The goal today is to visit three schools: Kibirichia Girls, Meru School and Chigoria Girls. The first two are located in Meru and the third on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya.
As we drive along the tarmac that takes us from Nanyuki to Meru, I am forever amazed, amused and terrified at the driving habits here. First of all, how I have not witnessed a head on collision is a miracle. These drivers have no hesitation passing vehicles anytime anywhere. Secondly, I have decided they are gifted packers. Kenyans can fit more onto a motorcycle, car or truck then I ever thought humanly possible. It is not unusual to see up to four people sandwiched onto one motorcycle (of course no one wears helmets) or plastic crates strapped and piled five or more in height or huge bundles of grass expanding the width of the driving lane balanced like a tight rope walker, to name a few. I decide to sum it up this way, “Where there is a will, there is a way” and leave it at that.
Our first stop today is Kibirichia Girls School in Kibirchia, Kenya where we plan to visit KURA student, Linda. Linda is a Form 3 (year three) student at this all girls boarding school.
It is Monday morning and I find the girls on a tea break, each dressed in winter hats, coats and leg warmers. It is chilly here and coming from the state of Vermont I understand chilly.
It is exam day but we are fortunate to arrive during a break between exams and are able to speak with Linda and her headmistress. Linda is surprisingly shy when I see her. She is generally a smiling, happy girl so I am somewhat concerned. I begin to ask her questions. I learn her favorite subject is History and that she is a member of the Presidential Award Club. The Presidential Award Club participates in community service work such as planting flowers, feeding animals and visiting children’s homes. Linda also enjoys playing netball and runs track. Her specialty is the 100 – 200 meter.
It finally begins to dawn on me a possible reason for Linda’s shyness. Unfortunately Linda was not warned about our visit…it was a total surprise. If we can all go back to a time when we were called into the headmaster/principal office, the memory is most likely not a pleasant one. I for one recall a feeling of pure terror.
In addition to this unfortunate circumstance, Linda is concerned about her grades. Her performance is below what she wishes it to be so we take time to brainstorm with her headmistress on how we can together support her improvement. I am told Kibirichia Girls provides an adult mentor who is also a teacher. I am assured her mentor will take the time to be a support to Linda, to build her confidence and help her navigate her academics.
The KURA Project will follow up with Linda, the headmistress and the mentor to be sure things are going in the right direction. Visitations to Linda as well as each of our current 32 sponsored students will be made by a KURA representative three times per year. It is not enough to just pay school fees. The student’s parents, KURA and the school need to work together for the best outcome possible.
Linda comes from the village of Logologo in northern Kenya. She is far from home but is grateful for the opportunity for the Secondary School education she has been afforded. When Linda finished Primary School in 2015, she always knew she would either be married off or her father’s servant. Due to poverty there was not enough funds available to pay the fees required for a secondary school education. Thanks to the generosity of a family from Pawlet, Vermont and KURA, Linda has been given the opportunity to pursue her dreams.
Next stop, Meru School…