August 2, 2017
I don’t know why I’m always nervous on the first day. I never know how many kids will show up and I didn’t have a 4th math teacher. The rooms weren’t set up and I felt disorganized, but somewhere between 30 and 40 kids showed up on day one, which could mean 60-70 by the time we finish in 2 weeks. The fact that the electricity was out for the first hour and the rooms are dark, plus a drizzling rain didn’t buck me up much, but we soldiered through.
Here is Kamau on day 1 with 7 form 1’s
Margaret and Kamau have both finished form 4 (are waiting to enter university) and are tops in math. I worked with the form 4’s, Margaret with the form 3’s and Kamau with the 1’s and 2’s.
Form 4’s hard at work on day 2
I had purchased 3 new erasers (aka dusters) and new boxes of chalk so we had all the equipment we needed!. I gave them my copies of the appropriate level of math text and we all went to work. I really love teaching the form 4’s, I like the topics and I enjoy the kids. They are under the gun now. It’s “This is no drill.” time for them. This August break is their last free time to prepare for the KCSE, so they’re pretty serious about it. As usual I asked what topics they wanted to discuss and made a list on the board.
Rosemary, a friend of mine who used to teach math, but then focused on biology, becoming a reader for KCSE arrived at 11 to give the form 4’s tips on what the readers are looking for in biology, particularly on the practical. It is most valuable to have that kind of insider information and the kids were very appreciative. I moved to the 1’s and 2’s, Kamau moved to physics and Margaret did chemistry. By 1 I was pooped and so were the kids, but I know we sorted out some confusing things.
After we sent them all home, Rosemary came in to chat and shared an avocado sandwich. She’s a super dynamic woman, an avid environmentalist and passionate about educating and empowering girls. We had a lot to talk about and definitely are kindred souls. She loves teaching as much as I do, although she tells me she is getting tired and wishes to retire. She’d like to spend her considerable energy on cleaning up the environment, and God knows, the earth needs a strong advocate, especially here. I loved getting to know her better.
After she left, I found myself totally spent and headed for a wonderful nap. Oh, is there anything more delicious than a cozy nap on a rainy day? That’s pretty close to heaven in my book!
Later Catherine arrived and we, too had much to discuss, particularly the future of Mji Wa Neema and some of the younger kids. I continue to hope that reason will prevail and this home will remain a home for those kids still in school who grew up here and for whom it is HOME. Somehow the big decision maker doesn’t see that when the parish took on raising 35 kids, it intended to finish that job. They’ve done a good job so far, but they’re not done. Even the few who have completed their education need adult guidance to help them through the vital transition from teenager to independent adult. Originally there was Julia, the matron, who was “Mom” for all of them, as well as Jecinta, the social worker for the parish who had ultimate responsibility for the home. It was Jecinta who saw that they got into good schools or training programs, made sure they had all the documents they needed to register for a national identity card (done at 18 years.), helped them discover what they wanted in life, find jobs, get settled in hostels, and generally be the parent. She passed away about 5 years ago and the then-parish priest never replaced her. It was a huge loss, but Julia took on that additional responsibility and did it very well. Now Julia has moved to the US to be married and she has not been replaced. No one in the parish has taken on this vital parenting role. I do some of it when I’m here, but, there are many things I don’t know, not being Kenyan as well as not being a social worker. A large part of that responsibility has fallen on Hillary, the ETW social worker, who isn’t paid to watch over the Mji kids, but does a lot of it to fill in the gap. It feels like the parish has abdicated its responsibility and ETW has had to pick it up. Not only is that not our mission, but also this is a big parish with many needy people. Hillary couldn’t possibly fill the shoes Jecinta left empty when she died. There is just so much I can do without pushing too far. UGH! So frustrating. Anyone who thinks 15, 16, 17, 18-year olds don’t need that parental guidance has his/her head in the sand. ARGH!!!
Kamau and Margaret came in after dinner for a recap of today and a plan for tomorrow. As far as I can tell, they both thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing and the students showed their appreciation for the help. Somehow I have to figure out how to reward them.
While we were talking, Evans arrived, having gone to visit his grandmother for a couple of days before showing up for the tuitioning. He’s in form 4, so is pretty serious. He’s a bright kid, but has struggled a bit in math. We tackled Latitude and Longitude questions as well as simple integration applications. By 9 I was ready to haul it in. I expect to sleep well tonight. I hope to add some pix tomorrow. I was just too busy to do it today.
All in all, it was a very successful day 1!
Day 2. We had another math teacher, Maria Lokatari, SGF class of 2015? Maybe 2014. She was a great student, earning A in math. She has volunteered to come each day for the rest of the time. She loves teaching and I am so hoping she will end up in the classroom. Currently she is in university studying meteorology, but taking lots of math. Here she is teaching the form 2’s
Maria is one of the many students sponsored by Mary Fry through her foundation, Bloom Where Planted. She and her husband own Rose Tree Cottage, a wonderful and authentic British tea room in Pasadena. If you ever have plans to visit Pasadena, be sure to call well in advance for reservations. It is the treat of a lifetime and the beneficiaries are over 100 Kenyan students who have attended high school and many in university thanks to her generosity and that of her friend, Nora. They both come to Naivasha each year, but alas, this year they will come in September, so after I leave.
Tomorrow I’ll get a picture of Margaret and her form 3’s