Tag Archives: Kenya

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 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

Oh my goodness it’s a Giraffe

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The next 2 days in Kenya are going to be combined into 1 post as I didn’t ACTUALLY write them when I was in Kenya, I made brief notes and now I have little memory on how amazing this weekend was!!  Also, you guys want to know what happened in the school, not what I got up to in my time off!

Day 9

Today started with a trip to Daniels church.  I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  I go to a pretty awesome church in the UK Equippers City.  We have a band with a guitar and drums and loud music and the first week I went we were talking about sex.  I also grew up in a Methodist Church, lots of “now we stand and sing” and very VERY structured prayer.  Now, I am sure lots of people love the Methodist ways (the denomination wouldn’t still be around if people didn’t) but they really were not for me.  I was BORED!! Even though we had a pretty young minister, who tried to make it fun for the kids, it was still kinda dull!!
So, I was hoping for the kind of African Church you see in movies, lots of singing in gospel styleeee, something cool.
Instead, I was transported back to those hard wooden pews from my childhood with boring hymns (not even the good ones like He’s got the Whole World in His Hands) and exceptionally structured prayer (I am talking read out of a book, repeat after me kind of thing)  can you imagine my disappointment?!  But an experience is an experience and I can now say I have been to church in Kenya.

After this service (which despite the boringness still managed to get me thinking about stuff that brought tears to my eyes, I think it may have been the minister talking about a young child dying of AIDS) it was a rush home to the van to start the SAFARI!!!
Now, both my mum and myself have dreamt of going on safari forever!  Mum was lucky enough to have the most amazing trip earlier last year taking in the sites of Zambia, Botswana South Africa and I want to say Tanzania but I may be wrong.  So for me to be able to even TOUCH on that experience is a dream come true.  I had saved a little bit of money and my wonderful wonderful grandpa had sent me a very early birthday gift which allowed me to head with Daniel and the Spanish Mamas to Tsavo East National Park.

Obviously, being in Kenya, and being with THE most disorganised host I have ever known, this was not going to be the simplest trip in the world.  Anyone else, when given around about 2 days notice, and having had the money from us all for at least a day, would have sorted out the park passes in advance.  Not Daniel.  Instead of heading straight to the park (it is around about a 2 hour drive from Ukunda) we head into Mombasa first to stop at KWS to collect the passes to let us into the park!  Then it was back on the road…Until the girls got hungry.  We stopped at this little dingy looking food place which was so typically Kenyan and amazing.  I was really not hungry, I felt a little sick to be honest so whilst the girls and Daniel ate Ugali and Sukuma with chicken, I sat and drank a lot of water and got a little attached to the really gorgeous kittens running around.

Back on the road and we FINALLY arrive at Tsavo:

And let the animal spotting begin!!! I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves here but I have to say, I have never realised how amazing this world truly is until I saw these sights.  We rounded the corner and there was a giraffe.  All I could say was “oh my goodness it’s a giraffe”.  How silly does that sound?!  I also got a little snap happy on safari and ended up with hundreds of pictures, I wont post them all…

These are just from game drive number 1.  The elephants blew me away (and scared me a little).  And the dramatic sky colour led to such a great downpour as well as some amazing photo backdrops (even if I do say so myself).

What these pics do not show are the 2 great spots we had on this drive! Firstly, we were happily driving along and came across 2 lions chilling out under a tree, close enough to see, not close enough to photograph.  Then, our driver got a call over his little radio that a cheetah had been spotted.  Apparently, he had a decision to make – put his foot down and hope for the best or just go ‘nah, we won’t make that’ luckily for me he chose option 1!  Off we raced to catch a cheetah stalking something, creeping through the grass, popping up and lying down at what appeared to be random intervals! It was amazing! But again, too far for a picture!

Then to top off my awesome 1st day on safari, I was walking to dinner through the Voi Wildlife lodge grounds which just so happened to be built next to a water hole, when I spotted a lion…no not just 1 lion…FOUR! They were all drinking at the waterhole what looks like mama and 3 not so small cubs! AMAZING!  We then sat and watched them for hours after dinner.  Actually a dream come true!  So off to bed on a bit of a high!

Day 10

Now, I don’t do early mornings, ever, not even at Christmas but when you put the offer of an early morning game drive in front of me this changes! So the alarm goes off at 5am ready for a 6am game drive!  tt was early enough for the sunrise!

Today I was hoping for some Zebras, a couple of buffalo and keeping my fingers crossed for the ever elusive Leopard.  I got Zebras, a LOT of elephants (which were just as cool if not better than yesterday – today we saw them at the watering hole cooling off) and a couple of buffalo oh and a hippo or 2…no leopard 😦  Only problem was, my camera decided it didn’t want to play any more so I had to take pics from my phone…They turned out surprisingly well!

