After the intensity of the community media capacity building 3 day workshop in Nairobi, the next leg of our journey required a trip to the Kingsway Preparatory School in Londiani, Kerichio County – to deliver books collected as part of the student preparations for the trip. We were carrying books donated by the University of Brighton’s Library and Portsmouth Public Library service – the combined weight of which meant, that our luggage came in just under the baggage allowance of 30Kg/person. The books were requested as a contribution to introducing English to the young pupils.
Our tour operator optimistically estimated that it would only take 3 hours to travel to Londiani from Nairobi. As it turned out, Londiani is only about 40 kilometers from Kibugat. Had I know this I would have realised that 3 hours was a gross underestimate. In the end it took us just over 4.5 hours getting there and just over 5 hours returning due to poor traffic conditions on the Great Rift Valley Escarpment. All of which and the impending rain (which came down in monsoon proportions) meant that our visit was restricted to 2 hours……but what a 2 hours?
We were welcomed on arrival by some 200 students singing a traditional honoured visitors welcome. After introductions were made, visitors’ book signed and books presented we were given a tour of the school, which included visiting classes 6 & 7 combined and 8 (those about to graduate to High School). Lessons were all laid out on the blackboard and I was amazed, as I started to ask pupils questions about the lessons, by their reading standards and knowledge – to say nothing of their eyesight (the writing was awfully small). We also visited the youngest pupils. Adoption of a similar approach of asking questions received a mixed reception. On the left of the class were young pupils eager to share with me the answer to the question, “who likes school?” On the right of the class – one nipper took one look at me and burst out crying inconsolably. Despite my protestations that I was the recipient of a University of Brighton Excellence in Teaching & Learning award, she was not to be quieted ;-).
A tasty lunch of wholegrain rice, green peas and cinnamon chapattis was followed by being shown a milk production project they run to generate income. Currently, the only have 2 cows but hope eventually to have 5. We were then taken to the well and it is here that we can probably help most. At present the well only produces enough water for approximately 7 or 8 months in the year. In order to ensure the school has water all the year round and that pupils don’t have to walk miles for water (missing out on school time). Soon, I will be announcing a campaign aimed at raising funds for this worthy project.
By now the 2 hours were very nearly up. The clouds were looking ominous and if we were to get away…..it had to be soon. Before departing however, we were asked to take pictures of the entire school. As I took the first picture, instead of getting them to say cheese, I counted down with fingers in the air 3…..2…..1…..CHELSEA!!!!!!! The kids loved this and started giggling and the laughter grew infectiously as each year took turns until the entire school and village onlookers were in fits of near hysteria when I got the teachers to do exactly the same as the kids. It was a silly moment but on such moments of fun relationships can be formed.
We were all sad that we had to leave before the rains moved in and the rough roads turned to thick mud but it had been a wonderful day and we will definitely return to Kingsway sat on top of a hill overlooking the most beautiful vista…..a valley of all shades of green imaginable and wonderful hills rising majestically as a dramatic backcloth.