January 16, 2007 - Nairobi - Kenya
by Marge Cole
Greetings Fellow District 5340 Rotarians!
Jambo from Nairobi - Capitol of Kenya - our first stop in Kenya. We began the day when Rtn. Mohammad Rahmatulla of the RC of Nairobi took us on a morning tour of recent projects done by his Club. Our first stop was Toi Primary School where we were met by the headmaster and given a brief tour of the school including the Special Education classroom. The first project we were shown was a very modern, clean toilet facility built for the Special Education students by the RC of Nairobi. Rtn. Mohammed explained to us that only 5% of the Special Education students in Kenya attend school and his Club is taking steps to ensure that more Special Education students receive an education and that their facilities are suitable for their learning environment. They are building 2-3 of these toilet facilities in various public (government) schools each year.
Our next stop was stop was the Mbagathi Road Primary School which was built during British Colonial days to accommodate 300 students - it currently serves almost 1300 students from one of the poorest slums in Nairobi. The RC of Nairobi rehabilitated the restroom facilities used by Special Education and other students and also built a very clean, modern kitchen where children's lunches are prepared. The headmistress explained that for most of the students this was the only meal they received each day. The children were thrilled to have Rotary visitors and especially thrilled to see their photos on digital cameras. Our third stop was the Gutharai Primary School where the RC of Nairobi are currently constructing a toilet facility because their current pit latrine facility is caving in and has been condemned which will result in the school being closed.
This school was in the very poorest slum area where scenes from the movie "The Constant Gardener" were filmed. We joined the Rotary Club of Nairobi for lunch and were graciously welcomed by Club President Neena Handa.
After lunch we were driven to the Don Bosco School for Boys in the Nairobi suburb area. This school has been an ongoing project of the Rotary Club of Westlands (Nairobi) and District 5340 for many years. We were delighted to see photos of PDGs Steve Brown and Wayne Cusick posted in the entry area marking the opening of the current school building in 1995. The school serves the poorest and homeless children from the streets of Nairobi and allows them to board there as well. We were pleased to see girls there as well - the girls return to their homes nearby at the end of the school day.
We were entertained by the Don Bosco Children's Choir which included girls and boys who sang and danced three folk songs from different regions of Kenya. We met Father Babu Augustine, the headmaster, who gave us a brief history of the school and reported that their test scores were very high and competitive with many more affluent schools in Kenya. We toured the school and saw the dormitory; the kitchen; the farm and garden where they raise much of their own food, the woodshop where they learn to make furniture which is sold to raise funds for the school; the sewing room where girls were making school uniforms for students; and the computer lab and science room. The school serves over 410 students ranging from preschool through secondary. Each boy has assigned chores and learns to care for himself and the community he lives in. Their sports teams practice after school and have also been competitive and won a number of trophies - in Kenya’s most popular sport: soccer.
Following our tour of the Don Bosco School, we joined the RC of Westlands for their meeting and fellowship. We were welcomed by President David Ngugi who had accompanied us on our tour of the school. He thanked Rotary District 5340 for helping to build the Don Bosco School and for ongoing projects which have helped with computer equipment, dictionaries, and other needed school supplies. Rtn. Bimal Kantaria offered a special thanks to District 5340 and especially PDGs Brown and Cusick for their key roles in making the Don Bosco School a reality for the neediest children of Nairobi.
We returned to our hotel following the Rotary meeting, tired but pleased to see the projects that Rotary is doing in the Nairobi area to allow the poorest and neediest students reach their potential. Together we have done much to assist these children - there is much more to be done. We will bring many projects for District 5340 Clubs to participate in to further this good Rotary work.
Asante Sana (Thanks)!
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