Receiving Mosquito Bed Nets

Update from the FHF Safe Inclusive Schools team in Kenya

Carolyn Francis, Carolyn Thorne, and Liz Townsend are in Kenya from March 6 to 26 to lead workshops and school visits on Positive Learning for All, the third stage in the SIS Project.

 

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Wonderful celebrations took place with the distribution of 250 mosquito bed nets at Rugetene Primary School.

On Saturday March 23rd, pupils, teachers, parents and Board of Management gathered with great enthusiasm. Jennifer Murogocho, Carolyn Francis, Liz Townsend & Carolyn Thorne were joined by 6 practice teachers to distribute the nets. Hailey Hennessey and Krystal Woodside had taught at the school.

How joyous it was to be greeted with dancing, singing, and innovative drama on the school compound!

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A wonderful visit at Nkando Primary

Update from the FHF Safe Inclusive Schools team in Kenya

Carolyn Francis, Carolyn Thorne, and Liz Townsend are in Kenya from March 6 to 26 to lead workshops and school visits on Positive Learning for All, the third stage in the SIS Project.

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One of the most outlying, dusty, and needy schools is Nkando Primary, twinned with Margate Pastoral Charge.

After driving for more than an hour from Meru, we were greeted with marching and dancing by the school’s Scout troop. We went for a Celebration to announce a significant donation from Margate Pastoral Charge. We joined pupils, parents, and teachers in a large circle under an acacia tree. Everyone including the SIS team was included in the traditional singing and dancing.

There was great excitement due to the improvements to the school that could be made with the donation. The head master made an impassioned speech to acknowledge the contributions that have been made by Farmers Helping Farmers through the twinning program.

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Planned improvements include an additional water tank, gutters linking to the new tank, payment for water line maintenance fees, and an extension to the screen house for the garden.

Perhaps the most significant assistance with this donation will be the provision of maize and beans to sustain the pupils during this time of severe drought.

The hospitality of Kenyans is ever present, and we were provided a wonderful meal before our departure.

To read more about the great work of the Margate Pastoral Charge, visit our website. They are one of the groups celebrated during the 2019 International Development Week on P.E.I.

http://www.farmershelpingfarmers.ca/2019/02/celebrating-international-development-week-2019-monday/

 

Successful Workshops on Positive Learning for All in Meru

Update from the FHF Safe Inclusive Schools team in Kenya

Carolyn Francis, Carolyn Thorne, and Liz Townsend are in Kenya from March 6 to 26 to lead workshops and school visits on Positive Learning for All, the third stage in the SIS Project.

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The Safe Inclusive Schools Project seems to excite everyone we encounter. Our two-day workshop in Meru sparked deep discussions with 37 head teachers and others including Jennifer Makena Murogocho, our Meru host and key local organizer.

Jennifer, an important Farmers Helping Farmers Kenyan partner in Meru, had invited participants from primary and secondary schools twinned past and present. From 9 AM to 4 PM each of the two days Carolyn Francis, Liz Townsend and Carolyn Thorne explored positive discipline and creating more inclusive schools in keeping with Kenyan laws and policies.

The days were filled with many experiential learning activities. An added bonus for participants was the introduction of a 25 page draft ‘Positive Discipline and Learning for All’ guide created by the SIS team.

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Participants gave lots of feedback for developing the four chapters, positive discipline and learning, inclusion and differentiated instruction, instructional strategies, and accessibility in schools.

If you’re wondering how the workshops were received, evaluations were all positive.

Here are a few comments: “If we completely implement all that we have learned in the workshop our schools will improve”; “The same workshop should continue to all teachers so that positive change can be experienced by all – to all Kenyan schools”; and, “Very useful guide to be able to digest the workshop after reflection and flashing back..”

Thanks to Farmers Helping Farmers for supporting the SIS Project since 2017!

To read more about Safe Inclusive Schools, visit our Farmers Helping Farmers website.

http://www.farmershelpingfarmers.ca/projects/safe-inclusive-schools-project/

Thinking about the future

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By Brent Woodside
This week we attended the workshops put on by the Safe Inclusive School team from Farmers Helping Farmers.
Our role as pre-service teachers was to assist the attending teachers from Kenya with instructions, demonstrate teaching methods, as well as draw from our experiences as students. 

It was a wonderful seminar focusing on positive discipline and inclusion in the classroom. From listening to the inclusion section of the presentation they talked about children with physical needs not having the resources they need to attend school.

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I have seen this first hand in my school with the latrines and steps leading into the classroom.

Before becoming a teacher, I worked as an engineer for three years so I began to think of solutions. It would be quite easy to build a ramp system with materials found from the local area or extend one of the latrines, add a bench, and add some rails to allow students with physical disabilities the opportunity to get the education they deserve.

