TEACHING-EMPOWERING-MENTORING-BUILDING OPPORTUNITY Mission: to partner with individuals and communities in Western Kenya to support entrepreneurial activities, education and health through training programmes, scholarships, water and sanitation projects

Sunday, January 29, 2012

pikipiki pictures

Here they are!


One of the most engaging things with the teachers we were interacting with over the last few weeks, were the poems and chants that are so powerful for encouraging language. On our way to the last day in Maseno I made up this chant and Nancy added pictures. A pikipiki is a motorbike:
and they do carry all the things mentioned and more


One pikipiki rolling down the road,
Two pikipiki losing half his load;

Three pikipiki taking kids to school,
Four pikipiki do not know the rule!

Five pikipiki, chickens on the back,
Six pikipiki bouncing down the track;

Seven pikipiki, three girls on the seat,
Eight pikipiki driving in the heat.

Pikipiki on the left .........
Pikipiki on the right .......

I love my pikipiki -
We are such a sight!

- Patricia Crossley

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Singing with teachers

lunch arrives

A group of widows in Kakamega make lunch for our groups when we do day-long sessions. Punctually at 10.45, they bring kettles of pre-mixed tea and fresh mandazi-small donuts, which are impossible to resist.
Most sessions go to about 2 pm when the ladies re appear carrying plates, cutlery and bowls of cooked food. We usually have rice, potatoes, stew and a delicious mix of cabbage and onions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaching language and raising awareness

The last three days have been taken up with teacher workshops offering strategies for reading, writing, vocabulary development. We had a smaller group than expected, but that always leads to better interaction. Next week we go to Maseno where we expect about 50 participants.

Thanks to some donations, I have a workshop planned for the beginning of February with clergy about responses to domestic violence, which is very widespread and even accepted as normal here in Kenya. The topic is usually swept under the rug. I hope to break the reluctance to even talk about it. I did a mini presentation last year with a 100 or so rural women. It wasn't easy to get them to understand what the point was. 'If my husband doesn't beat me it means he doesn't love me.' I'm hoping a dialogue will start through the churches which have powerful influence.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

No towing service here!

A few months ago our landlord was in a traffic accident with his brother's car. He wasn't hurt, but the unuseable car has been sitting in the compound covered with a green tarp. Last week we came home to find a big truck sitting there with the car's front wheels on the tail gate and the car body balanced on an oil drum. After much consultation, several young man were recruited from the neighbourhood to manouver the whole vehicle into the truck

A day off at last!

Just relaxing after a busy week. Teacher seminars went so well and job training applicants were literally jumping up and down with joy. The fellows (no women as yet) doing driver ed (which will include motorbikes) were in Kakamega two hours early for the start of their course.
On Friday we trained three new schools for Read for the Top to start this month (one secondary and two elementary). We were truly blessed to have with us Kenyan teachers who have run the programme to share what a huge difference it has made in their schools. One school is a Virtues school and the Head Master also spoke to the group. Then the teachers did a simulation exercise which opened their eyes to what their students will encounter.

On Saturday the group forming a marketing cooperative met and elected their sponsors (who sign the legal documents) and their interim executive. Once they have completed the paper work the Department of Cooperatives will give them some more training and they can invite other producers to join. Their target is 100.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

English strategies for Elementary teachers

Two review sessions yesterday and today for teachers of English (basically TESL or TEFL) These people attended three days last year and asked for experience sharing. I am seeing the evolution in their thinking and attitude. They have a very tough job becaise of class size and lack of resources so we are showing strategies that do not need special equipment. It's also good for them to know that other places in the world contend with the problem of children whose home langauge is not the language of instruction. One more review tomorrow and then three day sessions with new groups.
We also give out contracts to new job training students tomorrow. Eleven drivers, 3 (women) in motor mechanics, a couple of tailors and a carpenter.
Pictures to come

Sunday, January 8, 2012

helping Kenyan schools

We try to help the children by helping their teachers: Virtues training, Read for the Top and English seminars. All exams are in English which severely disadvantages rural children. Two girls committed suicide last week when they received their KCPE results and would not be able to continue in Secondary. Oh for a school not tied to the Kenyan exam system! Watch the videos of Read for the Top. The link is on our web site www.tembokenya.org

