Thursday, June 21, 2007

Community Service at Red Rose School, Kibera

Dear Families and Friends --
We are all fine and truly enjoying ourselves in Kenya. Since our arrival in Nairobi five days ago, we have done a lot of activities at the Red Rose School and visited three other schools that educate the poorest children in Kenya at the elementary and high school level. On Wednesday, we had a field trip day with all 76 children at Red Rose and their eight teachers. We started with a visit to the Giraffe Centre and then the Sheldrick Trust Elephant Orphanage. One person in our group that's really crazy about animals actually kissed a giraffe! A baby elephant swatted a bunch of the Red Rose children with her trunk, causing quite a scary/excited scene for all. We have met so many new people, and learnt a lot from all the different experiences. Teacher Michelle handing over some of the class materials to Teacher Emily of the nursery class at Red Rose School.
The orphaned baby elephants at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust walk with their keepers to come meet us and other guests on Wednesday. Ken Okoth's advisory group adopted one of these elephants last year, her name is LEMPAUTE and she is so naughty!
The elephants having fun ... coconut oil massages, mud-baths, and dirt-rolls, even a soccer ball at times!
The Red Rose children having lots of fun on the field trip to the elephant orphanage.
LEMPAUTE playing ball the elephant style ... South Africa 2010, maybe Kenya will have a special team!
The Potomac students taking a group photo with Ken's younger brother Jeff before going to see the baby elephants at Sheldrick's.
Some of the horses at the Mamba Village, which is a crocodile and ostrich farm on the southern suburbs of the city. Mamba Village also has a beautiful articificial lake, lots of playground and picnic space, and a restaurant.
The Red Rose children arrive at the Mamba Village for some fun after visiting the Giraffe Center and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Yummy lunch at RedRose, Vinand J. and Caitlin B. study and eat in the new "Potomac Classroom."
Play time at Red Rose on Monday with everybody joining in. All children at the school received new red-color t-shirts, and we even had some Potomac t-shirts for the third graders!
The chef making our eggs-to-order at breakfast at the Methodist Guest House.
Moses leads his classmates in a fun song to their new friend from Potomac.
Michelle arranging the new book shelf in the resource and media room at Red Rose.
Michelle and Ken presenting the kids at Red Rose with new uniforms, gifts from their sponsors in the USA.
Michelle and Merrell having some taste of the tropical fruits next to the class two classroom before it was repainted.
Chris having some taste of the food at Red Rose with the pre-unit childen in the newly commissioned Potomac Classroom, a gift from the Lower School children and families at Potomac.
Matt having some fresh pawpaw (that's what papaya is called in Kenya).
The Potomac Crew enjoying the singing and playing at Red Rose during recess.
Merrell sorting and putting together the children's toys and learning puzzles.
Ken unpacking some of the gifts for Red Rose school from their friends in the USA.
Ken, Matt, John and Michelle handing over the gifts from Potomac to the nursery class children and their teacher at Red Rose.
Ken giving out the balls to the kids to play while the Mr. Buluma looks on.
Ken and Derrick from baby class having a great time. Derrick stole our hearts, and we have declared him the first Potomac Scholar, one of five whose education will be sponsored by the generous gift from the K-3 children and families at Potomac.
Cate receiving some of the gifts from the Red Rose children on our last day of service at the school. Many of the children and teachers brought special gifts for their new Potomac friends and their individual sponsors in the USA.
Cate having a taste of the food at Red Rose with her is Jael Amunga of baby class.
Cate feeding a rothschild giraffe at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi on Wednesday during our field trip.
Getting down for some serious duck-duck-goose fun at the Mamba Village after our field trip to see the giraffes and elephants on Wednesday.
Chris and Allison feeding a giraffe in a double hug on Wednesday morning.
Dominique correcting the class three exercise books as the children enjoy their lunch.
Dominique explaining to Laureen Atieno of class three how to solve a math problem.
Diana and Brian getting a feel of the new Apple iBook computers donated from the Potomac School.
Class one children enjoying their lunch and chatting with Teacher Katherine.
Teacher Chris helping out with the decoration of the new Potomac Classroom.
Chris and Kat help each other to feed Daisy the Giraffe.
Caitlin sharing some love with one of the parents at Red Rose who makes and sells traditional kikuyu-style kiondo baskets.
Teacher Caitlin helping the pre-unit children with their class work.
Caitlin and Dominique painting the primer on the walls of the second grade classroom at Red Rose. Elbow grease can be fun too!
Getting to know the students at Starehe Girls Center, Kenya's "Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls, but without the $40 million!.
Michelle addressing the students at Starehe Boys Center, Ken Okoth's high school alma mater and Kenya's top school in academics, athletics, the arts, scouting, and other activities. Our delegation donated lots of books from the bookfair for Starehe's library, and were guests of honor at evening assembly and parade on Monday afternoon.