From my undergraduate degree at UNB, I have seen universities partner with non-profit organizations to allow students to get some hands-on projects that have a purpose and allows the organization access to knowledge that may be outside of their expertise.

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I know first hand how valuable these types of projects are to both sides and could see a future project for the new school of sustainable engineering at UPEI. All that would be needed is a contact person from Farmers Helping Farmers that could answer student questions.

If Farmers Helping Farmers is interested in pursuing this project, I would really enjoy helping to sit down with them and the UPEI engineering department to develop some future projects that could change many lives.

Helping girls in Kenya stay in school

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By Krystal Woodside

March 21, 2019

Our time in Kenya is coming to an end! In less than a week we will be getting on our plane back to Canada. These past few days have been very busy but also a great experience. Over the weekend we travelled to Samburu for an amazing safari. We were able to see so many animals and had a great time. As pre-service teachers we also had the opportunity to be a part of the Safe Inclusive Schools project that was put on by Carolyn, Carolyn, and Elizabeth. This was a great experience and I felt as though I learnt just as much as the teachers from Kenya did.

The real highlight for me this week though has been the Days for Girls project we were involved in. Between the four female pre-service teachers we were able to give this workshop at 5 different schools which equalled over 200 girls!

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On Wednesday, Hailey and I went back to Rugetene to present this workshop to the standard 6, 7, and 8 girls.

Volunteers in Canada sew these beautiful kits for us to give the girls. In the kits are reusable pads, soap, a wash cloth and the instructions. The night before the workshop we had an opportunity to look through the materials and marvel at the amazing work these volunteers did.

They are so beautiful with their many colours and are so well made. If the girls take care of them they can last for up to 4 years!

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The standard 6 & 7 girls posing with their new Days for Girls kits. Everyone was very excited and appreciative of these products.

During the workshops we focused on the kits and how to properly use and clean them which is very important for the students to know. Other topics we covered included female and male anatomy, puberty, safe sex, and consent. It was funny as presenting this program reminded me of my sexual education class in grade 6. Everyone was a little awkward but also very open and inquisitive and that’s what I saw with the Rugetene girls. They started the day off a little slow but by the end we could barely keep up with all the questions. I am glad they were given a safe space to ask some questions they may not have otherwise been comfortable asking.

This workshop also illustrated some stark differences between Canada and Kenya. Growing up in Canada I think girls often take advantage of having access to menstruation products. We learnt that in Kenya they can be hard to come by and many girls have to make due by using other materials they can find around their house. This made this experience even more precious. I know that the girls really appreciate these kits and will take good care of them.

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This project got me thinking about how Farmers Helping Farmers can continue their work with Days For Girls and providing menstruation products to women. It is not only school aged girls who could benefit from this program. We talked to many women in the area who said they could use these kits and some students even told us their female family members don’t have access to menstruation products. Farmers helping Farmers really tries to work on sustainability and this project in my opinion is an opportunity for that.

I was speaking to Carolyn Francis this week about how it would amazing to see a sewing project here in Kenya where women with proper training could actually make these kits. They could then distribute the kits and educate other women in Kenya on how to use them. I am a strong believer in women’s rights and access to feminine products is an issue that many women in Kenya struggle with. If we can find a way to provide more kits to females here in Kenya without always having to transport them from Canada that would be ideal. During these workshops I was able to see first hand how valuable and appreciated these kits are. The girls were so excited and proud of what we had given them. I look forward to seeing if there are ways to make them more accessible so we can continue to empower women here in Kenya.

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To read more about the Days for Girls project, visit the Farmers Helping Farmers website.  The packages distributed by Farmers Helping Farmers are created by the Empower Sewing Group in Guelph, Ontario, who have donated more than 1,000 of the kits!  Their work was celebrated as part of 2019 International Development Week.

http://www.farmershelpingfarmers.ca/2019/02/celebrating-international-development-week-2019-wednesday/

 

A special place in our hearts

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By Hailey Hennessey

Krystal and I had an amazing last day at our school, Rugetene Primary. We started off the day by teaching a few lessons and then we went to the cookhouse to help with the preparation for the special meal they had planned for us. We peeled potatoes and assisted the cook in making a stew. Spending this quality time with the two chefs and our cooperating teachers was a lot of fun. We all shared a laugh at how much longer it took us to peel a potato in comparison to them.

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After helping in the cookhouse we went out to the field during break and skipped rope with the students. They all seemed to enjoy watching us try to keep up with their excellent skipping abilities.

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We then went around and gave some small gifts to the students we had the pleasure of teaching. Some of the gifts were candy, others were erasers, pencils, or PEI pins.

