‘Schools to Sea’ Marine Environmental Program Established

The days were numbered and my time was ending in Mombasa and I was FINALLY given the go ahead to complete the Marine Environmental Program I’ve been dreaming of doing! To say the least I was rejuvenated. I was first … Continue reading

The ‘Swimathon for Textbooks’ Success Story

There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing children who have never swam a full lap in their life be determined to swim four just to fill their schools with textbooks. On November 8th, our Swimathon began in a typical drizzle that … Continue reading

Football: Community and Spirit

“Who’s brilliant idea was it to set up a football match at 2 pm, the hottest time of day?” Josh whines, prompting laughs and blame to be passed on to Dan and Pete for the sweaty, exhausting afternoon ahead of … Continue reading

Observing a New approach to Composition Writing Lessons

GVI Volunteers have these students up until Standard 6. After that, our volunteer presence is lifted and shifted back into Kenyan teacher’s hands.  Once they reach Standard 8 they have to take a national exam, their KCPE,  to see if they can move on to Secondary School. Without passing this exam, the students cannot move on in their education or have a certified & documented education. The attainment of certification means more open doors from documented jobs to bank loans. This certificate means a lot in guaranteeing a bright future for our students.

Not all of our students will pass this exam, attain certification and move on. But we’re hoping Continue reading

Six Weeks Turns Into Six Months

I was pulled away on a Thursday afternoon to have a chat with the project manager. Not really sure what it would be about I went in without any expectations. After a short while I realized what was happening and was beginning to feel hopeful. “Monika, we love what you have done here and the work you’ve been putting in with resources and how to change the programs.  I know that you are going on Safari this weekend – take your time and travel if you like – but instead of flying home after that, we’d like you to stay here as the Education Officer for our project.” Before she finished asking, my heart had already said yes. Continue reading

Celebrating ‘Official School Status’ & My Leaving Ceremony

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. Continue reading

Exploring the Complexities of Kenya/Canada Comparisons with ‘The Giving Tree’

My group reading session today had my girls looking at, ‘The Giving Tree‘ by Shel Silverstein. Before reading the book we did a pre-reading activity that asked the question: “If you could ask a tree to give you anything you wanted, … Continue reading

What am I doing here?

“Why on earth did I sign up for two months here? What am I even doing?
I shouldn’t be here!”

Dread, a bit of panic, and an overwhelming amount of doubt was there to greet me when I was driving to the project site from the airport in Mombasa.

I always thought it was cliché when they say,  ”you’ll never know what poverty is until you see it in person, face to face.”  But they are entirely right. To see it that close. To see it seem endless with every street, every corner, every sea of garbage you see a child and animal picking through, every crowded market, every person you see lying in the streets, every shack that you would never want to call home, every burning pile of rubbish, every repugnant smell that wafts into your nose, every broken down building, every child wandering alone, and the excessive amounts of people living in conditions that you would avoid even walking through will overwhelm you and help you understand exactly what poverty is.

It will make you too aware of your own fortune. Of how well off you are. To be coming into this entirely different world with the culture and history you carry with you. To hate where you’re from and want to forget that you even came here. To feel ashamed of the good hand you were dealt in life.  To want to hide away and not be here ‘to help.’ Which now, as you’re driving though it – seem so minuscule, conceited and ridiculous. Selfishly taking an ‘experience’ away from this place. And what are you really giving back? Nothing can ever be enough so you should just turn back now. Continue reading