Do you remember back in June we planted carrots? Well to be more accurate Said planted them as part of his special needs education, well it’s time to harvest and the carrots are excellent – yes I had some in my supper, sooo tasty! To help Said and as part of hands on education he has been selling the carrots around school for 1/- each. He’s turning out to be quite the farmer and businessman. Great work team… Thanks Glyn
It’s back to school time again for our third and final term of this academic year, so what have we been up to for the last three weeks that school has been closed?
Well, there’s been a holiday club, special needs day, a wedding, home visits, a women’s conference, maintenance work and a visit to the hills. How do you do all that? I hear you ask – with a lot of help!
Holiday Club was run by Compassion International; it was great to see children from a little further afield being able to benefit from our amazing facilities. When we asked why they wanted to come to Tumaini, they said, “so our kids can play on the playground” – thanks Emmanuel Foundation.
Wedding – check out our facebook page for photos of Dennis and Molly. It was great to see one of our home grown young men live out his faith, wait and commit to a life long marriage – we’re proud of you Dennis. Molly thank you for giving your life and your love to missions.
I was honoured to be able to visit Jimmy in his new one roomed house that people in the church have helped him to rent as he makes a commitment to walk in faith and put his past behind him. Jimmy reminds me of why we’re here!
What a week this week! Twenty five ladies gathered together to receive teaching from three amazing ladies from Taita Hills. The days started with “Sweating in the Spirit” great music and stretching – I’m not sure if some ladies were trying to avoid the first session or were just on “African Time”. After sweating in the spirit the teaching started and wow! When these ladies start, they give it some welly. My office is 3 classrooms away and it’s like I was part of the class. What a great week of praise and teaching, thank you Agnellah, Fenny and Mercy.
Thanks to help from Footsteps International we have been able to do loads of much needed work around the school. We’ve had a new water tower built and walls plastered and painted. Thanks to many people around Sleaford and a church in Ilkley, we have been able to decorate and furnish the Special Needs Resource room, move our Primary Teachers around, renovate their staff room and build an amazing new table – the kids loved helping with that too.
We also managed to squeeze in a trip to Taita Hills and buy a new cow, Daisie Lee. More to follow on her next week…
Thank you for your help and prayers.
Xx Glyn & Jane
Wednesday 20th August, the day arrived after much planning. Invitations had gone out to many parents in and around the village and Likoni inviting parents with children who had special needs to come to Tumaini for an afternoon of fun and information. We had no idea how many parents would come and as we prepared the room, parents gathered at the gates. There were so many mamas and children we had to let them all in early, two mamas were waiting from 9am for the 1pm start. A total of 30 children attended the afternoon.
Molly had invited Dr. Ang’ullo to speak, he is a local missionary doctor who lives in the area and has recently got involved in work within Tumaini. I was also invited to share with the parents some of my experiences of adopting and bringing up four children who all have Downs Syndrome.
The afternoon began with a play session for children and a ‘get to know each other’ time for the mamas. We set out some sensory toys, a table with a shaving foam activity and some sticks for mark making and exploring. There was an opportunity for mamas to try their children in special chairs that are available if they apply to Association of Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK), unfortunately like everything the waiting list is long. There was also opportunity to watch and try the exercise balls which Molly uses in her one to one sessions with children, she also reminded the mamas that a blender, bought from fund raising in the UK, is available in school for them to use to blend fruit or vegetables to feed to their children.
After the play session I told my story of how and why I had adopted my children and some of the hardships and barriers we faced as parents. I hope the mamas were encouraged to know that they are not alone, that prejudice and stigma happens everywhere in the world but that their special children have a right and a need to explore the world around them and build relationships with other children and adults. I felt very privileged to share how we coped through the good and the tough times.
Dr. Ang’ullo then spoke to the mamas, he asked them where they felt they needed help and where their expectations were, they gave him a list including Stigma, Feeding Options and Accessing Hospitals, Education and Support. One parent had stated that no one had ever taught them how to look after their special child, but my hope is that they will support and learn from each other as I know some do already. Dr. Ang’ullo was very patient and listened and talked for nearly an hour, after which there was a question time, many many questions for the Dr. for myself and Molly. Molly told the mamas the times she is available for one to one sessions to show them how to do gentle exercise with their child, some massage, therapeutic play or just for help and support. Dr. Ang’ullo then went around talking and advising individual mamas and children.
