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Thursday in Nairobi 

April 29, 2017


Off we went to ‘Stepping Stones’ – the beautiful International Kindergarten run by Sally & Stuart. (Elite clientele and all funds back into rescuing kids from Kibera. Astonishing stuff!) This place is divine!!
Met our teachers there – Celine & Joseph (whom you’ve already met – they’ve been with us for 2 years) plus Ruby who helps our with the younger children in Tiny Musos and Mini Musos – and 3 potential NEW teachers resulting from our meeting with Elizabeth (Ghetto Classics) the other day. Lots to do!
For most of the day we split into small groups and trained whatever was needed. Jake and Lindi worked with the new teachers and got teacher Joseph through to the end of Super starter 2. I helped Ruby & Celine organize & rehearse a concert for Stepping Stones (for tomorrow!!!) and then completed Celine’s Junior training. We all did well! 
In the late afternoon we ubered to ‘lunch’ at the local Java Cafe. It’s a serious treat for our teachers so we shout them a meal as often as possible. They never disappoint – huge shakes and massive meals. (Theirs are photo worthy, my salad doesn’t quite rate…)

2 of our ‘try out’ teachers were a big hit today – we are looking forward to welcoming Teacher Kevin and Teacher Martha to the AMS Kenya team. Woo hoo!!!
At lunch they gave us our ‘Kenyan names’. Long story for each so maybe another time. Let’s just say that my favorite is ‘Jacob Juma’. 

Kevin explained to us that the soccer tournament at St John (which we saw part of the other day) is actually a big deal: 
1st prize is a goat!!!! 2nd prize some live chickens (about 5) and 3rd prize some money. 

The expectation is that the goat will be slaughtered, cooked and shared on winning and that the team and their families will eat and celebrate very well. The chickens will also be cooked but will probably only feed the team… mot sure what is supposed to happen to the money…

Jake set off with them back to the Korogocho area – he’s staying the night with teacher Simon. (Haven’t heard yet but the trip no doubt involved Matatu and possibly worse… )

Lindi, Bill & I took the civilized option of an uber home via the wine shop. Note: Lindi doesn’t drink but I’ve had a squelchy stomach for a day or 2 and we thought we’d try a gin and tonic. Happy to report I’m feeling significantly better!! (?)

A lovely afternoon on our deck catching up on things and organizing the remainder of our week. 

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Wednesday in Nairobi 

April 27, 2017

5.30am coffee and fruit for 6am departure – off to Nairobi National Park! It’s not far from home (about 20 minutes) and we got there in good time. 

Our driver was ‘Hilary’ and he certainly knew where to find the animals. We saw buffalo, rhino, ostrich, zebra, giraffe, hippos, a crocodile and lions! I will admit that I slept in the back seat for most of the ‘safari’ but woke at key moments to see animals up close. 

We parted company for the afternoon:

Bill and I went to a string of meetings re teaching / development/ land / building/ expansion etc. (These all took place in very civilized cafes!)

Lindi had a little look around the market at Karen and then an afternoon at home – Moses the land man took her on a beautiful walk down to the river on our property. A lovely one hour nature walk!
Jake went over to the Angel Kindergarten in Kibera where CNN were filming some of the Angel kids dancing with current slum ballet star Joel Kioko (trained by our Ballet friend Cooper and getting lots of publicity!)
After that, he walked into Kibera with local guides and security. 
I’ve written extensively about Kibera on our previous visits. Let’s just say that it’s a massive, horrendous slum that covers 4 square Kms and houses over a million people. No water, no bathrooms, no nothing. We walk along ‘roads’ made of dirt, tires and ‘flying toilets’ (plastic bags containing what would end up flushed down a loo if there were loos…)
They visited 2 homes in the slum: firstly that of an Angel student, Khalid who is sponsored by our friends Meg and Tim Clarke. Jake described being there as; 

Mama is ‘dead in the eyes’ there’s a ‘responsible older sibling’ who has grown up way too fast and then Khalid – who is an absolute cheeky monkey! Couldn’t sit still and so excited. 

