The Alternative School (TAS) supports a school and orphanage in Mtwapa, north of Mombasa in Kenya. The school does this as we believe that, although our pupils do not always come from privileged backgrounds, it is important for them to see how their efforts can impact those with significantly less than they have themselves.
Kirsty Pugh, Head Teacher, and Kirsty Swierkowski, Adventurous Activities Manager, had an exciting start to the new year as they flew to Kenya to visit Jambo Jipya. The purpose of the trip was to meet the pupils we have been exchanging letters with and to plan a visit with four of our pupils in December 2017. It took thirty-six hours to get to Mtwapa and they were exhausted when they arrived. It is not an easy place to travel to and the journey involved three flights, including an eight-hour delay in Paris due to fog.
It was well worth the long journey as they arrived at the school to the sound of “Jambo” which means hello and welcome in Swahili. The 35⁰C heat did not seem to bother the pupils. In Jambo Jipya school, they spent time in the classrooms and with the head teacher, Mr Wilson, and found that the education system has many similarities to that in the UK. Kenyan examination papers are printed in England and sent to Kenya so that pupils there can sit the Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education after they have studied for eight years towards it. However, they have very little to help with their learning. Electricity is only available in the office via an unreliable generator and some classrooms have plastic garden furniture for pupils to sit on. All the classrooms are baking hot as they have tin roofs and there is no running water. Their school day runs from 6.30am until 5.30pm which is significantly longer than the days at TAS. Pupils are happy though and do well in their Kenyan exams.
Christine Mwende, the owner of the school and orphanage, invited Kirsty and Kirsty for an evening meal at the orphanage. This allowed them to get to know the children who live there who were happy to show off their home. After a gift exchange, they were treated to performances of song and dance by the children. All of the children who live in the orphanage, many of whom have been orphaned as a result of HIV, would be forced to live on the streets if it was not for the good work of Christine, supported by Phil Beech, who introduced TAS to Jambo Jipya and the generous donations from others. They are thankful for the support they receive from TAS. Both Kirstys agreed that the trip was a life changing experience and they cannot wait to give TAS pupils the same opportunity.
TAS is looking for sponsorship to help fund this once in a lifetime trip for our pupils and will be grateful for any support anyone can offer them with this venture.