Monday, Again

Bah. It is Monday again. Why? Why did we create a first day of the week? Life is just so much better without a start to the week. I suppose you can tell I did not want to get up this morning to drive the girls to school. All my lobbying to have school start later has fallen on deaf ears.

I am glad that the girls are in school. In fact it is a big help in their lives to be able to attend school. Currently the public school teachers here in Kenya are on strike, but our girls go to private school. Their teachers are not on strike. Good for the learning, but I am sure the girls would have appreciated the time off. Until they realized that all those days have to be made up that is. 

Four of them will be taking an exam this year that has a big impact on the next phase of their schooling. If they can score well enough then it is off to secondary school for them, if not then we look at vocational school options. Either way their lives will be changing dramatically after this year. A chance to spread their wings and do a little flying on their own.

I suppose I should get back to my regularly scheduled Monday morning. Sigh. Maybe I can slip back into the bed?

It's the Little Things

It does not take much to make a child happy, or at least our children. This past Christmas we were given cash as a gift for the orphan-no more girls. The intent being that we buy them track suits to use on p.e. day at school. (Yes, they only do p.e. once a week at the girl's school. ) We bought the track suits, and today was the first day everyone was able to wear them to school.

The girls were excited and happy. So ramped up that there were not any complaints when we were a few minutes late due to Andrew and I having to push start the van. Thankfully I parked on a slight incline.

The little things make a big difference. Put out of your mind the thought that you cannot due anything just because what is in your hands is small.


A couple of days ago I paid the girl's school fees. I wanted to take a moment and say asante, which means thank you in Swahili, to those of you who have given toward our work. Keeping the girls in school is one big way we are providing a hopeful future for them.

Why do we pay for school, when the government provides free education? Mostly because the free education is not a reality. The teachers who run those government schools create fees all the time, or request money for things like desks, books, and anything else they can think of. Most of our girls had missed a lot of school before coming to live with us. We took them to the nearest public school, but they did not score high enough on the placement exam to secure a spot.

Right now the school fees are 6,500 KES per term, per child, of which there are 9 children, three terms a year. That is approximately $80 U.S. dollars per child, so $713 per term (depending on the exchange rate). Not bad at all. Though that does not include books, uniforms, exams, remedial classes on Saturday, and other small things that creep up on us.

Once again thank you to those who gave, you have ensured that these children remain in school.



High School Gave Me Compassion

I graduated from Port Neches-Groves High School back in 1992. Not so long ago but not last week either. I did not particularly enjoy Highschool. Not that I have anything against the school I attended, it seemed to be o.k. Though it is the only high school I ever attended, so who knows? It could have been terrible and I just had nothing to compare it with. My wife who attended Nederland High School, a rival school, might claim her's was better. To me a school is a school. If you can learn there, then it is a good school.

I say all that to make the point that school has been over for me long enough for me to forget what it was like to sit in a class. I still learn, all the time. It's just that now my learning lacks structure and any kind of grading system.

This morning as I was driving the girls to school these thoughts were swirling around somewhere in my cranium. Not sure why, but perhaps it was a means of reminding me to have compassion on the children. They are still sitting in class. The Kenyan girls go to a local private school, from 7 am to 4 pm. A school without a single computer, no library, and English teachers who do not seem to have ever learned English. My school had all of those plus a planetarium! Compassion, that's what my high school experience gives me for these girls as they sit through hours of memorisation exercises which are all written out by hand.


A while back I wrote about a problem with the school our African girls attend. One of the teachers had slapped a child.

I went to the school and confronted the teacher, well actually the teachers. All the teachers came to our meeting. Maybe they wanted to protect him, or just see what the white man was going to do. I did not flip out and other than general threatening with my cane in his direction, it went peaceably.

He surprised me. The offending teacher told me the exact same story the child gave us. I had expected him to lie or at least to try and paint our kid as the villain. He did not. I was impressed, at least enough to not use my cane for more than a walking aid.

I demanded an apology, and got it. He apologized and the school did so as well. I also extracted a promise from him to not strike one of my children again. Not easy to judge the sincerity of that promise. Canning or corporal punishment by teachers is ingrained in the Kenyan mindset. Being rude, disrespecting the children, and otherwise treating them as sub human has been part of the school system for so long, that it may take a generation or two to root it out.

Today sees all as well as can be in the school, and we are thankful that they are able to attend school regularly.


Around, Around, Around We Go

Once again we have a problem with a school we use here in Nakuru, Kenya. Short backstory: we used an African Inland Church school for half our girls when we first started living with them. We had to take our girls out after a teacher became abusive and the school refused to do anything about it. We ended up enrolling our girls in a Prebseterian Church of East Africa school where things were progressing just fine till this year.

In the beginning of the year I attended a parent meeting at the school where the teachers attempted to convince us that the children needed to attend school on Saturday. To make a long meeting short; it all boiled down to the teachers wanting some extra cash. They charge an additional fee that is paid directly to them instead of through the school. I was the only parent to object, which was appaling. The teachers threatened to continue teaching the sylabus on the weekend, therefore if our children didn't go they would get behind. So they had no choice but to attend. 

Went smoothly till the children reported to us that many times the teachers didn't even come on Saturday, or at the very least came late and essentially only stayed long enough to collect the cash. The girls decided it was not worth giving up half their weekend to sit around for half a day at school. 

Not a problem till last week, when only one child turned up for Saturday school. Turns out that more students and parents realized that it was a waste of time and money. Naturally this upset the teachers, as their bottom line was being negatively impacted. 

The teachers decided to call parents to the school for a meeting about Saturday school, but only told parents about this meeting the evening before. Our children came home and said if we did not come to the meeting the next day they would be kicked out of school. Naturally we refused. Instead we called the headmaster and explained that it was too short of a notice for us to come to the school for a meeting. We also explained our feelings about Saturday school, again. 

Next day at school one of the male teachers slapped our oldest child in anger. He also threatened to refuse to teach them and to convince the other teachers to do the same, because they were not attending school on Saturday. When our girls wanted to leave school for home after this assualt they were refused permission. No one called us or informed us of this incident.

After the girls came home and told us about it I called the headmaster. Of course he acted surprised to hear about it, and agreed to meet with me the next day, today. So sometime today I'll go and talk with him and the teacher. Hopefully they will agree to my demands, which will be a written apology from the teacher to our child which will include a promise to never touch one of our kids again. If he refuses then I will have to go to the authorities and make an official report, and start looking for another school, again.

Teachers, when will they ever learn that when I say do not touch my children, I mean it.