trustees visit 2017
Two of our Trustees had the pleasure of visiting the school in February 2017 and we are pleased to be able to provide an update of their trip.
Firstly it was a joy to again meet so many of the pupils and staff who have been at the school for several years . We have a loyal and committed team at the school consisting of five teachers, a cook, House Mother and a security guard . We also took the opportunity to appoint an ex pupil on a part time basis to take responsibility for managing the maintenance and infrastructure of the school . The pupils, of which there are now 98, are spread across 11 classes ranging from 3 or 4 years old until their final year at aged 14 or 15 . Their joy at attending school and determination to study hard despite the many challenges they face every day is wonderful to witness and truly inspiring . The final year pupils attend school from 6.30am until 6pm and in the final term as examinations are pending they also attend school on Saturdays . Other pupils arrive by 7.45am and don’t leave until after 4pm, often with a lengthy, hot and dusty walk to and from school , the older children seemingly taking responsibility for the younger pupils. Whilst we do not require school uniforms to be worn it is lovely to see so many of the pupils attending school in uniform, or bits of uniform , even if many of them have clearly been passed down several times .
The food program which has been kindly sponsored by one individual for several years remains an important part of the school day. Everyday our cook starts about 6am preparing meals of rice or maize beans. At lunchtime all the pupils queue to be provided a substantial plate of the meal and no food is ever wasted , any leftovers are happily consumed by willing children. After lunch pupils share responsibility for cleaning the pots, plates and utensils , boys are responsible for the huge cooking pots and girls for the plates. For many children this is their one substantial meal they received each day with many having bread and tea for breakfast or simply nothing . During our stay we purchased beef one day as a treat for the pupils and staff, this was mixed with the beans and some vegetables to make a delicious stew which was consumed with obvious delight . The charity has since committed that we will continue to fund once a month the purchase of some meat to go with their meal .
One of the tasks of the visit was to deliver a suitcase full of books (written by Julia Donaldson) such as “Room on a Broom” and “The Gruffalo” . These books were kindly donated by one of our regular donors inspired by his daughter and her love of these stories. We also received a lovely inspiring note handwritten by Julia Donaldson which was read to all of the children . The books were used extensively for guided reading during our visit and will be a welcome addition to the text books the pupils usually get to read .
Following the very generous and successful fund raising of another of our regular donors last year we were able to utilise monies raised across a number of projects at the school. These included replacing a huge no. of text books across the whole school curriculum ensuring all pupils have access to the necessary books. Also extensive work was done to the infrastructure of the school , repairing and replacing electrics, desks and chairs , bedding and furniture in our orphanage and a major project to concrete around our outside toilets and kitchen areas.
Funds raised were also used to enable us to take the lower school on a school trip to a local Crocodile Farm and play area which was a lovely experience for both the pupils and the trustees. In addition we funded the purchase of various playground and sports equipment which was followed up by us arranging a school sports day at a local church field. This was so successful we have again committed to provide funds to hold these events on a more regular basis.
During our visit we had the pleasure of meeting several of our ex pupils who have been sponsored through High School . Two of these we were able to offer ongoing sponsorship into university , one is studying Nursing and the other Teaching . In addition we have been able to offer the opportunity to attend a Computer Studies course to three of the ex pupils in order to assist them with seeking employment. Further education beyond our school is actually never funded directly by the charity rather by the generosity of individual sponsors, the charity obviously assisting as much as possible to find sponsors for pupils when they leave our school.
Next a quick update on our orphanage , “The Munday House” . We found thirteen people living in the three bedroom house which was evidently not a sustainable option . Accordingly we had to take the difficult decision to request two of the older boys who have completed High School to leave the orphanage , despite it being their home for many years. The charity with help from the teachers have already successfully assisted them to find suitable rented accommodation and along with the educational support outlined above anticipate them to become self sufficient shortly . Our House Mother, Caroline , looks after the remaining children along with her own daughter on a day to day basis but is supported enormously by the older children .
Finally it is necessary to mention the unfortunate state of repair that we have found the school building in. Mombasa is currently going through a major drought and this appears to have resulted in substantial subsidence to the building which has effectively cracked into two . We will need to seek professional advise on whether the property can be underpinned and the extent of the repairs necessary . This was and is a major concern for us but not something that could be dealt with during this visit .
In summary its fair to say we returned from the visit both inspired and motivated by the enthusiasm of the staff and pupils and the evident difference the charity has made to the lives of so many individuals . We remain so grateful to the generosity of all of the supporters of the charity who continue to make this work possible.