MUUTI-O-NTHUNGURI PRIMARY SCHOOL
by Salome Ntinyari
Farmers Helping Farmers Staff Kenya
Muuti-O-Nthunguri primary school is headed by Mr. Gikunda and located approximately 14 kms from Meru town and 5 kms from Kiirua market. This school has been twinned since 2013 with Mt. Stewart Consolidated.
In this school is a modern kitchen or cookhouse with energy saving cookers where their meals are prepared. These cookers use little firewood compared to the previously used open fire places thus conserving firewood which is the main source of fuel. There is also less smoke generated from these cookers as they have a door which can be closed when firewood is added. This gives the cooks a pleasanter and healthier place to work. The school also has a garden with a screen house where vegetables are grown for use in the student’s meals. It is always a joy to visit the school gardens and meet the excited children as they queue for their lunch time meal of githeri. Githeri is prepared using a mixture of maize and beans and includes vegetables such as sukuma wiki (kale), spinach and onions. Also recommended for inclusion are carrots, butternuts, or orange fleshed sweet potatoes. These latter yellow or orange coloured vegetables are grown in the school gardens and included to ensure pupils have a balanced diet.
This program by Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF) involves the working together of all parties i.e. the school, the pupils and the parents. Parents make a contribution to the feeding program where they contribute to the school a supply of maize and beans. The parents of this school have been very cooperative in supporting the growth of this program. It all began when a meeting was organized and parents informed of the twinning to their school and what it would entail. One of the components of the twinning program was establishing a school garden. However, the problem was that the school property assigned for the garden was very rocky. This resulted in the parents coming together to clear all the rocks from a portion of the school yard for the garden. Afterwards the school had and continue to have very productive land for the vegetable garden and one could no longer recognize just how rocky the garden used to be.
According to the Head Teacher Mr. Gikunda, since the school was twinned there has been great improvement in terms of infrastructure at the school which now includes the cook house, six pit latrines and water tanks to harvest rain water from the school roof. The school also received a fresh coat of paint which drastically changed the appearance of the school, the modern kitchen and the school garden.
This has brought about an increase in the number of pupils joining the school each year. In 2014 the school had an enrollment of 140 pupils from class one to class eight and 30 pupils in the ECDE, or preschool program. Since twinning they have noticed an increase in the number of students that enroll each year. Their current enrollment is 195 pupils from class one to class eight and 41 for the ECDE, a 28% and 27% increase, respectively. He also stated he believes the feeding program is a major contributing factor to the increase in the number of pupils.
"The welfare of the pupils has improved through provision of clean water for drinking from the water tanks provided by FHF and the balanced meals they receive, the sanitation block, the supplementary books have helped the children improve their reading skills, all this thanks to FHF," says Mr. Gikunda
The pupils in this school exchange letters with their twinned school in PEI. This has helped the pupils learn about Canada, their culture and much more from their twinned partners. This helps in opening up their young minds about what happens in other parts of the world. It's always a joyous day when they receive these letters.
In Kenya there is a national examination requirement for pupils in class 8. This is a common national exam which every student must sit for and results determine ones progression to high school. Once schools are twinned an improvement in the overall performance has been noted and Muuti-O-Nthunguri is no exception every year grade 8 pupils sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Over the years the Head Teacher says they have noted an upward trend in the school performance in national examinations. He attributes this trend to the proper nutrition children receive which increases their ability to concentrate in class as well as the improvement in general welfare of the children. Cases were noted initially where children would not carry anything to school for their meals because there was no food at home, but now they all receive balanced meals at school. Since the rural homes where the pupils come from has no electricity, all grade 8 pupils have received solar lights to enable them study at night, this also contributed to the improvement.
Whenever I visit this school and others that FHF partner with, I am full of gratitude for the improvement I see, the smiles on children’s faces, the energy they display, the joy of Head Teachers as they show the improved school performances, the warmth in their voices when they talk about how many more pupils have joined them, all because some wonderful people and organizations have made it happen. FHF has donated much to touch the lives of people they don't even know. THANK YOU.
Farmers Helping Farmers Staff Kenya
October 31, 2017
Nkando Primary School - new twin school of the Margate Pastoral Charge on P.E.I.
