The week of 6th February to 10th February 2012

What had we got ourselves in for? We were so happy to be having the younger kids this week. We had planned to assess them first in several areas and then tackle the gaps that most needed filling. What on earth could we improve in 1 week? Well let me tell you we sure changed heaps for the 6 we taught this week. Kerry had pulled them out of school to see if we could see where the problems were. What can we say – the Kenyan school system, and the teachers, most of which aren’t even qualified to teach. Don’t get me wrong, there are good ones, but teaching is like teaching 60 – 70 years ago in Australia.
The kids had FUN FUN FUN learning with us and we used all styles of learning, took them on excursions, painted, wrote stories, read to them, played with play dough, water play, music, you name it – anything to tap into their individual learning styles.
These kids are in (in Australian classes, prep – grade 3. All the 6 are being taught to add 2 digit numbers, never been taught to count on, count in twos, count in 5’s, nothing about money, (I can see that point), and 3 of them could only show 1 to 1 correspondence up to the number 6. No idea how to count back never read a story at school (other than by me). The children are never allowed to express themselves at school, so language and understanding what we were saying and asking them to comment on different things, trying to take them to a higher level was difficult. We expanded their word knowledge heaps and heaps. The children are also taught that b says boo, c says coo, d says doo, f says foo. I ask you?? Talk about frustration!! Our makeshift classroom got to me by the end of the week, and lack of resources nearly did my head in, as did the relentless heat. I felt the week was the hottest so far. We used songs off you tube and had them by the end of the week knowing the sounds and the NAMES of the alphabet. We had hands on science lessons and all learning was hand’s on. They’d never done it before and were so unsure of what to do, as so used to just sitting at a desk and copying things down off the board that has no meaning to them. I won’t even go into other areas we expanded them in and we were so proud of them. They were worn out by the end of the week and didn’t want to go back to their school. I might add in Kenya if you get something wrong, you get caned, which does not sit well with me at all.
Pulling of ears, smacking across the head, slapping in the stomach, back, back of head, all common and done daily, besides caning on the legs, bottom, hair pulling. On Friday we also had the 6 older children to teach in a separate area, as the teacher Mr. Colonzo had to go to the doctor in Shimba. Boy did I have fun with those kids while Lesley had the younger ones. We played shootouts, did aboriginal paintings, explained aboriginal legends, which did have some parallels to theirs, played spelling games, taught them rainbow facts and lots of different strategies for multiplication and division. Talk about a fun morning, and I taught the kids to do their times tables by singing to the rhythm of their African songs. Worked wonders!!!! They didn’t understand to make a rap, so what better way. Lesley finished the day with face painting. We shut up shop at 3pm as we wanted to collate what we’d done for the kids for Kerry before we left to go to Diani on Saturday morning. We were exhausted! After a quick Nanna nap Aunty Rachel took us across to her home – about 5 mins walk away and we met her mum and dad, brothers, their wives and baby. A goat had given birth that morning, so was lovely seeing the little kid bleeting away. The orphanage had run out of water in the tanks today again, so no washing was done and what water was available was on rations, so washing up had to wait, and water for drop toilet only. I was glad I filled up our jug the night before. It does get you down not having permanent access to water.
Was sad to see Wade go on Thursday. He was such a nice young guy. He had an eventful trip to the airport with the driver getting a call that his brother had been caught selling illegal dvd’s carted off to the police station and the driver stopping and getting another driver as he had to go and raise money to bribe the police to let his brother go, so he wouldn’t go to jail to await ‘trial.’ This is the ‘norm’ in Kenya. But then the replacement driver begged Wade to bring him an English woman back as his life was a misery and he wanted to make his life better. You only have to see the lives of people here and you can’t blame them one little bit.

I nearly forgot to mention the sports day I organised. I wanted to repay the kids from Stephen Kanja School in some way for their performances last week, so decided on the games, and got Wade and Lesley to do up the lists of what we needed, score sheets, team names etc., We had 24 come from the school and we shared poetry again for Lesley to see then onto the explaining of the activities. Talk about laugh! Took awhile for the kids to get the instructions and to follow rules, but what a fantastic afternoon!!!! You could not wipe the smiles off the kid’s faces, or the teachers. I made the teachers have a race too. We had potato and spoon relays, sack races, change the t shirt races, sprints, hopping races, piggyback races, tunnel ball (that was hilarious!!), and also the tug of war. We chose best and fairest and also Lesley’s leadership award, and each team amassing points towards winning. A girls’ team won and even beat the boys in the tug of war. The adults cheated heavily in our tug of war. We gave prizes to the winning team and a medal to best and fairest and an Aussie hat to the leadership award. It was so, so hot though.

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Member of Rotary

Umoja Orphanage Kenya is a Project of the Sunrise Rotary Club Bundaberg 
RAWCS Project Number 51/2011-12
Umoja's founder Cathy is a member of Fitzroy Rotary Club District 9570

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