Monthly Archives

January 2018

Unsung Hero

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May I introduce Mary, Shalom Academy’s cook for the last few years.

Never complaining, always on time, in blistering heat and pouring rain, working in a smoky mud hut, every morsel she cooks eaten with relish by the pupils, that’s Mary.

Before this week when we started collecting our own rainwater, she often walked a kilometre to the river for water to make ugali porridge or beans for the children, and sometimes both. Where does she get the energy?

If she were British she’d probably get an MBE.

Water Babies

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One of our primary goals this year was to bring running water to Shalom Academy.

We’ve done it.

After the mains water pipe was damaged by road contractors and disconnected the whole village, we decided to collect our own water using a series of gutters and pipes that drains rainwater from the roof to two 1,000-litre water butts. It’s enough to keep children clean and healthy, and for the cook to prepare lunch each day without having to walk a kilometre to the river.

We also built two hand-wash stations – one next to the long-drop latrines and one next to the kitchen.

I’ve a feeling we’re going to go through a LOT of soap in the next few weeks.

Precious Cargo

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It is surprising how far some children walk to Shalom Academy each morning (7.30am start) – and home each evening.

So it’s a special joy when someone’s dad offers a ride.

Room for another?

Sowing Seeds and Gathering in

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With the new bike at our disposal, Vitalis and I were able to visit parents and children in what he calls ‘the interior’, a densely wooded area accessible down narrow footpaths towards the river.

We met parents who were clearly struggling financially and whose aimless children had missed the first 3 weeks of the school term. We invited everybody to an open meeting to show them the new school and all the supplies we brought from Lancashire ‘that are not available anywhere else in Kakamega’, which drew impressive gasps.

The result? Eight new children registered within a couple of days – and Shalom Academy is a lot noisier!

New Arrivals

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Shalom Academy welcomed many new pupils this week (it’s the fourth week of term, but parents are slow to cotton on around here), bringing the total number to 41, including our youngest pupil, Francis, who has quickly become attached to a football donated by Blackburn Rovers FC.

We also welcomed some reliable transport – a new Honda motorbike, modelled by Vitalis and Olive – which should make life a bit easier for Vitalis and the teachers.

Bricking it

By | news

Our collective feet hit the ground running when we arrived in Irovo last week. There is plenty of building work to complete, none more important than constructing some secure cupboards for all our precious school supplies.

The school is too remote to leave the supplies overnight, which has meant either transporting them by Shanks’s pony every night after class or storing them with our helpful and ever patient neighbour, Elizabeth. So we decided to build a fort knox for books, pens, pencils, calculators, chalkboards and sports equipment.

First, bricks. Easier said than done. The pictures should give you some idea of what is involved in a simple bit of DIY in Kakamega county.

If you’re curious, the bricks are 7 bob each, about 5p.