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
Speaking of cows can take you to all sorts of places! We’d planned to expand the gene pool of the cows in Mghambonyi by finding new places to buy healthy cows. Saul, one of Zaidi’s partnering farmers took us to the place where he bought Ada, a beautiful strong Ayrshire.
The Agricultural Training Centre at Ngerenyi is an amazing place, 84 acres of fertile land, forest, a small dairy farm, accommodation, conference facilities and a huge dam teaming with beautiful birds, which supplies water for the centre and never dries up.
As we explored the centre we ate red guava, saw bananas, potatoes, maize, napier grass, avocadoes and macadamia nuts growing and then, to our amazement we passed a bush with wild strawberries and another which looked like raspberries.
Our brains began working overtime and we talked with the Principal about bringing agriculture students for a residential week, to spend a couple of days at the training centre and then time in the forest and with our partnering farmers…
Friday became a very busy day, we visited the teachers and children of Kiriwa Nursery and talked about moving into their new building ‘Bob’s Place’, which is almost complete. During April we will meet with parents, teachers and children and officially hand the new nursery over to them. The children demonstrated their skills in reading and counting, actively reciting counting rhymes and they enjoyed playing with little finger puppets too.
Leaving the nursery, we had to rush to the forest where we were to meet two Forest Rangers. We sat on logs whilst enjoying the cool fresh air under the trees, watching Sykes monkeys inquisitively watching us and jumping around. Jonam and Gabriel, the rangers were interested to hear ideas of ventures in the forest and were very supportive of bringing children from other areas of Kenya to learn the importance of the forest, appreciate the eco-system and learn about responsibly tending and using what we have. They said, “It’s good, how can the children learn about what they have never seen.”
We extended the meeting to a trek through the forest, this time it wasn’t the monkeys jumping around, it was us trying to avoid safari ants! (Aaah!) The little blighters find their way into your trousers and then start to bite as they go up your leg, so you start jumping around and bashing yourself as if you’ve gone mad (believe me, it’s worth it – Ngangao Forest is stunning!)
As we walked we watched colourful butterflies flying around us and listened to the calls of monkeys and exciting birds such as the Taita White Eye (a bright yellow bird, with a white ring around its eye) and an unusual thrush with enchanting birdsong. Once through the dense forest, we climbed to one of the highest places in Taita Hills, from there you could see the town of Voi (in the lowland), in the other direction a small town on the road to Taveta (a Tanzanian border town) and in the distance the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro (actually that’s not quite true – if we’d been there at 7 in the morning we could have seen Kilimanjaro, but at 12 noon it was completely covered in clouds!) What we did see on the way down was a cave, which is the playground for porcupine at night, there were none there in the daytime but we saw their footprints from the mouth of the cave.
During the afternoon we met the Forester and the Ecosystem Conservationist for Taita-Taveta District to discuss activities in the forest. They were extremely welcoming and supportive of working together in the future to educate children, welcome visitors, protect and grow the forest!
On Saturday, with Kelvin (another partnering farmer) we visited Brookside cooling plant and were very happy to hear that the milk yield of the area is increasing. Lorries from Nairobi are collecting milk four times a week.
We visited Saul and his family who have Ada and Martha, we spent time chatting with their children and waiting for Saul and Mary to come back from the shamba (farm). The farm is set at the top of a very steep hillside and sure enough Saul and Mary came walking up that hill each carrying a 30kg sack of napier grass on their head to feed the cows – they made it look easy, but as they got closer you could see how much they were sweating, it’s hard work! The biogas system is now working and as we turned the tap you could hear the gas hissing as it released from the tank. All they need now is for a specialist to connect the system to their kitchen with piping.
From there, we enjoyed meeting new Zaidi calves, both heifers – one from Chelsea and the other Donny. It’s great to see beautiful healthy calves. Iwi and Penny are very strong, heavily pregnant and eating loads ready to deliver in the next couple of months. After seeing the cows Kelvin took us around his shamba where they are growing green peppers, cauliflower, maize, kales, napier grass and other green leafy vegetables. Kelvin moved around the hillside with the agility of a mountain goat as we picked green peppers together.
Arriving back at Ronald and Agnellah’s house early evening, we enjoyed watching the sunset and playing with their children with bubbles. They laughed, danced around catching them and watched with awe as some climbed higher and higher until they could be seen no more!
As always the time disappeared quickly – but it was a successful few days of planning, permissions, assessing where we’re at with Zaidi and figuring out how to improve.
Thank you – the impact of your love and support is strengthening and far reaching!
What can I say about last Saturday? It was excellent!
If you have visited Tumaini before you will have passed by Mombasa’s rubbish tip, very near to the airport.
You may have noticed the smoke rising from it or the smell as you passed by but you probably wouldn’t have noticed the families that live there. Kibarani is a very poor area of Mombasa. On one side of the main road, people live in and amongst the city’s rubbish. And on the other side, people live in a slum village; a slightly better quality of life but still miles away from what we would call a home.
This area had really caught my attention about a year and a half ago and I really wanted to do something, however small, to help the children there.
Last May myself and a group of young people from Tumaini were able to go and do a fun day in St Francis School, in the slum. It was an amazing time and we were welcomed there again last week.
We did a morning full of games, lessons, dramas and fun in a very sunny and in places very muddy field! The children had fun learning that God loves them enough to send his Son to die for them to wipe their sins away and the leaders had fun teaching it!
The best moment had to be the chant competitions. The children were split into 4 different teams and they had to think up a team name and a team chant. We then did a competition to see who could be the loudest! Wow! I think I underestimated just how loud 200 kids could be, especially when they are being encouraged by leaders who were getting so involved! At one point, after an awful lot of shouting, singing and whistling, I had managed to quiet the children down. But I couldn’t manage to quiet the leaders down at all! They were all desperate for their teams to win which the kids loved!
