# 5 Visitors and Kids

Almost every day someone comes to greet me and/or another Mji kid comes back to do some “tuitioning.”   Today it was Evelyn, a form 4 girl whose performance has been lackluster at best.  Two of her siblings grew up here, Cynthia, who is now in university studying engineering and younger brother, Tylon, who will come tomorrow.  Evelyn and I had a real heart-to-heart about her future, which right now doesn’t look too bright.  The sad thing is that she is bright, but somewhere along the line a teacher told her she wasn’t a good student and she really took that on.  Her grades, which had been quite good, dropped and she lost all interest in school.

“Evelyn, what do you want to be when you grow up?” “I don’t know.”  “What classes do you like?”  “Biology.”  “Hmmm can you think of something in the area of biology you might like?”   Shy smile and giggle.  “Evelyn, when November comes and you’ve taken your last exam, you’ll be leaving St. Francis.  Where will you go?  You can’t come back here, b/c Fr. Ngaruiya has closed this home.  What will you do?”  “I don’t know.”  Oh, God, this tiny, shy sweet girl goes out the gate of school with all her worldly belongings and has no place to go!  I was close to tears, but had to hold it together.  Evelyn absolutely has to develop a plan.  “The deal is, Evelyn that your only chance right now is to quality for university or some training institute.  If you have no idea what you want to train for, we can’t send you on for further education.  This is it, Evelyn, you’ve got to get it together and perform really well on the KCSE or else you’ll have nowhere.”  She looks very solemn and nods.

Evelyn didn’t want her photo taken, but here is one from about 10 years ago.  (L) older brother, Tylon, Joseph (since adopted) Tabitha, Evelyn

“When I first came here and you were that quiet little girl, Fr. Kiriti told me you were a very strong student, but something happened to that.  Is that right?  (nod)  What happened?”  “I don’t know.”  “But you do remember that your grades used to be very good.”  (nod)  “What has happened to you in math?”  I’ve noticed she spaces out in math class.  “I just don’t understand  “OH, tell me some topics that are really hard for you.”  She goes through the form 4 book and lists 6 topics.  “OK, which do you want to begin with?”  “Differentiation.”  They all know how to differentiate, but mostly have no clue what it means.  I’ve taken to writing notes and definitions on the papers we generate in hopes they’ll look at them, but also when I ask, “What will we find out by differentiating?”  Nada Depending on the question I tell them it’s the velocity of a moving object or it’s the slope of the line tangent to the curve at any point and what does it mean when that slope in zero.  Then we tackle some questions.  Over and over we come back to What does the derivative tell you?  How can we use it to answer this question?  Finally she begins to put it all together.

I wrote about Lucy last time.  ETW has decided to continue to support her through her last bit of salon training.  That means baby care for the 2-year old, nursery school for the 4 your old (who is quite out-going and already loves me!), and food/lodging.  Because she stopped going to class she must repeat 3 months, so it’s a big deal.  But we know this is her only chance.

Here she is with her 2 boys.  Older one is Edward, ARGH! Can’t remember younger one.

June 23

Alison Staab, Kenya Help board member, arrived today.  Hillary drove us to the airport, where we had a fairly long wait, but that’s better than last year, her first visit as a KH’er.  We were late and when she came out of customs, we weren’t there.  She handled it like a trooper, but I felt bad.  I know how it is to arrive and find a big smile greeting me.  After that long trip, it provides the big “Ah!” and the tension begins to fall away.  Alison is another retired math teacher.  The 2 of us put in long hours working with the form 4’s at SFG last summer.  Unfortunately, the math results for the KCSE were pretty dismal.  It was a class which had had many different teachers and the inconsistency showed.  I’m told this year’s form 4’s are much stronger.

Already our dance card is full.  Tomorrow we go for parent visiting day at Joseph’s school.  Yes, he is Joseph, the notorious peanut butter thief.  He’s now in 6th grade and I’m told he’s a reformed character.

Later a friend will visit.  Sunday, more visitors, then a party for all the kids who have been here all week, studying their little hearts out.  We’ll have chicken, chipattis and greens, with ice cream and biscuits (cookies) for dessert.  Monday, Fr. Kiriti is coming and later Alison and I will go to St. Francis—the first time this year for both of us.  Tuesday is David Mungai’s graduation, which we will not attend.  “Margo, you won’t even get there.  The graduation will go on and you’ll be sitting in a huge traffic jam.”  (quote Fr. Kiriti).  Evidently it’s 101 on Friday evening with a Giants game—that’s the regular situation.  On graduation day it will be worse.  Although what could be worse than going nowhere?  Backwards?  We’ve agreed we will meet in a restaurant somewhere in Nairobi for a nice meal, where we’ll actually be able to talk to him.  At the graduation mob scene, even if we got there, it would take the Hubble telescope to see him.  This plan will be much better.  Friday will be Thanksgiving mass for him.  This is traditional when a student completes his/her university course.  Another big party afterwards.  Yikes, I’m exhausted just writing about it all.

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