me on a matatu!

The kids of KG1 were told that tomorrow is my last day.  I am not sure that they all understood, but some of their faces definitely showed they did and were not happy!  I was then treated to a rendition of this:

The basic translation is something along the lines of “we love our teacher with our beating hearts” needless to say I burst into tears!

And today we got to see how much they had learnt since I have arrived.  When I got here, most could count to five but not write.  Now they can all count up to at least 10, write up to number 6 and write letters a-d! I was so so proud of them.  They were also learning to say “my name is________ and I am a girl/boy.”  Which, in case you were wondering is “Jina langu ni Gemma, na mimi ni msichana” in Swahili, yes I learnt this, I am pretty proud of myself!

Both Madam Mariam and I were so happy, there was lots of “well done well done a very good class.  Try it another day.  Thank you Thank you, very much” which is sung to a tune and clapped along to as a ‘congratulations’ when someone has done something well.  all about positive reinforcement!

I had my Kikoy in my bag today and was showing Mariam who suggested i put it on, great idea as it appeared to entertain the children! I walked to meet them for outdoor play and was met with lots of singing and giggling from them all.  They thought it was hilarious that I would dress in one! I only had it wrapped round my waist but it brought a smile to their faces and that in turn made me smile!

I am a little worried about what will happen when I leave.  Some of the children have become very attached to me (and me to them) Macdonald has some serious attachment issues which I have already briefly mentioned but it has now got to the point when he will only calm down after being separated from his siblings when he is sitting with me.  Mariam simply does not have the time to soothe him so I can see tantrums coming next week.

I spent some of my day just taking pictures of the kids while they were playing, I just cannot get enough of these kids and their cuteness! So I can share them with you guys as usual!

Little Sebasitan being cute...

Shee pulling his hamster face again!

I love these boys!

Mbwana complete with his runny nose!

Little Saidi learning numbers!

Friends for life?

My little soldier

Shee is a little in love with the camera, he always seems to be there!

"Siti Baker" and her cousin! Siti could never be called just Siti, it was always her full name!!

Saidi with his finger up his nose...nothing new there!

Little Siti Baker had a bit of an accident today, it was horrible! One of the boys tripped her up (unintentionally) and she went face first into the floor, the tiled floor!  I felt so sorry for her, she hit her mouth and nose which I am sure you will agree hurts! The only thing I could do was give her some water (which was tepid, and kinda salty) and pop a little bit of Bonjela on the little cut in her mouth! oh and give her a cuddle!

Now continuing my refusal to spend any unnecessary time with Ana and both Carla’s and my need to be away from the controlling attitude of Daniel we headed from our after work beach spot (which yet again had no beach) to a local Ukunda bar (which I am sure would NOT have been approved by Daniel) But it got us out of the house and into some more local culture.  A culture I want to spend more time in (and will when I head back!)  It was so chilled out and was really nice to spend some time with Juma and a friend of his too.

That is all for today, I have to sleep in prep for tomorrows emotional day!

Ok, after I said that was it, we get a rushed and chaotic Ana come into the bedroom saying “I have to go to hospital Nanis is in labour”.  As a none family member, a vet, and knowing Nanis for a matter of days, she was the OBVIOUS choice for birthing partner!
Carla is a nurse, and I am the daughter of a midwife who took great joy in knowing details of her mothers work so I would say between us we know enough about the early stages of labour to try & speak with Nanis about needing the hospital!  None of us wanted her to go all that way only to be told to come home again!  But Mama (Daniels mum) had checked her out and in her opinion the baby was coming NOW.  So off they went to hospital, Nanis, Daniel, Mama, Kazungu and Ana, who (and this is not just my opinion) should not have been anywhere near it!

Baby update to come tomorrow.

Gems

  • Kikoy (kangaworld.wordpress.com)

The Adventure continues…This Time With Video!

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Yet again I have come back to my blog after an unexpected and extended break! I am sorry, it has all just got a little much recently, but I am back to update you on Kenya!

Day 12

There is not actually that much to report from school today.  My kids get cuter by the day, ad I realise how much my presence is aiding the school.

They have NAILED wheels on the bus, they have the actions down to a T, and I love listening to them sing the words! Some of them are better than others but they are still pretty awesome! Can’t wait to hear what they are like by my last day (actually I don’t want to think about that)  I also gave the boys their shoes today, Juma was so happy and proud of them he couldn’t wait to get them on! Ruwa was a little bit more hesitant, they were a little big for him but once they were on and he was comfortable he looked pretty chuffed! It made me happy to know that such a small thing, something we take for granted in the UK could make these little angels so happy!

After a morning of singing and learning another number (some of them are ahead in their learning schedule but for most it was the number 4) we headed outside for our outdoor play, now by this time it was a little late in the day and a number of the other classes had already started their break time, (as porridge was not ready, they just got to play).  So, with an audience we started a game of Duck Duck Goose, in Swahili of course.

