Connecting Classrooms and Communities for Global Awareness - a Global Classroom Initiative Project
In March of 2006, a team of Island teachers traveled to Kenya as part of a Farmers Helping Farmers Project called “Connecting Classrooms and Communities for Global Awareness”. The teachers’ mission was to learn as much about Kenya -- as a developing country, as they could. They also wanted to see first-hand how Canadians, particularly Islanders, were helping to make a difference in the lives of Kenyan farmers and their families. Over a period of three weeks the teachers visited 17 schools, many farms, a dairy, coffee and tea factories, a hospital, health clinics, a school for blind children, a home for street kids, a CIDA sponsored garden project in an “HIV hotspot” and the first Millenium Development Goals Demonstration Village at Sauri, Kenya. The Island teachers learned much and made many new friends as their eyes and their hearts were opened to the gracious and hard working people of Kenya.
Upon their return, the teacher team set to work sharing what they had learned by writing stories and creating multi-media presentations and lesson activities for Island students. The result was a series of educational resources linked to PEI’s Social Studies curricula for Grades 3, 6, and 9, and for Agriculture and Global Issues courses in High School.
Many people and organizations contributed to the success of this Farmers Helping Farmers project. Funding was provided by the Canadian International Development Agency’s Global Classroom Initiative and many generous local sponsors. Support and guidance was provided by the PEI Department of Education, the Eastern and Western School Boards, the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation and the UPEI Faculty of Education’s International Education Program. Kenyan partners included the Wakulima Dairy, Muchui Women’s Group and the Kenyan Ministry of Education. Countless Island teachers volunteered their time and talents, not only to create and develop the educational materials, but also to field test and pilot them, ensuring their successful integration into Island classrooms. Some of these resources are still being used today!
Island teacher, Trudy White, shares a book and photos with some new Kenyan friends. The book, entitled “Winter Fun,” was created by Ms. White’s Grade 3 students at Belfast Consolidated.
This poem was written by Ms. Robbie Munn’s Grade One class at Miscouche Consolidated. They recited it for Jennifer Murogocho and Lucy Wachira when the two Kenyan women visited their school in October, 2006. Jennifer and Lucy were visiting schools on PEI as part of Farmers Helping Farmers’ Global Classroom Initiative. Ms. Munn’s class also read many stories about Africa and they learned to count to twenty in Swahili!
A Global Family
Hands across the ocean
Hearts across the sea
We're brothers and sisters on this earth
A global family.
We Island children want to say
This is a very happy day
Because you've come from far away
To share your stories and your ways.
By sharing what we know and have
And showing that we care
We'll make a kinder, safer world
For children everywhere.
Global Classroom curriculum documents for Grades 3, 6 and 9
“Connecting Classrooms and Communities for Global Awareness”
Grade 3 Thematic Unit
“Children and Communities: Stories from P.E.I. and Kenya”
Grade 6 Social Studies
“Rights & Responsibilities: My Interactions with Others at Home and Around the World”
Grade 9 Social Studies
“Viewing the World with Various Perspectives from Our Place in Atlantic Canada”
Global Issues 621A
(Revised Unit Overview and Outcomes August 2010)
Here are blog posts from the 2006 Global Classroom Initiative group:
"A Reading Nation is a Living Nation" - Universal Primary Education in Kenya
Submitted by Trudy White
GCI Participant - FHF Member
March 21, 2006
Achieving universal primary education by 2015 is the second Millennium Development Goal (MDG). Many countries around the world are now well within sight of achieving this goal. However, this is not the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 45 million children still do not attend school.
As a member of Farmers Helping Farmers’ Global Classroom team, I have been visiting schools and community-based projects in Kenya. Traveling across this amazing country, I have asked many Kenyans what they would like me to tell Canadians about their country. Many times the response has been "Tell them we have Free Primary Education!" Unlike most other countries in Africa, universal primary education is now a struggling reality, here, and an achievement most Kenyans are very proud of.