Now these pictures shows both game drives (6am and ‘morning’) and after a great lunch it was time to hit the road home and its a good job we did as the heavens opened!!!

The journey home was almost a story in itself! Instead of choosing the high road and being stuck behind lots of lorries, we chose to take the dirt roads through Shimba Hills!!  In the dry these roads are pretty bad…in the wet…we were lucky not to have to get out and push!  And so, my 1st (but not last) safari was over.

As an aside to this…it was my mummy’s birthday today and I was really worried I wasn’t going to get to speak to her.  She means the world to me and to not talk to her on her birthday would have been a big deal!!  But, I managed to get hold of her, and hopefully cheer her up a little.  She was changing her life in the most positive way ever, taking a course in order to help her establish a charity in India and just so happened to be alone for the first time ever on her birthday! NOT COOL!!!

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow I will be back at school to start my last week 😦

Gems

The best laid plans…

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Day 8

Today’s plan was to get up, tidy up, do some laundry and head out to enjoy a weekend off.  Well the best laid plans tend to take turns for the worst!

Although we got up early ish neither one could be bothered to tidy and there was a distinct lack of buckets for laundry.  By the time we were finished and ready to head out it was very close to new arrivals time so we decided to wait.  Not sure that was the best decision I have ever made!

Daniel is typical Kenyan, runs his own schedule and doesn’t think of the implications this may have on other people and their schedules.  So with this in mind we decide to say a quick hello to the girls and head to Colobus Trust to see Juma and the Monkeys and then to the beach to chill out before Carla leaves me again!  Again, our plan did not QUITE come to pass!

By the time the women (not girls, they turned out to both be old enough to be my mum) arrived, sorted their millions of belongings (we are talking 2 suitcases and 1 hand luggage EACH) and we had lunch it was gone 2pm!  Daniel offered Carla and I a lift to Nakumat where we would pick up a Mat to the monkeys!

Well, it looks like today was a day not for plans! Yes, we did get a lift to Nakumat (delayed of course) but we got a little stuck in the shop!

We decided that a quick trip to the loo was needed before being stranded without a toilet on the beach…the trip was not so quick!  The handle to the main toilet door broke as we were in there, resulting in us being stuck in a small, windowless room which was getting increasingly more sweaty much to the amusement of the staff!  20 minutes later we were out, unharmed, hot and slightly embarrassed.

A quick trip round the store resulted in a fan for the bedroom (for which I will be forever thankful to Carla for) and off we went in a Tuk Tuk  to Colobus.  Here, I got pretty close to “Handy Joe” one of the resident monkeys, which, and anyone who knows about my slight monkey obsession will already know this, was exceptionally exciting!

Daniel then calls saying he has dropped Ana and Laura off at the beach (read pub) and will come to meet us to pick up the fan.  Expecting him within a few minutes we stay at Colobus.  40 minutes later he arrives, dramatically reducing our time at the beach to zero minutes.

So my day drew to a close in 40’s bar with 2 volunteers that are old enough to be my mum, feeling increasingly more aggravated, waiting for an unorganised host.

But, tomorrow is another day.  Tomorrow is Safari day!!!

 

Oh…just as a little aside to this post…I got an update on James today.  I now know what went on in Sudan and how come he is home.  It is pretty horrendous and it’s not my place to tell you all.  But knowing what went on makes it so much easier for me to try and relate to what he is going through.  Weekly emails still being sent, even from Kenya, and I just hope I am having an impact!

“Imagination rules the world.”

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In order to keep you all up to date as quickly as I can I have written up 2 days worth of excitement!! I hope you enjoy.  Please do let me know what you think as it makes me smile knowing people are reading and enjoying!

Day 5

So day 2 in school and I am yet again blown away by the children.  They are warming to me more and more and today have spent the day sitting with me (or ON me) whilst I made posters for the classroom.  They also get very excited at any chance for a photo to be takne.  They haven’t quite worked out yet that being REALLY close to the camera will not make for a good picture.

 

I spent my lunch time outside with standard 1 & 2 who were trying to teach me some Kenyan songs.  But, being a terrible pupil I failed miserably in my learning!  There is a  video which shows a snippet of the song that they were trying to teach me but I am inept at uploading videos!  Everyone in Kenya knows this song, everyone who has spent time in Kenya is taught this song (or at least there is an attempt to teach them)

After a race to the undercover play area I grabbed some chalk and made an attempt to introduce an English playground game to the playground of a small Kenyan school…Hopscotch which went down a treat!

