SISIT PRE-SCHOOL, KENYA - OUR NEW PROJECT FOR 2020!
2021 COVID RELIEF: All schools in Kenya closed in March 2020 due to COVID then opened and closed based on the status of the virus. While this remote community has been somewhat protected from the virus itself, the parents' incomes have been severely impacted making it difficult for them to afford the school fees that cover the children's meals. When parents cannot pay the school fees the children stay home.
Food assistance and additional resources provided: Gary's Fund provided funding for an entire year for all pre-school and kindergarten students to supply the following: A snack and meal of porridge daily, anti-parasitic medicine twice a year, a treated mosquito net, and school supplies. The cost was $50 per child for the entire year. Our partner in Kenya, Africa Exchange, arranged for special porridge to be produced and supplied by a Kenyan supplier. This porridge is a more nutritious product than that supplied by international food organizations.
The community reported that enrollment at the school increased since the construction of our three classroom building and the provision of porridge, lunch and school supplies. Many of the young children are now able to attend school.
One mango tree seedling per child: The $50 also included the provision of a mango tree seedling from the local tree nursery for each child to plant to mitigate climate change and to help with reforestation. The community has a large tree nursery which is carefully watched over and cared for.
Sisit Tree nursery
Sisit School Chairman and students holding tree seedlings provided to each student by Gary's Fund.
Young student with her mango tree seedling.
Site of first school building in 2005
As is the case in some of our other school communities, new village schools often start with a pre-school classroom because the children under 7 years of age are not able to make the long walks to the nearest primary schools. (These schools are often at least 5 miles away). In highly motivated communities sometimes a dedicated individual will step forward and begin working as a volunteer with the pre-school aged children in an effort to provide them with an early childhood education, preparing them for primary school. This is what occurred in Sisit.
When communities are able to build a classroom for these pre-school children and the young students advance to upper grades, the families want them to stay nearby. Thus, the original pre-school building fills with older students leaving no space for the youngest "up and coming" children to enroll.
The scenario described above occurred in Sisit over the past decade. As the need grew for additional classrooms they made a small expansion of the school.
By 2019 Sisit had grown to include students up to 8th grade. There was a critical need to build a three classroom block to house the pre-school/kindergarten children in an Early Childhood Development Center creating space for all of the community's children to attend school.
THE STORY OF SISIT PRIMARY SCHOOL:
In 2020 Gary's Fund was thrilled to announce the completion of our largest project to date in the village of Sisit. With a donation of $30,000 a beautiful three classroom school and latrines were constructed during 2020 making space for the community's youngest children to attend school. We are delighted to have funded this project, allowing the youngest children to begin their education as pre-school students. When the school re-opens after the pandemic shutdown, pre-school and kindergarten enrollment is expected to be between 80 and 90 childrenIn 2005 the elders of the Sisit community in West Pokot met with our partner in Kenya, Africa Exchange, to request assistance with the construction of a building to house a pre-school program.
For the previous two years a volunteer teacher had operated a pre-school outside with makeshift benches and a chalkboard nailed to a tree. (See gallery above). The community's older children were able to make the long daily walk to the closest primary school.
With the community contributing the land, roofing sheets, sand, gravel and labor and with Africa Exchange contributing the steel and cement the main structure was completed. Over the next two years the community was able to gather materials for the slab and for the bricks which they fired and used for the wall construction.
By 2007 the pre-school was completed beginning with 20 children and growing to 50.
During the past decade a water system project was implemented enabling the community to pump water from the river in the valley. First they used a gravity fed turbine system then replaced it with a solar pumping unit.
Today there is enough water for the entire community plus sufficient supply for a tree nursery (added in 2018) which assists in environmental preservation efforts in the area.
Village mama's preparing school lunch.
Gifts at opening ceremony
All photos provided by Africa Exchange.