July 31, 2017
My lazy time is just about over. The “tuitioning” sessions begin Wednesday with a lot of kids expected. Fr. Ngaruiya has promised me 3 rooms in a virtually unused hall (each with blackboard) as well as the Mji dining hall. If all the people who claim they are coming actually show up, we’ll be swamped!!!
On the last day of each term (so 3 times a year) schools hold an assembly during which students are exhorted to work harder, stay safe, obey their parents, study and don’t do anything dumb during the vacation. St. Francis held that assembly late this afternoon—late because it is the occasion at which class position is announced as well as who were the top performers in each form and each subject. For that grades had to be compiled. I always feel sorry for the girls who work very hard and will never get recognized, even for being “most improved.”
The lighting in the dining hall is not good. I’ve adjusted this to increase the exposure, but even at that you can only get the sense of 240 girls, but not really see them. Some day I’ll take a class in fixing photos, but for now this is the best I can do. The 4 in front are leading singing while the students await the staff with the grade reports. It’s a lot of pressure on teachers to get exams marked and grades turned in. Then someone must hand input the scores for 240 girls (8 classes each). Someday they’ll have an integrated computer system as most US high schools have so each teacher can input his/her own grades—much more efficient.
I’ve been promised the computer lab will be up and running by the beginning of 2018, but who knows whether they’ll have the ability to link each teacher to a common grade reporting program. It is taking a long time to re-equip the lab because they want to be sure the computers will be safe from theft as well as virus free. At one time, we had a pretty modern lab, except the computers were not equipped with virus protection and soon they were all hopelessly infected. I brought 4 donated computers last year for teacher use. They are still fine, but are not linked yet. Teachers use them for instruction and research but technology has a long way to go here.
I haven’t been st SFG for a week, while students were taking their exams and for many of the form 4’s today was last time I will see them. I tried not to focus on that today because it always makes me teary.
I was determined to get the traditional form 4 class picture in front of the school, but try as I would I couldn’t get all of them there. I don’t know whether 11 of them didn’t know or just didn’t manage to arrive, but we waited for about ½ hour and then decided to take the official photo with those girls missing. Here is the best of 5 shots I took.
There are 71 in the class, but only 60 here, if our count-off was correct. Maybe Ruth Kahiga can get a complete picture for our history. I now have photos of all 8 graduating classes. As you see, some were not looking at the camera. ARGH!!! I didn’t notice that in time.
As always there are some hardship cases. One is a form 3 girl with a very large fee balance, but usually in position 1 or 2 in her class every term. This term is no exception. Vera, the counselor, had brought her case to my attention several weeks ago, along with 2 others. Hillary, our Empower the World social worker, visited the family home and told me, shaking his head in disbelief, “The living conditions are HORRIBLE”, a one room affair with chickens sleeping with the family and their droppings in the house (dirt floor) UGH! The family has nothing. Right away, ETW agreed to sponsor her for her last 2 years and to clear her present fee balance. The other 2 are also sad cases, but Hillary needs to do more investigation before he can recommend them to the ETW board. The process is thorough, but time-consuming. I am hoping they will agree to take in both girls, but my authority stops when we send the donations to them, and rightly so. The reason ETW was established is so that they could do a complete vetting process, which I’m in no position to do. More than once I was taken in by a tearful plea, only to learn that the need wasn’t nearly as great as I’d been lead to believe. This happened early on and I’ve learned my lesson. I’m a pushover for a sob story! I do trust that if the need is real, ETW will take them under their wing.
Students will leave school for home tomorrow, very early in the morning for those traveling far. I believe all of the Pokot kids will be staying either at Mji Wa Neema, to participate in the tuitioning or nearby in Mai Mahui in Fr. Kiriti’s family compound. It’s very far for them to go home and East Pokot isn’t a very safe area right now. That part of northeastern Kenya is still suffering from drought such that starvation is becoming common. Hunger breeds instability. If you’ve been reading about unrest in Kenya, this is part of the story. The kids are better off here.
The Mji compound will be awash with kids staying over, as well as with kids coming during the day. I never know how it will all work out and am feeling my usual uncertainty. It has always worked out quite well, but…. Julia isn’t here and I am de facto house mother. I just have to trust they’ll all behave. Stay tuned.
PS After the assembly a student presented me with a poem she had written. I had no idea she felt so strongly. I hope you will forgive me for sharing it.
As time flies from the past,
Then the future lies in the huts.
Just an inch of her,
Her state is flawless.
Full of energy she says,
Her blessings are for sure.
She wishes you well,
Her love is for sure,
The Treasure that never ends.
Legends have it,
From time to time,
She can flex and she can trek,
That’s why she is my favorite,
From morning to dawn
She struggles a lot,
Her life is treasured!
And she made me the person I am today.
God gave her strength,
To pursue all she can,
Never to judge the race,
But be there for the case.
She is not a president,
But her law is independent.
Long live you, Margo,
Let you never come in a cargo.
The treasure that never ends,
For the legend who is always present
What can I say?