"Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awaken people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds, do not overload them. Put there just a spark. If there is some good inflammable stuff, it will catch fire."
Anatole France

Week 2, January 2014

By Mary on 13-01-2014

Wow! What a busy week!

Sunday and Monday all the kids started back at school so town was a madhouse with everybody buying last minute items. On Tuesday blandina and I went to Haradali (Blandina went to Shepherds in the morning) to distribute the stationery and boarding supplies to the children. Normally, all of these items would have been packaged into individual bags and given to the children that way, but because we have both been so busy with goal setting discussions in December, and sick the past few days this term we just handed them out to the kids individually. What chaos! No matter how many times you tell the kids to stand in a line of their year group, they still seem to creep forward after a minute or so until everyone is crowded around shouting at the top of their voices, ‘dada, sina pencil! I don’t have pencil!’ or ‘Dada, he took 2 sharpeners!’ – Like I said – chaos. And not to mention all the non-ACE children that just like to come and ‘watch’ making it all the more confusing!

After finally finishing about half the stationery (it didn’t all fit in the car) and supplying the new boarding students with their required supplies of toilet paper, combs, nail clippers, shoe polish and brushes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, handkerchiefs, body and hair oil, soap, washing powder, sheets & pillow cases, the list goes on…we made a break for it and will reconvene tomorrow morning to distribute the rest. All the children are stoked to be back at school and all seemed very happy and talkative. For the ones who were travelling over the holidays we will be having our goal setting talk over the next weekend.

Wednesday and Thursday were much of the same, completing the distribution of stationery and boarding supplies to the Haradali students, and measuring who needs new uniforms and shoes and what sizes. For the 15 or so children that needed new school bags, Blandina and I went to town Wednesday morning to buy in bulk and gave them out that afternoon. It’s quite amusing see what the kids will try and come up with as a reason for a new school bag, even if the one they have is perfectly fine! An ENORMOUS thank you to two of our sponsors, who have donated funds to help purchase the Haradali uniforms, especially for the children currently without sponsors. This is going to be a great confidence boost for the kids. When they look good and feel good in their uniforms, they perform better in class and it certainly helps them to not feel so much like the ‘sponsored (poor) ones’. There’s no reason for them to be teased or brought down just because they have been given an opportunity that many children here would do anything to have.

The boarding house is chaos at the moment with so many students joining up. I took home a bunch of sheets and blankets Wednesday to sew the names of the students into the corner, so they don’t lose everything we’ve just given them! Normally the Matron would have this job; however with it being so busy we have decided to do ourselves to ease up the load.

Friday was an unlucky day, with Blandina getting her purse stolen, so the day was spent at the police station, bank and TRA getting new identification documents – which is a whole day ordeal over here! Waiting in lines for hours, pole sana B! Saturday I took one of the older boys to sit the interview at Haradali, and Blandina went to Tengeru markets to buy slippers (flip flops) for the boarding kids and school/sports shoes for those who have grown out of them or who’s shoes have just fallen apart. On Sunday afternoon we spent a couple of hours organising all of the secondary kids boarding supplies into individual bags – see photos. There are so many requirements! The secondary kids need a load of new textbooks too; their education is really getting serious now!

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Blandina and I went at 4pm to pick up Ester, and drove her out to New Life Secondary at Kisongo, which is about 45 minutes out of town towards the Serengeti, then you turn off the main road and drive for another 20 into the bush. Very remote! Another few minutes and you’d have giraffe and Zebra cruising through the playground. We had Kemmy come along for the ride – on the way there she slept like a baby (which makes sense…considering she is one) through the rough roads and dust, and then on the return journey she was dancing away in her car seat to Blandina’s gospel tunes. Great entertainment! We will be returning on Wednesday to the school to pay Ester’s first term fees and collect her results from last year. This is a big year for her, she is in form 4 and must get good enough grades to qualify for a government sponsorship into the school (for form 5 and 6) that specifies in the subjects she is going to pursue. It’s amazing that we have one lovely girl in form 4, when the majority of children don’t make it past standard 7, let alone into secondary and then form 5 and 6. It’s certainly not an easy schooling system here! Hopefully we will be able to find a sponsor for Ester this year. It is beautiful out by her school, nobody around, just the odd Masai, African bush lands and rolling hills, and Mount Meru towering over everything in the distance.

Today, I am meeting with Flora and Maulidi in 30 minutes in town. We are taking them to get passport photos and their birth certificates copied for their secondary enrolments. Blandina will be meeting us there with Livistone also. A slight problem as Livi doesn’t have a birth certificate, and no relatives to find out when he was born, so we are currently working out that obstacle but I have no doubts we’ll figure out something! The Shepherds Secondary campus is very far from Arusha, so tomorrow morning Blandina and I will be following the bus with the 3 kids young adults, supplies and meeting them at the school. I assume the secondary has computer facilities that are available to students after school hours, so I am hoping to help Livi, Flora and Maulidi set up email accounts for each of them to make correspondence with us, Blandina and of course the sponsors a lot easier. This will help a lot to keep them feeling connected with them being so far out of town also.

Another busy week ahead making sure the children are settled in when classes start on Tuesday, it is a public holiday here today and tomorrow, so hopefully we can get everything we need to finished, and then by the end of the week there should be time for Blandina to have a few days rest! For the Haradali sponsors, I have finished downloading the results from last year’s final examination; I will have that emailed out this afternoon. There are 3 or 4 names left blank – this is because I am having problems getting their login names to work on the website, but I have emailed the school and I should have that fixed within the week.

Thank you all so much for being AWESOME!

Peace and Love x