Really buoyed up to find the best schools for next year, the Summer Team continued our hunt by day, and by evening we sat and discussed, and decided, the LTP24 Central Pot expenditure! This exciting pot of £4500 of money was donated by Tom Bishop and co, who cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours (well, 23 and a half, to be precise) and raised a huge amount of money to invest in safe water harvesting tanks at schools, and electricity projects. The PWs applied to the Central Pot, putting their schools forward for projects they had thought through, cost-estimated, and evaluated, and we were going to choose which would receive part of the money. With a mandate to have the biggest impact on the most students in the neediest schools, we really had to think long and hard about which to choose.
The weekend of third week brought safari for the Kisii PWs, and off to Masai Mara with our good friends Saif and Geoff, they had an amazing time, seeing lions aplenty, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest…! Although they missed a viewing of the Olympics Opening Ceremony from a Kenyan Bar (always a fun experience! Mr Bean was incredibly well-received!), safari represented a well-earned break at the end of a very productive week in the schools for the PWs, and by Sunday they were back and raring to go – many of them ordering textbooks, lab equipment and materials for health, careers, science and sports days at their schools. Visiting a few of these was really fun for the Summer Team, and proved to us just how well the PWs were settled in at their schools and doing something the schools themselves would never have got round to doing. Holistic education – in health, life skills, careers, and extra curricular activities – is taken so much for granted in the UK, that to hear some of the questions the students had put forward as things they wanted to find out for the day reminded us once again how much there can be to do in some KEP schools, and how much the students would get out of a nurse coming in to talk, for example. Running as ever to TIA time (a few hours late) and even in the rain for some of them, the days have been really successful, and have been instituted in many cases as part of a wider programme to address our key PODs.
Backing books was the order of the day for some, with Maillie and Becky meticulously mastering sticky-back plastic for their books in the library at Kerongeta, which will now be a much-needed study space reading room for the students, allowing a reading culture to be introduced which will help the students no end with their English especially. The PWs were also writing their applications for the Global Education Fund, which last year gave St Don Bosco (upon submission of Bobby and Charlotte’s application 2011) 5000 CAD for expenditure on a boarding dorm. As such, we will be submitting 3 more applications this year, to be decided in Kisii from Iranda, Riagumo, Tendere and Kerongeta which have all applied for the funding. We wish them the best of luck, as this would be an incredible achievement to get for these schools which would really boost the students’ quality of learning, as they could spend less time walking their long and dangerous trek to schools, and more time learning with their peers in a safe and friendly school environment.
A particularly touching night for the Summer Team was Thursday of fourth week, when, following on from a slight restructure of KEP in Kenya, we have now instituted a Kisii Site Board, and a Kisii Head teachers Executive, as we will for all our sites over the course of the summer. Essentially recognising the work, logistically and pastorally, that our Kisii friends do for us each year, finding us accommodation, looking after all the PWs and the Summer Team, offering us advice, being on hand whenever we need anything, and most of all, representing a friendly face in the chaotic town of Kisii – the Kisii Site Board of Geoff, Eliud and Saif was announced at our KEP Friends Night Dinner. Having spent an afternoon in the kitchen, Jan, Laura and I produced a (well done Jan!) amazing Moroccan Stew, which our KEP friends loved! We chatted about KEP, then announced the new site Board, and thanked them as ever for all their extremely hard work. They were very touched to be recognised in this way. The Kisii HT Executive was also announced, consisting of Peter from Botoro, Zephaniah from Kiogo and Janet from Matongo. Recognising them as very trusted and valued HTs of ex-KEP schools, we wanted to recognise the advice they offer us on our work in KEP schools, their presence at the HT Conference and Debriefs, and their input on strategic matters while the Summer Team were in country. With Saif’s new puppy running around at our feet, eating dinner in the Kisii house, the KEP friends evening was a great success, and I’m so pleased we had the chance to officially thank and recognise such great friends of the charity we have here.
So, five extremely busy and extremely productive weeks have passed in Kisii, and we couldn’t believe it but it was time for the handover meeting in Kisumu! Going to a lovely poolside cafe, Kisii, Kakamega, and the Uganda researchers all met up to discuss the first half so far, and to handover for second half, as wel as between the sites, and between Uganda researchers! (Matt and Rona had just returned from Umbarara, Jan and Lizzie were about to go to Iganga!). Hearing how everything had gone, and having a real debrief about all the progress we had made (as well as recognising mistakes and places to improve we’d spotted too, of course!) really made me feel incredibly happy about a great first half to the Project, and very excited to see how it would continue! Returning with Rona to Kisii to finish our handover, I feel absolutely confident that she will do a fantastic job as PM!
All that is left to say is – firstly thank you to all the PWs, who have been absolutely brilliant – what a great group, I’ve loved working with you all! Such talent, and real passion; I can’t wait to see the end results in our schools. And secondly, thank you to the best Kisii summer team I could possibly have wished for– Jan, Bobby, Molly, Chain, Laura, and now Rona – the most hard-working group of innovative and committed people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Good luck also to Jan who’s now in Uganda researching expansion with Lizzie Dobson (the Uganda Expanders…!), which is making expansion look suddenly very exciting and very real! Being PM has been a great experience and, whilst now very tired, I’m so happy about how our project is going this summer. Well done to all.
To an extremely successful end of the project, Rona and Gabriel, all the coordinators and PWs – I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you at debrief!
Jenny Jones, Project Manager, Kisii First Half, Summer 2012