2016-Mid Term Three

Created on 23/09/16 12:52 by n/a

Mid-Term Three and Kwaheri (goodbye) Teacher Sian

There certainly is never a quiet moment at Future Hope. Holiday camp at the end of term two was action packed with fun. The introduction of the enhanced Science curriculum full of exciting experiments and teaching ideas really inspired the teachers. Science club was one of the biggest clubs, with the children only just all fitting into the science lab! They all loved making their own ice cream and taste testing along the way. Whilst it was a test of patience to wait three weeks to see if a stalactite would grow, the children and teachers were thrilled to see it did. Another popular club was the girls pop up nail salon. They loved getting their nails done and choosing which colour; as did some of the little boys! A lot of the nail varnish came from the girls Christmas goodie bags, so to all those who contributed to Tim’s Santa Appeal, a massive thank you.

 Science club       Science club2   Science club3     nails    
 Holiday Camp Science Club was very popular. From making ice cream and stalegtites  to re creating sunset.

 The girls enjoyed a pop up nail salon!

As did some of the little boys!

Throughout the week of holiday camp, each child made their mark. They designed their own pictures to represent themselves. Some drew what they liked or were good at, others made some great attempts at self portraits. Each design was carefully painted onto a square of fabric. Now the squares are ready to be sewn together, piece by piece. It is a labour of love, but once finished will brighten up our dining hall wall.

The children are like elephants, they never forget. They love to reminisce about volunteers who have been at the school. It seems that our volunteers are the same. Benno one of our volunteers from 2015 says the school and the children are often on his mind. His band ‘Town and Ship’ kindly played a benefit concert to raise money and awareness for Future Hope and kindly raised over 500 Euros. Lena who volunteered with Benno took some beautiful photos and sent a huge parcel with a photo for every child to take home.

    creative         wonder wall term         Town and ship            

 The start of our creative project. Every child painted a square to represent themselves.

It will hopefully be all sewn together and hanging on our wall soon!

 Our Wonder Wall this term show casing some of our creative talents.

 A huge thanks to Benno, one of our volunteers from last year who raised 500 Euros.

His band Town and Ship put on a benefit concert in Germany for Future Hope.

It is never just the children who are learning, this term we have continued with our professional development workshops for the teachers and focused on science and literacy. The new science curriculums and resources set the teachers a challenge to plan and teach an experiment.  The early years teachers enjoyed a phonics refresher course where they played some games. The sound relay being the most fun. The teachers laughed so loudly, the children in class next door asked them to ‘be quiet’!! The adult literacy team and teachers attended a story shaping workshop learning how to use simple yet effective cues to develop the art of shaping the stories children tell them. 

 Story shaping         phonics workshop    thematic work  
 Story Shaping Workshop for teachers and adult literacy tutors.  Phonics revision workshop. The teachers still love playing games!  Upper Primary have been learning about the Government and their roles in the theme 'Our Country'

 

In January we started Adult Literacy and Numeracy classes under the tutelage of Harriet Odhiambo. Margaret one of our guardians and community volunteers has been teacjing numeracy with the support of Harriet. On 8th September some of the leaners attended the International Literacy Day held at Chongyi and whilst none of our mature students received certificates, we did win the trophy as the best centre of Adult Literacy, quite an achievement. Well done!

 award giving      award   adult literacy a adult literacy a     

The Adult Literacy Awards. Harriet in the centre, Margaret on far right.  in the red dress,

Angelena a Government supplied Adult Literacy teacher who teaches with Harriet.

On September 27th it would have been Papa Peter’s birthday. This day has since become Founders Day where the children take their time to be grateful for all they have at Future Hope. This year Carol set a challenge for the children amongst their houses; to answer the question ‘What does Future Hope mean to you?’. The children, with minimal teacher support, spent two weeks in their free time answering the question through rap, poem, drama, dancing and singing. 

founders day 201      Whole School   care   
 Celebrating Founders Day....

The whole school cae together for a day of rememberance,

celebration and thanks. 

 The house of Care perfoming their song about Papa Peter.