In return they attempted to teach me one of their games, and again, being a bad pupil I couldn’t grasp it!  It was such a simple concept, a jumping game using the squares on the floor.  I can’t even explain what you are meant to do as I simply couldn’t follow!!  But it truly highlighted to me the imagination of the children.  They use the materials they have, to have what appears to be, a lot of fun!  I don’t know if I have been in ‘adult world’ for too long and lost all my imagination but I don’t really remember doing that as a kid.  Do any of you?

I actually stayed with KG1 all afternoon today which was great.  I spent my time when the children were sleeping

(possibly the cutest thing ever) with Madame Mariam, drawing in their homework books and looking into ways to decorate the classroom.

The teachers are so stretched here, at every spare second they are marking books or writing up homework.  In KG1 she has around 35 kids who a lot of the time, have to entertain themselves somehow whilst Mariam prepares homework or even classwork for them.  What they need is dedicated homework/classwork books so their work can be prepared in advance and not take up valuable class time hand drawing colouring pages.  With a lack of photocopiers or printers to allow the children to take home printed pages, the school rely on the artistic talents of the teachers (or currently, me)

Once my day ends, I usually walk back to the house through the village with Kazungu.  Today however I fancied a change, I also needed to grab some stuff from Nakumat (like cereal; bread and butter does not a breakfast make)  So Kazungu took me along the beach today.  And boy is it beautiful, and SO much cooler than the village route!

Anyway, another early start at school tomorrow so bed time for me!

 

Day 6

I can’t believe it is Thursday already!

Last night was quite eventful.  Edith, Daniels sister-in-law was admitted to hospital with malaria.  She is fine, they caught it early and they have given her drugs but it was pretty scary.

Today I did my first real bit of teaching.  The kids sing songs all the time and most of them are in English.  Shakey Shakey the Mango Tree for example (which is just brilliant, especially in a Kenyan accent.)  So, I decided that along with the 2nd verse to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” (which went fantastically with my body parts poster I made yesterday) I would attempt to teach my class “Wheels on the Bus”.  Verse one for now but hopefully by the end of my trip I will know Jambo Bwana and they will know at least part of “Wheels on the Bus”

I don’t think there is anything more exciting to tell you all from today…

No…wait…2 of the children have bonded with me enough to come to me when upset.  Macdonald (yes, that is his name, I am assuming he is named after an influential on his parent’s lives) and Saidi both came straight to me and not their regular teacher (or in Saidi’s case, his mum) and both fell asleep on my knee which was super cute but super-hot at the same time!  Think about it…its 35°, 80% humidity, with a small child sat on your lap…sweaty!!

And also, and this is kind of just for my Wirral friends…Look what I came across in Kenya…

Right enough now…BED TIME!!

Gems

‘Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon’

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I finally made a decision… The school, and I am so pleased I did!

Today was my 1st full day there, and after about a half hour walk (with a short stop due to a tropical downpour)

Not sure if you can see the rain but it was a little insane!!!

I arrived to meet Pastor Jackson, the schools director.  After discussing yesterday where I would be most useful, I was sent straight to the smiling faces of KG1 class.  These kids range from about 2 1/2 years to around 5.  They all started school at the same time (apart from those who have been held back a year) but as there is no compulsory education system, school starts when parents decide!  KG1 have the education level of our pre school class I would say, and as they speak Swahili and I speak English….this could be an interesting couple of weeks.

I walked in to huge excitement yet a slight unease by a new white face or Mzungu (which when said by children is kind of harmless but when said by an adult is a bit of a different story)

The morning started with language where we were looking at A-H (now, G in my eyes should be for Girl….in Kenya its G for Gun), followed by a quick lesson on how to brush your teeth (where we were able to give out toothbrushes to all the children), how to write the number 4 and then outside games,

I then pulled out a bit of a treat from my bag.  Carla had suggested I bring some balloons with me, I did and, as you will see from the photos, they got the kids a little excited!

I have never seen children rush over to someone holding something so simple as a balloon!  The excitement on their faces was priceless and it almost brought a tear to my eye.  And whereas most children would cry at the burst of a balloon (I know some adults that would do the same…) when a balloon went bang they were beyond excited, started jumping around and shouting what sounded like Hero!

I learnt today that a lot of the children at the school who come from families who are too poor to pay school fees and afford to feed their children at home.  They survive on food provided by the school, porridge around 10am and quite a substantial lunch, which today consisted of rice, beans and cabbage (it was really lovely).

