Tag Archives: Shikamana

Sponsor a Child at Shikamana School

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Hi,

For those of you who have been reading my blog for 2 years + (wow) you will know all about the amazing school I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks working at in February 2012.  For those of you who are new to this blog, please take a read through all the posts in the “Kenya Adventure” section of this blog.

When my mum (Jan Prince for those of you who don’t know the connection) called me asking for advice on her trip to Kenya, my 1st thought was “you HAVE to visit Shikamana School”, it was mainly so she could see for herself what an amazing place it is but I also wanted her to bring me back an update on what was happening there and how the lovely children were doing.  So in November, her and her wonderful partner Heinz made the trip and out of it came more than I could ever have dreamed.

She managed to have a catch up with Jackson (the schools director) and take some more pictures:

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She also arranged the most AMAZING surprise for me for Christmas.  I opened the most beautiful envelope to reveal the statement “For a special gift  Sponsorship of a child from Shikamana School” naturally I became a blubbering mess for about 30 minutes when I eventually managed to mutter “thank you”!

Now, the main reason for this post is that not only has mum arranged sponsorship for Ruwa (yep, this little angel is now sponsored by me)

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and the sponsorship of another little boy for my sister, she has been sent a further 10 profiles in the hope that we can find sponsors for them.

This is where you lovely lot come in.  If you are interested in helping one of these amazing kids though school for a year (or more) then please get in touch.  The child you sponsor will write and send pictures and if you are lucky things they have done at school.  You can write, and send pictures yourself too!

The 10 children who have had their profiles sent to us are:

Name Age Class Interests Issues Ambition
Macdonald (m) 4 KG1 Number work, creative, football Lacks basic needs pilot
Twaa (F) 9 3 Maths, English, skipping Poverty pilot
Said (M) 4 KG1 Maths, english and football Lacks basics at home pilot
Melickzedeck 8 Std 1 Maths, English, Science Dental issues and poverty pilot
Joseph 5 KG1 Creative, maths and football Poverty teacher
Mazoea 6 KG1 English, Kiswahili and football Parents cannot provide basic needs doctor
Vincent 4 KG1 Number work and art Lack of basic needs doctor
Juma 7 KG2 Number work and creative Poverty teacher
Mwanarusi (F) 7 Std1 Maths, Engosh, Science and skipping Hardship at home nurse
Zulfa (f) 6 KG2 Maths, science, English and playing hide and seek Parents cannot provide basic needs doctor

Out of these, I worked with 4 of them directly (Macdonald, Said, Zulfa, Juma,0 and they are all AMAZING kids who want to be in school because they somehow know that it will make their lives better.

For more info please comment and either Jan or myself will send you as much info as we can.

We are also trying to collect books, old computers, basic school items etc so if you can help in any way at all please pop me a comment below and we can have a chat.

Thanks for reading.

Much love

Gemma (and Janet) xxxx

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

 

“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)

What a difference a shoe makes…

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What a difference a shoe makes…

Today I got ASKED where my next blog post was! This made me smile….so here it is!

 

Day 7

1 week gone already and I am so attached to the kids at Shikamana it is crazy!

When I walked in to the school today and was met by a round of “Jambo” everywhere I went, hand shakes from the staff and high fives from the kids (which HURT, they don’t realise its meant to be a gentle smack….full force)  It put such a smile on my face I felt I was making an impact on their day which was great.

I arrived pretty early today which meant I got to join in with a PPI lesson (don’t ask me what PPI stands for…its not Payment Protection Insurance) which was really interesting.  Seeing kids getting excited about God was cool and is something I will definitely be taking back to the UK for my kids church lessons.

KG1 were WILD today.

Running and jumping everywhere, climbing on tables, fighting and shouting.  My basic knowledge of Swahili just wasn’t enough.  There is only so many times you can say Kachini and be laughed at.  I was followed everywhere I went like the pied piper and I don’t know what ‘go back to class’ is and the kids don’t know enough English to understand me!  I was left alone quite a few times by the teacher today which was hard work but balloons helped.

One of the young boys, who comes from a very poor family stubbed his toe today.  Which, if you are wearing shoes hurts, but if like little Ruwa you can’t afford shoes it can result in a detached toe nail and lots of blood & pain.

I always carry a first aid kit in my bag due to my serious accident prone nature, so I was able to clean it up pretty nicely, put a plaster on his tiny little toe, which he sat incredibly still for surprisingly.  I then gained a friend for the rest of the day as we both got a little attached.  Well, wouldn’t you?!

My little wounded soldier!

We went outside for our ‘outdoor play’ session and one of the other children stood on his toe which caused more tears and an immediate turn for a cuddle.  I am not sure if parents just don’t have the time or it’s not something Kenyan’s do but a little bit of love has gone a long long way today.  He also fell asleep on me today which, although it is cute, I was unbearably hot as I think he may be running a fever.

I am going to buy him some shoes as soon as possible to prevent this kind of thing happening again.  And the school needs a good first aid kit, which I think I will have to get back in the UK as they just don’t have the things I want in Kenya!  Everyone should have access to basic items which prevent infection.  If anyone would like to help out with this please drop me an email or comment (or donate to the Kenya fund HERE, funds are going to help these amazing kids and the school they learn in)  I want to be able to equip this place with simple supplies that they so desperately need.  These kids run around in the dust and dirt all day, risking Jiggers and various other infections.  Antiseptic, plasters and shoes could stop this!  For just 100KSH you can buy shoes which protect against jiggers, for around 600 KSH you can get some really good, really sturdy school shoes. (remember £1 = 127 KSH)

After school Daniel and I took a trip to collect Carla from the dispensary in Msulwa, meeting a few unusual obstacles on the way:

But the dispensary is an amazing hospital in the hills near Shimba with VERY basic supplies.  Carla showed me where women would give birth.  It is currently in a corner of what looks like a storage room.  The bed does at least have stirrups and there looks like there is sanitation equipment but it is VERY basic and makes me very thankful for the NHS, however much I complain about them!

There is a German couple who are funding the building of a new maternity unit at Msulwa, with a dedicated delivery room, a shower and clean running water which will make all the difference.  But, it wont be finished until at least November.  They have issues with tiles that have been laid and won’t let the work continue until they can over see the project!

Anyway, when we finally got home Carla and I managed to escape the father figure of the house and headed to Forty’s bar in Diani.  It was great to be away from the house and back in the company of people the same age and with similar interests.  We met up with Juma and a few of the volunteers from Colobus trust.  It was meant to be a quick night out but, we got home at 3am…ready for an early start for the new arrivals tomorrow….

‘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!!