Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Safari Time!

School here is a tricky thing. Teachers are not very well trained, and are dealing with class sizes FAR too big for one teacher, with no supplies and sometimes no textbooks. Most of the schools in our area dont even have desks. The students parents are mostly illiterate, a result of the civil war that disrupted education for much of the previous two generations, and because of this, they either cannot help the students, or simply dont see a need to put a value on education. When you combine all this together with the idea that being a teacher here means you have "power"(so you cant teach the kids everything or even mark them fairly bc that would be "admitting" they are as smart, or smarter than you) and you end up with kids who get passed from grade to grade with very little understanding of what they were supposed to learn, and very little foundation for the next grade. Of course there are many many teachers who are trying their best to be good teachers in a broken system, but every year we see kids who have the capacity to learn and who are very bright, passing thru school with 9/20 or 10/20 averages, unable to complete even the basics of what they should easily understand by now. As long as they pass, they figure why put the effort in to get GOOD grades... passing is enough!

For the entire school year in 2013, we encouraged the Amigo Orphan kids to do their very best in every subject, not just to pass but to try and get very good marks in school- an average of 15/20- so that they could go with us on "a little journey". For most of the year they worked very hard to get good marks, not even knowing where the little journey was going to take them, but intrigued just enough that they wanted to try. We saw the grades go up nearly across the board- almost all of the children improving on their previous year's marks by a point or two. In the end we had three students reach the goal of 15/20 (two of them got 16 actually) and another three were just ever so slightly below the goal that we allowed them to join us as well. In early December we packed them all up VERY early one morning and headed north/east, for nearly three hours to our friend's Safari Lodge. 

Once we arrived the kids were, for lack of a better term, GOBSMACKED! They saw impala, warthog, kudu, eland, baboons, monkeys, duiker, reedbuck, oribi and so much more for the very first time! They saw an elephant skull and learned about what makes elephants unique, how they smell, etc, and even got to get up close and personal with a dung beetle. They learned how to spot different kinds of tracks, and about various trees, plants and insects. 

In the afternoon, our guide for the day, Jacques, took the kids fishing with real fishing rods and reels- something none of them had ever tried before either!

 It was so much fun to see African animals thru the eyes of these kids, who, even though they live here, have never experienced african animals or been taught about the plants and animals in such a hands on way. They were all so excited about everything they saw and glad they had worked hard to get the reward. They didn't even get to see a lion or elephant (which they also have up there), but they didnt care. They were just as excited about the 499th warthog (just an estimate) we saw as they were about the very 1st one.

Now that they have gone, the rest of the kids (and these ones too) are working hard to get one of the coveted top places this year so they can also go. 
A big thank you to the folks from Tandikwe Camp and Njiri Eco Camp (Mokore Safaris) for donating the use of their cruiser so we could go on a game drive, and Jacques for donating his time so we could teach the kids so many wonderful things! 

God Bless- Rick, Heather, Tendai & Ryan

1 comment:

Linda said...

Wonderful series of photos.