Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter in Ichamara

The Easter Bunny has not visited Ichamara, but we are having a good weekend regardless. On Friday we visited Gerald’s house and had dinner with his family. It was a great visit, and we realized just how far he has to walk to work each day. It’s over an hour’s walk in a suit! Lunch was really good, but I was still not very trusting of my stomach, so I didn’t have very much. On Saturday we attended the Prize Giving ceremony. Gillian and I arrived early and were treated to a tour of the school’s forest by some the standard 7 & 8 students. We were blown away with how mature and professional these five students were on the tour. We both agreed that we have paid for tours that were not as well delivered! They took us for a walk to the access point, and then through the forest to a field, and around to the coffee tree field. These kids were incredibly knowledgeable, and were very impressive. The ceremony began around 2pm, and Blathnaid and Jess joined us at that point. The ceremony began, but the winds and dark clouds began at about the same time. After about an hour, the ceremony was put on hold because of the heavy, heavy rains, and the Tuskers tarp that we were sitting beneath collapsed and nearly drenched us. Blathnaid and I got a little wet, but nothing too major. We left the ceremony at 6:30pm, and it was still going strong. I am betting that it probably went late into the night. Today (Sunday), we attended Easter mass at Kimondo church, and it was a 2 1/2 hour mass. There were some really upbeat songs, and even a youth dance troupe. Some distinct differences from churches at home. Tomorrow we are having lunch at Lucy’s house, and the rest of week we are scheduled to be visited two other schools in the area. We leave early on Friday morning, and we are having a hard time believing that our time in this house is almost expired. Not long now until we are back in Canada!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week Five

Although we were not teaching at our regular schools this week, the week was very busy. We started Monday by going on the Milk Run with the Wakulima Dairy. We all took separate routes, and were busy helping the workers write down the milk numbers, and talking to the locals. People were very excited to see us, and really happy to speak with us. Lisa and Blathnaid both went to Brookside Dairy and saw how the milk was processed after being picked up. It was a very interesting day and we all enjoyed it.

Tuesday we went to Gathukimundu to do a training session with the teachers for the OLPCs. Lisa has previously introduced the computers to the students, and the teachers seemed just as excited to have the opportunity to learn how to use them as well. We went through various programs with the teachers, and allowed them to have free time to explore the computers. For many this was the first time ever using a computer and they needed to learn simple things such as how to turn the computer on, and where each letter was on the keyboard. We also led a brainstorming session where we had the teachers tell us how they could see themselves using the computers with the students, and what programs they found would be most useful for them. The teachers also asked many questions and voiced some concerns they had of the computers. The teachers really enjoyed the session and it was exciting to be able to see how the teachers were planning to use them with their students.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent the day at Matuto Primary School, which is twinned with Prince Street Elementary. The headmaster was very excited to see us and the students even more so. Although the students were on their Easter Holiday, the grades 6, 7, 8 came back to school for those two days specifically so we could come teach them. We spent the days doing extra lessons for the students and playing ‘footie-ball’. On Thursday after classes the students walked us to the Chairman of the Matuto’s farm. We planted maize and watched how Arrowroot was planted. We also had a tour of the farm and had the chance to play with some of the kids from neighbouring farms, putting Maple Leaf tattoos on them. We also had the chance to try Sugarcane, which we all really enjoyed.

For Good Friday, Gerald invited us out to his home for lunch. It was a good time spent with good food and great company. Gerald also gave us a tour of his farm and we spent the afternoon drinking tea and eating Macadamia nuts from one of his trees.

On Saturday we went to prize giving ceremonies at both Ithanji and Gathukimundu. The students entertained the guests with both song and dance which they had spent weeks preparing for. Although the day was interrupted by heavy rainfall and thunder showers, everyone still had a great time. At the Gathukimundu ceremony we officially presented the OLPCs to the school.

All in all it was a very busy and productive week, filled with new experiences and new friends.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Week #4

This week was our last week in our schools. It was sad saying goodbye to all the teachers and students, but we plan to visit them again before we leave. The school week only went from Monday to Wednesday, and at that time the schools closed for the holiday. The students seemed relieved to be finished with exams, but still continued working on these three days. On the last day some of us went to visit students’ homes and were shown around their farms. There were also trees planted at Ithanji Primary in the Canadian Forest.
On Thursday we were invited by the staff at Gathukimundu to visit William Holding Wildlife Foundation and Education Center. We visited this site, which looks after many orphaned animals as well as some animals we hadn’t seen yet like a Rhinoceros and the Hippo. It began with an information session, followed by visits to the animals, and a ride on a 150 year old Tortoise.
We went to Nyeri on Saturday to visit Green Hills Hotel’s pool. It was a beautiful day and we got lots of sunshine.
Our next two weeks are very booked up as we begin our community projects.