Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photo from Lisa.

We have received this wonderful photo from Lisa MacLeod, one of the UPEI pre service teachers who is teaching at Gathukimundu Primary.
She reports;
"The work of the OLCPs has begun and so far it seems to be very sucessful. Each student in upper primary at Gathukimundu will receive one hour of lessons on the computers. For children who have very limited exposure and access, they are learning very quickly."
Thank You, Lisa!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Week Three

This week we had the opportunity to see each other’s twinning schools. We noticed that each school is very unique and each has a very different atmosphere. The atmosphere we noticed is strongly reflective of the staff of the school. The children were writing exams so we were not able to spend a lot of time at each school, but we were there long enough to enjoy the time with the children.
Exams are a very significant part of the schools in Kenya, and the schools are very competitive with one another. If a student does not rank well in primary exams they may not get into their preferred secondary school. The exams are the pinnacle of the term. Schools who are successful were very eager to show their success to us.
We began working on one of our community projects this week with an introduction of the OLPCs (one laptop per child), to the upper primary students at Gathukimundu. These were received very well by the students as they were extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with computers. We will also be training the teachers at the school so they are able to provide support to the students when we leave the computers there.
We visited Nyeri City over the weekend where we went to a hotel pool and took in some sunshine. It was a definite change of scenery and it was good to see a different part of the district from where we live. We were invited to attend mass at St. Peter and Paul Kimondo Catholic Parish on Sunday morning, and the people were very welcoming. Although most of the service was in Kikuyu the structure of the service was very similar to that of a Catholic church in Canada, so we were able to follow. The music was a lot more vibrant and energetic with drums and rhythmic instruments that really added to the experience.
We are sad that we only have one week left with the students, but look forward to our community projects in the following two weeks.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Wild Week

This week was full of excitement. John arrived on Thursday afternoon and we were all very excited to see the familiar face. On Friday we left for Samburu and stopped at the Equator for some pictures and shopping. We arrived at Sarova Shaba, Samburu in the afternoon. The lodge was beautiful; we were welcomed with fruit juice and hot towels after a long bumpy ride, known as the “African Massage”. The lodge had a lot of monkeys over the lawns, and a very large swimming pool, which we were all excited to see. We went on our first Safari in the afternoon, and were happy to see many elephants, giraffes, and zebras. On the second day out we even saw lions!
On Saturday we went to a Samburu Village, where we took a tour of the village and were told some of the history of the two tribes who live there (the Samburu and the Turkana). We also watched a dance, and were even invited to join in. As we walked throughout the village, we were also shown the inside of the manyattas, and watched as men made fire with sticks. On our way out of the village, the women of the village set up a market of goods they had made. We all agreed that the visit to the village was our favourite part of our visit to the Samburu area, although the animals were an exciting part of the weekend also.
Although we didn’t want to leave Samburu we were excited on Sunday to be heading to the Meru area to meet with Jennifer. Jennifer welcomed us into her home and was happy to have us there. That night, she made a wonderful dinner and Shaad even came to join us. Unfortunately we only had the one night with Jennifer, and the next day we had to leave to visit the schools.
First we visited Kiirua Secondary Boys School. We were met by the head teacher and Martin from the Muchui Women’s Group who showed us around the school and the gardens. We were very impressed with the school’s gardens, and how self-sustaining the school is. They had produced enough potatoes to feed the students for the entire term.
Next we visited Kinyenjere Primary School, where the students were very excited to see us. The headmaster showed us around their gardens and took us through each classroom. In the classrooms we were greeted with smiling faces. As we were leaving the school the students all gathered around us to ask questions. They asked us several questions about Canada, and posed for many, many pictures.
The weekend was very busy, but we all really enjoyed visiting Jennifer and the schools. We headed back to Ichimara very tired, but with many memories.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Week in Kenya

We have had a very successful first week here in Kenya. Everyone has helped to make the transition from Canada to Kenya very easy. Henry met us at the airport in Nairobi and got us quickly settled into the Fairview. Shaad and Clement took us out to Rimpa Estates Farm where we had a great afternoon of wildlife and great food. They then brought us to the house in Ichamara and helped us get settled in. They have both been very helpful this week. On our first day in the house we met Gerald and Lucy, who continue to help us settle in and make sure our first week of school went smoothly.

We started our placements at Gathukimundu, Mwati, and Ithanji Primary Schools and were greeted by smiling faces. Although the drive to Ithanji may be a challenge on the dirt roads, it is always worth it when we see the student’s smiling and waving. The kids made us feel very welcome by singing on our arrival. The students are very respectful and always stand when we enter the classroom. They are very quiet in the classroom, unless they are asked a direct question, and are very concerned with answering correctly. The students have become accustomed to working individually, however we continue to try to integrate group work. The students are very eager and have a high level of respect for their teachers. The teachers in the schools have been very pleasant and helpful. They are very interested in Canada, and they ask many questions each day in the staffroom.

Over the weekend we went into Karatina with Francis. He helped us find our way around the Uchumi and we also went to the open air market. The open air market in Karatine is the largest open air market in Africa, and is very busy on Saturday mornings. Francis helped us barter for fruits and vegetables, it was very helpful to have him there. Francis is an amazing cook, and we are all wondering how we are going to go back to Canadian food. We are greeted each day after school with smoothies and an after school snack. He has definitely made the adjustment from Canadian to Kenyan food very easy.

We are looking forward to week number two and our trip with John to Samburu this weekend.