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