What a busy and exciting month it has been. Full of a beautiful sort of chaos and a slew of new endeavors. When school is in session here in Kuria (the cycle runs with three months on and one month off, so the children go to school January, February, March, and then get April off, and so on throughout the year), the Education Team runs our outreach programs which travel to different rural and impoverished schools each day and offer intensive and focused English language learning programs. We visit each of the ten schools we work with twice a month and stay there for the entire day each time.
When school is out of session, we launch the Learning Resource Center, housed at an actual building on the main grounds of Nuru – Kenya. The Learning Resource Center (Learning Center), offers students who drop-in each day different innovative workshops that focus on supporting reading, writing and comprehension, as well as a library where they can read books of their choosing and have facilitator’s assist them in finding the definitions for new words and test and support their comprehension.
In late November, the Education team opened the Learning Center (this is only the second time it time it has ever been opened). When it was first launched during the previous break period, the Learning Center had a peak attendance of around 350 students. We hit that number within the first week and quickly surpassed it. For the first time, we are tracking individual students and their progress, which meant introducing a comprehensive registration and record-keeping system. As new students arrive, we register them (collecting all the relevant student data), get their photos, assign them ID numbers, and give them a file in which to keep all their supplies and work. Currently, after 2 weeks, we have around 800 students registered and see around 350-450 at the Learning Center on a daily basis.
In addition, the Education team also launched the first-ever travelling version of this program, called the Mobile Learning Resource Center, which was created to serve those populations of young people who live too far to make the walk to the actual Learning Resource Center. The Mobile Learning Resource Center operates in a different, remote location each week and has served about 85-125 students during each of its first two weeks.
It has truly been one of those times that remind us what the Education program is all about. It’s been incredible to see the commitment of these students to learning. Hundreds upon hundreds of students have shown themselves to be willing to get up before dawn each day of their breaks from school to do chores before the sun rises and then walk barefoot and often alone for hours following treacherous and muddy paths in the rain, usually on empty stomachs, just to continue learning instead of going out to play with their friends. They are so eager knowledge and willing to do whatever it takes to create a better future for themselves and their community. It fills me with awe to see them take such joy in what seem to me to be the simplest and most commonplace things. The thrill of using chalk or a crayon, the opportunity to read books, bewildered that such a thing as a dictionary exists and awestruck to be able to use one.
Every day in which these students continue to get up early and make the long and arduous journey to the Learning Center, they are showing just how important learning is to them and how far they are willing to go to obtain it. It is humbling for me to play a part in this push for knowledge and growth, to arrive at the Learning Center each day to see them waiting silently in a single file line for over an hour before the Center actually opens, to see them come day after day despite hardships and fatigue.
There is a phrase in Kiswahili that means ‘we are together.’ When I approach each day and see them there waiting so respectfully, I think to myself how fortunate and honored I feel that ‘tuko pamoja’, we are together in this struggle for a better, brighter future.