As a future teacher, visiting the different schools around Kenya was the most rewarding part of my time spent there. In school I have read articles and had class discussions about differentiation, diversity in the classroom, creating good lesson plans, classroom management, and many other aspects of a good classroom environment. Looking back, none of this could possibly relate to what I saw in the Kenyan schools. It’s difficult to imagine not having enough books in a classroom for each student to have their own, but over there that is a reality. I am blessed to have had the chance to see what school is like for students in Kenya because although they may not possess the same materials or opportunities we do, they still greatly value their education. I hope to incorporate this little known fact into my teaching someday. Kaylie Viens, University of New England Sophomore
Traveling to Kenya with other educators and community members as part of a group sponsored by Everyone’s Child was a milestone experience. Although there was preparation for the trip, including pen pal correspondence between classrooms in Kenya and Vermont, nothing was able to prepare me for the reality of being there. As smiling children of all ages swarmed our van greeting us as though we were heads of state I knew this trip would be like no other. Clearly, getting an education was a priority in spite of the many hardships so many of the children faced. These obstacles ranged from not having enough money to buy the uniform required to attend school to having been orphaned. Classroom supplies were scant, classes were crowded, and life could be uncertain, but these children wanted to be in school. When education isn’t a given, it was a privilege to be able to give to those who wanted the opportunity to learn.
Joni Clemons, retired Moretown Elementary School Teacher
For me, going to Kenya with Everyone’s Child was the starting point for and inspiration for further adventures in Uganda. I could see that Everyone’s Child and the schools they sponsor, make a huge difference in the lives of individual children as well as the future of Kenya. This inspired me to go to Uganda twice this year as an educational consultant for an orphan home in Entebbe. Seeing what was possible made me realize that if I set reasonable goals and just kept pushing forward, change IS possible! Sara Baker, Moretown Elementary School Learning Specialist
I was sent to Lanet to teach hygiene to the school children in 2004. I was an infectious disease nurse for Allegheny County Health Department (PA) at the time. I stayed in Lanet for one month. When I was sent to the school to teach the whole school, the children sat outside in the court yard and listened intently. I asked if they were able to wash their hands before lunch. I was met with a blank stare and Sr. Shamima rushed to my aid and whispered “There is no soap or water either.” I was shocked. I examined and treated many children and adults and was able to go to town to the pharmacy and buy whatever was needed to treat the people. Many children had hacking coughs and excessively runny noses. Adults complained of worms. Head lice was in the day care. When I left, one of the missionaries took over head lice treatment. Sr. Shamima distributed cough syrup and antibiotics, cold medication, Tylenol, etc. I was able to buy medication at pennies on the dollar. An eye opener to say the least. I knew that we had to get water to those people. Nothing could be done without water.
While I was in Kenya I visited Kampi Ya Moto. All the little children had short reddish blond hair (from the dust), big bellies, no shoes and ragged clothes. They were obviously malnourished. We had picked up a 100 pound sack of grain before we got there. I never asked what it was for. It was lunch time. The children were lined up in a very long row all holding little cups, or bowls, or containers. There was no pushing or shoving, they were all very orderly and patient. I remarked to someone standing next to me, “Are they getting cocoa wheats?” (The gruel was brown.) She pointed to the little creek and I saw the muddy water then I knew. The gruel was made from millet and some other grains and was boiled in a big black pot on top of an open fire. This was the only meal most of the children would get that day. The pastor told me that two children had died in the school yard the week before I got there. That’s why today I support the Orphan Feeding Program by sending $25.00 each month.
Nancy Hutson, RN Pittsburgh, PA
I traveled to Kenya when I was a senior in high school and the experience was truly unforgettable. As everyone knows, there are certain instances that impact us the most on trips. Therefore, I will share with you some of the moments that I cherish the most from this trip.
I kissed a giraffe for the first time (and I liked it). I giggled at the antics of the ever-present baboons. When we arrived at each school, I remember being surrounded by children with smiling faces as their eager hands reached for mine. I reminisce about standing high up in the African Canopy as hundreds of birds swarmed around me during feeding time; their wings a constant flutter in my ears. I recall the ecstatic joy in my heart when I fulfilled my lifelong dream of seeing an elephant (18 to be exact). However, above all, I will always be haunted by the silence that descends when starving children line up for food with nothing but dirty plastic mugs and gasoline containers. I can still feel the tears in my eyes and frustration of helplessness in my soul when I relive this experience. This moment allowed me the privilege of understanding what it truly means to be hungry, not just for food and resources, but for an education, and the opportunities for a better life which so often comes with proper education. This trip to Kenya changed my perspective about the world in which I reside, and it has influenced my future goals. After I earn my Bachelor’s Degree, I plan on volunteering with the Peace Corps for two years. Kristyn Dash, Middlebury College Sophomore