(Formerly Margate United Sunday School, Southwest United)
NKANDO PRIMARY SCHOOL
Nkando primary school is located in the semi-arid area of Meru County approximately 39 kilometers from Meru town and 22 kilometers from Isiolo town. The head teacher is Mr. Kithinji who administers the school of 232 children with a staff of 10 teachers.
Most the pupils in this public primary school are from smallholder farm families who rely on rain fed agriculture for their livelihood. The rainfall in this area is mostly inadequate in amount and unreliable in frequency.
The school had a feeding program run by the parents but since most of the parents relied of rainfall for their farm produce, when it failed this past year they had no food to bring in for the feeding program thus no food was cooked at the school.
Uji (porridge) was made but only for the pre-school children which they have mid morning.
In June this year the UPEI nutrition team visited the school for a parents session on nutrition and meal assessment. The school at this time school could only afford to make 'githeri' made of maize or corn only which had been donated by the government. Since then FHF has donated maize and beans to the school thus affording the children some protein in their diet.
Since the school had a greenhouse that was not being utilized, FHF provided drip irrigation and technical support through its staff in Kenya.
The greenhouse now boasts of producing various green vegetables, tomatoes and carrots thus enabling the pupils to have a balanced diet. FHF also provided maize and beans to support the feeding program following continued drought in the area thus ensuring the children have beans in their githeri. The children now enjoy a delicious, nutritious meal, for some it is the only meal they will have for the entire day.
Githeri with maize only Githeri with beans and vegetables.
Even though the top of the greenhouse was blown away by the wind, (in the months of July to September this area experiences very strong wind) the vegetables are doing well.
The school received three water tanks and had gutters installed by FHF to collect rain water. These tanks have helped the school with a means to harvest rain water and a place to store water. This school is receiving a cookhouse enabling them to soon leave the smoke filled one they currently use, thanks to the Souris Village Feast.
The head teacher Mr. Kithinji had this to say, ''we are happy and grateful for all the assistance, it has enable our pupils have a balanced meal and it has also increase concentration of the pupils in class. During the first term when we had nothing to prepare for the children we used to have at least two or three cases of children fainting due to hunger, others would doze in class and when asked they would say they haven't had anything to eat or drink that morning or the previous evening. When FHF provided the maize and beans as well as helped with planting the vegetables the children are now happy as they can now get a balanced diet and we have not had any case of a child fainting.''
Unlike other schools where some pupils are shy or don't want to get second servings, here it is a scramble by both girls and boys to get a second serving. The pupils expressed their joy and gratitude at being able to enjoy githeri with beans and vegetables.
These developments in this school have been possible because of the generosity of Islanders both individuals and corporate organizations who have given generously to FHF for its various projects. Because of this, a child can now concentrate in class because they have a healthy meal, a child can study at night because they have a solar light, a child can have water to drink because there is a water tank to harvest and store rain water. They can also learn about growing vegetables because they have seen them grown in school and this will ensure their futures.
Salome Ntinyari - Farmers Helping Farmers Staff Kenya
October 24, 2015
Celebrating Stratford Elementary and Michaka Primary
Exciting news for Stratford Elementary! The school has recently been twinned with Michaka Primary School in Kenya. The two will begin exchanging letters this school year. Stratford Elementary decided to put an official twinning application into Farmers Helping Farmers when a leadership group of grade six students was formed. The group wanted consistent letter exchange and was looking for the opportunity to help another school in a different part of the world.
Michaka Primary is a school of 105 students located in Meru, Kenya. The school does have a feeding program, but it is not sufficient for all students. Stratford students are hoping to help raise money to improve the garden and feeding program at the school. Students realize that when you’re hungry it is hard to learn. The school is hoping to help out their Kenyan friends by allowing the growth of the feeding program to include all members of the school.
The students at Stratford are gearing up to design and create Christmas cards which they will be selling at the Annual Craft Fair on November 13th and 14th. The proceeds from the sale of the cards will be in support of their new twinned school, Michaka Primary.
Both Stratford Elementary students and Michaka Primary students will benefit from the twinning program. It will open their eyes to a different part of the world. The letter exchange is a highlight for both Canadian and Kenyan school children. The information exchanged in the letters is valuable and heartfelt. Students and staff are excited to be a part of this meaningful project.
Asante sana. Thank you.
Here are some more photos from the Kenya Youth Tour's visit to Michaka Primary in July 2015.