I am stunned at the response to my letter about Jecinta, the girl at Cardinal Otunga training center who hopes to become a doctor. Enough people wrote the first day to cover fees and expenes for 2 years and the next day someone wrote who will pick up the rest! She is set for 4 years at SFG. Here is Sr Christine’s response to my email telling her how wonderful you all are:
Miracles do happen!!
That is great, Margo, you are a hard worker. I hardly believe it, so fast. Jecinta is already working on her English seriously. She asked me for good English books for reading and I have given her. We hope for the best. I am sure she will make it.
Thank you Margo and God bless you.
I am trying to get sponsors for the other 3 girls. I am sure God will continue working miracles for He loves these girls and always provides for them, we are just His instruments.
But it never stops. Today after our classes, Jecinta (principal) invited Anita and me to her house, one of 4 existing teacher houses in the school compound. It’s small, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths (tiny), kitchen and living room. She lives with her small daughter and housegirl, also Jecinta. Jecinta (P) told us that Jecinta (hg) has not finished 8th grade b/c she had no money for a uniform. Her mother refused to buy it and put her out for work. Jecinta (P) says it would take about ksh 3000 (~$40) to cover her needs. She says she could be liable for prosecution for employing a girl who has not finished primary school—the girl’s mother said she had finished. This is the law, although it is not well enforced in the rural areas. Anita and I have offered to pay the amount. Jecinta (hg) will continue to live with Jecinta (P) when she goes to an elementary school just down the road from SFG at the beginning of the new year in January. Jecinta (P) needs her only to watch her small child when she (P) is in the classroom in the evening. Her child goes to school during the day. I told Jecinta (hg) if she passed the KCPE with an appropriately high mark to qualify for SFG I would guarantee admittance and fees paid. She was very happy. Jecinta’s (P) sister is a primary teacher and will provide books to begin studying now. Of course she will get tutoring at home from the best. She told us her favorite classes are math and CRE (Christian Religious Education, a requirement in all school, public or private).
Anita, Christina and Riley have hit the ground running and are now quite comfortable riding the matatus independently of me. They have fit in comfortbly at school, where they’ve been warmly welcomed by students and teachers alike. It makes it a lot easier for me, as I can continue doing what I do without being concerned about whether they are having a good visit. They take care of themselves.
I have been teaching math classes at usual, as well as mentoring teachers and chatting with girls. In addition, I’ve contracted with metal workers to make a cube, cuboid (like a box), and a cone and have bought a sphere in Nairobi from a school supply store. It is typical of the African culture that they never asked Fr Kiriti for math models, although all are delighted to have them and declare that the solid geometry will be much easier for the students to understand. Jecinta reports she has found the girls using them a lot. The mentality, even among the educated, like the teachers, is simply to accept what is, without thinking beyond.
Ben did that shopping for the sphere and 2 cones, one for SFG and one for Ndingi. The sphere he bought was OK, although a bit small, but the cones were ridiculous—only about 6“ high. The stores here have no return policy, but I think I can go there and trade them in for something else from their stocks. In the meantime, I contracted to have 2 cones made by the better of the 2 metal workers. I had to pay ksh 1000 each for the ones Ben purchased in Nairobi, but the metal worker made them much larger and sturdier for ksh 500 each—three times as good for ½ the price. Such a deal!
The form 4’s began their mock KCSE exams today. They are a practice test for the KCSE, with the results having no bearing on their grades. Yet the mocks are feared by students. In 2007 when post-election violence delayed school openings throughout the country, many schools had riots b/c the students didn’t want to sit for their mocks. Part of is was fear and part a response to the violence that shook the whole society. You may recall that people were burned alive in a church in Eldoret, not too far from here and in a house here in Naivasha. The country has still not recovered completely from the trauma.
However, our girls are gamely sitting for their mocks—did English today. They will get the results back from having been marked by the education ministry, independently from our teachers. The exams take several weeks, after which the girls stay in school for 2 weeks of “tuitioning”, so called b/c the parents have to pay extra tuition, as the teachers must be paid and food purchased. This year both forms 3 and 4 will have tuitioning, as will those form 2’s who have not performed up to standard this term. The form 1, 2 and 3 girls will begin end-of-term exams next week. These are exams set by and graded by our teachers to provide the only real assessment they get. Each term the students are ranked solely on the results of these exams. It’s a traumatic time for them, as some parents react severely if their child is below the middle rank. Imagine being the very lowest rank! The results are published for all so see. They might be listed by student number, but many girls know who has what number, so it’s not anonymous.
July 31 marks the end of the term. Form 1’s and those form 2’s who have performed well go home for holiday the whole month of August. The others go home for 2 ½ weeks after the tuitioning.