Alison and I are busy! Yesterday (Saturday) we were enjoying a leisurely morning when I suddenly remembered the form 3’s had asked us to come to school at 10:30. We each had a small group, 4 for her and 3 for me, but it was so good. I found they actually know a lot, but sometimes they didn’t understand the question or there was one key word or idea they didn’t get. By the time we completed “revising” the exam my 3 felt they could do it perfectly. But more importantly, they were much more confident and were all saying they had come to really enjoy math. Aaaahhh! That’s music to a math teacher’s ears!!!
Home for a quick lunch and I was off to the Naivasha Sports Club, where my friend Minilyn Nicklin lives. She is a lovely person, about whom I’ve written before—briefly she has a sheltered workshop for HIV+ persons, teaching them beadwork, sewing and other crafts. She has 2 children of her own, in 7th and 8th grade plus she and her husband are fostering a 4-year old, Katie, and 9-month old Wade. In both cases, the mothers did not want the children. Minilyn and Peter have an open arrangement with the mothers, but they rarely visit their children. Sandy, the 8th grade girl was home-schooled and never learned the multiplication nor addition facts. She adds on her fingers and often makes mistakes. She doesn’t always know when to add, when to multiply or subtract. So I told Minilyn I would tutor Sandy.
We’ve had 3 or 4 sessions and I am definitely seeing progress. She sort of knows multiples up to 6 now. I made a grid for her with numbers 2-12 on top and 2-5 on the side, all mixed up. I exacted a promise that she would make a new one, at least once a day, doing a different mixup of the numbers. Mom and dad have agreed to check her work, but the best thing is on Friday she said she had had a test on which she got 30%, up from 20%, which, as I pointed out to her is a 50% improvement. Her teacher asked whether she had cheated. “No, I have a mzungu lady who is helping me.” “Oh, she must be a very good teacher.” But now that he’s greater motivation, he is helping her more as well. Also, she is feeling much more positive about math. She really loves working with me as I explain what the problem means and show her how to organize the information on complicated questions. “Oh, now I understand that perfectly!” And then she explains it to me. There is no guarantee that she will get the arithmetic correct, but she is getting some concepts very well and is very proud of herself. Unfortunately I’m always in a hurry to do as much as we can that I keep forgetting to get a picture, but I will eventually.
Today I went for 1 ½ hours, during which Minilyn invited me to share a wonderful Philippino meal of boiled pork which was then fried in spices and served with a great sauce, rice and veges, topped with dessert of chocolate chip ice cream. Yum!!!
Got home in time to meet with David Luther, whose story has always bothered me. He was a student at Archbishop Ndingi High beginning in 2006. Regina, who was teaching math there at the time told me about this very bright, motivated boy and Kenya Help was able to sponsor him. His mother supported him selling vegetables in the market, but she was unable to pay even the small portion of his fees that parents are expected to chip in. Consequently by his 4th year he was being sent home for money so often that he missed a lot of the review instruction for the KCSE. This was a huge issue between Fr. Kiriti and me, but in the end, David didn’t quite perform well enough to enter the university under the regular admission program, which is fairly reasonable. The alternative parallel program is very expensive. So David didn’t get to continue his education. He has worked at odd jobs for 6 years, barely making enough to support himself. His mother’s one-room is not suitable for him, since he is now 24, so now he has to rent a room.
He came to see me yesterday and as we talked I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Would he like to learn computer repair. “Oh yes, I would really like that!” He knows someone who might take him on as an apprentice. He’s a friend and wouldn’t charge too much. “OK, you find out how much your mother can contribute (she’s doing a bit better now), how much can you contribute, and I will pay the rest, if it isn’t too much.” Several hours later I got a text, telling me what his friend would charge (about $250 for 3 months training). With his contribution and his mother’s, my share was only $180, which he came to collect this afternoon. He begins tomorrow!!!! And I am feeling so much better about him. We talked about being able to earn money, which he could save until he could go back to school, eventually to study computer science. It may take him some years, but this little boost has lit a fire under him and he now sees that he has a chance in life. I am feeling really good about him. As you see from the picture, he is a happy camper.
Last night Alison and I provided a celebratory dinner with the kids who are here on midterm break. Since each school sets it’s own schedule, just 6 are here now, plus Monica, who is doing a nursing attachment at the district hospital right across the road, and of course Lucas and Joseph + 2 friends of Patrick’s, who happened to be here, Here are some pix.
Joseph, Beth and Alison enjoy ice cream and cookies
Simon does Tae Kwan do and is really quite buffed, so I gave him the job of serving up the hard ice cream—but of course, I’m always supervising stuff. (Give it up, Margo!) Lucas is the waiter of the day.
This is a tradition that Judy began some years ago. She used to bring chopsticks and make a Chinese dinner. This time we had chapattis, goat, and veges. At one point in the dinner, silly Simon announced, “Margo, I’d like to have a mzungu girl friend.” “I’ll be your girl friend, Simon.” What an uproar!!! We had a really fun time.