Nyota Ing’arayo became an official school and today we celebrated. There was pilau, singing, dancing, smiling, and definite laughing going on at the school amongst teachers, staff, volunteers and especially the students. With Nyota becoming a school, the Students of Standard 8 are able to sit their Kenyan Certified Primary Education (KCPE) exam wearing uniforms representing their school. Now it’s official and Nyota is moving on from it’s child care centre days to a government recognized school.
Along with their celebrations for their ‘official status’ they had a leaving ceremony for the volunteers who were going home that weekend. While I knew I was coming back to this school they had decided to include me in the leaving ceremony anyways as I was leaving them as a teacher but returning as their Education Officer. This is one of my favourite days here in Kenya and one that will stick out in my memory for a very long time.
Before the official ‘end’ of my time at Nyota as a teacher, I took every moment to play with the kids. Jump rope, rubber band skipping, chasing the little ones around, and being mobbed by kindergartners in the blazing Mombasa heat. I was sweating, tired, and loving it. I was laughing and smiling the entire time and truly enjoying myself.
Then the ceremony started. Those of us who were leaving and a few of the other volunteers sat in chairs as we had dances and singing performed for us. It’s remarkable how well the girls dance and you can’t help but notice their own embarrassment of their amazing hip shaking moves. It takes such courage to get up and sing and dance – not to mention move your hips – in front of your whole school. I’m so happy they were able to show off their talents for us!
Soon after, a circle formed of all the students with more singing and intense drum beats played by some of the boys in Standard 6. Using just empty jerry cans and some sticks the rhythm and bets being carried by these students was remarkable. I was impressed by their practicing earlier but to have all of them in unison carrying the whole school’s songs like that was mesmerizing.
Then before I knew it, Lillian (a mother and caretaker of our school), had grabbed my hand and led me into the middle of the circle to dance. I couldn’t help but embrace this moment and if the girls, with their intense embarrassment , can find a way to shake their hips… well then I can find a way too! So I did – made the entire school laugh (And I think I embarrassed Lillian more than myself) but had a blast doing it.
After each volunteer had their turn in the circle they called out individual teachers who showed off their dancing skills to the delight of the entire audience. Soon after that, everyone was out and dancing to the music. My hands were never empty as I had to equitably share my dancing time with everyone. Kelvin, one of my Standard 3 boys, was rather cute as he came up to me and exclaimed “Madam! You like to dance!” and was very happy to be dancing with me. The girls taught me how to really shake my hips as I was ‘doing it all wrong’ – their words, not mine – and then laughed very hard once I finally did It properly.
Even though I knew I was coming back (and felt quite relieved that I was) I felt tears in my eyes being overwhelmed with what I can only describe as pure joy. Seeing all of my student’s happy faces and to be a part of celebrating their school becoming an ‘official’ one was really special for me.
I can’t help but feel moved knowing that if these students just stay at this school for five more years they can write their exam and hopefully move on to Secondary School. I have such hope for them and belief in what GVI is doing here and how much it benefits these kids. Without GVI, the majority of these kids would not be at a school like this or any school at all. They wouldn’t be learning, they wouldn’t have daily, nutririous meals and they wouldn’t have the chances a certified education will afford them. It still blows my mind how much volunteers make a difference here. I’m so happy I can continue to be a part of this.