The first time I traveled to Kenya, I was taught (in an oh-so-loving way) that it was important to not force my Western standards on a country whose culture is quite different than mine. The lesson has been a difficult one to learn, and today I found myself really questioning my own assumptions of how “things should be.”
|Josh, Teacher Alfred, Kirsti with three students|
We visited the Kawangware Primary School, which is a public school, in the heart of Kawangware. The school is run by Milliam Kelonye, who proved to be not only a strong advocate for education, but also a strategist, financial officer, counselor and chief advocate for 1500 students, 23 teachers, and many, many families. The first thing I noticed when we walked into her office is that there is a large poster with the schools core values on it, a very specific “report card” to measure the success of the school, and a large SWOT analysis that had been done for the school. I was in heaven! A school with a plan! And a headmistress who clearly cared about her students and could speak of our 9 children from Ray of Hope by name. We also had a chance to visit with the Ray of Hope kids, all of whom seemed happy and thriving in the environment. It was an amazing testimony, again, to the vision and persistence of a woman who is determined to make the best of a hard situation, and bring the highest standard of education to the lives of the children in her school.
|Today's lunch at the Little Ray of Hope was a Glide team favorite: Green Grams|
Today, Kirsti, Josh and I travelled throughout
|Karen, Teacher Alfred, Teacher Evelyn, and Josh|
It was very moving to see these students: we at Glide first met them five years ago--now many are young men and women! They were proud to be met at their school and tell us what they liked (or didn't like!) about their school.
|Children at the Little Ray of Hope|
Evelyn, Alfred, Hendrika, and Agneta have created a family for children. This family helps children who would otherwise be without the emotional and physical support to continue going to school. One of the schools we visited had 1500 students. The headmistress shared with us the struggles of providing education for children in the slums. Malnourishment, abandonment, HIV/AIDS, abuse and a lack of funds to adequately staff a school are all issues that impact a child's education. She told us that more than half of the children who live in the slum are not in any school--with no family support or financial resources, the children are left alone in the streets. Many turn to drugs.
Sure enough, as we left the school, we passed literally dozens of young boys with bottles and bags to their faces, sniffing glue. Stumbling, faces contorted, they called out to us, some banging on the car as we drove by. This is my fourth trip to Kenya, and I have seen so many heart-wrenching things, but seeing all these young boys high in the street right outside the school yard was devastating.