Free Primary Education, (FPE - as it is called), was an election promise of Kenya’s current president, Mwai Kibaki. In keeping that promise, the Kenyan government abolished school fees in December, 2002. Within a month, school enrollment had jumped by more than a million students, some of them in school for the first time and many of them orphans. Classrooms were seriously overcrowded and resources were minimal - if they existed at all. Providing Free Primary Education has certainly not been easy for Kenya and there continue to be many problems. Still, many more Kenyan children are now going to school and despite all the challenges, most Kenyans will tell you things are slowly getting better.
Some of the improvements they have told us about are the abolition of corporal punishment, an increase in funding for schools with programs for special needs students, new school quality control standards and inspectors, and a separate books and materials fund that aims to put a minimum number of text books into every classroom. (The goal is to have one textbook for every 3 students in primary school and one book per 2 students in secondary school.) Imagine the challenges that sharing books creates for students who are studying for national exams that will determine their placements for future educational opportunities! Students must spend many hours before and after their regular classes in "prep time" so they can have use of the books they need to do their homework and study for exams. One Head Teacher told us his school allowed students who had school bags to take books home for studying but he also acknowledged that most students’ families would not be able to afford such a bag. But still – there are now at least some books in all public school classrooms and a new curriculum has attempted to make these materials more appealing, up to date, and accessible to the students.
Another important advance we noted during our visits to schools is the integration of HIV/AIDS education into various subjects of the curriculum. Even children as young as grades 4 and 5 are learning about AIDS and its devastating effects. Teachers have also received professional development traing in AIDS education and in virtually every staff room we saw a poster promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. (Photo - text book focused on HIV/AIDS education.)
Kenya’s 2005 MDG Status Report examines the progress made in this country towards achieving universal primary education. It notes that government spending for education increased from 8.1 to 22.7 billion shillings between 2002 and 2005. However, it also states that approximately 7% of the country’s primary school aged children are still not enrolled. Most of these live in the northern regions where the people are nomadic and education requires staying in one place. In these regions and also in some of the areas now affected by drought, the government has begun school feeding programs as a way of attracting more children to school and providing them with some basic nutrition. The MDG Status Report also tells us that while gender parity has been achieved in the younger grades, girls are still more likely than boys to drop out of school early because of pregnancies or being needed at home to care for ailing parents or younger siblings.
I found it interesting that most of the teachers we met send their own children to private schools. I guess that’s because they are fully aware of the challenges and limitations still facing the public system. Not enough teachers, poor facilities, lack of resources, and a growing number of orphans needing additional care - these issues came up again and again as we visited schools. Class size was another issue – especially in the urban areas, where there can be as many as 80 or even 100 students in a classroom! (40 to 1 is the government’s student to teacher ratio goal.)
But, for me, the most heart-breaking limitation of Kenya’s new FPE is the fact that so many of Kenya’s bright and eager students will not have the opportunity to go on to secondary schools. Secondary education is not free in Kenya and many families simply cannot afford it. Only about 54% of Kenya’s youth will have an opportunity to continue their schooling past Standard 8. But that is a topic for another time. For now, let us celebrate with our Kenyan friends the fact that most of this generation of young people will be literate. This quote from a calendar at one of the schools we visited sums it up well, "A reading nation is a living nation."
"As Water is, is Life. Canada has Brought Life to This School"
Submitted by Carolyn Francis
GCI Project Coordinator
March 21, 2006
"As water is, is life. Canada has brought life to this school." This comment was made by Sister Judith Felicity, St. Lucy’s School for the Blind, Kuiri, Igogi District, on our arrival to visit the school.
The construction of a reliable water source (by means of water tanks and piping) has brought "life" to St. Lucy’s School for the Blind. We were welcomed with great enthusiasm saying that they considered our visit a way in which they could pay Canadians back for what they had given to the school.
