Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kenya HQ reporting!

Hello everyone! My name is Kate Crowley and I am the Kenya Program Director for the East African Center. I’m excited to be blogging from KenyaHQ to make sure you get news about Vutakaka Junior and Nursery School as it happens. I'll also be blogging at our Vutakaka Health Clinic blog (http://eachealth.blogspot.com/) We hope you will take time to read our updates regularly and will be as excited as we are about what is happening at school.

Jen Hill, our US Program Director, has been out here working with us since the beginning of October, and we have been spending a lot of time talking about our programs, how to improve them, and how to move forward. Mostly we are just gushing to each other about how wonderful everything looks at the school!

The student’s exam scores for the Term 3 mid-term are trickling in from the teachers, and I am really excited by how they look so far. Our oldest students will be entering Class 8 (the last primary school class) next year, so we are very focused on our student’s performance and on how to improve it. At the end of Class 8, all Kenyan students take the Kenyan Primary School Exit Exam (KCPE). The score they receive on this exam determines which public high schools they are admitted to. 

Kenyan high schools are broken down into 3 categories: National, Provincial, and District. The National schools are the best, and we hope many of our Class 7 students will be admitted to National schools following their KCPE exam next November. Be assured you will see a blog soon about how you can help support our students in high school (the government has promised for many years to reduce costs, but public high school still remains out of reach for many students).

Jen has also been getting lots of great pictures of all the extra activities we provide for our students. After school clubs are active and exciting. The student’s can chose from an HIV/AIDS awareness club, the gardening club, the drama club, the debate club, and many others. Jen also brought the wonderful Alessandra Delacruz with her to Kenya, and Alex is holding art classes with the students every day. If you want to see some of these great projects, connect with a student through our website (www.eastafricancenter.org) and we’ll send you a picture of a student and one of the great new art projects. We will follow that up with 3 personal projects from them each year. 

Our farm is also up and running! Through donations from American International Women’s Group of Genoa, the Rotary Club of Kilifi, and in memory of Carol Boland, we were able to dig the well, buy a pump and a tank, build a stand for the tank, and set up our taps to service the farm. Our team is working hard to harvest greens, tomatoes, onions, carrots, eggplants, and green peppers for our students lunch every day, in addition to growing maize and beans during the traditional rainy season from April to June. It is a beautiful farm and something that I personally feel very passionate about. It is so amazing to see it working, providing food, and saving money each day!

This week is the mid-term break for our students, which means we will hold a parents day to give out the student’s midterm reports and give parents news about the school. Jen and I are going to take this opportunity to share with the parents all about how we fundraise for the school, and how we spend the money. Since the beginning, we have always believed in complete transparency for our organization: to our donors, AND to the community we serve. We want them to give their input into our school expenses, and to know exactly how much work goes into raising money, but we also want them to know how passionate we are about keeping these amazing programs going. We hope to further involve the parents next year in our budgeting and our local fundraising.

That is all for now from KenyaHQ. Remember that if you connect with a student you get updates throughout the year from our students, teachers, and staff AND you get the chance to support this wonderful education opportunity for students in Takaungu, Kenya. Kwaherini na asanteni sana!