They live in one tiny room. We’ve seen it all before but Jake still came home with the word ‘heartbreaking’ on his lips. 

And then to see our friend Edwin! Edwin is tall and thriving and keen to let jake listen to his latest compositions! He sang and played and loved having Jake visit. Mama Grace was also really happy to have visitors. They are always so welcoming and appreciative. 
The tiny weeny one room house was as always, neat and lovely. The TV which was recently bought by funds from my friend Liz stood pride of place. They were proud of it!

Jake also visited the quads – the ones in the ‘safe flat’ that Stuart and Sally set up late last year. Happy to report that the girls are growing and doing really well! Apparently Mama is still not really speaking (some serious special needs there) but they are all healthy. Teacher Florence is still living there helping to take care of them. 

We met up for early dinner at an absolutely gorgeous spot in Karen. It’s always bizarre to work with the poor here and then turn up somewhere delightful for dinner.

Monday in Nairobi 

April 25, 2017


We were all up very early…sleeping is a bit tricky when your body has been through a time warp! Wondering if we can spend the whole day in our sunglasses…

Great breakfast where we live at Kifaru House. We love Moris our house man! Off in our Uber to meet our driver to take us to the Korogocho slum to train our Kenyan AMS teachers. 
It’s always an experience getting into Korogocho and today lived up to our expectations! Photos don’t do it justice but you get the idea. 
Our classes run from St John Primary School. The school is a dusty, stinky, run down establishment that houses far more students than it was ever designed for. It backs onto Korogocho’s famous dump site where the ‘chokora’ sift through the new rubbish as the trucks arrive each day. It goes on and on for several kilometers with vultures soaring above. It’s one of the worlds largest dump sites – a constantly burning awful mess. At times our classes are cancelled due to the smoke in the room. I took a few photos out of our classroom window…
It was a hive of activity when we arrived – a special Sports Day! Soccer soccer everywhere – a lovely festive atmosphere. This is the school where AMS families donated a few hundred soccer boots about 18 months ago. They’ve been put to good use!
It was wonderful to meet our 4 Kenyan teachers again! In the past I’ve written about how having a job as a music teacher has changed their lives (https://australianmusicschools.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/teacher-updates/) but the BIG news is that in the past few months, each of them has moved OUT OF THE SLUM! We are gobsmacked. It was only November last year that we were discussing this and questioning the reality of it and they’ve done it!
For the past year we have been speaking to them about taking the skills they have learned in this job and starting up something of their own – going in to additional schools & promoting themselves as music educators with AMS Kenya. We gave them teaching certificates with their packs to present to local schools so they can grow their own businesses – then it was straight into training!
They each taught for us with Lindi giving detailed feedback on each section of their lesson. It was very productive with lots of laughs! They are excellent. 

Joseph organized for us to visit the home of one of his students – a girl named Melvin. She’s 9 years old and in Super Starter book 1. She is coming on AMS CAMP this weekend!

Melvin’s home is a 4m x 4m room divided by a curtain. She lives here with her mother, father and 3 sisters. There’s no bathroom or running water. 

We piled into a taxi and endured the bumpiest ride on the worst road ever out of the Korogocho area. A short freeway trip and then we miraculously arrived at an upmarket modern shopping mall. Lindi couldn’t quite believe it! We’d gone from slum to Westfield in a matter of minutes!

Great meal with our teachers – terrific to spend some time with them. 
Our 25km trip home took 2 hours and 25 minutes in the Nairobi traffic. A few hair raising moments in between Matatu (little public buses with a death wish) but we got home safely. Exhausted after a great day!

Sunday in Nairobi 

April 25, 2017

About a year ago we went to a very new program run by Sally & Stuart (who run the Angel Kindergarten). They established the Kings Rugby Academy as another way to provide for the children of Kibera – bringing them out of the slum each Sunday and into a green environment, teaching them football skills, helping them connect with good role models… and as always, feeding them a decent meal! 
We visited again today and it was fantastic to see the program a year on – it’s going so well! 
There are now 230 slum kids each week with 17 professional rugby coaches. The kids meet at the Angel Kindergarten at the edge of the Kibera slum and are bussed across to the beautiful (actually quite grand) Hillcrest International School. 