The impact of having an easily accessible and safe water supply was obvious at every turn in this school of 220. "Children can now sing and dance and are healthy", commented Sister Felicity. The visually impaired students no longer have to carry basins or cans of water from the river. As a result the students do not fall and injure themselves or break their water cans. Academic performance has improved as there is no more wasting of class time carrying water. Teachers are more comfortable; they can keep the facilities, beds and children’s clothes clean. Lunch is ready on time. They are very proud of their school as it sparkles with cleanliness and bright colours. The school can now grow vegetables in every season to supplement their food supply. Sickness, such as intestinal parasites and diarrhea, has been drastically reduced.
While the primary criteria for acceptance as a student at St. Lucy’s is visual impairment, many of the students have multiple disabilities. A considerable number are albino, and thus at high risk in such a hot climate. Sister Felicity indicated that many who are albino die from cancer. Ninety are AIDS orphans and others have lost one parent. Children come from all over Kenya to attend St.Lucy’s. For many this is the only home they know. The choir director and several other staff were former students at St. Lucy’s.
While at St’ Lucy’s we were treated to a special performance by the student choir – a "Welcome to St. Lucy’s" and a selection from Handel’s Messiah. In addition, we were treated to a Scouts drill and a dance performance. In each of these activities, students from this school do very well competing against students from sighted schools. It was hard to keep the tears at bay when witnessing this performance.
In past times Kenyans often viewed their disabled children with shame but that belief is rapidly changing towards a ‘view that they are God’s children and it is our responsibility to help and assist them’. This change in attitude was obvious in every school we visited, not only at St.Lucy’s. Special funds are being released to build classrooms for special needs students in every school that has such a class.
Why is Fair Trade Coffee Important?
Submitted by Joanne MacNevin
Global Classroom Teacher Team
March 20, 2006
Recently, while in Kenya, I had the opportunity to visit a coffee growers’ cooperative called the Muhuti Coffee Factory. The factory is a place where farmers bring their coffee ‘cherries’ (see photo - coffee berry) to be cleaned, hulled and dried before sending them off to auction. As we toured the facility, I was able to talk candidly with the coffee farmers and harvesters about what they do and how they make a living. Though I suppose the phrase ‘make a living’ hardly applies, since most Kenyan coffee farmers are not earning enough to adequately feed, clothe and educate their families. Many Kenyans who currently work in the coffee industry, as either pickers or plant workers, are earning what amounts to one Canadian dollar per day. Farmers can earn a little more, or a little less, depending on the price they get for the coffee at auction. As a result of recent low prices, some are finding now that they are operating their farms at a loss. Others have given up coffee farming in search of a better crop that will make them some money.
So why is Fair Trade coffee important? Why are more and more coffee shops choosing to sell Fair Trade coffee, especially when it is often more expensive than regular coffee? The answer is simple: Fair Trade coffee supports the farmer by giving the farmer a fair price for their coffee so that they can pay their workers’ wages and still earn enough to live on.
Here is what I was able to gather during my visit to the coffee plantation and factory in Kenya. According to the farmers I spoke with, the average coffee tree can produce between ten and twenty kilograms of beans per year. The farm I was on had approximately 500 trees. Coffee pickers, if they work hard, can earn between seventy to eighty Kenyan shillings per day, which works out to be just slightly more one Canadian dollar per day. The farmer would have to pay the pickers on a daily basis, but the farmer himself wouldn’t get paid until the coffee was sold at auction. The price the farmer would get would depend, then, on how much the coffee is sold for.
If the coffee is sold for a really low price, and the farmer doesn’t make enough money to cover bills, that individual farmer will have to sacrifice. Unfortunately, one of the things that gets cut is school fees. Even though primary school is now free in Kenya, there are still quite a few costs, such as books and uniforms, that can add up to quite a bit of money. Secondary school is not free; students who attend secondary are still required to pay fees on top of buying uniforms, books and supplies. I visited Muhuti Secondary School across from the coffee factory. At this school, many of the secondary students would attend school for the first term, when the coffee was being harvested, but would have to drop out by the second or third term because of lack of money from the coffee crop; the coffee farmers often wouldn’t make enough off their coffee to pay school fees for a full year. As a result, the education of their children suffers.
