#11 2014 Back to School and a Visitor
Monday, June 30, 2014
Today I finally got back to SFG. I had promised to talk to the Form 4’s, both sections, about the American political system, our form of government and how our elections work. Being somewhat cynical right now, in light of efforts to buy our whole country, I talked about how the corruption in my country isn’t too different from that in Kenya. Then I read my email about the latest Supreme Court decision and am even more depressed. ARGHHHH!
However, it was fun to talk to the girls. I have been reading Maya Angelou’s 1962 book, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes about her time in Ghana. I have read many of her books, but had somehow missed that one. Reading it now is ever so much more meaningful than it would have been 50-some years ago. It lead to s discussion of racism in the US, how it has changed since 1962 and how it has not.
I had also been invited to speak for one of the form 2 sections about Native Americans. I talked about how the natives of Africa had fared much better than the natives of North America, who were essentially wiped out. At least the natives of Africa survived and are now running their own countries. As I thought about it, I realize there are many similarities between their rituals, their dances, songs, oral histories, religious beliefs. I’m sure a musician would hear very different rhythms between African drumming and native American drumming, but I don’t hear those differences, I hear similarities. I talked about Angelou’s book there too, about the poignancy as she discussed her sense of having no place where she belonged in America, finally returning to the motherland, only to find she was not accepted as a true African. It’s a wonderful book, which I highly recommend, even if you’ve read it before.
Had a long talk with Ruth Kahiga, who showed me the proposal she will send to Safaricom for funding of a biogas conversion system. You may recall that last summer she and I visited St. Luke’s hospital which has such a system (see #11-2013 blog). She and I both thought is was a fabulous idea of using vegetable and animal (including human) waste to extract gas for cooking and converting the remainder to fertilizer clean enough to be used on food crops. She did an excellent job of delineating the pros. To my surprise, the budget for the whole project is only $5,000. If SC turns it down (I don’t think they will), Kenya Help will be working to fund it. It will pay for itself very quickly, as wood is more and more scarce and more and more expensive. Of course the environmental impact is great and it may encourage other schools to follow suit.
She told me that a group of environmentalists from Jomo Kenyatta university recently requested that SFG be a case study—we are the only school in Kenya with solar/wind power electrical generation! They will monitor to see whether we can be more efficient, or whether there are other supports they can provide. It’s a real feather in our cap!
Ruth has also been promoting the school locally. SFG hosted the annual meeting of all owners of local private schools in the area. Many had not been aware of us, but are now very impressed. It also hosted the local science faire with both teachers and students who were amazed at our science labs. Another event held at SFG during the December break was the local ceremony of manhood initiation. In times past, 15-17 year old boys were circumcised w/o anesthetic to prove their bravery. If you are wincing right now, it is with good reason. Fr. Kiriti has discussed his own experience in Social Studies classes at Menlo Atherton. The boys in particular did the same. However, more modern methods have prevailed and I understand this is now done in hospital with anesthetic and under sterile procedures—this is locally. In rural areas, both boys and girls are cut in the traditional way. Some do not survive infections. The part that took place at SFG is all the rest of the manhood training, regarding responsibilities and expectations for a man.
All this was very encouraging to me. It’s hard to get a new school on the map, but Ruth is doing a great job!
At the end of the day, 3 new members of the student senate took their oaths of office. This was a special election, to replace 3 senators who were impeached due to lack of vigilance. I took many pictures, but somehow they got erased from my camera. RATS! It was impressive, with each girl reading the oath, then receiving a special tie, indicating her office.
Finally at 5 I got away to meet Kennedy Odure, finishing his 2nd year of med school. I met him 8 years ago when he was just beginning high school and came to my very first summer tutoring program. He used to call for me at the rectory door (before I moved to the children’s home) and together we would walk the 35 minutes up to Archbishop Ndingi where I did the teaching. This was long before SFG was more than a dream. Even at 14 he was an impressive young man, serious, idealistic interested in everything. We talked philosophy, politics, religion and of course math as we walked along.
In the clashes of 2008 his Luo family was wiped out in this Kikuyu area. They only escaped possible death because they were upcountry attending a family funeral. Their house here was looted and burned. They had nothing but 6 kids and broken hearts. Kennedy persevered, going to school in the Luo area where they settled. One term he had malaria during his exams, so of course did not do well, but even at that, he performed well on the KCSE and was admitted to med school. Kenya Help supports him. Below is his picture and what I wrote to one of his sponsors.
We sat in my little kitchen as he told me of his experiences “on attachment”. He was in a very remote place in Eastern Province, a small village of Ebo tribesmen. Fortunately the Ebo language has the same base as Kikuyu, which he speaks well, in addition to English, Kiswahili and his mother tongue, Luo. His face glowed as he told me about delivering 2 babies, a boy and a girl at different times, but I almost came unglued as he told me about a 2-week old pre-term, baby girl who was brought to the clinic by the parents, listless and feverish. She was in bad shape and he feared they would lose her. They struggled for more than an hour, trying to get an IV line going, but she was so dehydrated, her veins collapsed. Finally they got a vein in her head (a common spot for babies), they got her rehydrated and were able to give her antibiotics. She survived and he will never forget that elation he felt. He said when he delivered the babies he decided to specialize in OB, but when he saved that baby’s life he wanted to be a pediatrician. He is a natural, someone born to be a physician. I’m so proud of him and so grateful to you both for helping to educate him.
I got more information about what is coming up. He’s finishing his 2nd year, beginning 3rd year in Sept. In 2 more years he can be a physician, but if he wants to specialize he needs about 3 years after that. His plan is to stop after the 4 years so he can work. He has younger siblings (6 children in the family, but 1 has died). His parents have taken in 6 more children belonging to relatives who have either died or are so ill they can’t care for the children. Kennedy wants to work to put those younger children through at least high school, then go back to school himself to do the additional years for specialization. I could have cried as he talked about the 2 very small girls added to his extended siblings. He cares about them so much and he wants to ensure their futures. He’s a very idealistic kid, strong, caring, very open-minded and committed
Kennedy left, Judy came home from her adventure and we had dinner. Then in came Margaret, in Form 2 at Naivasha Girls, a very prestigious government high school, where very bright girls attend—girls who scored much higher than our SFG girls on the KCSE. She brought her latest math exam on which she had scored 55%. Disappointed we sat down to see what she had failed to understand. As I looked it over, I was astonished at what she was able to do as a form 2. This was one tough test! We worked out several of the hardest questions, which she missed b/c she didn’t have time (2 ½ hours) to complete them. I ended up praising her for how well she had done, despite the grade. She’s one smart cookie!
Finally I could retire to my bed, read my email and respond, delete all the political bad news, and write this post.
I would have had more pix, but as I said, they disappeared from the card in my camera.