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Nzavoni Primary School

Location: Kinyambu, Makueni County, Kenya

Partner: Kinyambu Rural Education and Community Development

Rainbow of Hope for Children Society (ROHFC) has recently begun to sponsor development projects in Africa, specifically Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. The need is great there and education, health and agriculture are especially in need of assistance. In 2013 and again in 2016 a monitoring team visited the area schools around Kinyambu, Kenya where a project to build a library and provide school resources is already underway at Kinyambu Primary School. In visiting other schools in the area it became clear that a nearby school, Nzavoni Primary School, was in dire need of new classrooms and staff working spaces. The current classrooms have big cracks in the walls and the rafters holding up the metal roofing are almost eaten through by termites,which makes them quite dangerous. Parents have been moving their children to other schools if they are able but many cannot do that. This has led to some overcrowding in the nearby schools that are in better condition and these are now becoming very overcrowded. There is electricity currently at the school but no safe water supply.

Nzavoni Primary School is about 11 kilometers from the village center of Kinyambu which has a surrounding area of about 9650 people, 650 people living in the village and almost 9000 in the surrounding area, about 200 kilometers east of Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa. There are currently 94 boys and 83 girls registered at the school for a total of 177. There are 7 teachers, which means that there are about 30 students per class although the head teacher has administrative duties. The head teacher estimates that 90 boys and 70 girls, for a total of 160, have moved to other schools due to the condition of the classrooms at Nzavoni. About 60 parents are involved with the school while the population of the area is about 250 families.

The local people live on small farms called shambas and the economy consists of subsistence agriculture, growing maize, beans, peas and so on. Some have tried growing vegetables under irrigation but the local river has been severely polluted by a leaking oil pipeline. Cash is generally earned by parents, usually fathers, going away to work in another area, leaving the mother to care for the children and the farm. The main highway from Nairobi to Mombasa, a major port on the coast, passes nearby and while this brings potential income especially from truckers and other travellers, it also brings social problems such as drugs and HIV/AIDS issues.

A major rail line is also almost completed and passes alongside the highway. There will be a station at the nearby town of Kibwezi and there is already substantially increased commercial activity in that town which is about 15 kilometers away. This will bring opportunity for increased sale of local produce and products but may also cause more social disruption to the quiet local life that is currently there. One disruption is that local people often have longer distances to walk or bicycle because they can only cross the rail line at over or underpasses.

Education is necessary to enable young people, particularly girls, in the area to be able to improve their employment prospects and deal with the changes that are coming into the local area. A new school of three classrooms at Nzavoni is a positive step to keeping girls in school to better their opportunity to complete more advanced education.

Two new buildings will be constructed at Nzavoni Primary School, which will house 3 classrooms, a head teacher’s office and a staff work area. Within the head teacher’s office will be a small lockable room with shelving and a similar lockable storage room. This will add safe and functional classrooms to the school and give the staff an efficient workspace so that the school can attract good teachers. Project plans will also include eavestroughing and water tanks to collect rainwater and furnishings for the new areas. Building a school is within the mandate of ROHFC. ROHFC would assume responsibility and control of the funds and decisions in building the school. The Kinyambu Rural Education and Community Development Society, in cooperation with the District Education office of Makueni County, Kenya, will supervise the construction of the buildings. The District Education Office will provide teachers for the new classrooms. Rainbow of Hope may provide additional projects in the future for this community.

Kinyambu Primary School – building a library and fence and providing resources.

Location: Kinyambu, Makueni County, Kenya

Partner: Kinyambu Rural Education and Community Development

Friends of Kinyambu and the Kinyambu Primary School Library are two parts of a project intended to provide resources needed to improve learning outcomes for students including a library building. The library has been built and is being used by the school community.

Kinyambu is a village and surrounding area of about 9650 people, 650 people living in the village and almost 9000 in the surrounding area, about 200 kilometers east of Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa. The people of Kinyambu are mainly Kamba people, a large tribal group living east of Nairobi. Electricity has just reached the part of the village that is directly adjacent to the main highway from Nairobi to Mombasa, and has now been installed in some of the school buildings.

The school consists of a number of basic classrooms built in the typical manner in Kenya. There is a long row of cement-walled rooms with barred but unglazed windows and simple wooden doors that don’t seal well. Teachers have few resources to use in their teaching and little storage for any resources they do have. Their staff room is rudimentary and crowded and having a space to store supplies and resources would enable them to have a better workplace.

The library project is now complete. It is a separate structure in the school compound, which is now surrounded by a completed fence. The school is about a kilometer from the main village but there are many people living on small farm plots surrounding the school and village who would have easy access.

Parents, teachers and administration of Kinyambu Primary school have taken this project into their hearts and will maintain it through their ongoing efforts. The Friends of Kinyambu project, part of Rainbow of Hope at this time, is planned to be a way to keep the library and school supplied with resources for a long time into the future. Cardinal Leger School in Saskatoon has adopted this as a long term project as well and continues to provide support.

The fencing and school resources project began with a visit to Kinyambu Primary School in 2010 by Connie Gerwing, now on the board of directors of ROHFC. The initial request in 2010 from Mr. Stephen Kamenzi, the Headmaster of the school at that time, was for a school in Canada that would twin with them in order to enhance the English language learning of the children and give them a window on the larger world. Mr. Guy Werbicki of Cardinal Leger School in Saskatoon was looking for such a contact to give his students a view of the world outside of Canada and a way to give of themselves and learn about social justice issues. The two were able to talk on the phone and begin working together on these goals.

This is part of a note from Mr. Kamenzi to Mr. Werbicki:

“We are dedicated to uplift the academic standards in Kinyambu to match those of other modern schools in our country as well as opening up our children to the outside world using the exchange programme between our school and Cardinal Leger School.

I am pleased to inform you that my pupils and teachers were overwhelmed with joy yesterday (8-9-2010) when I announced to them that your school has accepted to partner with ours. Very soon you will hear from them in the form of writing.”

The school is situated in a semi arid region and people mainly depend on farming which does not do well due to poor climatic conditions. This has led to poverty which has negatively affected education, since parents can do very little to support education in the school.

The main objective of the project is to provide the school with learning and other resources that will enhance the academic and social functioning of the students. At the present time the Free Primary Education programme of the government of Kenya supplies textbooks and some stationary (not enough). There is a basic school building, which consists of classrooms with bars but no glass on the windows, blackboards in very poor condition and desks in very poor condition. Communities are responsible for building the schools – a poor community has poor buildings. The govern

The initial priorities are fencing, school uniforms for the most vulnerable children and materials for art, drama, music and gymnastics. New desks and other furnishings have been added. The students have won several awards for musical and drama productions in the past years but need funds to continue this. Fencing is important because local people use the school grounds as a shortcut with motorcycles doing the most harm to the playing fields. Cattle and goats often roam freely in the school grounds searching for food, particularly in the dry season. One of the projects the children have been doing is planting trees to improve their environment since deforestation is a big problem in Kenya. The fence has been finished and awaits only a gate to be complete.

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