In another school we visited, St Thomas secondary school, the administration has decided to allow the students to stay in school, regardless of whether they are able to pay school fees or not. According to the principal there, it is more important to have a literate generation than an illiterate generation, so he chose to keep the students in school, learning. As a result of the students being unable to pay school fees, however, suppliers and teachers have to go without being paid for long periods of time. The teachers at this school showed an amazing dedication to the students, in my opinion, since they continued to show up and teach the students - even going so far as to give extra lessons on Saturday mornings - though many hadn’t been paid in up to three months.
It is important to remember that we live in a world in which getting the best price is paramount. It is so important, in today’s society, to save a buck in order to make a thousand, that the individual worker often gets lost in the shuffle of dollars and cents. The coffee beans, which were so painstakingly harvested and dried, are sold at auction for the best (aka lowest) possible price to the bidding corporation. The large company will then process, package and sell the coffee to consumers at much more than the original purchase price.
Fair Trade ensures that the farmer will get paid a fair price. I’ve met the coffee farmers, I’ve spoken to them and listened to their stories of hardship. Given that the price of coffee is currently very low, the hard times may be about to get harder. After meeting with the farmers, and getting to see the faces of the individuals who put coffee on our tables, I definitely think that it is time to support the farmer, not the corporation. So spend the extra few cents on a cup of java, and support a farmer through Fair Trade.
A Teacher's Prayer
Submitted by Lauren Gill O'Brien
March 20 2006
The following was on the wall in a primary head teacher’s office:
A Teacher’s Prayer
They came to me
with eager asking eyes;
And in my heart I pray
“God make me wise”.
They are so earnest
In the things they ask;
I would be faithful
to my teaching task.
They come bewildered
Seeking wrong from right;
And gently then I pray,
“God give them light”
For they will think
And do the things I do
In all I say to them,
I would be true.
The way is long I cannot teach alone
I am weak and
Often weary grown.
Those who dost teach
Thine own so patiently
O teach me Lord,
That I may teach like Thee
Pre-Service Student Teachers
During March-April 2006, six University of Prince Edward Island B.Ed. pre-service teachers will complete their international pre-service practicum in Kenya. They will be teaching at schools which participate in the twinning project. The pre-service teachers will also contribute to the research and development of the global classroom resources.
Pictured back row l-r: Shauna Gunn, Jessica Hughes, Nora McCarthy
front row l-r: Jessica Batiot, Meredith Cameron, Jill Richard
A Letter From Trudy White
GCI Participant - FHF Member
March 14, 2006
(This is a copy of an e-mail that Trudy has forwarded to friends on PEI.)
The Muchui women were more than welcoming. Lot's of laughs dancing with them. Jennifer accompanied us as she will again today.
You asked about rain. Nothing has fallen since two weeks ago. The women are still using the maise given them by FHF and there has been some government food aid come in - but it's not much. The usual start date is between March 15 and 22 and so everyone is praying they will come on time, but today is the 14th and there's not a cloud in the sky. Martin, the new business manager at Muchui told me the meteorologists are predicting there will be no rain till end of April! Unfortunately some people planted when it rained two weeks ago and if the seeds germinated they may soon dry up and there will be no seed left. We asked Jennifer how we might help out and she suggested we buy them some more bean seeds - the local variety. So we gathered about $250 between us and the business centrre will purchase and distribute the seed.
Martin told us that many of the people to the North of Muchui have migrated to seek refuge with family or friends in other places. The news is full of relief efforts being undertaken by other Kenyans. A van with a loudspeaker was travelling the streets in Meru yesterday asking people to help out. Clement has told us that he belongs to a group of 22 families that has already sent over 300,000 ksh in food aid. He also told us that in the 13 years he has been doing safari he has never seen animals dying as they are this year.
Despite this, we are still always warmly welcomed. We are all well and in good spirits. Great team to travel with. Visiting a school for blind and maternity hospital today.
