Archive for June, 2014

A Special Room!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

16-Jun-2014 14:47, Nokia Lumia 625, 2.4, 0.02 sec, ISO 320

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.

16-Jun-2014 11:19

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.

16-Jun-2014 11:20

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

16-Jun-2014 11:19

16-Jun-2014 11:19

Keep believing, dreams come true…

Friday, June 13th, 2014

05-Jun-2014 11:37, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. SP-610UZ , 3.3, 5.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

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.

05-Jun-2014 11:37, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. SP-610UZ , 3.3, 5.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

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)

05-Jun-2014 11:38, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. SP-610UZ , 3.3, 5.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Greenhouse Lessons!

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

15-May-2014 11:07, Nokia Lumia 625, 2.4, 0.02 sec, ISO 640

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.

15-May-2014 14:41, Nokia Lumia 625, 2.4, 0.001 sec, ISO 100

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

15-May-2014 14:35, Nokia Lumia 625, 2.4, 0.003 sec, ISO 100

13-May-2014 08:44, Nokia Lumia 625, 2.4, 0.03 sec, ISO 640