My country is the World. My religion is to be Human.

Village in Kenya – volunteering in the school of 12 students

After a few agonizing days spent in Nairobi, I finally got out of town, headed for the village on the island of Rusinga. The island is located in the lake Victory, which is a triangle between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Here I’m staying in the house of a local professor Samuel, who has one of the most beautiful houses in the village. The conditions are basic, electricity is generated from solar panels, which is so small that my laptop cannot be charged at all times because we run out of power (I never thought I’d say it). We use water from the reservoir stationed next to the house. The dishes are washed like this: we lather them with soap, then dip them into two buckets filled with water.

I am eating quite well – twice a day. We usually grill some vegetables such as cabbage, onions and tomatoes. For breakfast a piece of bread with butter and chopped bananas on top. It’s my new thing. I bathe in the area outside of the house.  I fill the bucket with water and take a cup that I use for pouring water over myself. Water is too cold, but I guess this makes me stronger.

Take a look at the house, my room, kitchen and bathroom:

Professor Samuel is a wonderful man. He’s trying to cook for me whenever he has time, he is always making sure that I am ok, and he prepares all kinds of different meals every day. For accommodation and food I pay EUR 5 per day. Which is okay considering food price in Kenya and his efforts. My heart was broken when I noticed that the professor has only one pair of shoes and they are 5 times his actual size. Every two steps he needs to bend over and tighten them because they are so big and he trips when he walks. Whenever he beds to lace up the shoe, I feel like crying.

I try to help him as much as I can. I made him a yard table out of materials that I found in the yard. I bought some wood on a construction site and made a kitchen shelf so that the food is not kept on the floor.

I am currently volunteering at a school for poor children, founded by my host, a middle-aged man who works as a teacher in a public school. His salary is around 150 euros. With that money he managed to rent a property on which he founded a school for children who have no money. He wanted to provide education to all. Otherwise, public schools are not free, so not every family can afford education.

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The school had about 60 pupils but because of poverty and poor conditions it decreased to 12 of them. Currently, the school has one teacher who is volunteering. She walks 10 km every day to get to school. In addition to working for free having to walk so much every day, she comes to work smiling with ready to help these children. Each day she runs with them, laughs, sings. I haven’t had a chance to meet such a joyous person.

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One thing is when you read in the papers what is happening in Africa and the other thing is when you come and see, feel and know these kids. I am constantly trying not to cry, it’s hard. I realized that I cannot stay here too long, I cannot bond with the little kids, it will be difficult for me to leave when the time comes. And I have to leave.
Yesterday I bought them some basic supplies and they were the happiest children in the world.

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The school is made of metal walls and it has rough and non-cemented floor. It has five benches and posters on the walls that Professor made using a sack. The most valuable things in the school are the children that are so smart! All 12 of them canm read, write, add and subtract. Even those who are 4 years old. It’s amazing what you can achieve in these conditions.

I bought them bananas one day and said that anyone who solves a math test will get one. Each one of solve a math problem, took their bananas and sat down. None of the children started eating their banana until the teacher said they could. And I know that some of these children have not eaten for days. In spite of that, they waited with a banana on the table. Again there were tears in my eyes.

Most of the children come to school wearing the same clothes every day. Each one of them is dressed decently wearing shirts, dresses and little outfits. They take this school pretty seriously, considering it their salvation from misery.

I went live on Facebook from school. Take a look:

My help consists of two parts. The first part refers to the concrete short-term help that I provide: teaching kids math, writing, telling them stories through which they learn new things about life. I play with them every day and we run around.
The second part of my help has to do with me trying to gather as much material as I can, pictures and videos so that I can made a campaign to raise money for the school. I’ll start from Nairobi and will continue to promote it online. I do not want to collect treasures, just a little bit of money so that we can provide a normal conditions for education for these children.

If you have an ungrateful child in your surroundings, show them this video and explain that children in these conditions can learn many things. I realize that we must make a progress and that should not cease when we reach a certain goal, but I think we have to be thankful for what we have and not to be unhappy because of things we do not have.

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Milica Radovic-Mandic

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