Tag Archives: Travel and Tourism

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

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

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!

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….

As the adventure began…

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As my internet access was limited to say the least in Kenya, I wrote everything in a diary ready to update you all when I got home! This will be over a few posts as there is A LOT of writing So here goes…

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As you know I packed my bag pretty late and felt super disorganised all morning on Friday.  Well, I made it to the airport with a bit of time to spare.  What I didn’t account for was ‘Kenya Time’.  I planned on grabbing something to eat, a magazine and having a few phone calls to people in my couple of hours…

I arrived at the airport at 4:45pm, flight was at 7pm…thats LOADS of time I hear you say.  Well, that’s what I thought.  NO…I got called to board my flight at 5:30 giving me barely enough time to grab some food a bottle of water and a copy of Rugby World and quickly talk to Naomi before being ushered onto my flight whilst still on the phone to mumma!

The flight itself was quite pleasant despite the grumpy staff.  They did not give me a great 1st impression of Kenyan’s (luckily Kenyan’s are actually really lovely)  I was lucky enough to have an entire row to myself which meant I got to lie down and sleep! woo hoo!

Things changed a little when I got to Nairobi.  Firstly, the President of Kenya happened to be on my flight from Heathrow which meant that we were delayed disembarking.  I had a grand total of 40 minutes to get through the visa queue and customs in time to make my next flight.  Secondly the queue for a visa was extreme! about 4 flights landed at a similar time which meant that everyone needed a visa at the same time! Last but by no means least, I had vaguely heard on the plane about having to collect and recheck luggage for connecting domestic flights but, I was half asleep and listening to music so didn’t pay attention (more fool me) I rush through customs and into baggage reclaim (which was confusing and not well sign posted) where I asked a lady in a uniform where my bag would be, apparently my luggage was checked to Mombasa and I didn’t need to worry.  So off I head to my domestic flight thinking no more of it!

I arrive in Mombasa, my bag does not!!!!  It is still on the luggage belt in Nairobi.  Turns out the lady in uniform did not know what she was talking about – tip for anyone connecting to a domestic flight in Kenya – collect your luggage, clear customs and recheck it even if told otherwise!

Ignoring the bag incident (I got it back within a few hours at a small cost) I have had a wonderful 1st day in this beautiful country.  Oh and for those of you who know about tube guy – I went one better – I picked up a guys number (and email address) on the flight.  I won’t contact him but its still funny!

I have spent the day with the wonderful Carla, a Kenya whizz having spent more time here than her Aussie home over the past 2 years! As well as a few members of the family I was staying with and we hit the beach.  I am however wiped out after the flights etc so have gone to bed instead of going out with Carla 😦

My sight seeing so far includes Mount Kilimanjaro from the plane,

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Slightly wonky but still....

the President of Kenya’s entourage, wild baboons (anyone who knows me well enough will know this was a highlight), camels on the beach and a really strange mix of wealth and poverty.

More updates to come shortly but right now I am TIRED and need to sleep ready for my trip to Wasini tomorrow!

Gems