Time for a break, tea and biscuits and homemade banana smoothies for the children.
What really touched my heart was the cost of nappies here. Children are not allowed to wear terry nappies in their schools, they have to use disposable ones and the cost for children of 6 to 10 years is huge, 800 Kenyan Shillings (£5.50) for 10 nappies, and for adult size 1,200 shillings (£8). That cost out of the average Kenyan wage is horrendous. In contrast, it breaks my heart that we are able to access so much in the UK for our special children. The mamas here have to pay for all their children’s education, medical needs, doctor’s consultations, x rays, prescriptions, dental, nappies, everything. Most are unemployed single parents, there are no benefits for families, no work and no money.
Despite the struggles these mamas have at home, seeing each other together, rather than as individuals began to develop a growing strength among them, not only through friendships building but having the confidence to stand up and speak on behalf of each other.
Wednesday 20th marked a new beginning, a new team of mamas that are being united as one. I am excited to see where this will lead.
Hands or Feet? Yes I suppose new shoes are supposed to be worn on your feet but our children were so happy to receive a brand new pair of shoes they just wanted to wave them in the air!
They excitedly opened the boxes to find a shinny new pair of black leather shoes, what an amazing day.
Thank you to our generous benefactor we were able to buy another 24 pairs of shoes to add to the 22 children that received shoes last term.
Also a huge thanks to Nelly, Brenda, Hassan and Kennedy for all the measuring, shopping and carrying – you’re great!
Asante Sana Xx Glyn & Jane
There is always something special about Tumaini fun day. It’s not just that we have a day away from normal classes or routine, it’s not just that there are sodas and sweets on sale, it’s something much more than that; it’s that the whole community of Tumaini comes together for one purpose: to have fun!
It is a beautiful thing to see people of all ages, staff from all departments, students from nursery, primary and high school, ex-students and visitors all coming together on the school field just to celebrate being a community. Tumaini is full of very different people, all with their own, often painful, stories, all from different backgrounds and all with different and valuable roles to play within this amazing community.
We had a wonderful day full of music, silly races, dancing, volleyball, laughter, table tennis, competitions and lots of fun and not forgetting staff v students’ basketball! Everyone enjoys watching the boys from high school take on their teachers and other staff members in the game of the term! The edges of the basketball court are always lined with children and adults all cheering on their team. Unfortunately this time, the students didn’t hold on to their title and the staff won with 71 points to 47!
It really was a great day and enjoyed by all! My personal favourite part had to be the crazy race in which the contestants started off from one end of the field with a sprint to the playground, a lap of the playground, down the big red slide and across to the football goal posts, where marshmallows were dangling down on strings. Without using their hands, they had to jump and try to grab the marshmallow in their mouths! It was a lot of fun to watch!
But, if I was allowed to choose 2 favourite parts, I would have to also choose the high school boys sack race in which a couple of lads attempted to cheat by running rather than jumping, they looked like 6 foot penguins and literally fell over the finish line – hilarious!
If I were allowed endless ‘favourites’ I’m sure I could go on all day about the many great things like the roaming karaoke mic, the incredibly cute, and slightly oblivious nursery children, the gorgeous little boy who just couldn’t stop dancing all morning and so much more! But perhaps doing that would undermine the word ‘favourite’.
It was a great day and I’m sure we are already all looking forward to the next one!
Experienced & written by Helen Sherrington
Since the beginning of the school year here in Kenya, back in January, both myself and Molly have been working with some beautiful children from Tumaini primary school.
Each of the children we work with have been identified as really struggling in class and so we take them out for individual or small group sessions focusing on helping them in the area that they most struggle with.
We are not professionals but it is very obvious to us that although some of our children are affected by a learning difficulty, a good number have been severely affected by trauma of some sort.
A lot of children here have lost one or both of their parents, some have been exposed to abuse and neglect and others, one in particular, has suffered from an accident which has left her traumatised.
The little girl that I am referring to is 8 years old and started nursery in January. Her peers are 3 and 4 years old and yet she is miles behind them. Her twin sister started nursery at the same time as her but is doing so well that she is being fast tracked through nursery to try and narrow the age gap between her and her peers. Zubeda however has been left behind. When she was 2 and a half Zubeda suffered a severe burn to the back of her head and arm. It has left scarring so deep that her hair doesn’t grow on the back of her head whatsoever.