Many of the performances fondly recalled Papa Peter and what a kind and honourable man he was. The Care House wrote him a beautiful letter to let him know how much the school had grown and developed. A drama piece by the Love House had the children acting out their answers. Future Hope means to us; ‘a tummy full of food, smart new clothes, good kind teachers, good health care, relaxing watching DVDs, a library full of stories, learning to read and write and dancing and playing’.

 Hope      Love       Support   
 The house of Hope singing thanks for all they receive

 The house of Love rapping and acting out their response to the question

'What does Future Hope mean to you?'

 The house of Support reciting their poem about Papa Peter and Mama Cheka.

Whilst the judges had to choose a winner because it was a competition, to us they were all winners. Every child worked hard, participated and made the day a huge success. After the competitions everyone enjoyed a big lunch of delicious byriani, juice and ice cream.

   Winners      Byriani lunch    ice cream 
 The winning team was Love. Enjoying their victory sodas.

 Relaxing enjoying special Byriani lunch.

The cooks really did well.

 Ice cream for all for dessert.Yum!

Goodbye Teacher Sian

And now after five incredible years at Future Hope, it is time for me to move on. It has been an amazing journey with lots of ups and some downs along the way. So as I take the time to write my last blog, it seems fitting to reminisce.

It all started with a few emails and, as I was in need of a change of scene and Future Hope in need of an Educationalist, my volunteer story began a few weeks later. I intended to come to Kenya for three months in October 2011 and then go home......

....well that was the plan! It didn’t work! As I have warned many volunteers over the years that have since come; watch out, it is easy to get stuck here!!

People either seem to love or hate Kenya. I loved it all; from the sounds, smells, vibrant colours, the beautiful sing song greetings of Swahili and the open kindness of most people you come across to the crazy matatu journeys and laid back Kenyan time keeping. I most certainly appeared to be a fish out of water as the only 'mzungu' (white) girl in the village but Carol and Peter, the children and staff at Future Hope very quickly gave me an anchor and before I knew it Kenya and Future Hope had become home. Every moment for the next few months (and even years to be honest!) were such an experience.

Welcome     Sian and kgs   Sian and baby cl
Sian, Carol and Sian and Carol Sian dancing
sian and footbal sian and monty FH team 2011

 Back in 2011, when it first began. The welcome I received from Carol and Peter, the staff at Future Hope, the community and most importantly the children made me feel at home.

 And let us not forget Monty Shadow the school cat who quickly became my shadow!! Following me around the school and keeping me company at night.

 

I was lucky enough to spend my first few days gazing at the Indian ocean and being eased into Kenyan  life at Carol and Peter’s fabulous home, but it was the empty classroom at school which became my first home here in Kenya. So many children think their teachers actually live at school, and in my case I really did!! I waited until the last child had gone home to dash across the school compound in my towel for a long awaited cold shower! This act was always greeted by giggles from a child hiding behind a bush who had yet to go home!!

Many good stories are love stories and I think that applies to my story here.  I will never forget the moment early on at school when during break time a little boy who kept seeking me out was crying. I went over to him and picked him up for a cuddle. It was such a strange sad moment when I realised he was unsure how to be cuddled. He sat rigid on my knee as I stroked his back, then he took a big sigh leaned into me, relaxed and fell asleep in my arms. I knew I was smitten from then on. It costs nothing to give a hug. From that moment on those children burrowed deep into my heart and everything I have worked towards at Future Hope has been for them, to do my part to make them feel safe, cared for, listened to and loved.

So when I rescued a tiny kitten (later to be named Monty Shadow by the children) and he stole a little piece of my heart too, my friends back in the UK did not believe me that I was coming back after three months! They were indeed right and saw long before I did, that Future Hope had stolen my heart. When Carol and Peter kindly invited me to stay on and help the school develop, it turned out to be one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I am so grateful to them for giving me the chance to become part of the wonderful family of Future Hope and very grateful to the donors who bought my permits to enable me to stay. I hope Peter that if you can look down on us at school, you are proud of what we have achieved.