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After passing out some gifts we had lunch with the entire teaching staff. The food was absolutely delicious and it was so kind of them to give us such a special meal. Each teacher gave a special speech after lunch thanking us for our time and wishing us well in the future. We gave all of the teachers pens and Canada pins and the female teachers put them in their ears as earrings.

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The head teacher also presented us with shawls that were the colours of Kenya’s flag. This was an extremely kind gesture. We then had a school assembly where the students sang for us and we went around to each of the 200 students and pinned a Canada pin onto their school uniform. The students were so excited and so proud to wear the pins we gave them.

Krystal and I were both very sad to leave our school but we left with so much more knowledge and a special place in our hearts for the students at Rugetene Primary.

Exciting workshops on positive learning for all

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Update from the FHF Safe Inclusive Schools team in Kenya

Carolyn Francis, Carolyn Thorne, and Liz Townsend are in Kenya from March 6 to 26 to lead workshops and school visits on Positive Learning for All, the third stage in the SIS Project.

After a night in Nairobi, we drove about 2.5 hours to Mukurwe-ini to the home of our hosts Gerald and Grace Kariuki. What a spectacular place they have on top of a hill overlooking terraced farmland. Like their neighbours, Gerald & Grace grow coffee, bananas, and macadamia nuts. They also keep milk cows, hens, and goats. It’s so dry right now that the pending rains will be more than welcome.

Gerald has been an important Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF) organizer in Mukurwe-ini for over 20 years. He was also a key person while FHF supported growth of the Wakulima Dairy – but that’s another story!

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This time Gerald set up two days of workshops, school visits, and various other meetings.

We welcomed around 30 workshop participants who stayed with us for the two days.

The first discussions were on discipline issues and ideas for positive discipline to replace corporal punishment that is against the law in Kenya.

What excitement we had as they participated in learning educational strategies like “carousel” where groups moved from table to table to add ideas on flip charts on Positive Discipline for All.

By Day 2 we moved into creative mapping by groups who were asked to draw on flip charts and present to everyone an ideal inclusive and accessible school.

Now we’re off to conduct similar workshops and school visits in the Meru district.

To read more about Safe Inclusive Schools, visit our Farmers Helping Farmers website!

http://www.farmershelpingfarmers.ca/projects/safe-inclusive-schools-project/

 

Gratitude from Mweru Primary School

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Update from the FHF Safe Inclusive Schools team visiting Mweru Primary School in Kenya

You can imagine the excitement at Mweru Primary School when we arrived by car with Gerald Kariuki, our Farmers Helping Farmers organizer in Mukurwe-ini. When Gerald opened the trunk there were ‘ooo’s’ and ‘wow’s’ from the head teacher, Veronica Maina.

Gerald unloaded two large bags and a box of early childhood learning materials for teachers to work particularly with special needs pupils.

With Carolyn Thorne, Carolyn Francis and Liz Townsend unpacking, materials were set out on long tables in the Staff Room. Teachers gathered to try them out – blowing bubbles; learning dominoes; rejoicing at donations of tooth brushes and tooth paste. We tried putting puzzles together while having fun too!  There were paint sets, boxes with various shapes, games to learn about time and more.

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The school expressed gratitude with singing and dancing for us. One wonderful dance by the grade 8 class portrayed  a story of grandparents caring for a baby that was actually a blanket rolled up and passed back and forth while other pupils danced. We ate an incredible array of fruits: paw paw, mango, banana, and orange.

This is our Pilot primary school to build resources for special needs pupils in the Mukurwe-ini district. We chose this school because it is very well organized and clean. They have a large cabinet with a lock to ensure that the materials we left with them will be safe for repeated use in with special needs pupils.

Thanks so much to our Farmers Helping Farmers Holiday Campaign donors for contributions that we used for much needed resources.

To read more about Safe Inclusive Schools, visit our Farmers Helping Farmers website!

http://www.farmershelpingfarmers.ca/projects/safe-inclusive-schools-project/

 

Career conversations and special needs successes

Update from the FHF Safe Inclusive Schools team visiting Ichamara School in Kenya

March 8, 2019

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Liz Townsend, Carolyn Thorne and Carolyn Francis visited the school and met with the deputy Head, Grace Ndaini. Veronicah Mwangi, the head teacher, was away at a meeting about the KCP examinations which will be written by all Standard 8 students in mid-October.

The school has 245 pupils in grades 1 to 8 and also kindergarten pupils.

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We delivered letters from Mr. Acorn’s Grade 7 class at Stonepark Intermediate.  The deputy and the grade 7 teacher found the letters very interesting and read some of them right away.  

