In order to ensure my Western ideas were able to be adapted to the education system in Kenya I got the opportunity to visit several schools. One of which was a school Kevin and Mary built in Shanzu Village, their first project. It was all built in one month which I was very impressed with showing what you can do if you put your mind to it. I got to visit government schools that are also free but there are up to 100 children per class in mud huts.

Mud hut schools

The children that live near St Bernadette are so grateful that a school like this is here. It is indeed an oasis of learning in the middle of the mayhem they call life, we would call it survival. I truly believe that some fantastic leaders will come from this school and orphanage as they are so thankful and keen to learn.

Our Scouts practice

I also visited nearby Imara school which has a functioning baby class to see what was expected in Kenya, the limited resources they used. I got to see their curriculum and guidelines they covered which I was intrigued with and read inside out!

Imara school

I got to sneak a visit to the local educational store which was great to see! In Kenya they are very education focused and this is evident in their fantastic educational books range.

Lorraine doing her homework !!!

With this knowledge I put together a schedule and ideas, focusing on free play. I also ensured we were covering what was expected by the Kenyan government. I created a fun learning environment with a wide range of areas for the kids to explore such as reading corner, building area, sorting tables, sand and water areas, creative table, maths and language tables, role-play area, sensory and soft play area.

Sensory & Soft Play area

I had brought resources but they also had a lot of resources in the store which they weren’t using as they didn’t know what to do with them so I also set up a play resource room.

Sorting donated resources

I divided the children into two groups Caterpillars 1-2.5 years with the classroom assistant Madame Phanice who is fantastic with the kids. She embraced play ideas such as exploring senses trail and sensory movement with enthusiasm. The laughs from Lawrence a young boy with Spina bifida were infectious and it was great to see the difference this learning environment was making to the children and adults.

Phanice with the Caterpillar Class

The Butterflies Babyclass was for the 2.5 – 4yrs with Madame Rosemary. I trained the keen staff and the main obstacle I faced when introducing the new changes was that the children didn’t know how to play or share. Hitting heads with buckets and fighting over blocks was the theme for the first day!! With the help of modelling and rules it didn’t take them long to soon get the hang of it!

Practising before moving into new nursery

Seeing the children play, have fun, develop social skills and be learning at the same time was fantastic. After a lot of hard work from my mum, George, Phanice, Rosemary and myself we officially opened the nursery class, which to my surprise and delight is being renamed and being called the Learning SPACE nursery! If you are reading this with playschool or early years experience and would like to volunteer then the children in the orphanage would love to meet you. I am hoping to get back out in February 2013 too!

Play Resource Room

Moses the acting Head Teacher was very keen on the Nursery and wants to introduce a similar structure to this in the kg1 ( 4-5yrs) and kg2 (5-6yrs) classes. This will be one of my projects when I get back out again in February!! Thanks to the donations from Learning SPACE and our suppliers JohnCrane, Bigjigs, Commotion and The Puppet Company we were able to introduce not only products into the Baby class but also the school which they were so excited with.

School receiving dontated gifts

So with the lovely money that was raised through family, relatives, friends and customers of Learning SPACE we were able to put the money towards two major things hen house and feeding station day.

Learning Space NI Nursery

In the two weeks we spent there the henhouse came on like a dream,this will make the Clarke family who donated, who also own a hen farm, very proud!

Hen House Progress

Another part of our visit included helping at the nearby Feeding Station in Kikambala. Every Sunday up to 2000 children come from over 5 miles away to get a staple meal which may be their only main meal of the week. The children came in unemotional and took their food, they looked exhausted and lethargic! In groups of four they sat around their tin plate and shared their meal together eating with their hands. After eating the children’s mood changed. The food had given them a boost of energy and the chattering and happy sounds became louder and louder.

Feeding Station

After their meal all the children (even the little ones on the their backs) were given a selection of goods consisting of rice,(this will help feed the family throughout the week) a banana, a pencil, a book, plastic bowl and some sweets. They were thankful and this was a humbling experience.

Bags to take home

From looking at the happy and healthy kids playing it’s easy forget where they have come from and the importance of the existence of The Good Life. I feel The Good Life Orphanage needs two main things to help ensure this amazing lifeline continues. They need VOLUNTEERS and FUNDS !!!!

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