My experience at the opening of the Male Primary School in Kenya

I originally wrote the following entry and had posted it to my Facebook page after attending the opening of the school classrooms in Kenya through the humanitarian group A Better World Canada (abwcanada.ca). When my (now ex) husband and I were married in 2011 we had no need of anything and so asked that our wedding guests, if they insisted on a present, donate to A Better World towards a classroom at the Ringa School in Kenya. Through the generosity of our friends and family we were able to fund the cost of approximately 1/3 of a classroom to be built – WAY more exciting than opening a toaster oven!

As my last WordPress post referenced how this was a way for me to make a difference in children’s lives it reminded me of this particular day and journaling and I wanted to share my experience with you. Education in Kenya impacts people in so many ways, not the least of which is that as girls become educated they are beginning to understand that they can make the choice not to undergo the ritual of female circumcision. There were so many conversations with the people there about what a difference education makes to them – perhaps for another posting.

November 19, 2008

Can I say as I sit watching the watering hole at Sweetwaters Tented Camp, how thankful I am for this day. Somehow I had forgotten how the air in Kenya has a spicey scent to it. It was very hot today, but the gentle breeze now has me reaching for that extra layer. It is getting to be dusk at 6:16 pm and the birds, insects and animals are competing to tell their story of the day.

And the day – we opened Male (pronounced Mah-lay) Primary School’s 3 new classrooms today. The next 2 weeks will see the grade 8 students writing their governement exams in the new facility, and will be utilized to house grades 8, 7 and 6 so that each and every student at the school today would have the opportunity to experience the new facility.

I cannot describe the overwhelming feeling of humbleness at the response from the headteacher when he found out that Pat and I were from Group2, but I am getting ahead of myself.

First, upon arrival, we were all greeted and the ‘dignitaries’ amoung us (Eric, Charles, Pat, Bev, Stacy & myself were all greeted by a teacher and student, with a lei placed around each of our necks. We then were sung to, and my hands were clutched by one of the parents as she bought me forward to run the gauntlet. The gauntlet was an aisle for us to dance and sing our way through, children (all 500 students) on either side singing and waving beautiful, vibrant red flowers and Canadian flags as we made our way past them. We were brought to our seats of honour in the shade.

The school went to a great deal of effort for our visit today, and it was once again humbling to see the number of community members that had walked all the way to support their students and thank us, the Canadians, for their new classrooms. We sat under the hot sun waiting for the opening ceremony (to be timed with the arrival of the dignitaries from the Kenyan government – a slow and dusty 2 hour drive for some of them from Nairobi).

The ceremony began with a group of women from the community, who sang to us, then four secondary students (girls) recited a poem for us (about terrorism – obviously a concern here too), and last but most certainly not least, a group of students sang a song for us that they had obviously written for this occasion.

There were the usual speeches, though there was much more passion than is heard in those at home, and then the ribbon cutting. A student from the Male School was chosen to cut tht ribbon with Stacy (representing Notre Dame High Shool), and then celebratory, joyful mayhem ensued as for the first time people were allowed into the classrooms – singing and dancing all the way.

To put this day into words is impossible, but it will live forever in my soul!
Glenna

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