Lunch Time

They wont then eat at home until the next day when they get their 10am porridge.  It was heartbreaking knowing how much we take food for granted in the UK.  Even as a student, eating 7p cans of beans or 20p noodles when we had no money (probably after spending it all on nights out) and thought we were hard done by is NOTHING compared to these beautiful children.

After lunch I was back in class but, as KG1 were all asleep I was moved to standard Grade 2.  These kids are all a lot older, from around 7 years old, some are a bit older, some are a bit younger but all pretty smart.  They were learning about what was needed for a good lesson in school which was enlightening.  Ask kids in the UK that question and I bet the response would be something like “computers”  or “better teachers'” possibly even “DVD’s”  (I remember in school we LOVED video lessons, it meant you didn’t have to answer questions).  But, the children of Shikamana answered “pencils”, “chalk”, “desks”, “books”, “teachers” and even “classrooms” which shocked me a little.  These kids are pretty lucky in Kenyan terms, they have classrooms, with electric fans, blackboards, desks (although some of them are falling apart) running water that is safe to drink (although it tastes kinda funky), good teachers who care about what they are teaching.  I know some places in Kenya have none of this!

Where I am staying has a TV, and one particular advert that I have seen every night, between episodes of a really random, dubbed Spanish soap (which is SO bad it is BRILLIANT!!)  It is for a development being built just south of Nairobi that is set to be Kenya’s answer to The Silicone Valley.  I raised a question to Daniel about the money being used and surely that it could be used to improve education in rural areas of Kenya.  He agreed and said that a lot of people are unhappy about it but there is nothing that could be done. This is terrible, surely it needs to be raised that kids need a good education to be able to fill jobs created by this new ‘super city’.

Kenya, address the poverty and corruption in your country before ploughing money into a development project you are not ready for as your youth are not yet equipped to run it in the future.

OK rant over, I have also realised I have written tonnes.

Oh and disaster of the day to link to the bag, coral issue and then yesterdays dehydration….heat rash all over my feet!!!

Gems

PS.  If you want to help these children in anyway.  The money I am raising via this blog is being donated to buying the school items it needs and hopefully paying for a couple of children’s school fees. There is a link to the donation page on the right hand side.  go take a look you could help give a child an education, and win some prizes!!

Indecision becomes decision with time.

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Day 3 and Project day!

The plan was set, we were up and ready to go.  Matatu to Msambweni hospital for Carla to start her placement and then Matatu back to Ukunda and a nice little wander in the African sun for me!

Well plans go wrong!  We arrived at the hospital and no-one appears to be expecting Carla.  so, around an hour and a few letters later we are no closer to a decision.  Whilst all this is happening Nanis, Daniels partner is waiting for an ultrasound.  This is an opportunity I didn’t want to miss!  Luckily enough Nanis invited both Carla and myself into the room to see the scan with her.  The scan picture was so clear but so very different to a UK hospital.  The room was just bare, with a blackboard (that had recently been used for a lesson on a detached placenta), the scan equipment and an x-ray machine.  The doctor doing the scan said the equipment had been donated.  The whole thing made me almost wish I had followed my mum into midwifery.

Scan over (the baby is a boy!) and Carla’s placement still unconfirmed, we all jump back on a matatu to Ukunda to visit my placement, which from all information from Travellers was at one location.  It wasn’t.  In fact they are both very different to the info given!

Well, a 20 minute walk from the main Ukunda-Diani road lies Shikamana school.

Run by Jackson Gitonga M’bund it has around 300 pupils aged 2 1/2 years upwards with 11 classes (KG1-3, Standard 1-8).  Now I was pretty hesitant about the school, firstly, I didn’t sign up to teach (although I am open to it) and secondly, it didn’t really look like it needed my help!  But as soon as I got inside and started walking around the classrooms this all changed.  The children were so welcoming and the staff seemed genuinely excited to see me.  I was introduced as a ‘volunteer teacher’ which was strange but it felt like they were really grateful for my help.  But I had another site to go and visit before deciding where my time was going to be spent.

Queue walk in the midday African sun across open countryside (or airstrip) to the Born Again orphanage.  This walk would not have been an issue in the UK, yes it was kinda far (think Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square at a push).  But at midday, in Kenya, with no water….it was gruelling.

We arrived and apart from a bit of dehydration, I was ready to see the orphanage which I thought would be the outright winner in my decision-making process.  I was wrong.

