It’s been another busy and heart warming week at The Kibera School for Girls. Construction is almost complete, we will get power beginning tomorrow, and the families couldn’t be more excited.
Today we had another workshop with parents and students to discuss the differences between our school and other Kenyan schools and to emphasize the import role that parents must play in their child’s education to ensure their success. This was an incredibly productive meeting. We began by giving the students (clad in their uniforms they are simply too adorable) a gift of a nutrition bar and pair of new underwear each. They were very excited, as because of their extreme poverty our kids are unable to afford something as basic as underwear. We then gave the parents soda as well to kick off the celebratory air.
The meeting was lead by Headmistress Joan and our three incredible teachers Janet, Madahana, and Naomi. We also were very lucky to have two of our Kenyan board members Odoch and Donna Pido in attendance. Odoch is the Director of the SIT Nairobi Study Abroad Program, and Donna is an anthropology professor and expert on women’s empowerment in Kenya. The Pidos will be helping to guide the school while Kennedy and I are in the United States and it was great to have them in attendance.
Our meeting included the discussion of several topics. We talked about our goals for our students to go to high school and college, able to pursue their passions and interests and have a career of their choosing. We focused on how parents can support their children academically and emotionally at home by providing encouragement, and telling their child that they are capable of anything. We also stressed how important it is that parents don’t beat their children, as this makes them less able to learn and grow because they live in fear. Instead, we discussed alternative discipline strategies, to which the parents were very receptive. I don’t think they had ever discussed this issue before. Parents were also very enthusiastic about the power of learning through play and the changes our school brings to the Kenyan educational scene. After the meeting we all walked to the school site together for both parents and children to see their school for the first time. The procession of forty-five little girls in uniform and forty-five parents was quite a joyful sight.
It was breathtaking to watch the expressions on the faces of the children as they saw their beautiful new school for the first time. Several asked me if we could have school seven days a week.
Tomorrow we are planting our sustainable garden along with our parents and the NGO Trees for the Future. As we believe in a holistic approach to community uplift we are going to teach parents how to make vertical gardens, which grow in a burlap sack and can be grown anywhere, in the hopes that many will be able to start small vegetable selling businesses or provide fresh vegetables for their families. Our parents are already incredibly involved, several asked me today if there was anything they could do to help with preparations!
Already our school feels like an incredibly supportive, tight knit community.