Hillcrest donates the location and the coaches donate several hours of their time and energy every single Sunday morning. Sally & Stuart’s organization ‘Lunchbowl Network’ donates the food and has sourced the uniforms, boots and other essentials. 
We watched training and a couple of games (the new girls team is on fire!) then helped serve lunch and chatted with the kids. Just gorgeous. 

Jake and Lindi arrived and made it through customs without a hitch! Yay we’re all here! AMS training starts tomorrow!

AMS CAMP – in Nairobi!

March 6, 2017

Miss Michelle, Miss Lindi, Mr Jake & Bill will be returning to Nairobi at the end of the April School break. We’ll be doing some more training with our Kenyan staff, Bill will be helping get ready to build a big extension to the Angel Kindergarten in Kibera and best of all, we’ll be joining our local teachers in running 2 days of AMS CAMP!!

  • We are taking 50 kids out of the slum and on an adventure. Most of them will never have left Korogocho before!
  • The children (ages 9-12) are from the AMS ‘Super Starter’ classes that we run from    St. John’s school in Korogocho, one of Nairobi’s most notorious slums.
  • Our location for camp is the ‘Stepping Stones Kindergarten’ – an Oasis in the lovely area of Karen, across the other side of town. (Big thanks to our friends Sally & Stuart for providing the venue!)
  • We’ll be bussing the kids (and our teachers) across and back each day, providing lunch and dinner each day – and they even get to swim in the pool (this will be a ‘first ever’ for these children!)
  • Our musical activities will be choir, bucket drumming, tubes, keyboard groups and games.
  • Both Sydney & Nairobi AMS staff are donating their time and getting to Nairobi at their own expense. We’ll be providing all the equipment needed for camp.
  • We can’t wait!

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Like to help us? That would be great! Here are 3 ways….

  1. Sponsor a camper – $60 

These children are the poorest of the poor, living in horrid conditions with little food and almost no resources. $60 will provide transport and food for a camper for the weekend. This will include lunch, snacks & clean water throughout the camp. We are ordering PIZZA on the first night and KFC on the second night – can you imagine the excitement!!?

We need:

  • 50 Sydney families to ‘sponsor a camper’ so that we can give them a wonderful weekend of music!

As a sponsor, you will see plenty of photos of us in action as well as receiving a hand written note (at our ‘note writing session’) from your camper on our return. All other resources are being donated by us.

Click this link to choose a name from our list! https://www.trybooking.com/PDGN

 

  1. Clothe a Camper

The kids from Korogocho have nothing. Their school uniform (often tattered beyond belief) is usually their only set of clothes. We want to give them each an outfit to wear to camp – and keep!

We need:

  • size 12 short sleeved t shirts
  • size 12 elastic waisted long pants.

Preloved is fine so rummage through the cupboards – new is also fine! There’ll be a big bag in each AMS classroom, just put the clothing in there and we will sort it out. 

  1. Undies! 

We’ll also be continuing our work at the Angel Kindergarten in Kibera – Nairobi’s largest slum. The children of Kibera live in unimaginable conditions – a million people in the 4km shanty town. Those who attend the ‘Angel Kindergarten’ receive a hot meal each day, top notch education including an AMS class each week, and their gorgeous purple uniform. However – not a single one of them owns a pair of undies. We’d like to change that!

We need:

NEW undies for boys and girls ages 3-6

Brand names are totally unimportant – cheap & cheerful packs are fine. Just pop them in the bag in the classroom and we’ll get them there.

Thank you for helping us!

Bravo!

December 15, 2016

Bravo! Here are our outstanding student results from terms 3 & 4, 2016.

Congratulations everyone! 

