The day started off with a breakfast that most back home would be jealous of; fresh organic pasture raised eggs were enjoyed alongside mile High Kenyan coffee with raw milk and fresh honey and bread. (Harambee guesthouse pictured above)
A full day was planned as we were scheduled to check out a few of the local schools. Our first trip had us visiting Ugana Primary school only 1200 short meters from the Harambee house. Ugana Primary suffers from an unfortunately dismal student to teacher ratio as 12 teachers were responsible for the education of nearly 778 students in grades 1-8. Some teachers often tasked with the responsibility of managing up to 87 students in their dilapidated classrooms. Ideally, 16 teachers would be considered the acceptable minimum for such a large student populous.
We were shown about the school premises with special attention being made to point out the gaping holes in the floors as well as the fact that many students were without textbooks and were struggling to keep up with the expected minimum test scores imposed by the Kenyan government. Despite what many American teachers might classify as less than ideal conditions, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the students were both well disciplined, and happy to be In school. Kind of makes you wonder what American children could stand to learn from impoverished nations like Kenya?
In every classroom the teachers were quite proud to have their students recite their favorite songs and show us what they were learning in class. After nearly an hour and a half on campus we proceeded to break and return to our home and enjoy our staple meal of beef, rice, collard greens, Chipate( potato tortillas) and avocados the size of footballs (American football).
The afternoon we had in store for us was going to be emotionally rewarding as well as physically exhausting. We had a slate of interviews to conduct with scholarship students at the secondary school finishing with a matched up against the school’s futbol (Soccer) and volleyball teams.
Assembling together under the shade of a large tree on the school grounds, we spoke with the 9 students on scholarship at Uluthe secondary. Though English is one of the primary languages of Kenya, it was obvious to all of us that many of them were quite uncomfortable at showing their mastery of the language. They slowly began to open up to us about their dreams for their future as well as that of their country. With aspirations of being teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges and engineers it was fascinating to learn that most all of the students had one common obstacle that stood in the way of their education and realizing their goals.
The simple things that we take for granted like flipping on the light switch before sitting down in our favorite chair to study are actually luxuries that these students CAN’T afford. In fact, when discussing what resources they currently have available to them, and facebook was mentioned, the team was surprised to learn that none of these students had ever heard of the “book for your face.”
After interviewing the students, the entire Primary and Secondary school assembled to watch as Team America played team Kenya in a game of volleyball. I’ll go ahead and say that playing volleyball with a soccer ball and not having worked together as a team on any playing field left us at a slight disadvantage, at least we’ll keep telling ourselves that. Let’s just say that Team Kenya won.
Not content to let us off that easy we were immediately challenged to a game of futbol on an uneven and patchy downhill sloping field. The highschoolers proceeded to demonstrate that not only are Kenyans some of the fastest people on the planet, they’re amazing futbolers as well, but the Americans held their own losing 1-0, but not after shedding some skin and oozing blood as we fought valiantly to hold onto our dignity.
Later in the evening we enjoyed our staple meal again, this time with some mango thrown into the mix. We can’t complain that the same meal is served to us, as the amount of love poured into it has lifted out spirits daily.
After dinner the thunder and rain came rolling in. The team played card games and broke into laughter and conversation while Adam, Emily and Gabe went on a mini safari, braving the intermittent rain and swarms of mosquitoes to capture images of geckos, giant beetles, toads, millipedes and other animals.