28 May 2011
Vitengeni School is one that we have visited several times over the last 3 years.
Rose Ziro who had been the Headmistress at Watamu went to work there and as friends we kept in touch. Rose went there on a government posting, when the President gave "free education to all children". He didn't build schools or train teachers, but he gave them free education!
Vitengeni School is about a two hour drive from Watamu and has 1000 children and 14 teachers.
When we first made contact, the school had hardly any books or resources and most of the children had never seen white people before.
The photo shows the school catering staff boiling rice and maize for the school dinner.
Due to the drought of 2006 all the crops had failed and the food was delivered by food aid lorries during our time there.
We took an initial supply of books to Vitengeni in 2004 and added to the collection in 2005. On this visit, I promised them a library and in 2006 we were able to fulfil this aim by providing 5,000 more books. Since my return, Rose Ziro has written to confirm that all the books have been arranged in the library and that adults, children and teachers are all queuing to borrow books.
In 2006 we also provided 6 sewing machines and all the items needed to make clothes. Ever eager to further their skills, the kids are very keen on their sewing lessons.
Two televisions, 2 video players and over 200 videos have also been provided and the children can't wait to watch a video at their allotted time. The first one we played for them was Mr Bean. The feeling that I had when I saw the faces of those children will stay with me all my life. I wonder if I could find a way to contact Rowan Atkinson to say how popular he now is in Vitengeni!
Many other items needed to run a school and to give the children some sort of childhood have been provided.
For the first time in their lives, children have received a present and the 30 footballs provided have been a particular source of pleasure to them.
In the few years I have been doing this work, Gladys, headmistress at Vitengeni School, said the nicest and most moving thing ever. As she looked at the children playing and the parents gazing at the items we were unpacking, she turned to me and said "You have given these people hope. They thought they were in a place God had forgotten". It was so very humbling.
Gladys is here pictured at the computer we have recently provided for Vitengeni School.
Sir Bob Geldof recently came on television and asked where had his money gone. All in freebies and admin I would say Bob. If he gave me some I would account for every penny, he would see, touch and know where his money had gone!! So would hundreds of kids and adults that would reap the benefits of all his hard work, and mine!