|Mike with the local building team|
Our hope is that this school continues to develop into a safe haven for learning, one that encourages the students to strive for excellence. We have observed the tendency among many of the local students to settle for less than average in their schoolwork. The Kenyan school system is based upon exams, two to be exact. One's entire grade for the year is based upon two exam scores (I totally would have failed in school!). We have been told that teachers will teach to the exams and will rarely have the time or desire to venture outside the syllabus. The students only require a D+ to pass! That means they have an understanding of no more than 40% of the information. I find this unsatisfactory, especially if students are striving to compete in our global job market. Two major obstacles are the past and the future. The students come to Oloile from various backgrounds with different levels of education. You can imagine it would be difficult to teach in such a linear fashion directed towards passing an exam if you have students with such a vast difference in their educational background. Once they have completed secondary school, many have no way to continue their education. Approximately 80% of the students of Oloile receive sponsorship to attend. However, there is no funding for students to move on to university, a challenge that requires some consideration and additional fundraising. So many of the students wish to pursue additional education, earn a professional degree and do things to improve their country. Unfortunately, many will finish secondary school and have no opportunity to continue with their education. But, they have such big dreams!
|Outside After (still in process)|
|Walking bridge to school|
inter-workings of local culture, history, economic development, family structures, and resource availability. Kenya is ripe for new growth and development, but it is a challenge that demands individual desire and participation from within. There is a fine line between aid that empowers and disempowers a community. Even with the best of intentions, foreign aid can sometimes disable the self sustaining efforts of a community. We wrestle with the tension between entitlement and empowerment, for instance, as we walk down the street and every child screams at you "mzunguli" (roughly "my white person") and "give me sweet/money/pen/pencil!" There are several exceptional individuals with whom we have had the privilege to know here who are working very hard to create positive change from within their communities. As much as I believe foreign aid must continue, it must do so in ways that create partnerships and works from within to empower communities to create their own desired changes. I find that it is a time in which individuals can and must be encouraged to stretch beyond mediocrity to that of expectations for more. It is also a time stretch a bit beyond personal survival and fulfillment to embrace the need to make changes for the greater good (a challenge we also struggle with greatly in America, uhemm... anyone want to discuss healthcare?) It is a challenge we face across the globe. Having spent only a little over 3 months here, I admit that I am in no way an expert on Kenyan affairs. But, we have learned many lessons from our teachers in Kenya and we will continue to wrestle with these issues. We hope our time here has been a step in the direction of empowerment. We have learned so much from those around us and we can only hope we have planted some seeds here as well.
And so, it was with a mix of sadness and anticipation that we left Kimana on Thursday, Dec. 2. Sadness, as we are going to miss everyone so much and we would like to stay to continue working. And, anticipation as we look forward to seeing our families at home, and, hopefully, returning to Kenya again in the future.
|Saying good-bye in Kimana|
We had a lovely morning on Thursday, sipping chai and sharing pictures. Then, we had a tearful goodbye and we drove off....and, about 200 yards later, we got completely stuck in the mud! It was awesome. Nearly 4 months in Kenya without getting stuck in the mud and we get stuck on the last day! Of course. It was quite a comical site. Mike advised me to drive as all the men pushed the car out of a deep hole. We successfully got the car out and I drove to more solid ground. I took a deep breath, looked down and laughed hysterically. In all the excitement (I was totally afraid I was going to drive deeper into the hole, or that the car was going to fall over), I had forgotten to take off the emergency brake! Well, mike needed a good work-out anyway:) Hakuna Matata.
|Standing above Lake Nakuru|