Badilika Uendelee Kuishi
GCI Project Coordinator
March 14, 2006
"Change your behaviour and you will continue to live" (Title translated)
As you enter the compound of the Gathuki-mundu Primary School you will see this instruction in Ki-swahili as part of a large mural pictured with this article. Can you imagine children in elementary schools in P.E.I. having such an instruction at the school entrance?
This week we have spent a lot of our time in schools, including those involved in the FHF Twinning Program and a number of others in the Mukurwe-ini area. During these visits we have learned a great deal and shared special moments with many teachers and students.
At some of these schools, the staff was open in sharing the impact of HIV/AIDS on their students and their efforts to help these students succeed in school. At others there was more hesitation.
All schools we visited now have HIV/AIDS prevention education as part of their staff and student instruction. Signs about AIDS are visible, and it is included in several subject areas that are part of the curriculum.
At one particular school, Ithanji Primary, most of us "welled up" as the deputy head teacher shared that there were 35 AIDS orphans in his school of 234 students. He talked about their struggle for simple survival, including having food to eat, and their need for counseling for their emotional issues. He went to talk about how the staff attempted to support these orphans, including feeding them at school and purchasing their school supplies, including school uniforms. We asked how much it would cost to provide a healthy lunch for one of these orphans. The figure given was about 1000 Kenyan shillings or around $17 Canadian dollars per month…….cheaper than a night at the movies!
(This number of 35 includes only those who have lost both parents. One head teacher at another school indicated that those who had lost only one were not counted, They were just considered as students with a single parent.)
As each of the Global Classroom team was being honoured with the request to plant a tree along the school entry lane, a standard 5 (grade 5) class from the school was singing a song in Kikuyu (the local language). When I asked what the song was about, Dorothy, one of the teachers, indicated that it was about their struggles with AIDS. At my request, she graciously agreed to translate it into English, and delivered the translation to me before we left the Mukurwe-ini area.
Following is the English translation:
1. Sing with a lot of sorrowfulness
Like a bride who has just lost her bridegroom
Soon after being wedded.
The wrath of the Lord befalls us with a lot of pain.
If you fail to repent, nobody will survive
Who can resist this disaster?
It is only those who are washed in the blood of Jesus
An elderly man advised me to abstain from sex
A witch came at night and bewitched ‘the meat’.
2. My big question is,
Whom shall we entertain if all the youth perish?
When you see smooth and attractive thighs,
Don’t be tempted because
"All that glitters is not gold".
3. There are many orphans who have been left
Due to this disaster
Many people have committed suicide after being infected by it.
It’s very painful when a disease attacks the whole body.
Yet there are some people saying that it is just an accident because of ignorance.
4. Prevention is better than cure
Let’s have self-control
It’s wise to be faithful to one partner.
Avoid fornication /adultery
This is not a weapon, avoid early death
5. God, because we have sinned
I persuade you to restore your grace unto us.
The healing of this nation cannot be received from the use of condoms
The healing of our nation is under God’s mercy
6. God, because no human being loves calamities
And there are many ways in which this disease is being transmitted
It’s not only through sexual intercourse.
I beseech you to fortify me from the devil.
I desire to nurture my family and serve you.
While we might agree or disagree with some ideas presented in this song, no one can dispute that AIDS has played havoc in many families in Kenya and in many other countries in Africa and around the world. The Global Classroom team has come face to face with the heartbreak of AIDS and the amazement that these people have the strength to carry on with joy and optimism despite the sadness.
So Little Time, So Much To Learn! - School Feeding Programs
School Counsellor, Western School Board
March 14, 2006
How can one truly understand the essence of a people, the motivations of a people to create for themselves a life and an existence filled with purpose and meaning? Yet again, how can one who is exposed to that essence and existence truly share that with another who lives thousands of miles away in a land of privilege? That is the task given to a group of P.E.I. teachers who are presently in Kenya for three weeks preparing materials for Prince Edward Island students.
