A huge amount has happened since our last blog post – I have been to Kenya to see the progress first hand, and we’ve started thinking about exciting ideas for the school once it is in action!
Last month, I travelled to the Maasai Mara to stay at Robert and Eunice’s lodge (the wonderful couple who have made this project possible). Robert and Eunice live in Nairobi, but have a safari lodge in Ngerende, a 5 minute drive from our school. They started the idea of a local school years ago but it did not have sufficient funding – Educate Enkerende has bridged this gap. Eunice has been a fantastic project manager on the ground, bringing together the local community in support of the project. Being in Ngerende for a week, I was able to visit the school daily and see for myself the positive changes it has and will bring to the locality.
The first day saw me do some teaching: Maths- addition was the task of the day. It certainly tested my abilities! It was fantastic to see once again the children’s amazing passion and desire to learn. When I asked them questions, they would all raise their hands and lean towards the front of the classroom! The lessons took place in two small primary school classrooms which were built last year thanks to the donation of a generous guest at the lodge. These classrooms will work wonderfully with our project, together creating a primary and senior school, to accommodate all the children in the area including those who currently have to go to boarding school in year 2. Educate Enkerende’s new school will enable children to stay at home during years 2, 3, and 4, giving them quality time with their families and saving a huge amount of money whilst still providing them with a fantastic education. A number of families are also moving back to the village now that there is a school for their children to attend.
Day two was my first visit to our school building – a monumental occasion. First impressions showed the school was even bigger than I had imagined – huge ceilings and space for up to 40 children per classroom. The roof was being finished, which was a huge relief – there have been terrible rains in the Maasai Mara over the past few months, and the roof being on will help protect all the brilliant building work that has been done so far. I was trusted with helping clear rainwater from the classroom floors which had gathered during the rains.
Day three was an incredibly special day with the village. Bismarck, one of the teachers, along with Eunice and others had organised for an afternoon ceremony to take place to celebrate the new school. It was great to see the community come together, excitedly watching the construction take place, and the fantastic work being done by the local craftsmen. The school children all walked from their primary school building to our new school, and gathered in a classroom to sing some beautiful local songs. This was followed by a series of speeches by Bismarck, the church, and myself, which was a brilliant opportunity to tell the community first hand how excited we are about the project, and that we are committed long term – the building is just the start! I also gave the children lots of clothes, books and pens that I had brought out with me thanks to a collection at work. I even met a girl I had taught when I first went to volunteer at Enkerende 6 years ago, as well as the mother of one of my favourite pupils, Nicholas. We proceeded to plant four trees, representing the different parts of the community who form the basis of the school: the Masai Elder of the village, my mother, myself and the current head girl of the school, and Bismarck.
The school is due to be finished as this blog post is written – the final task after my visit was to finish the floors with concrete. So we’ll be working on next steps to kit out the school with all of the learning materials that the children need.