Kenya through the eyes of a P.E.I. teacher
Valerie Beer, a grade six teacher from West Kent Elementary School, one of the Island schools twinned with a Kenyan school, Mitoone Primary, traveled with a contingent of Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF) volunteers for 3 weeks in January and February 2018.
West Kent School had raised over $1000 for their twinned school, Mitoone, before Valerie’s arrival, and this money was used for various purposes, most importantly to supply paned windows for the entire school. These windows allow the classrooms to hang maps and other important learning materials that would not otherwise be possible because of a) humidity and b) possible vandalism. Textbooks, soccer balls, etc. can now be left in classrooms.
Valerie spent most of her time with the grade six class at Mitoone School. She carried letters from West Kent School and shared videos and pictures of her students that expressed their excitement about the money they had fund-raised and that “their teacher’ was going to hand-deliver their letters.
Textbooks were also given to Mitoone School from FHF funds and a school-wide celebration of receiving these books was videotaped.
Videos were taken of the reactions of Mitoone students as they opened their ‘twinned’ letters. In addition, Grade 6 and 8 students were brought together to view all of the pictures and videos taken of West Kent School and students before Valerie’s arrival. This was a rich learning experience for both students and their teachers.
Many other videos of “A-day-in-the-life” of Kenyan students singing songs, doing their daily flag raising and singing their National Anthem in Kiswahili were captured. These videos, as well as footage of the 300 students of Mitoone School lining up each day for their mid-morning Uji and Githeri at lunch time clearly resonated with students on PEI. Pictures were also taken of the cookhouse, screened-in garden and water tank with West Kent School’s name on it.
As well as her direct and positive experiences with her twinned school, Valerie also had the opportunity to visit other schools that either are or have benefited in the past from being twinned with a school on PEI. This was a rich experience, as she witnessed the monumental effects that Farmers Helping Farmers initiatives have brought to these schools through feeding programs, school gardens, and water tanks.