As part of that team, I am struck by the joyful spirit of the people here. Everywhere we have gone the people are SO HAPPY to have us visit and to share information about their lives. We have visited more that 10 schools so far and are struck by the joy in the faces of the children. Their laughter, at hearing us speak and seeing their pictures in our digital cameras, is like none other I have heard.
How can there be such joy when as many as 50% of these children come from homes that live below the poverty line (about $1.00 per day,). How can children concentrate on their school work and achieve in school when all they can think about is the emptiness in their stomachs and when they will once again have a meal? How can parents be expected to pay for the costs associated with sending their children to school, like uniforms and school supplies, when there is not enough to feed their families? Getting a basic education, children’s only hope in breaking the cycle of suffering; is made virtually impossible without daily sustenance to help them focus on their studies.
Several schools that we visited understand the importance of food to a student’s livelihood and success. Over the past three years Kihuiti Secondary School has improved school attendance and school performance by offering a Feeding Program. Over that period, they have increased their enrollment by 25%; in spite of the fact that, as a secondary school, education is no longer free as it is during the primary years, and students must pay tuition fees in order to attend. That 25% represents the 1 in 4 students who would not normally be able to attend school due to poverty.
Kihuiti has been able to offer their Feeding Program to its students since the construction of a dining hall on their school site three years ago. The building was constructed using a portion of school fees previously collected and is used as a multi-purpose hall by the community for the hosting of special events such as weddings and presentations by political representatives.
Some students walk as much as 8 kilometers to school, leaving as early as 5:45 am to be at school for 7:30 am to prepare for the first class at 8:30 am. As they may not have had much, if anything, to eat before setting out from home, the Feeding Program has become an important source of nutrition for many students. Morning tea is served at 10:00 am and a lunch at 12:40 pm that usually consisted of maize, beans, bananas and once a week "ugali" (see photo to right) and cabbage, a traditional favorite. The cost of this program is covered within the fee structure, at a cost of 1000 KS ($17.00 Canadian) per term; and for those parents who cannot afford to cover the cost for their children, the school accepts payments in "kind". Because the school operates a small "shamba" (farm) on the property with 2 bulls, 2 pigs, several goats, and 1000 coffee plants; the parents, if unable to pay, may contribute livestock, maize, corn or a contribution of work, if available, on the farm or dining hall in place of the fees. Profit from the sale of livestock and produce; both from the farm and Form 4 (Grade 12) garden plots, a part of their Agricultural Class, goes to the Feeding Program.
Administration, at Kihuiti, has noted that since the inception of the Feeding Program; there have been fewer discipline problems, as students are generally in better humour, performance of students has improved, as a result of improved concentration and productivity, and less absenteeism since students are not sneaking away from school to look for food.
The formula seems simple. Food attracts hungry children to school. Hungry children are, generally poor. Education empowers poor children and helps to lift them out of poverty. Thus, schools that are able to offer Feeding Programs to their students are not just filling their stomachs, they are offering hope of a better future.
The Wakulima Self-Help Dairy - How it Helps the Community
Submitted by Joanne MacNevin
Global Classroom Teacher Team
March 12, 2006
It is amazing how much a little can do. I arrived in Kenya three days ago and since then I have heard a great deal about the Wakulima Self-Help Dairy Group. The thing is, I'm hearing about the Dairy and all the people it is helping in the most unexpected places. Today, for example, while visiting a school, the local teachers happened to mention how the Wakulima Dairy had helped some families with students at the school pay their fees by providing them with some income from the sale of their milk.
The Wakulima Dairy started out very small and has grown into a force that is helping many in the community. The other night, by chance, two people from the dairy stopped by the house, and then one of them said something that stuck with me. He said that when one farmer has a cow, he employs at least one other person to help him look after the cow. In context, he was talking about how the Wakulima Dairy had set up a credit union, which loans money for cattle to farmers. I believe this quote stuck with me because I feel it illustrates how a community can grow and prosper, if given the right tools and resources for sustainability. In this case, the Wakulima Dairy, which is located in a community of farmers, loans money for cows, and then in turn buys the milk from the farmers so they can earn money to pay back the loan and then continue to make a living.
