Our trip to Kenya 2010

Firstly we would to like to thank everyone who helped us with our mission to outfit City Shine school!
With your help we were able to raise $5000 !! We were able to turn these generous donations into school supplies, furnishings and unforgettable memories for 145 needy children.
Both the primary and secondary schools were supplied with text books for all subjects. Instead of only the teacher having an old ripped copy, now every child can read from their own brand new copy. All students have notebooks for all the subjects and their homework. Everything you think should be in a classroom , we bought. Pens, pencils, erasers, world maps, we were even able to purchase some simple lab equipment so the kids can now conduct experiments. The baby and nursery classes were having their afternoon naps on the cold damp dirt floor, they now have roll up mats. Our largest purchase was to contract with a local carpenter to build 42 desks, 8 chalkboards and 2- 6ft. locking cabinets where all the books can be stored . We had a metal worker build 2 steel doors with locks for the openings of the school as well as securing a staircase that leads to the open roof.
Many of the children are affected by worms due to the lack of clean water and a functional sanitation system. Although not immediately life threatening, if gone without treatment it can have a significant negative impact on development. They can now treat every affected child with proper medication for one year. Your generosity also helped with many other health issues. The female secondary students miss one week a month due directly to the lack of feminine hygiene products. Every female student as well as the teachers were given a nine month supply of sanitary napkins so they no longer have to miss class. We would like to turn this into an ongoing program because this shouldn’t be a reason for a young girl to miss out on school.
During my first trip in 2008 I met a boy named Joshua, he is still attending City Shine School. He was still wearing the same old cracked glasses that he had when I first met him. His prescription is so strong, there was no way he could properly see through the damaged lenses. We took Joshua and Sheila ( who has an allergy to the sun and to dust, which causes her eyes to be constantly itchy, red and running) to the optician for new glasses. The joy on their faces after being fit with their new glasses was heart warming.
After we had everything bought for the school we thought that since most of these kids and teachers have never left the slum area, it would be a great idea to plan a field trip, we called it ‘A Day of Fun’. We rented 2 buses so all 145 students and 10 teachers could come. We first went to the Elephant Orphanage where the kids learned about and got to touch the baby elephants. After that we went to the Giraffe Center. The kids could feed and pet the giraffes and also learn all about them. There we were able to arrange for the primary student’s to get their faces painted. We asked the secondary students as well, but they were too cool, of course! From the Giraffe Center we headed to a field to have a picnic and to play around. The night before the two of us made 200 sandwiches, we had 200 chapati made (Kenyan flat bread) 300 bananas and juice. We had a feast! After we ate the secondary students couldn’t wait to play with their new footballs. They formed a game while everyone else was skipping, blowing bubbles, playing frisbee, volleyball or just running around being kids! It was truly an unforgettable Day of Fun! We took pictures throughout the whole trip and had 200 pictures developed. These will be hung in the school once the carpenter finishes the custom made picture boxes we had made, so the students can continue seeing themselves enjoying life.
The pen pal program that we started was also a huge success. The students loved receiving the letters, drawings and especially the photos of other kids around the world. They also really enjoyed replying to their pen pals. They didn’t have pictures of themselves, so we took individual pictures of every student in front of the school sign, so they could include it with their replying letter.
Near the end of our trip the staff of the school was so appreciative that they had a special ceremony for Jeroen and I. They dressed us in traditional clothing and named us Mama and Papa of the school, showering us with handmade gifts and trinkets. I was totally blown away when it was announced the primary school would be renamed after me. This is such an honour and responsibility. My new mission will be to improve the structure of the building.
Without everyone’s help we would never have been able to accomplish all that we were able to do. I would especially like to thank the management at SWIFT who’s generous contribution put us over the top and allowed us to achieve all our goals and more. This trip not only changed the lives of the City Shine students but ours as well!
With the overwhelming success of this year’s endeavor, we are planning on expanding our efforts in the Soweto Slums. Our primary mission is to purchase a piece of land on which can be built a much needed primary school. Our goal is to supply the community with a sustainable education system and one of the first steps will be to supply a permanent location for the primary school children.
Another project we are excited about getting off the ground is a sponsorship program for the senior students. Once these children complete their high school studies there is no chance of furthering their education without some sort of external funding. We made some inquiries while in Africa and a student can be sponsored for as little a $250US/per year. Think about that for a while, most of us spend more than that on morning coffee in a year.
As we get more information on these projects we will be updating the site. We hope we can depend on all of you for further support. A little goes a long way!
f you would like to have more information or have any questions/comments please contact us.
Please have a look at the pictures we took during our trip by clicking here.
From the bottom of our hearts we thank you all for your support!
Jeroen and Reannon