Followed by a nice bit of running around.  We were joined by some of the older kids for some races, which you may be surprised to hear, I joined in with! We ran up and down the covered play area for ages and ended with this little beauty:

Now, spending time with these kids you learn a bit about them, and how they like to dance.  Some more than others….little Shee (pronounced Shey) is one of the ones who likes to dance a lot – Check him out

There wasn’t even any music. What I don’t really understand is the tongue thing!

After all the excitement of races one little soldier was a bit worn out.  Poor Ruwa’s foot was looking a bit sore and infected, so, I had a bit of a clean up with my handy little medical kit and we had a bit of a cuddle, which led to:

Saying there was not much to report was not really true! I seem to have had a bit of a busy day!  Whilst Ruwa was sleeping and Mariam was leading a lesson that I didn’t understand, it was in Swahili after all, I managed to get creative yet again.  check out my latest creation!

A Kenyan song to teach numbers

I think we have established that I will NEVER be an artist!

I helped serve lunch again today.  It’s actually a lot of fun, some of the kids are really shy whilst some of them are really chatty and funny! I have been slowly teaching them to say thank you when taking food, and for some of them it is rubbing off which makes me pretty chuffed!

The queue to be fed!

Lunch today was beans maize and cabbage, not one of my favourites but the children seem to like it.  Followed by a nice wedge of green orange (I have NO idea why they are green skinned)

Shee doesn't half pull some weird faces, still a little cutie!

After lunch I went and spent some time with Standard year 6, I wanted to get a feel for ‘lessons’ and not just what goes on with KG1, although I do love them!!  I sat in on a maths class, I was always pretty good at maths (until I got to 6th form and attempted an A-Level in it….oops) so I could actually aid their learning which was great.  They were studying sequences, which having not studied in a number of years I had forgotten the basic principles!   This didn’t matter, the children appreciated the help, as did the teacher I think.  What did upset me was the obvious poverty of the school.  It is easy to look at the fantastic building they have and the large amount of land they have and think Shikamana is a rich school.  I would forgive you for thinking that, it sure went through my mind when I first arrived there .  But spending time in the classroom and watching a class of 30 share about 7 text books makes you change these thoughts.

After school was done I met Carla to head to the beach for some serious chill time.  She had been up in Nairobi sorting her NCK registration and I just didn’t fancy going home! We were told by a local that the beach was “full” which confused us a little considering its a pretty large beach…turned out he was right, it was full…of water!  The tide was in so no beach,  We chilled out on the steps enjoying the breeze and fresh air anyway.  We followed this by a hunt for Kikoys (possibly the most useful thing I have ever owned) in Ukunda.  Knowing they are around 350 KSH in Mombassa where they are made, and can be over 1000KSH at the beach we had our bartering heads on (well Carla did, I am English remember)  and we had Juma with us which always helps when trying to avoid “tourist prices”.  We also somehow picked up Eric, a local guy who wanted to help and to show us his sisters shop! Through Carla, Juma and Eric we managed to get the price down from 2500 KSH for 3 to 1500KSH for 3! woo hoo, and they are so pretty!

I have told you about the Spanish Mama’s and their slight obnoxiousness (no, that’s not fair, only one of them is obnoxious)  Well today she took it to a WHOLE new level!  Yesterday they did their introduction to the projects and have come away VERY angry at Travellers for various reasons but they have decided that to spite Travellers they will not spend time at the projects!! They have raised quite a bit of money to head out to Kenya which is great and neither of them are exactly broke (both vets and not mid 20’s) so instead of spending time with the children they have decided to play the “rich white person” card and buy things.  Yes, the schools and orphanages need things and yes they are very happy to receive but having spent time with the kids I am a firm believer that you can do more good by giving a bit of love to children who may not otherwise get it.  Don’t just rock up and buy stuff, spend time getting to know their needs and then, if possible finance things that become clear!

I got an earful tonight when I questioned Ana on how their day was.  I knew (through Carla who had a day off) that they had only left at 9:30 and had gone to the beach by 13:00.  Now, unless my maths is actually bad, this is a MAXIMUM of 3.5 hours, and considering it takes about 30 minutes to get to one of the projects you are looking at more like 2.5 hours.  So when I asked had they managed to spend any time with the kids (not in a malicious way, simply as an enquiry) and was told 5 hours, you can imagine the shock.  It was at this point I got called stupid and that it was none of my business anyway (maybe they are right, maybe its none of my business but if they are going to come into Shikamana and disrupt the children’s day then it is kind of my business)  She was so rude I had no idea what to say or do, so I walked out of the compound.  This did not go down too well with the family, especially not Daniel! I was followed by Kazungu, Daniel, Combo (who didn’t seem to know what was happening and just wanted to be involved) and then Daniels Father!  lets just say that I will NOT be spending any unnecessary time at the house or with her.  I refuse to let such a horrible woman ruin my last few days in such a wonderful place!

So what was meant to be a short post is longer than some of my uni essays!  I hope I kept you reading!!

Gems

A brief break from Kenya to help clear my head!!

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So I’ve had a pretty terrible few days to be honest with you all. 

Wednesday arrived and for the 1st time ever I was not looking forward to email time. I was dreading it to be honest! I had no idea what to say, how to say it or even if he was going to read it!