Piano Exams

Junior

Hallie Dwyer, Luna Mather, Finlay Curtes, Jonathan Lin, Thea Shannon, Mitchell Cummings, Clarissa Himawan, Isabel Gagic

Super Starter

Jemima Cook, Matteo Matthews, Elina Sherry, Elena Pei, Riley Joel, Anabel Rulli, Darya Troedson (A+)

Junior Plus

Akyle Ibrahim, Olive Cole, Allegra Rossi, Anouk Lafferty, Edward House, Alice Tanaka, Charlie Osborne, Zoe larantges, Lachlan Rowney, Han Nguyen,  Sarah Law, Zoe Barakate, Phoebe Zein, Andrea Jensen Tettamanzi, Naomi Dight, Kiran Sanghvi, Thomas Selby, Hayley Clough, Zoe Humberstone, Finley Humberstone, Naomi Lam, Ella Vartuli, Olivia Vartuli, Ingsel Phelrabtsang, Lachaln Terrill, Maddie Evers, Lily Troedson

Extension

Alexander Lau, Matthew Cook, Claire Whitaker (A+), Theo Walsh, Kayla Thumwanich, Nicholas Lee, Jamila Selby, Charlie Hogan, Marcus Chorn 

Preliminary

Zyah De Araujo, Alexander Truong, Elisa Silvestri (A+), Willow Gelin (A+), Aiden Merten, Charmian Goodsir, Emma Fulton, Alexis McLean, Oliver Czerwenka, Maisy Jones, Emily Dingle, Benjamin Capaan (A+), Ella Foreman, Oscar Falvey (A+), Luca Whitaker, Tafhg Kalowski, Pamela Lerantges, Abigail Hodgson (A+)

Grade 1

Olivia Zein, Angus Lewis, Sen-Ying Chan Nazir, Lana Cork, Xavier Zaveski, Cate Kyling, Emilie Young, Isaac Gorelik

Grade 2

Thomas Lee, Eden Fernando, Grace Walsh, Isabella O’Gorman, Gary Koryukin, Quentin Burns, Hayley Gunsberger, Marie Sikiotis, Samantha Panchenko, Emma Silvestri (A+)

Grade 3

Tallulah Simpson, Eleanor Dunstan, Nicole Irawan (A+)

Grade 4

Talia Kaplan (A+), James Boyd-Clarke, Kate Law, Elsie Yang, Daniel Zhou

Grade 5

Eleanor Tanou,  Gabriel Kidston, Elysse Choy, Tegan Tran Moore

Grade 6

Aidan Eccleshall (A+), Eve Fernando

Grade 7

Anna Yang 

Exams on ‘other instruments’:

Malachy Kalowski – Guitar Grade 3 (A+)

Tilly Madder – Voice grade 5

Arnie Walsh – Trumpet Grade 5

Talia Kaplan – Flute grade 6

Heather Campbell – Voice Grade 5

Maya Foreman – Trumpet grade 2 (A+)

Written ‘Theory of Music’ Exams:

Preliminary

Ella McGrath, Oneta Schmooel, Thalia Widdin-Williams (100%), Rose McCall, Matthew Cook (100%), Emily Dingle, Oliver Low, Sophie McGrath (100%), Isaac Wright, Natasha Mullens, Abigail Hodgson, Zyah De Araujo (100%), Alexander Lau, Finn Jennings, Theo Walsh, David Winter, Marysia Malecka, Milla Nikolova, Kleoniki Kalloniatis, Tadhg Kalowski, Benjamin Capaan, Lucinda Adams, Nicholas Lee, Oscar Falvey, Willow Gelin, Rafi Vasin, Akhila Sivaraja, Spencer Niklin, Jessica Martin, Kate Johnson, Jamila Sleby, Charlie Hogan (100%), Marcus Chorn, Oliver Cerwenka, Maisy Jones (100%), Lana Cork, Polly Gunsberger, Nicole Irawan, Aurora Gorman, Benjamin Chia, Alice Bowler, Ella Foreman, Zara Rose Puntingham, Harriet Barham, Elisa Silvestri

