Building Gathima School...one mud classroom at a time...
Today we were really excited to be making the hot, dusty journey to visit Gathima School. This was the 2nd visit for Janet and I. Situated on a dusty hillside....it's basically a collection of mud hut classrooms.... with stunning views out to Lake Nakuru in the distance.
Gathima School has a special place in our hearts. On a previous visit we were inspired by Pastor Paul and his wife Lucy, who were so committed to their childrens' education that they decided to build their own school! Because of this their 3 boys....and the other children in the village....can now get an education. The school is being built by adding one mud classroom a year, and this trip we had the great privilege of seeing them building it.
Lots of lovely people in the UK had given us books and toys for the school. This included a little boy called Ollie who heard about Gamitha School during a lesson at his school in Potterspury. Ollie decided that he and his younger sister would send some of their own toys to children who had none!
Also, Class 2 of John Hellins School in Potterspury wrote some beautiful letters and drew pictures which we were able to share while we were there..... The children absolutely loved them, and got busy doing some of their own for me to bring back!
We left all the toys etc. with the Head Teacher, who is going to make sure all the children enjoy them.
I am really hoping that some genuine friendships develop between the two village schools. Watch this space!
Gathima School is full of such joy and expectation of 'good learning'. All the children sat outside on the bumpy, dusty field....and then we were treated to song and dance from several classes. It was brilliant! In return the children were treated to some guitar playing and songs from Bill. It was beautiful to watch....gloriously riotous with dancing, singing and clapping....... a complete dust storm.
Building the next classroom....from mud...
While we were there Janet did some great work with the teachers in the classrooms; they really appreciated her support and encouragement. These teachers work with very limited supplies. In most classrooms the only things on the walls are torn up sacks which have been written or drawn on. There are very few school books, and what there are are tattered and so worn....so different from the luxury of the UK.
Where parents can afford it, the children have a uniform, which they love. But I really felt for the ones who didn't even have that. A lot of the children have shoes of some sort, often holes in the toes....but again many have none. And these are little children....many of them walking 5 miles to get to school.
Each year the school adds a classroom. It is actually a government school....but very little money is forthcoming....and certainly not for classrooms!
When we arrived there was a lot of activity on the field. A whole team of parents were building the next classroom. They were making a mixture of mud, straw and cow dung...all done on site, bare hands mixing it in. The wall structure is tree branches, all stuck together with the mud mixture. As is often the case, the workers were mostly the ladies! Once it's built it is just left to harden off in the sun....basic, but effective.
Parents pay for the teachers...
The Government does provide a salary for the Head Teacher, and 2 other teachers....... But again this is just not enough as the classes would be impossibly large. So the parents, often who are living on less than £1.00 a day themselves, together provide the salaries for another 3 teachers. None of them get much money...but the additional teachers get even less...and many of them have never received any proper training to do the job.
I am so amazed by these parents who are SO passionate about education, especially when they themselves have never had any! ....But they know in their hearts, it's the best chance for their children to break out of the poverty cycle. I admire them so much!!
Darren and John had hilarious fun with the football, and then chasing the children pretending to be donkeys etc! Big kids! It was such a treat to see so much enjoyment, the children will remember the day the 'muzungu ' (White people) came to visit.
Ahh.... now time for a wind down and a day off tomorrow. The guys are going for a day safari and we girls are heading for some retail therapy at the market!