Armed with another 30kgs of toys and resources I returned in 2012 after New Year and began the next chapter. My role was a very special role as it seemed to develop naturally by itself from volunteer to leader. I did not ask for it, but felt it was given to me by the teachers who asked for my help to better their teaching and find out why the children did not read very well. For months I know the teachers watched me whizzing around the school, full of energy, singing and dancing, often with a mountain of children on my lap and always sweating!! The heat really does take some time to get used to! I think, well actually I know now as they told me, they thought I was mad!!But one by one the teachers started coming to me for more and more activity ideas, advice and songs and soon the teacher’s workshops started and continued all these years. It has been such a privilege to work with teachers who are open and ready to learn. To watch them grow and develop and see the positive changes in the ability of their children and know it was down to them has been very special. It has been an honour to guide the team at Future Hope and see progression every year. I know that they all think they need me to teach them more, but I am so proud and confident of the excellent teachers they are today. I know they hold all the skills they need inside of them.

 I sat in the dirt, ate ugali and learnt Kiswahili as fast as I could as I didn’t want to be treated differently or singled out because of the colour of my skin. I handled the new baby class for some time and they had so much fun watching me try to communicate with them and get them to sit down quietly!!Classroom commands were some for the first Swahili words I learnt after greetings.  In time people in the village stopped calling me Mwalimu Mzungu (White Teacher) and learnt my name, although thaks my my PE t-shirt (love) I got named Mama Love by one the regular matatu divers and it stuck! Vipingo and Future Hope became my community and it felt great to belong. It is incredible to look back and see how much the school has grown and changed. When I first arrived there were only 60 children and 5 teachers and the oldest child was 12. Now the babies I first taught are soon to be in class 3 and are such wonderful readers and the pre teens who were the oldest children are now teenagers. I am so proud of the gracious young men and women they have grown to be and hope the life lessons from my health talks will steer them in the right direction as they make their life choices.

    Fifi  Salon     sian and kids  
Sian and music sian and kids 3 dancing 2012
teachers and mus Chilli making hairwashing
2012 and 2013 were full of music as we worked on our school music project. Never a spare moment from hairwashing to learning how to make pili pili; the days were action packed.

 

I think I am a ‘yes’ person, because I find myself saying it a lot and before I know it, finding a huge project in my lap. This certainly happened with the school music project. My mum Heather is a musician and after a successful grant application for funding and recording equipment for a schools music collaboration project, she easily persuaded me to join in. I worked with all the teachers and children at Future Hope and Heather and my old college friend Gareth Lumb worked at both Ysgol Cae’rFelin and Ysgol Brynsaron primary schools in West Wales. Over the course of a year the children in all three schools wrote their own lyrics and music about their lives and their schools. Through the medium of drop box we shared music and video files from Kenya to Wales and vice versa. The children began to learn about each other’s cultures, experiences and languages. The result was astounding with so much rich material to create the CD. It was so inspiring to see how inspired the children were and how involved all the teachers were in supporting the project. For so many of them all this technology was their first experiences at seeing computers, CD players and microphones. I will never forget the first video from the children in Wales I showed on my laptop. A class of 20 or so white children appear singing and the response was ‘Teacher Sian are all these wazungu (white) children, children for you??” I laughed so hard that they thought I could have that many children!! Although as I was told so often in my early days in Kenya, I was too old to have no husband and no children!!

   Our School Day 1    song bag     sian and penpal
hip hop sian and baby sian and parachu
sian and focus g sian and teacher sian and penpal
sian and kids 4 sian and matatu sian and kids 5

2014, 2015 and 2016. The years rolled on by, seeing many of our kids much taller than Teacher Sian! From volunteers and hip hop, teachers workshops and training, teaching the whole school about health, relatioships and life skills to special moments in focus groups as I saw my kids take huge steps forwards, phonics to cardboard matatus. It has been one of the most diverse jobs I think I will ever have.

 

Over the years I have lost count of the tears I have wiped, cuts I have cleaned, stories I have read and beautiful letters the children have written me. It has been an honour and a pleasure to have been invited into such a strong and dedicated team and loved by the children of Future Hope. You have all taken a permanent place in my heart and are the reason my life is the way it is today. If serendipity had not brought me to Vipingo, and I had not fallen in love with Future Hope, I would not have found my match in Teacher Issa who since has become my husband and the father of our beautiful baby boy. So in my time here I have collected 135 children, one husband and a baby. That makes 136 kids!! This helped everyone to breathe a sigh of relief that I finally saw sense and got myself a husband and a family! Now apparently I just need to have five more children and eat more ugali and I will be Kenyan!!