Kenya Certificate of Primary Education

Three private elementary schools in Kakamega have been interdicted for 'irregularities' in the recent KCPE exams. They will not be allowed to offer candidates for the test for two years. Parents are naturally in a panic. The interdicted students will have to 'rewind' (repeat the year). Out of 500 points you need 250 to qualify for a place in a secondary school. There are sometimes not enough places even for those who pass the exam, even if a parent or a sponsor can pay the fees. Here is what a newspaper article says: Matter of Life and Death. Almost every household in Kenya has a child in school. This explains why the country waits with bated breath for the release of KCPE results. This year was no exception. What is staggering is the extent to which pupils, teachers and parents go to cheat on the exams. Passing the exams is matter of life and death. A pupil who fails to get marks for high school falls by the wayside, his other talents notwithstanding. Something is terribly wrong with a system that condemns a 13-year-old as a failure and cuts him loose.'
This is why with the help of Tanya we are trying to offer vocational and polytechnic training to some of the jobless who never went on with their education or who dropped out for lack of fees.
My other dream is to open an international school based on Virtues and with a Canadian curriculum. Hmmm

The last week

Outside and inside the interview room

After the New Year holiday we saw 20 people on Wednesday for job training. Some very young school leavers, some middle aged with families. We selected three women to train as motor mechanics. One is in her thirties with two young children. Her husband was murdered 2 or 3 years ago. Ten or eleven men want to do driving, so we have negotiated a price with the driving school that will give them the full range of vehicles, plus motorbikes. We were not aware that the motorbike licence is separate. Most drivers in town are unlicensed and very dangerous. We shall be doing our small part to improve the road safety.
On Thursday we took two of our scholarship girls to a new school. They have done well and we are moving them to a bigger and higher rated school. It took us most of the day to obtain permission to remove their belongings from one school and then sign them in to the new one.
On Friday our American teachers arrived for the teacher seminars to start next week.
On Saturday we received the shy gifts of one egg and a stick of sugar cane as we handed over a well to a local community
Here are the 'before' and 'after pictures. It took 65 seconds to fill a 20 litre container with clear water.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Long-ish update

We are back from our Christmas break in Turkey. A wonderful visit with our daughter in Ankara, including an overnight in Cappadocia, then four days in Istanbul. The only spoiler was the brutal return trip. Early evening departure from Istanbul, arriving in Nairobi at 2 am and then a wait for the first flight out to Kisumu at 10 am. Still recovering from a compeltely sleepless night.

However, we came back to a busy schedule and great news as some of our programmes show great progress.

Went shopping today in the big new supermarket after making arrangements for the next few days. A young woman spoke to me. 'Do you remember me?' Out of context, it's sometimes hard to place a face. She belongs to the Youth Group who have attended business training. Over the holiday they have had training which we organised for keeping rabbits (good source of cheap protein) and have set up their soap making project for which they have customers.'We are not idle any more.' Remember that the unemployment rate in Kakamega area is around 60%.

This group is part of the 'coalition' to form a cooperative and we will meet Jan 14 to decide on the major income-generating project in which all will participate.In the mean time we have given seminars in poultry keeping, rabbits and bee keeping so the component groups can generate extra income.

It is slow to bring people together who have little formal education and experience of the world outside this area. But they are progressing step by step towards independence.

We think we have found a winning formula for improving performance in Kenyan elementary schools. We teach the Virtues Project for eliminating the use of the cane and improving atmosphere. We run Read for the Top to improve language comprehension in as many schools as possible, and we offer teacher seminars for language teaching strategies. One of our schools has just improved phenominally jumping to a high position in the district rankings and another has also shot up. The first school has incresed their average score in the national exams by 40 points--an unheard of achievement. The interesting thing is that the whole school adopted the Virtues, but the Read for the Top was conducted in class 6 and 7. So the high achievers this year (class 8)were not participants in the organised contests. Nor did this school send many teachers to the seminars last year becasue of some political nonsense at the education office. I am betting they will send more this year!
In the other school Virtues training was recent and they are yet to do their Read for the Top. Yet they improved their scores by 25 points.

The Provincial Education office is ready to give us full endorsement for Virtues seminars in schools. Not only does this training help eliminate (sometimes vicious)coporal punishment, but as we see improves academic performance. The schools will be able to cover our costs for seminars and we pray for enough funding to continue the teaching in communtities. The urgency in this is the prospect of conflict and violence leading up to the elections later this year.

We are so grateful to all those who donate to us to make this possible.

Yesterday we interviewed 20 anxious people for job training and selected 19. If our funding allows it, we will maybe be able to take more before we leave. Photos to come.

Today we go to Isecheno primary to select three students for secondary scholarships and Friday we welcome our American teachers for the seminars to continue over the next three weeks. The slogan 'help the children by helping their teachers' is so very true.

We shall be training new schools for Read for the Top later this month as well as the business training follow-up.

As soon as I get some breathing space I will select some photos for you.