After a good night’s rest, we woke to the sound of the Iman calling everyone to prayer. While still not use to it, I’m beginning to enjoy the passion behind the voice singing into the loud speaker. We had our breakfast at 6:30 AM and began our journey for the day. We were traveling with Kamou, a friend of Nia’s, who has helped OFDC navigate Kenya in the past. He is a local and knows the best routes to the rural schools we have partnered with.
Our first destination is Entiapirri Primary School, where OFDC has worked on several projects in the past. The latest to be inspected is a completed rainwater catchment. The school is about 65 kilometers from Narok and is only reachable by a rough dirt road. After traveling off the paved road for some time, we found ourselves a good distance away from any large congregation of people. There was little sign of life other than a few wild ostrich or gazelles, and the occasional single-building school. We encountered random groups of people walking nowhere (we thought), but were actually walking towards their villages, or a water source, that was out of our sight.
When we arrived at the school, a lot of students were outside practicing traditional Kenyan song and dance. The schools in the different counties compete against each other in various activities like academics, song and dance, and sports. We sat down with the Head Teacher, Esther Leteipa, who introduced us to other Head Teachers from the surrounding area. The Administration was very grateful for the partnership made possible by our supportive donors, and the hard work of the local community. To show thanks, they shared with us some soda and cookies (only brought out on special occasions). The conversation with the Head Teachers went well. We discussed prioritizing their needs, and how to best request/facilitate projects for OFDC. Entiapirri’s next request is for new desks for their Early Childhood Education and Development classes (ECDE).
After talking with the Administration, we went outside where chairs were set up for us to watch the students perform. The first song was by a group of students singing about the importance of practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of Trachoma, which causes blindness. The next performance was a solo by a girl who sang about the importance of education and working hard. Lastly, the group we saw practicing when we arrived performed. They were all wearing traditional Maasai beads and carrying walking sticks. The performance was very organized – they did an exceptional job of singing and dancing in unison. The schools from each county compete in traditional song and dance and Entiapirri is ranked one of the best!
After the performances, we were presented with many gifts made by the local community. Everything we received was beautiful and handmade. Many photos were taken with all the students and teachers before we set off to our next destination.
Traditional song and dance by Students of Entiapirri Primary School.
Osupuko-Oirobi Primary School is our next destination. This school is even further from any town or paved road then Entiapirri Primary. We have to climb very steep hills and almost got stuck. We finally arrived and were greeted by all the parents of the students at the school. The project we are here to inspect are new schools desks and other furniture such as cabinets and chairs. Sialo Sekut, Head Teacher of Osupuko-Oirobi, took us into her office where we discuss her school and how the project went. We then go around to the different classrooms to inspect the new desks. Nia emphasizes to all the students that these desks belong to the school and must be taken care of so future generations can use them. Osupuko-Oirobi is very close to the jungle which gives the community access to good wood, all the desks created for this project are very sturdy and should last a long time.
Just like at Entiapirri, we are given cookies, soda, and a performance by the students. All the students wore traditional beads and sheets over their clothes. They put mine and Nia’s name in their song and came and brought us up to dance with them. I don’t think we looked nearly as good as the kids up there and heard many laughs as we were up there. After the performances, many head figures within the community gave speeches. Their speeches were about the importance of education and that all children should be enrolled in school. They had Nia and I share some words as well.
Performance by the Students of Osupuko-Oirobi Primary School.
With rain clouds beginning to move in we had to be on our way or else we would be stuck there.
The next school we headed to was Kosika Primary to inspect newly completed latrines and desks. During this school’s latrine project’s construction phase, a land dispute happened which caused the project’s costs to increase which resulted in 7 latrines being constructed instead of 8. When we arrived at the school we talked with the teachers about the importance of transparency and communication. We understand that complications with projects are a fact of business and that having a clear idea of what the problems are is essential in order to work through them.
Kosika Primary is in a very dry area. I could not see any source of water except for the one rain water catchment they had installed by another organization. The problem was that the concrete base supporting the 10,000 liter tank raised the top of the catchment above the roofs of the buildings that were meant to catch the rainwater, rendering the tank basically useless.
Kosika Primary has three iron sheet buildings, each with two rooms in them; one stick, mud, and cow dung building; and one building made from iron sheets for the teachers to stay in. One of the teachers staying on the campus takes Kamau and I over to the building where she is living. Three teachers share this one building, each having a room that’s about 10×7 feet. Outback is an open fire they were currently using to cook some food.
Tonight we are staying with Simon Nkoitoi, a friend of Nia, so we head out to meet up with him. Simon is very accommodating and made sure we were comfortable while staying at his home. His property had a few separate wooden shacks and a traditional mud/cow dung hut, which was used as the kitchen. Agnes, Simon’s wife, prepared us some Ugali for dinner. It was extremely delicious and also very cool to watch her make it. It requires careful measurements of ingredients and a constant stir/folding method. We headed straight for bed after dinner as we were exhausted from the day.