Even up to a few weeks ago, if you had sat with her you would be shocked. She would barely acknowledge your presence, she would let flies crawl into her mouth and eyes, she would just stare into space, sometimes silently crying and the only noise she would make was ‘urgh’.
At first we thought that maybe the burn had caused her some level of brain damage, and perhaps it did. But we have observed her a lot over the last few months and every now and then we have seen glimpses of amazing progress. Every now and then Zubeda will speak, or she will show complete alertness and then she would regress back to her ‘zombie’ state.
The more we watched, the more we realised that these times had been when she was made to feel very secure, safe and loved. What this little girl needs is one to one time each day in a safe environment where she can get to a point of feeling loved and secure enough to begin to learn.
The problem was, we didn’t have such a room to use. However, after a lot of dreaming, thinking, searching, bubble writing, cutting, sticking and decorating, we do!
Welcome to our ‘Kuota Mbali’ room.
Kuota Mbali is the Kiswahili phrase for ‘dream far’ and that is exactly what we want to do with our children! We want to dream far with them. We want to believe with them that they can achieve, that they do have an amazing future ahead of them. And we want to use this room as a space for those dreams to become a reality.
Each of the children we work with are very behind in their classes but the truth is, they still have amazing potential. They are gorgeous and wonderful and their future is bright and hopefully we can help them on their way to that future.
So Molly has dedicated an hour each afternoon to spending time with Zubeda in our ‘Kuota Mbali’ room and we are both taking individual sessions with other kids in there. So far, so good and Zubeda is already showing huge signs of improvement even outside of her sessions! We have big dreams and hopes for this beautiful little girl!
Thanks for for catching up with us
Xx Helen & Molly
My journey started on the 1st June when I set off from Manchester England to head out to Mombasa it was a long journey but an exciting one as it was a place I had never visited and also something that I had been planning for a year. I arrived in Mombasa on 2nd June where I was met by Dennis and Molly who made me feel comfortable straight away. We headed to Tumaini where I was shown my room and the compound. I settled in and then time to catch up on some sleep ready to start work the next day.
My first day working in the schools I was in KG1 with the little ones, what a lovely class of children and also teachers. I had a lovely day getting to see how they carry out their teaching and how the children learn, this was a shock to me as it was so different to how the nursery children here in England are taught as we believe they learn through play however they sat at desks and wrote letters of the alphabet, repeated what the teachers were saying and such like however it was a very interesting insight in to the differences.
Each evening I ate with the children in the Orphanage where I was made to feel very welcome by the children and also Charles and Mary where I was feed well on the traditional Kenyan food which I must say is very filling. It was lovely after the meal to help with chores if possible or just sit and chat to the children who showed a keen interest in England and my life asking many valued questions.
While in Mombasa I spent most of my time in KG1/3 and Class 5 – my time in class 5 was also insightful again into the teaching of the children, here I had brought out letters from a school in England and was hoping to get the children to write back some responses, they were very forthcoming with this and happy to write back to the children in England. This was a lovely activity to do with them as they also had many questions about England and the such like. I met many wonderful children including Jane and Elvis just to name two.
My time at Tumaini was short but a massive achievement for myself to go out there alone, however I learnt a lot about their lifestyle and the huge differences to here in England. It has made me realise what I have got and feel very privileged to have what I have but also saddened to see that they have nothing, however, on this note the children and adults were always happy, welcoming and interested and this surprised me as they have nothing but are still very happy whereas this is often not the case in England even though the people here have much much more. During my time I went to Diani and saw some sights of Mombasa which made me realise how little people had, their living conditions and much more.
I was very privileged to have had the chance to visit Tumaini and would love to go back again but I would take someone with me as the nights were often lonely in the apartment on my own.
I had an amazing time meeting many new people and I would like to thank Charles and Mary for feeding me in the children’s home each night, the wonderful children for accepting me into their home and their school and also the teachers. Maureen for organising everything and helping me settle in, Glyn for helping me arrange everything, answering my many questions all to sort out my trip even though I didn’t get to meet him I hope that one day I will, Juma for cleaning my room each day and the little chats. Last but not least Molly, Helen, Hassan and Dennis for showing me the sights and making my experience memorable. I hope to see you all again one day.
