Before leaving to return back to the United States Kennedy and I were lucky enough to witness the first day of school.
Students began arriving early, clad in their uniforms and with enthusiastic and slightly curious smiles on their faces. The three classes rotated between rooms, visiting the science and math center, puzzle center, construction center, literacy center, research/social studies center, and art center. The children looked as if they didn’t know what had hit them…. all of a sudden school was fun!
I watched as students built number towers with blocks (counting as they went) and as others drew pictures of their families and wrote accompanying stories. Teachers told stories with puppets, and other students carried out their own science experiments measuring water and weighing it on a scale.
I stepped to the side, as it became clear that this project no longer needed Kennedy and me in the same way–everything was more than under control with Joan and our amazing teachers at the helm. Another magical moment was lunch time. Our curriculum specialist Melissa Dearborn generously donated supplies for the first month of our feeding program. Little tiny girls went back for three servings of the nutritious maize and beans mixture. I asked how many had eaten breakfast or dinner the night before, and no one raised their hand. I realized then even further how important our school is because it addresses issues of education, health, nutrition, the well-being of parents, environmental sustainability, and HIV/AIDS and abuse prevention. I was also struck by the sustainability of the project. Lunch, for example, is prepared each day by parents, as there are always four parents who work at the school each week in exchange for school fees.
As I watched the teachers expertly guiding classes I saw that our project is a success. As Teacher Madahana told me, “This school must work, we will make it work because if the school is a success, I am a success. If the school fails, I also fail.”
With the commitment of our staff, parents and community, I am sure that our school will continue to make a profound difference. As student Makesh Mumbi told me “I wish I could live at school everyday because school is the happiest place in the world.”