The Starehe boys students and the Potomac students learning more from each other. The path into competitive colleges was a highly discussed topic for the afternoon as we toured the campus. The director of Starehe, Prof. Jesse Mugambi, warmly invited us to his office for an indepth briefing about the school's history, its current programs, and future.
Matt Fagan talking to the Director of Starehe Boys Center, Prof. Mugambi, as we await the lowering of the flag and playing of taps at parade to mark the end of the school day.
Michelle and Mrs. Omwoyo, the Deputy Head Teacher at Olympic Primary School. Olympic is a K-9 public school in Kibera, attempting to educate 2500 children with only 31 teachers in classrooms designed for only 1100 children. Mrs. Omwoyo was Ken Okoth's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teacher in 1989 to 1991.
Michelle points out some scenes from the Constant Gardener, a blockbuster Hollywood thriller that was shot on location in Kibera. Kibera locals who got parts as extras in the Constant Gardener were paid a whopping eight US dollars ($8) per day!
The playground at Olympic Primary School overlooking some of the Kibera 'ghettoes'.
The happy students at Olympic Primary School were very eager to have their photos taken.
The students at Olympic Primary with their newly donated books from the Potomac spring 2007 bookfair. The Potomac crew travelling to Kenya brought 100lbs of books packed in their extra check-in luggage for the Olympic Primary School library.
Children eagerly reading the newly donated books at Olympic Primary in their library. The unfurnished library has straw mats on the floor to sit on while reading. The children must take off their shoes before getting into the library.
Songs and dance from the students and teachers at Olympic Primary to welcome, entertain, and convey gratitude to the visitors from Potomac.
Members of Olympic Primary's award-winning poetry recital team rehearse and show their skills ahead of the upcoming national music festivals.
It has been an amazing and demanding start to our experience in Kenya. We look forward to doing some things totally different when we go up north to Samburu on Friday morning.


John Brooks and Todd Fibus said...

Looks like you all are doing great work and having a fun time. I bet it's a totally amazing experience.

By now you've tried nyama choma (although mbuzi choma - roasted goat - is my favorite). But don't forget to try some ugali, sukumuwiki, and roast chicken (without the silverware...). Roasted corn is pretty great too.

Also don't miss this amazing gingerale 'Stoney ('Tangawizi' in Kiswahili), which you won't find outside East Africa, unless you come to the Coke Museum here in Atlanta...but it's not the same.

I don't know if you all have more time in Nairobi, but if you like Indian food, you can find some of the best in the world in East Africa. I like the restaurant 'Haandi' in Westlands on Uhuru Highway at the intersection with Ring Road inside "The Mall Building".

In Masai Mara, look for Lilac-breasted Rollers. They are easy to find around Kekorok Lodge - amazing and colorful birds that spin in the air as they fly catching bugs.

Meet as many people as you can and try to learn some Swahili. Look RIGHT when you cross the street, take your malaria prophylaxis, and watch out for matatus.

OK "twenda ya kazi" (back to work....) for us.

-John Brooks and Todd Fibus

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