Last year we made a special appeal for Emma a girl in our school who needed surgery to correct bowlegs. We are happy to report that Emma was successful treated at Kijabe Mission Hospital and after five months of convalescing she is now fully recovered and reported back in school.
Seeing Emma walking to school was a special moment for all of us at Hands of Love. The smile on her face, and the confidence in her gait testament to what can be achieved when we work together.
It’s now back to school after a long school break!
Yesterday, the first day of school this year, 71 children showed up, and today 114 were present. We hope that the long break allowed our children the much-required rest and that they are now fully psyched up for what we have in store for them this term.
Last year ended with our grade two students leaving Hands of Love. As the school community, we enjoyed every moment shared with them. We can only hope that the next step will bring more joy into their lives and open greater doors for them. We follow up on our children even after they leave Hands of Love and we will make a point of updating on their progress. We wish them success in all their endeavors going forward.
It is always a joy for us as teachers to
watch kids grow and learn new things. Through loving and caring for our children
we hope that they will grow up to be well-mannered, vibrant and healthy children
who are all-rounded.
Most of our children got time to visit
their grandparents over the holidays. For this first month, we plan on
featuring a few of their up-country tales, so make sure to check on our school
website for some good read!
This week was very hectic for institutions like Hands of Love that are registered as informal schools. A directive by the Ministry of Education to close down all schools that have not complied with safety guidelines meant that we were on the spotlight. This following a tragedy in which eight children died after their school building collapsed.
Hands of Love exceeds the minimum requirements form informal schools. but we face a safety concern emanating from the coffee factory on the ground floor of our building which poses a serious fire hazard. We got a visit by an inspection team led by the area chief which was impressed by the infrastructure we have in place and gave us more time to address the fire risk. There are many ways in which this visit could have gone wrong. But we are grateful to the chief for his intervention and for appreciating the work that we are doing in Kariobangi.
Teaching and learning activities continued apace. There were no major health incidents and the food program went on as planned. The highlights for the week was our school joining the scout movement and the launch of conservation club.
We registered as a member of the Kenya Scouts Association. This is an educational movement for young people with the purpose of engaging schools and youth groups in community service and teaching them social and leadership skills. The aim is to mold these young people into responsible citizens and members of the community.
We joined Sungura (Hare) Scout Group, which is for children aged between six and eleven. Twenty children (10 boys & 10 girls) started their scouts training. For scouts at this age, excitement and adventure are key. They will be introduced to exciting outdoor skills and take part in adventurous activities such as camping and inter-scouts competitions. They will lead in hoisting the flag and singing the national anthem during school assembly.
These boys and girls need your help in acquiring the scouts uniforms. The cost of one set of uniform is Ksh2,700 (US$27). We need twenty sets which will cost a total of Ksh54,000 (US$540).
Teacher Lilian led in launching the conservation which by the end of this week boasted 43 members. The club is allied with Wild Clubs of Kenya and is aimed at engendering environment conservation and awareness from an early age.
Among the things that the club want to do is start a tree nursery and plant trees around Kariobangi and visit national parks to learn more about nature and conservation
All children have now reported back and settled down for the third and final term of this school year (2019). So the week was busy and exciting.
Teaching & learning
Teaching and learning went on well in all classes. Pre- Primary 1 children (4 year olds) were learning parts of their bodies and they traced and coloured their hands.
All classes engaged in gardening as part of their extra-curricular activity. This enhances their awareness of the environment, creates a nice break from their normal class routine as well as encourages the students to be active in taking care of the environment.
This term we have revived our school garden. Water supply has been a big problem since mid 2018 and therefore the garden suffered. This problem has now been resolved with the purchase of 2000 litres water tank thanks to Direttamente. This term we are very ambitious with the garden and are planning to grow enough vegetables to complement our food program. Some of the vegetables that grade 1 and grade 2 children planted this week are onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans and snow peas and red pepper.
Health and Welfare
There were no major health incidents this week. The children that were sick last term are now well.
Emma Nyambura is continuing to recover well. She is now able to stand on her own.
The children were happy with food this week we introduced a new meal on thursday – peas, potatoes and carrot soup served with rice and the children loved it.
