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Weekly Report – Sept 30 – Oct 5

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.

Images from playgroup class this week

Weekly Report – September 23 – 28

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.

Scout Movement

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).

Conservation Club

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

Weekly Report – September 16 – 21

The theme for this week was recycling and re-use. Teachers and children utilized recycled material and reused things in all their teaching and learning activities.

PP2 children were learning about modes of transport . They made toy cars and buses using carton boxes and bottle caps
Grade one children made different kinds of houses using waste paper and discarded cardboard boxes
Piggy banks from discarded cans
PP1 children made paper boats from waste paper

Weekly Report – September 9 – 14

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.

Weekly Report – September 2 – 7

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.

Other News 

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.

Beyond Expectations

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.

Would you please consider helping us by donating?

Special Appeal for Emma Nyambura

Emma Nyambura at School

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.

Please Help us Help Emma by Donating

Kisii

I traveled to Kisii to attend Justus Kishoiyan graduation ceremony at Kenyanya Teachers Training college on Friday May 24. It was a wonderful, colorful day. Lots of dancing, lots of fun.

Justus was one of the 296 teachers graduating from Kenyanya Teachers Training College. He also received an award for best actor.
Maasai warrior
…and the food was good

Week Four 2019 Report (January 20 – 26)

We had an amazing and productive week, learning and growing together. It was a week of many change and many firsts. Elizabeth, one of the two new teachers was on duty and she did an excellent job coordinating various activities and leading the assembly – during which she taught us new Kamba (one of the over 42 local languages) songs. The other new teacher Justus led our weekly staff meeting. It was the first time the meeting was led by a person other than the director. Justus did a wonderful job leading the meeting and shared with us his experiences as a teacher in Narok. His experiences led to an open discussion on the ways we can make Hands of Love a better schools and led us to be thankful for what we already have,

Some of the Highlights from the week are –

1. Terry and Neal’s Visit

On Tuesday January 22, Terry and Neal Visited the School. Neal is a strong supporter of Hands of Love through our Italian Friends Direttamente. Neal had the opportunity to see and learn how the school works and shared lunch with us. In the afternoon he was taken for a close to three tour of Kariobangi neighbourhood where he met and interacted with six HoL families as they went about their daily activities. The tour included a visit to a neighboring school and Kariobangi Trader’s Market.

Neal donated a computer to the school and a bag full of clothes for which we are very thankful.

2. New Students

Two new students admitted in october last year reported to school this week bringing the total student population to 169.

3. Health and Welfare

On wednesday 23 and Thursday 24, Eleven students presented with severe stomach ache and vomiting and were taken to hospital where they were treated for food poisoning. We suspect that the source of the infections was from our kitchen as we had taken delivery of vegetables on wednesday and the handling may not have been done well because we have new staff at the kitchen. Immediate action was taken to correct this mistake and I am happy to report that by Saturday all the affected children had recovered and there were no new cases.

It was noted in the staff meeting that many of the children did have good school shoes. Many wear flip flops and some had shoes that were worn out.

In a case of suspected domestic violence a grade 1 boy had a serious septic wound on their index finger and was taken to hospital. It was noted that a pre – primary 2 girl who sustained burns on her hand last year still needed treatment because the hand had not healed properly.

Lastly on health, we have a girl with severe case of rickets and her legs are in constant pain. We are looking into ways of making her stay in the school comfortable and safe.

Monicah Saida, the girl with cerebral palsy reported back to school after a two weeks absence. It is a continuous struggle for us to convince her parents that she need to be in school.  

4. Teaching and Learning  

Attendance in the the week was good averaging 164 students per day. Teachers reporting time in the morning has significantly improved since new incentives were put in place in the first week.

Pauline, grade one teacher attended a workshop on teaching mathematics in primary organised by St. Pauls University, Limuru.

A number of parents complained that the work their children are doing in school was not challenging enough. This comes from a lack of understanding by parents on what the new curriculum entails. We plan to hold parents meetings beginning next week so that we can discuss this issue with them.

We have started to benefit from the new skills teachers undergoing training in special education have acquired. During the week the teachers discussed with the director and formulated plans to help the four special needs students we currently have at HoL.

Precious Nyaguthii

Happy new year friends. To start off the year I want to share a story that show how big an impact your donations to Hands of Love make. Last year, 16 children who graduated from Hands of Love in 2012 sat for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations. These examinations determine transition into high school and are therefore hugely important in a child’s education and future career prospects.

Since the examinations results came out on November 18, 2018, I have been able to track down seven of the 16. What I have found out is very heartwarming and encouraging. Of the seven one had 403 points out of a possible 500 points, three had between 351 and 399, two had between 300 and 350, and one had 287 points.

Meet Precious Nyanguthii.

Precious left Hands of Love after completing 2nd grade and joined third grade at a nearby public primary school. She had been with us for five years at the time she left. She scored 403 points in last years exams, emerging top ten in Kasarani school district. This good. Very good indeed.

To put it into perspective the top student countrywide scored 453 points and out of 1,052,364 children who sat for the exams only 12,373 had 400 points and above. Slightly more than one percent. She will be joining Alliance Girls High School, a top tier national school and one of the best performing girls school in Kenya.

Precious’s mum attributes her success to – in her own words – “the good education foundation that my daughter received at Hand of Love.” She says that her daughter would probably have missed out on early childhood education because the family couldn’t afford it. She is very thankful for the contribution Hands of Love continues to make in her children’s education. Two of her other children Emanuel Mureithi (grade 1) and Maryann Wanjiru (grade 2) school with us.

For over 150 children like Precious and her siblings at Hands of Love, a good education is the only way they can break free from grasp of poverty. We are their best chance at a good foundation that will enable them successfully navigate the public education system. Our work with them reminds me of my favorite Nelson Mandela quote – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” At Hands of Love I believe that we are changing our community, and by extension the world, one child at a time.

You can be part of our mission to be a school for those without. By donating just $1 a day, you can send a child to our school for a full year. This will not only provide education, but will feed and provide basic healthcare as well. Please consider donating $365 – or any other amount.