TEACHING-EMPOWERING-MENTORING-BUILDING OPPORTUNITY Mission: to partner with individuals and communities in Western Kenya to support entrepreneurial activities, education and health through training programmes, scholarships, water and sanitation projects

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ebwali Primary

Sixty five children exploded in excitement when we arrived on Friday morning. They were so well prepared by dedicated teachers that we had a fast-paced, exciting contest.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More wonderful children

Emutsuru Primary for Read for the Top yesterday. In a town where it was market day and we couldn't drive through the lane leading to the school because vendors were everywhere selling charcoal, chips, used tools, fruit and veg out of wheelbarrows, clothing ... and on and on. We took the long way round!
As in other schools the teachers had done a wonderful job and the children were a delight. So well prepared and so competitive. In our last school they sang "If you're happy and you know it, wave your bag!" Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera that day but the head teacher took a lot of video.In this school the children were just as overcome by the school bags reading 'Read for the Top.'

Hope you can take another few pictures of the competition.


never a dull moment

Combined with reports of a wild dog attack in Kakamega county, a man who beheaded his wife after an argument, news of the election in Tanzania and various editorials, here are some headlines from today’s newspaper.

Fake marathoner in Nairobi ( joined the race 5 km from the end)

MAC (member county assembly) on the spot over 3M Sh raised for India (health) treatment (donors say she used the money to buy cars and take a long holiday)

Revealed: how National Youth Service money is stolen (791 M Sh - nearly $8 million US)

Jubilee’s (government ruling party) spending... is.. mind-boggling (country is in a major cash crunch)

Police accused of role in exam leaks

Cabinet Secretary’s trial to go on (accused of involvement in road construction leading to massive embezzlement of funds through a phantom contractor)

Why top (police) officers were sent home (alleged negligence and colluding to frustrate cases)

Sunday school teacher held over abuse of boys.

Counties strike deal to end cattle rustling

Court told report on guns...was altered

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Two more Read for the Top schools

Two more schools this past week, one with a population of 700+ situated in a populated area on a tarmac road. The second way out in the bush on dirt roads and with a population of 400+. Our rule of thumb criterion on relative prosperity is to see if the children have shoes (even flipflops) In the first school very few were barefoot whereas in the second most had nothing on their feet. Both schools have a feeding program at lunch which makes a huge difference to the children. The first school has parents who will pay. The second had a well wisher who gave them seed and fertilizer on condition that all the produce goes to the children. (Most schools have enough land to cultivate some kind of vegetable, but in some the teachers harvest for themselves.) The very caring head teacher was proud of the fact that his children are healthy and happy. In a rural area there is little danger of starvation, although some might go hungry at times and not get a good all round diet. There is always a banana, a papaya, a mango, an avocado.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The missing picture

I accidentally deleted this group picture of Kayila winning teams from my camera card, but after much frustration I was able to recover it. So here are the three winning teams with their big smiles, books and school bags.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kayila Primary

Kayila is  off the main road in the bush (although not as far as Ebumbayi where we go later next week.)

Everyone was ready for us and as soon as the first trepidation and shyness wore off, we progressed well.  Look at the serious expressions while listening to the questions  The three teams received inscribed books but all the participants had a school bag saying Read for the Top. Thanks to Better World Books for making this possible.

We have now visited all the upcoming schools and there is only one with an unsolvable problem stopping their participation on the scheduled date. We have managed to work around stolen books, teachers assigned to invigilate secondary exams and changes in staff. The teachers and administrators have been wonderfully cooperative and resourceful.

Friday, October 9, 2015

More Read for the Top

Our second school and first primary had 135 children in two classes at grade 6. We spent two days and had a wonderful time with them. One of the most delightful things is to see how the teachers take in what their children are capable of when challenged. Often they want to baby them through the rules and make exceptions for them. These kids shine when put to the test. Again, it is heartbreaking to see the waste of potential and brain power since probably 50% of these children will not go on to secondary school.
We gave all participants a locally made school bag and the three winning teams also received books. This again is part of the LEAP grant from Better World Books. In all we played 24 games with 20 teams.
The children put on two skits for us, drawn from the story books they had read. The picture shows the lioness that invaded the community in "A Scare in the Village'.

We shall meet three schools next week with a total of about 220 children.


with their school bags

A Scare in the Village

Winning teams

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

First Read for the Top

Monday saw the first session of Read for the Top, now that schools are back. We were at Shichinji secondary. The students here have done Read for the Top in Form 2 and are well versed in how it proceeds. However, the four week hiatus out of school during the strike seemed to have taken its toll on some who struggled with the questions on the set books. We were happy to see  a lot of good team work now. We decided to postpone this year's session for Form 2 until early in the new year since the exam schedule will make it difficult for us to be in schools.

Teachers and students concentrate hard

and listen intently to the questions

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Schools re open

The strike has been called off! The teachers who did not report to work were not paid for Sept. The govt did not remit the deductions taken from the last 2 months salaries for loan payments. The banks froze everything in sight. So teachers were hurting (they are usually paid even if on strike!!) Then a move was on to recruit 70,000 'relief teachers' on a 3 month contract (that would have covered invigilation of exams and of course some teaching). Is that scab labour to break a strike??  It seems 10,000 have been hired, but their status is now uncertain. I am glad the teachers have taken the high ground and obeyed the court order, leaving the wrangling to a committee & conciliator to be set up. But I also hope the govt will act honourably. We shall see if schools open peacefully in January. But this means we start Read for the Top. Form 4 on Monday and a large elementary school on Wed, Thurs, Fri.