Grade 1

Matthew Lapinski (100%), Hayden Edwards, Rhys Shariff (100%), Noah Edwards, Abby Swan, Emilia O’leary, Amelia Shariff, Jessica Hayler, Emilie Young, James Law, Lucy Rose Doyle, Tamara Girdwood Reich, Kate Cottier, Rebecca Cousins, Lachlan Cook (100%), Riva Burkett, Tallulah Simpson, Inneke Pain, Debbie Winter, Cate Kyling, Marie Sikiotis, Sen Ying Chan Nazir, Emma Silvestri (100%), Thomas Lee, Lachlan Eliasson, Lara Greenfield, Emma Fulton, Emilian Ossimitz, Ben Landa, Eden Fernando, Sophia Cherry, Quentin Burns, Alexis McLean (100%), Lucy Milner, Xavier Lenehan, Yael Rembach, Maya Foreman, Mika Sternberg, Kitty Zusak, Stacey Greenfield, Rory Anderson, Ed Maier, Julia Gabrielsson

Grade 2

Hannah Boyd-Clarke, Lucy Boyd-Clarke, Zeke Dauth, Sam Dunn, Alexander Fan, Sacha Gross, Hayley Gunsberger, Malachy Kalowski, Samantha Panchenko, Ethan Slender, Amelia Stein

Other Musical Achievements:

Nate Speilman – Cello performance with the ACO at Emanuel Synagogue

Talia Kaplan – best musical performance award

Ella Foreman – awarded the end of year prize for the training band at school

Sacha Gross – 1st place in Reddam House middle school Vocal competition, also part of Reddam House Choir in finals of the Sydney Eisteddfod Australian Choral Grand Prix

Hayley Clough – Musical theatre performances in Stage Artz ‘The Little Mermaid’ at Glen St Theatre. Also  part of a 200 strong choir in Arts Alive Primary choir at the SydneyTown Hall

Dean Gould-Sedlarevic  – performed the ‘Angry Birds Theme’ in the school talent quest Rory Hodgson – successfully auditioned for the Arts Unit Symphonic Wind Orchestra for 2017 (French Horn)

Rebecca Cousins – 2nd place in the Randwick Council’s Lexington Place Busking Competition in November

Lucy Milner – successful audition to the Junior Performing Choir at Sydney Children’s Choir

Nella Ananijev – successful audition with the Sydney Children’s Choir Advanced Singers group in 2017

Anthony Panos – performance of ‘Lets Get Loud’ at a concert at Coogee Prep

Jessica Hayler – performance of ‘Little Flower’ by Gurlitt for the whole school assembly

Kerri Wainstein – received the trophy for Senior Recorder group and the trophy for senior Wind Ensemble for 2016

 

 

 

The ‘Safe Flat’

November 29, 2016

Another amazing initiative of Sally & Stuart’s – they’ve recently rented a flat right near the Angel Kindergarten to us as a ‘safe house’ for women and children needing temporary crisis care.

Running a Kindergarten for Kibera families means they see it all. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, you hear the stories and realize why this is so needed here.

Right now, the little 2 bedroom flat is housing one of their teachers, Florence, from ‘Angel’ and her 2 lovely daughters, about 10 & 12. They left home in the midst of severe domestic abuse and threats that I prefer not to repeat.

It’s also currently home to a local Kibera Mama with a little boy who attends ‘Angel’. She thought she was having a baby in November but gave birth to 4 tiny little girls in September! Four! Miraculously they are all doing well. They each sleep in a plastic crate from the local ‘Nakumat’ (Woollies) and have been provided with blankets, bottles and formula. Florence and her girls are helping care for the little girls. Mama has a mental disability. What an almighty struggle this all is. Honestly.

From there we went to look at a plot of land (for sale) adjoining the Kindergarten. Then we went off to lunch with Sally and Stuart (in a very nice cafe in a very nice area with very nice food – so bizarre) and listened to Bill & Stuart discuss fund raising / buying / building plans and the myriad of ways that another property could be used to better the lives of the people here.

