Longtime resident Lorna Bett hosted the class at her home to share cultural traditions and artifacts, including tools, jewelry and clothing made of cowhide. The EaSEP class mentored and motivated students at two primary schools and a high school, visited with staff and participants at the Crossroads Ministry Prison and Rehabilitation Centre, and admired the self-sufficiency and fellowship of the Diguna Missionary Centre and its children’s home. A taxing hike to Diguna’s power plant and small factories highlighted the final day, leaving the EaSEP students sweaty, tired and motivated.
Here are a few observations from reports filed by the students:
• Kevin Yatich: (Lorna Bett) emphasized the need for us to preserve our culture as we go to the US because our culture, our unique identity, is dying out.
• Emmanuel Korir: I saw the kind of wisdom displayed by the (elders) in our society who are often neglected by the youths.
• Tracy Wambui: The (primary school) pupil-to-teacher ratio is high (30:1). As a result, the students do not get the academic attention they need and the teachers are overwhelmed by their workload.
• Sandra Bosire: The (primary school) teachers shared with us some of the challenges they face. They told us how they lack motivation due to poor performances from the students. We also noted that some of the female teachers work between being mothers and teachers at school since they have to babysit their children at school…(The upper primary) is a small school but I was able to appreciate their wonderful records in academics…I noted the curiosity and eagerness of the students to learn not only about academics but also life skills.
• Collins Too: The state of the roads in Tinderet is simply devastating…We inferred that the implications of poor roads included inaccessibility to emergency healthcare…and a negative effect on the economy as wares may get spoilt due to the poor roads.
• Kenneth Kiprotich: Crossroads Ministry helps mentor and rehabilitate ex-juvenile (offenders) to be fit to go back to society and live better lives…While doing a good job, Crossroads hosts boys only. It would be encouraging if the system could host more (ex-offenders) and include girls too in their vision.
• Kenalpha Kipyegon: The (Crossroads) Ministry faces numerous challenges, especially illegal logging. Trees are cut down and used for charcoal, all without the knowledge of the owners…Night guards patrol the area…but cannot cover the whole 150 acres. Sadly, they haven’t replaced the trees, thereby causing a decrease in the (timber). On the other hand, they have been able to use gravity to transport water from the stream to the center. This has saved them the cost of a pump.”
• Lynn Choge: We went to AIC Chepkemel Primary School where we met amazing students who keenly abided by their school motto—discipline and hard work…They were receptive to ideas we shared with them and even invited us to visit more often...I was (also) pleased with the work done by Diguna to assist needy children…Contrary to typical children’s homes, the kids were divided into families which had parents and shared meals so that they felt at home.
• Jaafar Abdulkadir: The Diguna community is self-reliant…we visited the carpentry unit, the bakery unit, the garden and machine repair shop…and trekked up a cliff to a waterfall to see the production of electricity at a dam.
• Naomi Maranga: Most students (at the high school) were day scholars and hence all their evening time was spent helping carry out family chores leaving them no time to study…Most came from humble backgrounds and could not afford to buy all the books they needed for their education. Others had no parents and resorted to living with relatives who did not pay much attention to their education.
One case, however, stood out. One former student at the school managed to score a mean A- (on the national high school leaving exam), a feat most students at the school deem impossible. (He succeeded) despite a harsh upbringing and not even knowing who or where his parents were…Most, if not all, of us resolved to make Kenya’s education system better, especially in the rural areas.
Many thanks to Linah Lilan, mother of EaSEP alum Shadrack Lilan (U Penn ’19), for welcoming the class for a homestay and arranging the visits with Tinderet residents, schools and organizations.