A short discussion about what careers students in Kenya often selected such as doctor, nurse, pilot, or engineer without knowledge of what these careers entailed.

This was prompted by a P.E.I. student who had indicated a desire to be a carpenter. The deputy said that carpenters were needed in Kenya but the career did not have a high profile, but should have as there was such a shortage of skilled workers. The class 7 teacher will  have students write reply letters to the P.E.I. students.

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We also visited the special needs class which currently had four students and others who were integrated into the regular classroom. Mrs. Munyi, the special class teacher, had several former students who were now at a technical school learning trades.

There was a strong belief that all students could learn to some extent and be of value to their community.  An example given was one student who was unable to learn to read but still was able to gather leaves for the goats.

To read more about Safe Inclusive Schools, visit our Farmers Helping Farmers website!

http://www.farmershelpingfarmers.ca/projects/safe-inclusive-schools-project/

 

Sharing the joy

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Krystal with a group of upper year girls on her last day. They were sad to hear she was leaving but glad they got to spend the past few weeks together.

March 15, 2019

By Krystal Woodside
Where has the time gone? Today marked the end of my teaching time at Rugetene primary school. I have been so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with so many incredible people these past few weeks. The students have been better than I could have ever imagined. Their genuine curiosity and willingness to learn has made my job so much easier. I hope that I have been able to make a fraction of the impact on everyone here as they have made on me.

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Krystal with her cooperating teacher Lucy who she says has been like a mother to her while at the school
The week has been a busy one with many highlights so I apologize in advance if this blog is a little longer but I think the read will be worth it. On Tuesday much to my excitement I was given a Kenyan name from my fellow teachers here at Rugetene. The name is Kagwiri and from what I was told it means Joy or the one who is always happy. I am so honoured to have been accepted into my community this way and I am proud that this trait is how they view me. There is much to be happy about when I am in this incredible country surrounded by some amazing people. This event may seem small to these teachers but to me it really does mean the world.

This week I also had the opportunity to serve lunch to the students. I have worked as a server in Canada so it was easy to get back into the swing of things. Like many of the schools here in Kenya, Rugatene has a food program so students are fed everyday at 11:00 break and also at lunch. The meal I was serving was rice and beef which is almost everyone’s favourite. The ladies in the kitchen were fast and efficient and the students all waited patiently. I had a lot of fun and I think the students were happy to see me there too. I appreciate how when I am at the school I have opportunities to invest myself in more than just teaching.

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The kitchen staff and Krystal preparing lunch

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Krystal serving the rice and beef to a couple of students
Another day this week I had the opportunity to spend time outside playing with the students. This is something I have done so many times and will always cherish these memories. On this particular day the students were skipping rope using a vine they had found. After some coaxing on their part they were able to convince me and Hailey to try jumping. I was no where near as good as them at it but it was still a lot of fun. We took turns jumping and turning the rope and there were smiles all around. I think this will be what I will miss the most from my time at the school. Just playing and laughing with the students. This is where I really get to know the students and I feel as though they get a better sense of me.

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 One of the students jumping rope while Krystal turned it for them. The rest of the students were looking on while enjoying their porridge.
We finished the week off with the zones for athletics. This meant that 8 primary schools from the area came together to compete in many events. The event was held at Michogomone primary school which gave me a chance to visit Brent and Maude at the secondary school. It was wonderful to meet the people there and get a better sense of what the others have been doing for the past few weeks. After visiting the secondary school we went down to the primary school field to watch the athletics. If you remember my post from a few weeks ago my students had been hard at work practising for the competition. Although only some of the students compete every student comes to cheer so there were students everywhere. Rugetene did well, especially some of the girls in the running events and we took home many metals. More importantly the kids had fun competing and also talking to the students from other schools.

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One of the senior boys from Rugetene participating in shot put
Because the schools are so close many of the students have friends and family attending the other schools. This means it was a chance for everyone to catch up and spend the day together. I was also able to meet lots of new people. My students were very excited for me to meet their friends and I think those other students were also excited to meet me. As always there were lots of hand shakes, high fives, and first bumps. I spoke to lots of teachers from other schools as well. It was nice to hear more about the other schools in the area and their perspective on education. I also had the chance to tell them a bit about Canada and how our education works.

Finishing at Rugetene has been bittersweet. Although I am sad to leave I am also looking forward to what is ahead. Our plans for next week include attending the workshop run by Farmers Helping Farmers surrounding safe and inclusive schools, working on the days for girls project which provides reusable menstruation products, and also attending the event to distribute the mosquito nets to the students of Rugetene. I know it will be a jam packed week and I can’t wait to share some of my experiences with you all in my next blog post!