Extend Angel to take more kids? A community shower facility? Another safe house? I have absolutely no idea where they got up to but I’m sure they’ll come up with something. Watch this space I guess!

We’re heading home.

Oh Kibera

November 27, 2016

We’ve done this before and I’ve written about it before but it never ceases to amaze me – the heartbreak, the impossible conditions, the happy kids, the welcoming families, the stench. I hope I never get used to it.

We met Sally, Stuart and our security at the Angel Kindergarten, ready to walk into the Kibera slum.

We’ve been in a few times before. This time the purpose was two fold: to visit Edwin (a blind boy whom we’ve spent time with before) and to watch ‘Teacher Faith’ leading Jelly Wobbles and AMS songs at the Lunchbowl Saturday food program.

As we walked from the kindy across the bridge into Kibera itself, Stuart happily reported that there have been 17 shooting deaths across this strip since January. Oh goodie. Hello security guard

Because of all the recent rain, it was stinkier and more revolting than we’ve seen before! I was gagging once we crossed the bridge. Yucky festy sludge. Ugh!

We visited a home where 2 little girls from ‘Angel’ live with their Mama and Baba. It’s a one room, 3.5 x 3.5m mud hut with a couch a table and a bed. The walls adjoining the next abode are fabric or sheets of plastic. Clothes hang from the ceiling. There is no power, water or anything else. It’s just a dingy room.

They welcomed us warmly, thanked us for visiting their home. Baba has lived in Kibera his entire life – he was born there in 1951. He went to school up until the end of primary, then worked in local security to help support his family.

We sat and chatted, asked a few questions. Bill asked ‘are you happy here?’ (Which I always think is brave) and the emphatic reply was ‘Yes! We are happy!’ I asked what changes he has seen in all his years living here. He said it is much, much better now (!!!) because they have some water in the local area and there are clinics to visit for the sick. It’s honestly hard to take in. Im not a crier really but I was taking very big breaths…

On we went, dodging muck and jumping rivulets of sewerage.

The kids are happy and we’re always greeted with ‘how are you!?’ as we walk.

The shops crack us up. There are computer stores, verge stalls, revolting gizzards hanging up, tomatoes on tables. Our favourite are the hairdressers and beauty salons. We stopped for a photo of us girls in front of the ‘Glam Salon’. Very tempting….

On to Edwin’s house. His mum, Grace met us at the entrance to their laneway and saw us in. Grace has many children and has 2 rooms (girls sleep in one, boys in the the) and it is as neat as a pin! She has electricity and Edwin has an electric keyboard, which was pride of place on the table in the centre of the room.

We were thrilled to see him again! He’s home from boarding school (up in Thika) for the holidays. Edwin has grown and looks fantastic! He is a happy, healthy, musical boy. My beautiful friend in Sydney, Liz is his sponsor, sending funds each year for Edwin’s schooling. He is thriving!

He and his friend John, who is also blind, were very keen to present a few songs for our enjoyment. Edwin played and John sang. An absolute delight. Amazingly, their songs were all about praising God, exchanging sorrow for joy, being grateful for their lives…. again, hard to digest.

We walked into the compound where ‘Lunchbowl Kenya’ (Sally and Stuart’s incredible initiative!) feeds 3-400 kids each Saturday. The process to qualify for this program is too heartbreaking to explain but let’s just say that this is the only decent meal these kids will eat each week.

We got there just in time to enjoy teacher Faith leading more than 300 kids in some Jelly Wobbles songs – which they know SO WELL! As I’ve already said I’m not really a crier but this bit really sent me – It was a little overwhelming.

Then the assembly line as every child received their meal. I’ve described this before but it never gets old!! I was busy chatting to teachers and taking photos when Tilly came and said ‘Mum- help! They’re hungry!’ Yes, good point.