Take care; keep believing and may your dreams come true (whatever these may be).
Written by Lisa-Jane Brown (University of Central Lancashire)
Everyone has something that they struggle with, maybe it’s a subject in school, or we are under confident or shy, or maybe it’s our physical ability. For one student here at Tumaini he struggles with his sight. Said is a very confident 12 year old boy, he has a severe visual impairment and other additional needs that means unfortunately he has not been able to learn to read or write. Although Said cannot read or write, he is a very bright and alert boy (nothing goes unnoticed by Said!).
This term in his extra sessions we have moved away from class work and are focusing more on physical skills he can do and achieve in. Here in Kenya students have to pass an exam to move onto high school. Sadly, Said will physically not be able to take the exam. He only has four years left in primary school and so our aim is to give him as much work experience as possible, this will hopefully make it easier for when he starts applying for jobs.
This term is all about agriculture. We have explored and taken apart plants, feeling and learning about the different parts and what plants need. Said now knows that plants need sunlight, oxygen, and water. Said claims that he understands that ‘too much of something is a bad thing’, I say ‘claims’ because Said repeatedly dunked the entire plant in the bucket of water… maybe he was just experimenting!
We have done all the theory and now it’s time for the practical! Today Said has helped Dennis in the greenhouse preparing his soil to plant his own carrots, he has worked really hard and got very dirty! It was nearly home time so I told Said it was time to go back to class to pick his school bag and go home. Half an hour later I get a phone call from Dennis saying “Said is back in the greenhouse, he wants to do some more work, is that okay?”
Said has really taken to his new role and it makes me so overly proud to see him achieving in something that he can do all by himself.
Thanks Xx Molly
They asked me to write a ‘blog’ – whatever that is – but I thought I’d write a bit about Tumaini instead. Tumaini is a school, an orphanage, a village, a community, full of lovely, warm hearted people, adults and children, who, despite the hardships in their lives, are ready to sing, dance, educate and learn, serve food and serve the Lord in generous quantities topped up with enthusiastic joy. Yet I know that in their backgrounds are many tales of grief and sorrow, the loss of children, the loss of parents, the need of a job, the need of hope. But they made me welcome, gave me hugs and handshakes, helped me with my Swahili so that I can now say ‘kikombe cha chai kizuri’ – ‘a nice cup of tea’ and other useful English phrases, – and they beat me 21 – 4 at table tennis – and I can play ‘Cheat’ in Swahili too now – the children taught me.
So, to the Askaris who looked after us all so well and were always ready for a friendly chat, to Juma who looked after me so well and was always ready for a friendly chat, to Mary and Charles and the children who fed me, and to all the people from whom I learned so much in 3 weeks, I want to say thank you and I hope you learned just a little bit from me too, even if it was only English Grammar! I will miss you all so much!
Love from Jan – (Mad English lady with camera, table tennis teacher to the under 7′s (anybody else beat the suruali (pants) off me.) and volunteer English teacher.)
Oh and P.S. If you want to know anything – from how the shower works, to the Swahili for WD40 – just ask Juma – he’ll know.
Everyone has questions about the things they see happening everyday . The problem with ‘grown ups’ is that we stop asking, and sometimes we even stop wondering, we just accept that things are that way without wondering why.
I, personally, LOVE questions! Especially ones that have many different possible answers! And that’s why I love children. Children still wonder, children still ask, they always want to know why! And that’s amazing!
And questions are so important. When we take everything we hear or see as ‘fact’ then we can go no further than that. But when we ask questions and search for answers, that’s when we can go further and discover more.
So this week we have started an after school club for children to ask all the questions they have! And for us to try our best to find answers for them!
Most of the questions asked are about religion, children exploring their faith, seeing if what their parents believe is or can be true for them.
It is amazing to be able to facilitate a time for children to just explore life and be inquisitive! I think my bible is going to become even more well ‘thumbed’ and google is going to become my best friend in this quest to answer some very mind blowing, interesting and funny questions without just saying “because that’s the way it is!” but I know we will have a lot of fun doing it!
Thanks Xx Helen