… great to hear from you! [Matt writing from UK about to join Nancy in Kenya]… Our girls at Mercy home are so wonderful and actually live a fairly middle class life in comparison to others in the community. Now, I am referring to Kenyan rural middle class. I am getting them all mosquito nets before I leave – and if I knew no-one was bringing backpacks, I would get them all one too. They are so wonderful and carry these bags that break, some have little bags. But that would be my gift if you can get some, 2nd hand or they cost about 300 shillings here [USD4.5]- which is why I would get them. Also ponchos and/ or umbrellas. The younger girls don’t get shoes for school- they use flippers- and I am getting a couple of pairs. It rains here a couple of times a week and pours and they get soaked. Lots of coughs here.
It is warm, I think I have put a light jacket on twice.
Schools: As a teacher I could cry thinking of these teachers as my heros. They need the most for their schools. I brought 4 blow-up plastic globes, and 2 world maps and wish I had 50. Our girls have maps and a globe from volunteers. I bought paints and brushes and paper for the art classes I have- only 16 brushes (then I borrowed 13 from the girls at Mercy- last years volunteers brought them) so have 29 and each class has 45 or so students. We use feathers and the stick brushes from trees.
They have no science things – secondary do. They [teachers] and the students work so hard, I have such respect for them. I am planning on sending my science-for-teachers reference book to Gerald, one of the teachers, and simple science experiment books that they could use with really simple items that don’t have to be purchased. A thermometer, wind vane/sock, etc. would be great but bring more than one as you will visit schools that are so poor and will just want to give them supplies.
My favorite school- mark this down- is past the local school I work at- Susan, who you will meet knows which one- its across the river and up the hill – all walking- they plant trees and plants for the children to take home, have rabbits, make their own charcoal from a felled tree, etc. None have elctricity ! I gave them a solar cooker and a blow-up globe and they are really enjoying it as they’re very scientific.
Pens are at a premium- stupid rules, must use pens, which cost more than pencils (they use both). They get 3 per year which is not enough. Also, exercise books which they write in- oh, you’ll see.
…I miss fruit the most- I can’t just buy for me so have to buy for 15 and that means we each get 2 bites of whatever … ask Susan to show you the different schools in the area as you might prefer to teach at another one. Now, they have vacation starting the friday the 3rd (?) of august and then after a week they go back to class to study for when school starts the first of Sept. You might want to work in one of the high schools or my favorite the environmental school … I haven’t seen one real ball since I’ve been here- the kids make them out of plastic bags and tie with rope…if parents can send food monthly they [the children] get lunch, which is beans and corn everyday- they each bring a little container to put their food in. They all know how to cook- ugali and greens daily and the little ones can cook too.
[Many thanks for this, Nancy]