A few words from Olivia…

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.

Building has begun!

Leading on from Olivia’s recent blog documenting her charitable cycle from Vancouver to LA, we thought we’d share regular updates to tell you about our progress. So, welcome to our first blog post!

At the end of November we reached a milestone achievement and found out that the team in Kenya were ready to start building Phase 1 of our school in Enkerende. The children have been waiting intently for this news for over two years – it gave us huge joy to find out their wait was nearly over! When the day came to transfer the funds for the first step of the project, we were full of mixed emotions; overwhelming excitement, disbelief that we had managed to get this far, and a sense of fear that somehow it might still not happen.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and our fears are swept away as the materials start arriving! When the lorry reached the school site after the long drive from Nairobi, some of the pupils of Enkerende came excitedly to take a look – it’s not every day that this kind of thing happens in the Mara! Here’s a photo to show the children’s amazement.

With the building materials on site, the first step was getting to work on the existing foundations, to see which materials needed replacing and which could be used. We were very lucky that Eunice and Robert, owners of the nearby Ngerende Island Lodge, were able to set us off to a brilliant start by providing the exterior walls and foundations for our school. This was a great help and allowed our project to get to work straight away!

Once the existing foundations had been assessed, the gable walls completed, and the interior walls plastered, the next phase was getting the roof ready. When we received the building updates, we were amazed to see how involved the community wanted to be in the Enkerende project. For instance, when the wood arrived, both the local Maasai and the employees of Ngerende Island Lodge teamed up to help get it to the building site quickly!

After the Christmas break, with the roof supports in place, completion of the veranda was on the agenda. A veranda was always planned for the build so that the pupils had somewhere sheltered to wait for the teacher to arrive if they got to school early, protected from the heat of the Mara. In the space of a couple of months, it’s incredible to see the veranda and more importantly, Enkerende school coming together!

These are all of the updates that we have for now, and we hope that Enkerende school will be fully operational by next month! If you’re just as excited as us and want to see more photos and videos of these stages, please see our Facebook page.

What’s next? With the build progressing so well, Olivia and I couldn’t resist going to see the school ourselves when it opens. Olivia is going to be the first one to visit, and there’s now only three weeks to go, so we’ll be sharing news on her stay shortly and photos of the complete school!

Finally, we can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read this and for helping us make our dream of bringing better education to Enkerende a reality.