I didn’t get the same vibe from the orphanage as I did from the School.  I am not sure if it was the dehydration (which got much worse and resulted in me sleeping and downing half a litre of Oral Rehydration Salts) or just the reception I received.  The director of the orphanage didn’t bother to show up to show me round or even greet me (he was in the salon apparently) and none of the staff seemed too bothered by my presence. The kids were amazing though.  So happy despite the obvious poverty (and Ugali for lunch) but something still felt wrong.  The orphanage looked like it NEEDED help.  with 46 children living on site and more from the local community attending classes, the staff were stretched.  I could possibly be a great help here.

I have come here to help for sure but I want my help to be in a place that appreciates it and having seen both options I have a huge decision to make.

With about 35 children in a class with just one teacher, the school could use the assistance just as much.  There I feel I will have a real impact on the kids lives whereas at the orphanage I think it would be an impact on the running of the place.

I think I am going to leave this one in the hands of Gad.  he has brought me to Kenya and he knows where I will be best utilised.  So over to you!

I will give you my decision tomorrow!

Gems

P.S.  If you want to continue donating to this trip and helping the children at the project I chose (which, I will be giving more info about over the next few days in massive blog posts) the visit HERE and follow the steps to donate!!

Danish, Swedish and Fish…

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Day 2 and time to experience some more of Kenya’s crazy driving.

This is the one thing I wasn’t warned about, Mosquitos, spiders, snakes, malaria and even the dodgy squat toilets, these things I was warned about.  Taking your life in your hands each time you get in a car…not so much!  The roads are more potholed than ones deemed inadmissible in the UK.  There doesnt appear to be a ‘correct side; to the road, only the one where the least holes (and goats/cows) are. I also don’t think there is a speed limit in Kenya, and if there is no-one appears to stick to it!  All this put together tends to lead to an interesting journey

My host Daniel from Travellers arranged for me to spend my 1st proper day in Kenya on a boat!  So, today I was picked up by a random man at 7am, and going against everything my mummy ever taught me I got in his car!  I was then driven to pick up a Dutch family 9 who were all very lovely but spoke in Dutch) and then on to Shimoni, a little village built around the slave caves (I didn’t actually read anything about these and now I feel bad – but here is the info you may or may not want!!)  When we reached Shimoni we joined the package holidaying Swedish group and boarder a little boat headed for the island of Wasini.

The boat trip was pretty cool, nothing too interesting to report (well apart from being told by my phone that I was in Tanzania) oh and seeing this little fishing boat battling the waves:

but when we stopped to go snorkeling, that’s when things got real interesting!

Having never snorkelled before (not though lack of want), I didn’t really know what to expect and with my distinct run of poor luck anything could have happened!  So continuing with the ‘what happens to Gemma today?’ theme that I may make a running point thoughout this blog…I managed to cut myself on coral as soon as I jumped in, nothing serious but still kinda dumb!  The fish were totally worth the pain of a coral cut though!  I couldn’t tell you what any of them were and have no pictures as my camera is definitely not waterproof but the colours were amazing and the sheer volume of fish was insane!  I was lucky enough to be near the guide (who took a bit of a shine to me I think) and he took me to find loads of tiny fish hiding in the coral which was great.

Eventually, we ended up on a sand platform which was just beautiful.  The picture I have of it really does it no justice and I am pretty sad about this!

My camera was on the boat so no pics of the view or how perfectly white the sand was but definitely worth a look if you are ever on the south east coast of Kenya!  The company I went with (I can’t for the life of me remember their names) were great on the boat and on the snorklling session but as soon as we got onto the island we were shepherded around the ‘gift shops’ and other ‘attractions’ including the coral garden whch at certain times of the year is under water and at others is simply dry like I saw and is run by the Wasini Womens Group:

It was a shame that it felt so ‘organised’ as Wasini is genuinely beautiful and it just seemed that we were constantly being asked for money by the island inhabitants, which I know is normal but it all felt a little forced and wrong!

Lunch on the island was delicious (which shocked me as I am not the biggest seafood fan).  Crab to start, fresh out of the sea, smash the shell yourself and squeeze a bit of lime on!  Followed by Red Snapper, again straight out of the sea, eyes and all (which made me feel a little sick) served with potatoes, rice, sea grass curry sauce and a coconut sauce.  Just beautiful.  I think I may have been converted to sea food!

Back to the boat and I was lucky enough to get to see one of my favourite animals (well, sea animals, the list is extensive of land animals)  I was like a small child when I saw their fins raise out of the water.  But again it all felt a little cruel.  6 boats were all trying to get the best shot and it felt like we were hearding them.  Luckily our boat was pretty kind and didnt really join in too much.  I was able to capture these though:

There is a video which I will post a link to as soon as I have managed to upload it.

After such a great yet long day, I am ready for my bed.  It is placement day tomorrow so must get a good rest!

Gemma