An outdoor classroom

by Susanne Koch,  2014/01/17

humedica staff member Susanne Koch has lived in East-African Kenia for thirteen years. She knows its culture and people, but she also knows about the problems of this state and its about 40 million inhabitants. She has packed her suitcases again for humedica and has visited the South-East of the country, where the help organization has helped the victims of the famine since 2011:

“I arrived in the Tana Delta region three days ago and have since been visiting villages, which our partner New Life Home Trust cares for. For the last three years, humedica has paid for the distribution of food to children at kindergarten age in 19 of these villages and this week, I have the chance to get an insight into the work onsite.

The children aged between three and seven years are being prepared for primary school by special classes. In order to improve their concentration and also to assure them an adequate diet, they receive their lunch and, if possible, also a breakfast at school.

This is a relief for the families who often lack money, and thus renders education possible for their children.

Today I’m starting right after sunrise. After a thick layer of sun cream and a cup of Chai tea, we are leaving for Tawakal, our destination for this morning, at seven o’clock. After several police checkpoints, the street which seems to consist only of potholes ends.

We are now on one of the dikes along the river Tana, which are being used as streets and are meant to protect the surroundings of floods.

In a small village alongside the dike the responsible of the learning program in Tawakal is waiting for us. Our car must remain here and we have to go on foot for the rest of the way. Unfortunately, it rained yesterday, so the branch of the river which we must cross, is carrying more water than we had expected.

Finally arrived, we receive a friendly welcome by the village elder and the teacher. Women wearing colourful dresses and many curious children are joining us, too. Before classes, the children are responsible for feeding the animals and studying the Koran.

Even if all inhabitants of the village are Muslims, the Christian staff members of the Learning Center are much appreciated. There are meetings on different topics and the children still receive a warm meal on five days a week.

Classes take place under the tree under which we are sitting today. The clay hut which had been used before was destroyed in a big flood in 2012. The Cushitic inhabitants have returned to their village and rebuilt their houses only in April 2013. Before, the whole village had been submerged.

They had found shelter as refugees in neighboring villages, but they took the risk to move back to Tawakal because of the better meadows for their cattle, amongst other things.

After the collective singing and dancing in honor of the guests, the teacher shows us the children’s knowledge. With the help of the teaching material rescued from the floods, she goes through the alphabet and the numbers from 1 to 100 in English and Kiswahili, the two national languages. And not only the small children are joining in!

In Tawakal, there is no other possibility of education than the classes under this tree. That’s why also some older children participate and some women are standing in the background, whereas the respected men are giving their comments and orders to the teacher from the outside.

I am very glad to see that also the girls, who have often been excluded before, can profit from the classes and the food.

The children are allowed to go to the primary school on the other side of the river branch we had crossed, only after spending three years in the kindergarten. Some parents will never send their children to primary school because they haven’t got enough money and because the children’s help with the animals and the household is needed.

Moreover, last year at least one boy had been attacked by crocodiles on his way to school and had died.”

In a few days, in the second part of her report, you will read about the problems Kenyan women are facing and what impressed Susanne Koch most. Please support our commitment at the Horn of Africa with a directed donation. Thank you very much!

      humedica e.V.
      Reference "Famine Relief"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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