I have very much enjoyed coordinating the volunteer program and drawing from my own experiences to help support them in their stay. As I have watched each one of them leave with tears in their eyes, I knew I did not know how they felt, because I had yet to leave. Now the time has come for me to leave and it has brought many tears to my eyes. Telling the children it is time for me to move on and help other children was one of the hardest moments I have ever had. So many of them think that the other children don’t need me as much as they do which is so sweet and some of the older ones touched my heart by showing me that they value all I have taught them and told me ‘other children don’t know much Teacher Sian and they can’t read so we know you must help them like you helped us’.

This has been so much more than just a job, it has been a labour of love, and it has been my life. I have given so much, but have been given so much back in return.

There is so much more I could say, but like all good stories, they must come to an end. 

I would like pay the final following special thanks;

 

To Dear Peter and Carol thank you for giving me the opportunity which became the springboard into the next chapter of my life;

To the donors, especially Guy and Margaret who have supported me with permits and flights home to see my family;

To the team of Trustees and supporters who have helped us through the ups and downs;

To the kitchen ladies, grounds men and watchmen at Future Hope who made me feel safe and immediately at home and have continued to look after me;

To the teachers who have supported me in helping develop the schools educational programs and for all their patience as I found the best way to connect with them in trainings. You have taught me how to be a better trainer;

To the volunteers over the years of whom many of you have become friends through the mutual love of Future Hope;

To the parents and supporters who have been at the end of emails, for all your lovely correspondence;

To my family and friends in the UK who made it easy for me to leave and have this adventure;

To the guardians who have cooperated with me here at Future Hope;

To Monty Shadow for all the cuddles;

And last but not least to my dear children at Future Hope. Thanks for loving me and letting me be part of your lives. I am so proud of you all.

Looking forward to the next chapter and visiting you all.

Love Teacher Sian x

 

……but the final note comes from Carol!

 I cannot let this moment pass without expressing our gratitude for all that Sian has done for Future Hope. The school is as much her creation as Peter’s and mine. She will be a hard act to follow and I am just hoping that all that she has started will be continued.

She has laid down firm educational foundations and has instilled in the teachers a new focus that teaching is all about interacting with the children, listening to them, showing them and engaging with them and NOT just teaching them by rote, which is how most teachers operate in Kenya.

Re-writing the Kenyan curriculum has been a long, and I am sure, tedious process but the results are spectacular with our children being some two years ahead of their peer group in the village.

Personally, I think her greatest achievement has been inspiring the teachers to develop their personal skills within an educational framework and to be far more open to new ideas, new skills and to become confident, positive teachers who are willing to share their new found skills with others in the area.

She is a fearless champion of the underdog and has had to deal with several unhelpful government officials who have made our life less than easy; inevitably they succumbed and she nearly always got what was needed to progress a child’s welfare. She has introduced anti-bullying programmes, broken down the stigma surrounding AIDS/HIV, taught sex, health and hygiene in a fact based, safe way that has allowed both the girls and boys to learn about their bodies in a confidential, safe environment, so they can make informed, educated, empowered life choices.

To say that she will be missed is something of an understatement; unfortunately, we simply cannot afford to keep her with us any longer. Fund raising has become incredibly hard and, post Brexit, with the pound plummeting against the Kenyan shillingcurrently it’s lost 20%, the school that used to cost £5,500 per month last year, now costs £8,000, an additional £30,000 per annum and that’s without the usual rate of inflation being taken into account!

So yes, in an ideal world it would have been wonderful to keep her with us ad infinitum, but for everyone’s sake, things have to change and progress; also Sian would be wasting her considerable talents if she just limited her time to Future Hope.

All the Trustees and I would like to wish her every success in the future and I am sure that whatever the next chapter brings her, I know she will make a massive success of it.

A million thanks Sian, kwaheri and come and see us soon

 Carol and all the Trustees


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