We were delighted to see so many faces returning to Hands of Love on Monday after a one month school break. Turn out was a bit low on Monday and Tuesday but by Wednesday almost children had reported back.
Health & Welfare
A few children were reported sick. Leon, Jewel, and Samuel in playgroup, pre-primary and grade 1 respectively were coming down with pneumonia. They were taken to hospital and are feeling better now.
Joseph Lola joined HoL on Monday. His mother fell sick in August and was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital’s high dependency unit. They live in Kayole (7 kilometres from Kariobangi). He is currently living with his aunt in Kariobangi and attending school at HoL temporarily as his mum continues to receive treatment.
Innocent Mugao rejoined HoL after being away for seven months. He left in January after his mother got a Job in Kirinyaga (200 kilometres from Nairobi). They moved back to Kariobangi in August.
We were a bit stretched this week with three teachers calling in sick but we were able to manage with the help of volunteers Linda and Geraldine.
The start of this term was delayed for a week to allow conclusion of the national census, an exercise that is conducted every ten years.
Our music club has put Hands of Love on the map, winning first prize at district-wide (Kasarani) competition and then at the regional-wide (Nairobi) competition. So, we will be participating at the Kenya National Music Festival which will be held at Kabarak University, Nakuru, August 5 – 9.
But the competition has been about more than just winning prizes. It has played an important role in uncovering and nurturing the talents of our children and giving them a platform for expressing their creative and artistic abilities. For the children this has had a transformative – almost life-changing – effect
For example, Lydia Wambui lost her mother to death in early 2018, she really hadn’t come to terms with that loss. She’s been moody and bitter at school. Very irritable and often involved in fights with other children in class and outside. Then she joined the music club and it is as if she is a different child now. It is hard to explain but the transformation is amazing. She jovial and happy and from being quiet and withdrawn she is now teaching songs to her classmates who are not in the music team. There is a Swahili saying that “muziki ni sabuni ya roho” (music cleanses the soul). This has certainly been true for Lydia.
The two wins have been a morale booster not only for the children but also for the teachers. There is a believe now that we can achieve anything if we put our minds on it. Teacher Lucy’s comment exemplifies the mood – “I lack words to express how happy I am as a HoL teacher, this is probably the proudest moment for me since I started working for HoL.” The most profound lesson for me as the director is the in which preparing our children for the competition has meant working with them and their families in ways that we as teachers, may never have thought about.
We are now preparing for participation at the national competition. The children are continuing with their training. And we are planning for travel, accommodation and food for forty children and teachers for two days. Through our connection with AFS alumni, we have managed to get a school in Nakuru that will host us for Ksh300 ($2) a day per person (including food). But we must bring our own beddings. Most of the children do not have a spare blanket at home, in fact many would be sharing bed with their parents or siblings and therefore asking them to bring beddings is out of question. We therefore need to get at least 20 sets of beddings at a cost of Ksh900 ($9) each. Travel will cost about Ksh60,000 ($600). The total cost is Ksh102,000 ($1,020). I am worried about these costs. We do not have a budget for participating at the national level. If we cannot raise the funds, then our children will not participate at the competition which would be a big blow to them.
Meet Emma Nyambura – a four-year-old girl
who has a history of rickets that has caused severe bowing leaving her with
chronic pain in the spine, pelvis and legs that makes it difficult for her to
learn. Emma has never received proper treatment for her condition. Her parents
thought that the problem will resolve on its own as she grew. It is only
recently that her condition has been properly diagnosed and she has started
taking medication. In addition to the treatment she is receiving, doctors say
that she will need a surgery to restore proper bone structure and correct
bowlegs. This will cost ksh180,000. Her family is unable to raise these funds
and we therefore making an appeal to friends and supporters to helps us get
this beautiful girl the surgery she needs.
Emma lives with her dad, mum, and
two-year-old sister a short distance from the school. Her dad sells second-hand
shoes and her mum is currently unemployed.
Despite her illness Emma performs
exceptionally well in academics. However due to her condition she is unable to
interact normally with other children and at times looks withdrawn. Over the
last five months she has been with us she has formed a very close bond with her
class teacher Linda Opiche who helps her navigate her school day and comforts
her when she is in pain.