The Wakulima Dairy is a self-sufficient business, which continues to expand with the help of Farmers Helping Farmers. According to Gerald, the project coordinator for the Wakulima Dairy, the assistance provided by Farmers Helping Farmers has enabled the Dairy to double its production and the employment provided by the Dairy has changed the standard of living in the community for the better.
Everything I have learned about the Wakulima Dairy since I arrived in Kenya has really opened my eyes to what is important in an international development project: make sure it is something that can be sustained by the local community members for a long time after the project itself has been initiated. My continued exposure to the Wakulima Dairy, and my continuous discoveries about how the Dairy is helping out in the community, is also helping change and reform my philosophy of international development. What would happen, for example, if you set up an initiative that would help solve one of the millennium goals in a particular community? For instance, what would the consequence be of starting a sustainable project aimed at ending hunger? What other millennium goals would be affected, either directly or indirectly?
For me, it is difficult to answer these questions with certainty. However, the Wakulima Self-Help Dairy Group, in the community of Mukurewe-ini, Kenya, has helped do everything from employ farmers to keep students in school.
Global Classroom Initiative
The team of teachers for the Farmers Helping Farmers "Global Classroom Initiative" arrived in Nairobi in spite of a snow storm in St. Johns, NF which caused a day’s delay in arriving and missing five pieces of luggage. They eased themselves into the Kenyan climate and surroundings by spending their first day at Rhona Sanayo Ole Sein’s Rimpa Estates, a 1000-acre beef operation just outside of Nairobi.
Their first week will be spent in the Mukurewe-ini district where they start to gather material and photographs for the development of the global education curriculum units for PEI students --- at the Grade 3, 6, 9 and senior high levels. As the teachers collect stories of global development themes they will be forwarding reports back to the blog.
Pictured: Lauren Gill O'Brien, Carolyn Francis, Elizabeth Baglole and Trudy White
Missing from photo: Joanne MacNevin and Tanya MacIntyre
The Global Classroom Initiative is a partnership with the PEI Department of Education, the Faculty of Education of the University of PEI, the PEI Teachers Federation and the Eastern/Western School Boards with partial funding from CIDA, corporate and private individuals.
A Letter from Salome Kimathi
The day began with the morning sun shining so bright sending a warm across the hills. It carried the promise of a warm beautiful day. And it turned out to be an enjoyable and interesting day. It was the 28th day of January 2006. The Muchui Women Group, a local women group in Kenya had visitors from Canada. I had been interviewed and selected to work for the group. It was my first day at work. (Photo: Salome travels by bicycle.)
At 10:00 a.m. local time the group from Canada arrived at the Muchui Business Centre. It was a day planned for shamba visits. Before we left for the rounds, we first went to the nursery where the ladies of the group have brought their Macadamia seedlings. Later we were subdivided into groups to begin the rounds. Luckily I was in a group that consisted of young people. Our group went to about eight homes where our visitors asked questions, chatted with the women and took photographs. It took us up to 3:00 p.m. local time. We proceeded for lunch at the Muchui Women Group Chairperson’s home.
The following day was the best. First we did the shamba rounds of the homes that were not covered the previous day. In the afternoon all the sixty-two women gathered at the Chairlady’s home for the ceremony. After lunch there was songs and dances by the women. Our visitors handed over seeds for planting which they had donated. It was a moving gesture. The women were so excited and happy that some cried. It was a move that will forever remain in the hearts of the sixty-two women and their families. This is because of rain failure that led to total crop failure most of the women had no seed for planting in their shambas the coming season. Our visitors brought a light at the end of a dark tunnel. They also brought some seeds from Canada which included carrots, spinach, tomatoes etc. They exerted their kindness by a pledge to purchase two bags of maize for all the women and to buy water for the women who can’t afford to buy. Their kindness and continued support have given hope to the hopeless. It will be remembered by the women, their families and the community at large for decades.
Thanks and God bless you all.