While driving to Limanet Elementary outside of Narok, I quickly realized that this trip was going to be unlike any other experience I have had traveling. The desolate, yet beautiful landscape was exactly how I pictured Africa to be. Only it was far more amazing. It also wasn’t humid and blistering hot, like I had envisioned, rather the temperature was perfect. It was surprisingly chilly in the morning and the sun was a welcome addition.
When we got to Limanet, the reception we received was heartwarming and overwhelming at the same time. I had never seen so many children so excited and genuinely happy to see us. I immediately felt undeserving of this new fame that would soon become a familiar feeling at other school visits within the next two weeks.
We visited all of the classrooms and walked around the school grounds. Although modest, I couldn’t help but thinking that it seemed like a nice environment for children. This idea was encouraged when I saw the latrines built by OFDC. They seemed to complete the facilities the school had to offer. As we spoke with the Head Teacher, she explained to us that the latrines had made a huge difference to their school, especially for the very young children whose classroom was very far from the other classrooms and the previous latrines. They would have to go so far, that accidents often occurred because they could not make it in time. With the new centrally-located toilets, it was much more convenient.
We also visited some classrooms to see the desks that OFDC had provided. It is hard to imagine how useful a desk can be to a child until you see how far some of these students have to walk just to get to school. We were told that some students would walk up to eight kilometers a day to attend classes. To have a desk provided meant that they had a place to store their schoolbooks to ensure they would have them the next day. It also meant they did not have to carry them between home and school.
Limanet set the tone for my whole trip. Although, it wasn’t as poor or rural as some of the other schools, an important notion was realized. These children are really no different than American children. 4-year-olds still have accidents when they cannot make it to the restroom quickly enough and toilets are essential. A desk is wanted to provide a safe haven for books, supplies, and a comfortable place to sit. Finally, the idea that children will be happy when provided the basic tools that allow them to be happy and remain children as long as they can, especially in a culture where often they are forced to grow up to too quickly.