Story and photos courtesy of Rachel Willox and on behalf of fellow volunteers Kerry Watson, Jenni Harris, Eleanor Cowie, Vicki Smith and Charlie Fuller During our time working at the Stephen Kanja primary school, one of our favorite tasks was serving the porridge to the 110 nursery children each morning. Patrick, our camp manager, told us that when Camp Kenya started working with the school; many of the children were poorly nourished and coupled with an often long walk to school in the morning this meant that their concentration was often poor. From what we witnessed the porridge was definitely needed, as the children would all hungrily finish their cup and any seconds were always in demand.They would arrive morning break time – the younger ones sitting on thecool, shady floor of the kitchen, the older ones lined up outside -greeting us with their excited shouts of “Jambo, Jambo”. However, there is no pushing or reaching out for porridge in front of others and it’s actually difficult to check that everyone has received a cup. As volunteers, serving the porridge was a great opportunity to get to know these friendly children and during this time we played clapping games, gave high fives, let them try on our hats and sunglasses, have them stroke our arms and legs and hold our hands. We have a lot of wonderful and heartwarming memories of their smiling faces. However, one of the immediate things one notices about this group of children is that many of them do not have a school uniform, and in fact a few broke our hearts with the ragged state of their clothes. It seemed clear to us that we should do something about this.
As a result during our beach day to Diani we asked Rosi to take us to the school uniform shop, which is located down a small back street in Ukunda town. We negotiated with them to provide 45 school uniforms for kindergarten and year 1 for both boys (shirts and shorts) and girls (shirts and pinafores). These were quickly made up by the tailors and arrived on the last day (for 4 of us volunteers) we spent at Stephen Kanja primary school. We quickly enlisted the help of the teachers to help hand out what we had bought to the children – as the photos show this was a transformation and with plenty of room to grow into and younger brothers & sisters to hand down to, hopefully we have made a long lasting impression.