I got so stressed out about it it made me feel guilty and that made me upset! I was sat crying my eyes out over it. How can I not know what to say to a guy I have such strong feelings for?! How can I NOT want to email him?! I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Had I gotten to the end of my patience? Was this my heart telling me it was over? Or my head telling me to walk away? Or was it just my hormones getting the better of me?!

After my little mini break down and a cup of tea or 2 I finally found the words to tell him I was thinking of him and hopefully put a smile on his face. And I chose my words wisely. Reminding him of our 1st date and how happy he made me. Hoping it would bring a smile to his face. I THINK it worked, an hour or so later I get a text message saying thank you and that he wants to tell me he was thinking of me! Queue more tears!

Then after such an emotional disaster of an evening, I get some other pretty crappy info!

Turns out woman’s intuition is rarely wrong. I can’t expand on this story it’s not fair on those involved but I can tell you my reaction.  

I pretty much screwed it all up! I may have lost a good friend through taking out my frustration about the whole James situation on him. I want to explain what’s going on in the little messed up place that is my mind but I just can’t find the words. I want to pick up the phone and call him and tell him I’m not mad and I totally understand the situation but I’m scared I’ll cry. My reaction was completely excessive and uncalled for. It was not the time to try and explain feelings, especially not the way I did!

So if you are reading this….I’m sorry. I hope it can all be sorted and will go back to our version of “normal”.

A familiar face…

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I really should apologise for my distinct lack of blogging activity recently.  Life is getting away with me right now, lots going on, a major update  in the whole James story (which I will let you all know soon) and a nasty little virus (which is currently being dubbed as malaria due to the NHS making me go get tested) that has swept through the entire house and making us all a little lazy!

Apologies over, here is my latest update, it is actually not that long:

Day 11

So my last week at school begins.  I am pretty sad about it to be honest as I have become very attached to my kids.  They are so cute.

I walked into the class and I have never seen children so excited.  They ran up to me, hugging me, saying “hello” or “jambo” or “how are you?”  It was so sweet.  What was funny, or strange I am not sure, was little Ruwa, who last week was my best friend, was in tears at my reappearance.  Then within about 5 minutes he was my best friend again.  Maybe he thought I was never coming back!?

I did a bit of teaching again today.  Well, it was only singing but I was still teaching them things (they found it hilarious, I am not sure if it was my voice or my attempt at teaching that amused them so much)

We were interrupted part way through the day by Ana and Laura doing their tour which actually worked really well.  My kids showed them how good they were at shakey shakey and the girls got to see how awesome my class are!  The children were also a little excitable again today, yet very very cute…I love showing you all pictures so check out some of these!

My little Ruwa and his Uncle Juma

Smiley happy faces all round but especially when you have lego!

Who wouldn't love this face?!

The ball in little Mbwana's hand was brand new this time last week....

How much of a little heart-breaker is little Issa at the back going to be?!

Little Stanley is always smiling!

Cheeky little Sebastian!

Yet again Ruwa fell asleep on me today (I really need to stop him doing that as it is far too hot) and actually, despite his initial tears, spent the majority of the day attached to my hip!

I headed to Nakumat to find some shoes for him and Juma (his uncle, not Carla’s boyfriend) but came up short so a trip to Ukunda market ensued and boy what an experience.   I didn’t really dare take pictures but I wish I had done!
Walking on my own as the only white person (never mind white woman) in the village (yes, I am aware of the “little Britain” thing here) was kind of daunting but I have learnt, from a very inspirational person in my life, to whom I am forever grateful, that there is no point being too scared to do something that you may regret missing out on.  Luckily, the first stall I spot was as shoe store!  I set myself up for ‘tourist prices’ and worked up the courage to start bartering (I am English, we are BAD at trying to make things cheaper) But, I didn’t need my bartering technique at all! The stall owner was really lovely and took a genuine interest as to why I was buying kids shoes!  I explained to him that I was working at Shikamana and 2 pairs were for 2 of the little boys in my class as they had no shoes and hardly enough money for clothes.  He charged me 100KSH a pair, that is less than £1.  I have however vowed to buy some proper shoes for Ruwa and his uncle when I get back to England.

I then ended up in the back streets of Ukunda Town, possibly not the best move in the world but REALLY interesting!  Lots of people, very small thin streets and what felt like hundreds of stalls selling everything from mattresses to mirrors, bags to batteries, anything you could think of, I am sure you would have found it in Ukunda!
I went to jump on a Matatu home and the conductor actually remembered me which was kind of funny, kind of freaky! He knew I was heading to Konamsa!
I got home in time to enjoy some time alone to chill out before the ‘Spanish Mama’s’ got home after one too many beers for my liking making them (well one of them) more obnoxious than usual!

Actually, I forgot to tell you all, I took bubbles in to school today and boy did they go down well.  Lots of shouting and cheering and general merriment! And not just from KG1, but from the older kids too! This needs to be added to anyone’s list when packing for Kenya (or for any volunteer placement working with children)  a bottle of bubbles is a sure-fire way to capture children’s attention!

That’s it for today!  More soon!

Gems