As Tilly was grabbing plates a young girl came up to her and asked ‘What is your brothers name?’ Tilly said ‘Jacob?’ She said ‘Yes, where is he!?’ It was Anna. The girl that had melted Jake’s heart a little over a year ago. She asked us to say hi Jake – you’d be thrilled – she’s well and happy, same big smile. (And wearing a beany in a boiling hot steamy stinky room full of people!!)

Angels at Angel

November 25, 2016

Thursday

Off in our Uber to the Angel Kindergarten on the edge of the Kibera slum.

This place is a slice of heaven in a wider environment that is about as far from heaven as you could ever dream up.

Kibera is 4 square km and home to around a million people. Its a sludgy, stinky shantytown.

Angel caters to the poorest of the poor – these families have nothing. The kindy is funded through the Lunchbowl network – run by our amazing British friend, Sally, living here in Nairobi.

We were pretty excited to return, especially for Tilly’s second visit. She was absolutely mobbed and loved it. A little boy, Leon, permanently attached himself to her. A little girl, Clarice, very deliberately posed for photos with Bill. Lots of hugs and giggles for all of us.

Because it’s so wet, there is constant mopping of constant mud. Last time we were here, the open area between the classrooms was a disaster. Bill designed a roof to go over the hallway that connects the main areas, and sent funds over for it to be built. I’m beyond happy to report that it has made a huge difference – the area was dry even in the pelting rain! Yayyyyyy!

Bill mopped, I did some training with Ruby and Celine and Tilly joined the ‘Mamas’ in threading beads to make beaded ‘angels’ which are sold in the U.K. to support the Kindergarten. What a hoot. We’re bringing some home!

The rain was SO loud on the tin roof. We were yelling at each other and still lip reading.

Power is intermittent here and today was no exception. We couldn’t get a CD player to work but managed to have keyboards for a while – on and off.

We watched teacher Celine with one of the more advanced AMS classes (6 and 7 years olds) – amazing!! They are doing so well. She is a brilliant teacher and we couldn’t be prouder.

Teacher updates

November 25, 2016

Wednesday

Off we ‘Ubered’ to Elizabeth’s office for some teacher training. The 13 kms took well over an hour even with the new bypass. Sigh.

So great to see our teachers! We had already caught up with Celine but we haven’t seen the boys for 6 months.

We spent quite a while just finding out how they are and getting a feel for where they are at. We asked about the highlights and the challenges since we last met. We learned some amazing things:

They have all managed to ‘improve their lives’ with the salary they earn teaching AMS classes. They are incredibly grateful and always thank us for ‘providing them the opportunity to have a good job’. It’s wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Other than Simon, they all still live in the Korogocho slum where they’ve been all their lives and ‘dream every day’ of leaving it eventually. We talked about planning for this and how realistic it might be. They are clever, resourceful, hard working people and their plans are optimistic but reasonable!

Celine is one of 7 kids. Her eldest brother died several years ago – he was in a gang and was killed. She says that he was better than the others at looking after their mother, so when he died she took the role on for herself. Celine had previously used her earnings to rent some land ‘upcountry’ and her Mum has been farming it and earning an income. She is now in the process of buying the land – she was excited to tell us about it.

Simon is one of 8. His eldest brother was shot and killed by a cartel a few years ago. Simon has used his earnings to put himself through university – he is doing a music degree. Earlier this year he was granted a bursary through the uni to attend a music and arts conference in Edinburgh. We loved listening to him talk about being on an airplane!!

Erik is the eldest of 7 and has enjoyed being able to support his Mum and siblings. He has been able to pay school fees for his brothers and sisters.

Joseph is the youngest of 8. Three of his older sisters died a few years ago. When we asked how, he said they were ‘partying’ as teenagers and fell in with the wrong crowd. Joseph has recently bought land and is currently building a house for his Mum. He is soooo proud.

There have been some class lessons abandoned due to fires in the dumping site (right behind our classroom), no electricity and having to fight to use our room, but generally they’ve taught consistently me are identifying ‘talented’ students amongst their classes.

We trained for the rest of the day. Lots of progress!!img_3273