We also had a great drama which was so so funny to watch! The kids were getting really involved which was just excellent!
Afterwards we had juice, biscuits, lollipops and fruit, lots of fruit! A television crew from Denmark had come along to film a bit of what we were doing as part of a show on a certain charity which has many projects, including the school at Kibarani. They left at least 30 watermelons for the kids which was just amazing! Everyone got more than enough and we were able to leave at least 20 for the schools feeding programme this week!
The day was a huge success so thank you to all the people who willingly volunteered themselves to help out, giving their time and energy to help brighten up the lives of these gorgeous children and to present Jesus to them in a way that they’ve probably never seen before! THANK YOU GUYS!!
Written by Helen Sherrington
Where have we come from? When we came to Timbwani there were just 2 Nurseries (one in a wooden shelter) and unfinished Primary School. Children played in the village because they couldn’t afford to go to school. Some were 10, 11 and 12 years old and had not even been to Nursery School.
There was food for children in the village 1 day per week (Thursdays)
Then Shelly Beach Hotel closed and we lost the major source of employment and income to the village, things were looking pretty bad, but God had a plan and a plan to involve many, including you, as you are reading this!
We started by feeding 50 children on a Wednesday and from there God helped us to grow, He provided a place for children who could not go to school anywhere, provided homes and families for children who needed a loving home and people who needed a safe place to stay and employment for many needing work.
God has been with us and made a way for us , so that we can now feed over 650 children each day and run a full education curriculum up to age 18, just because He loves us! Amazing!
This is what Helen had to say about this week:
Yesterday we had a very special celebration in school. We were celebrating Tumaini’s 10th Birthday, or ‘Tumaini @ 10’ as people called it! We had a time celebrating the fact that on the 18thFebruary 2004 Tumaini Nursery and Primary school officially opened.
10 years, when you think about it, really isn’t that long at all. I’ve been alive for 2 lots of 10 years already and it doesn’t seem that long! And yet in the last 10 years so many people’s lives have been transformed through Tumaini and in the last 10 years Tumaini has grown and grown and grown and it continues to grow and touch more and more lives with every day that goes by.
“And this was set up by 2 very ordinary people?” I hear you ask.
Well, no. No it wasn’t at all. There is no way that Glyn and Jane could achieve this, they’re amazing, yes but they’re not THAT amazing (sorry guys if you’re reading this!). Tumaini was opened and has reached 10 years because of a very faithful God. A God that loves the village of Timbwani, who loves every child and young person that attends this school, who loves each staff member and who loves them too much to see them live lives of both material and spiritual poverty. God loves these people so much that He sent Glyn and Jane, empowered them and, through their choice to be obedient every day, has blessed everything that they do abundantly.
If you look upon Glyn and Jane and see them as being heroic, perfect, wonderful and superhuman, it’s because you are seeing God through their lives and their actions.
And that gives a lot of hope to me and it should give a lot of hope to you too! Missions has nothing to do with what we humans can achieve. It has everything to do with what God can achieve if we will be radically obedient to Him. If God is calling you to mission, both inside and outside of your home country, don’t look at yourself, your own circumstances and your own abilities to answer the question ‘can I do this?’, look at God. Is God able? Yes! So if God is sending you then it means He wants to empower you. He wants to put His power in you which will allow you to do exactly what He is asking you to do. So do it! If you are radically completely obedient to God, you cannot fail because He never fails!
So anyways, preach over! We had a lovely morning celebrating Tumaini @ 10. Each section of the school brought something they had prepared especially, we had a great talk from Jane, we praised God and we planted a tree. It was great! Oh and, how could I forget?! We had ‘special lunch’ (Hassan and Dennis kept reminding us about special lunch! They were so excited!) – for those of you who don’t know; special lunch is one lunch a month in school where they serve rice, meat stew, cabbage and a banana – a HUGE and very tasty treat!
Thanks Helen! And thank you all for being with us and sharing with us as Tumaini celebrates 10 years and looks ahead to many more…
I feel privileged to have been a part of Victoria’s journey for the last 7 months. I have watched a mother and child move through utter loneliness and confusion to acceptance and having such a large supportive network of friends. When I first met Victoria no one had ever held her before except her mother (Penina) and when Ehud (a visitor that came from England to do some physiotherapy) randomly asked to hold Victoria she couldn’t believe it. I think this was the first moment of acceptance that they had felt. From then onwards they would come to church and ‘mama sema’ and really became part of the community here at Tumaini. It has been amazing to gradually see people getting to know them, love them and support them through what has been the most challenging 7 months.
Through prayer requests and my own personal blog you may have known Victoria was due for an operation in Nairobi at a hospital called Kijabe. She had returned home from Nairobi and was due to go back to Nairobi for the operation after 6 weeks. I was so shocked to see her as she was very weak and had lost over 2kg. Sadly the day after she arrived back home in Mombasa Victoria’s temperature rocketed so high and she was having trouble breathing – she had a huge infection. She was rushed to hospital and put on oxygen and treated, but Victoria’s body was tired of fighting and by the early morning Victoria had passed away.
It was a sad time for everyone at Tumaini, we had learnt so much about Victoria and each had played a role in her journey. We are comforted to know that Victoria is now at peace, she is pain free and this is the biggest comfort of all. We had her funeral on Saturday and it was so lovely to see the mamas from Tumaini preparing the food, our church elders leading the ceremony, and our ‘mama sema’ women stood by Penina’s side.
As a community, through knowing Victoria, many have learnt the purpose of love, the impact of love and how love can drastically change someone’s life. Though Victoria was only here for a short time, she brought us an important message that ‘love changes all’.
By Molly Fyfe