Today is our first planned-out day to work with the children and teachers. Suney began our trip quietly expressing the hope that she might somehow be helpful. Today, she proves that to be the understatement of the year. Her experience as a 6th Grade teacher for several years and apparently, helping with VBS (Vacation Bible Schools) and her personal energy and her ease at connecting with children, even in very large groups, and her ability to bring order into potential chaos — it all comes out today!
She has met with Eliakim, the Assistant Headmaster who actually coordinates all the school activities and teacher schedules. They’ve collaborated on a schedule for the day and Suney has given each of us our assignments, our lesson plans, and instructions for how to carry them out! We will each work in a classroom for at least part of the day, alongside the teacher, and will lead reading with our storybooks as well as other subjects. Everything will be in conjunction with the teacher so that they begin to consider how they might continue using these new items and methods after we’re gone.
We walk down to the school and they have been waiting for us to begin their opening assembly and flag ceremony at the lower end of the campus where the flagpole sits amidst a circle of ornamental plants. After the 6 little “cadets” march to the flagpole and raise the flag, and the children sing the Kenya anthem and a worship song, Paul offers us an opportunity and Suney jumps right in and leads all of us: “Shake a Friends Hand” (and scratch their back and touch their nose — the children love it!), and “Jesus Loves Me” with all the hand motions.
The day starts with the teachers leading their classes with their regular curriculum and methods and Suney’s team observing and it proceeds with PE activities, handicrafts in various classes, reading to the children and then helping the teachers help them read in groups.
Monte does not have a successful day (just speaking personally, here)! He tries to hook up one of the power-strips we brought to the existing power-strip without realizing that it won’t handle the 240volt that is standard in Kenya. After it blows out, he tries again after including the converter he’d brought. And he blows out another power-strip! (I guess that converter was already fried) He has brought a printer — all the way from the U.S., in the hopes that it will transform the teachers’ ability to print worksheets and exams. We’ve purchased 10 reams of paper for that purpose and brought 6 printer cartridges for this printer. It’s time to plug in the printer and make it all happen. The printer says it is rated for 110 – 240 volt. What could possibly go wrong? So what happens? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a blink or a whimper out of the printer — no matter what we try. Guess I fried that, too!? Very disappointed, Monte tries to keep his distance from anything electrical for the rest of the day.
After lunch, we return to what turns out to be a short afternoon. Mid-afternoon a storm comes up and quickly turns into a major downpour that lasts about an hour. With these metal roofs there is no way to conduct class — we have to shout in each other’s ear just to be heard. So we just hang out inside, avoiding the leaks in every room, pulling curtains over the missing windows of the office to keep water out. Afterward we learn that in the temporary building that houses most of the classrooms the dirt floors turn to mud and to rivulets in some places as the rainwater flows in from the sides. That is something that needs fixing. This storm is a momentary drizzle compared to what they get in the rainy season. We brought in 2 lorries of marram (clay-gravel mix) to build up the floors this Spring, but that doesn’t seem to have been enough. Later, I coach Michael and Charles on ditching along the fence-line and we buy them a shovel.
At dinner that night, Suney is at it again — schedule, assignments, lesson plans for everyone for tomorrow!