OoH News November-December 2020
The month of November has been an exciting one for Oasis of Hope. In October we restarted the construction of a permanent school building. We received many photos enabling us to follow the progress. Thursday 5th November at 05.00 hrs the casting of horizontal division between groundfloor and first floor started. At 20.00 hrs the workers could be dismissed. They had then been working all day and the entire division had been completed! We are extremely impressed by the effort and most grateful for the work so far carried out. Even though the building still lacks both doors and windows the ground floor may be put to use by the pupils when the school starts in January. Both the board and the teachers at Mbita express their great gratitude for the work done.
We are grateful for the fact that the Oasis of Hope school enjoys a good reputation locally at Mbita. It is also very satisfactory to see that the building of our school gives several local labourers employment. In that way they get a sense of ownership to the school and we provide them with paid work. A clear win-win situation.
Kenya is now experiencing its second wave of Corona infection. Luckily there are few registered cases of Corona at Mbita, but here again the most needy suffer the most. Since July we have been handing out food to the most needy and will continue doing so till the school restarts in January.
Nothing much is happening here in Norway. We are trying to sell some Christmas cards but this is difficult due to fairly strict infection precautions.
29th November we received the collection at the Christmas tree ceremony at Heggedal church, and we will also get the collection from the Christmas concert by Østenstad Sangeri on 13th December. The Facebook Christmas campaign was posted on 30th November and we hope to get a good response this year.
OoH News September-October 2020
In Kenya we continued handing out food to the poorest families, which was greatly appreciated. So far the Corona pademic has not reached Mbita, but the famine – as a consequence of the pandemic – is no less serious.
In October, however, things started happening. To us the most important event was the restart of the building of the school and we watch with joy and gratitude the erection of the building, little by little. Savings and a considerable donation by a single donor enabled us to to start building horizontal divisions between ground floor and first floor. On completion of the ground floor this may be used when the school reopens in January. This ground floor, together with our existing temporary building, will ensure sufficient space and social distance between the pupils when all are back. In addition to social distance we have been instructed to have more watertanks for handwash, sufficient soap, thermometers to measure fever and sprayer for desinfection of class rooms, and face masks for all the pupils. Protection against disease is important, also in Kenya.
Monday 12th October was also a day to remember, when 4th and 8th grade were allowed to open up, all over the country. 25 4-graders and 8 8-graders showed up at our school, all very excited.
We shall continue handing ut food to the most needy until the reopening of the school in January.
We got a good offering at Heggedal church on 11th October. Lena informed during the service.
OoH news July and August 2020
Both here in Norway and in Kenya our daily life is affeced by the Corona pandemic. Luckily, the disease has not yet reached Mbita, but the teachers and pupils are deeply concerned about it. In the middle of July we were informed that the primary schools were not to be reopened until 1st January 2021. To our pupils this means ten and a half months without education and regular supply of food, and is considerably more dramatic than we initially thought. And, as usual, the poorest are the worst sufferers. The teachers report that there are children now marked by lack of food. They try to follow up the pupils as best they can, visiting them at home, giving advice and encouraging them. This follow-up is very important, knowing that children in vulnerable perods may be abused and be taken advantage of. A number will then fail to return to school later. This must not happen to our pupils.
As a consequence of the Corona pandemic the authorities have laid down many guidelines and regulations until the schools reopen in January 2021. Many are related to cleaning and hygiene, but they also set a new standard as to social distance. No class may have more than 20 pupils. To us this means that we have to complete the building of the school which the authorities have instructed us to build. Such social distance will be impossible to achieve in the temporary building we now use. The OoH school. There is therefore grave danger that the school will be closed if a new building is not ready by January 2021. This is very critical for us, as we do not yet have the necessary financial means to complete the building. We still need a little less than 1 mill. Norwegian kroner. We keep applying for support from companies, legacies and funds.
Luckily we can also bring a number of good news! First we have got the opportunity to start distribution of food to the poorest pupils. Once a month their superiors will be given a food ration. This is administered by the teachers and the board in Kenya.
We have also good news from Norway. We have had a Facebook fund raising and have recived money from a birthday. In addition, we finally managed to get a fine contribution in our local paper Asker og Bærums Budstikke. We hope this will contribute to marketing our work and perhaps give us some new sponsors?
OoH news May and June 2020
The most important event here in Norway during these months is Run for Food, which took place on 17th June, with Kristin Ulven Jørgensen in charge also this year. Due to the Covid-19 and severe infection protection regulations there was no gathering at Semsvann. Instead we encouraged people to run, walk, work in their gardens, cycle or take part in some other activity, in addition to donating money by Vipps. As usual the arrangement was announced on Facebook, and as we did not have physical appearance people from all over the country could participate. This proved to be a hit , giving us in around 15.000 – a very good result considering the circumstances. Heartfelt thanks to everybody contributing to this result.
We have also had two church offerings in this period, at a net service at Heggedal on 17th May and at Østenstad church 28th June. From Heggeddal we received NOK 4.750,. The result of the Østenstad offering is not yet known.
We receive little news from Kenya these days. As far as we know Covid-19 has not yet reached Mbita, but people are having a hard time. A great number have no income at all and life is a struggle to survive.
The teachers are also now making a great effort. They visit the pupils at home and encourage, comfort and give them some school work in order to keep them occupied with something meaningful. They report that a number of the pupils fail to concentrate on school work now due to lack of food. To many this is dramatic.
The president spoke to the people at the beginning of June. He informed them that the schools will reopen on September 1st. To our pupils this means five and a half months without education and regular supply of food. This is dramatic and on the day the school may open we must be ready to reach them with food, medicines and all the care they need.
OoH news March and April 2020
March was a strange month. Kristin HS and Anne Kristi returned home from Kenya in late February. We had so much we wanted to tell! We planned offerings in both Østenstad and Heggedal churches. We also planned to contact companies to get support for further school buildings. Then the corona virus came, and the world changed. No services with offerings. No companies to ask for support. Kenya also closed everything on March 13. The pupils were sent home and were not allowed to return. No food, no teaching and no safe adults. This can be dramatic for them.
April came and everything is still strange in both Norway and Kenya. As far as we know, the infection has not yet reached Mbita, but people are scared and stay mostly inside. Schools, churches and markets are closed. The authorities have imposed a curfew, which is very strictly enforced. People are advised not to drive collectively. But how else can you get around in a country where very few people have their own vehicle. Nor are they allowed to travel to other municipalities. People lose jobs, they do not have food and not enough water to wash to avoid infection. In addition, there are very many underlying diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. This can be dramatic.
The authorities have now recommended that pupils in the school should start with online education. Of course, this only works for those who have access to a PC or smartphone. Our students do not even have electricity, but the teachers have decided to start homeschooling. They will create tasks for the pupils, so that they do some schoolwork at home. It is good for us to see that the teachers take action and make the best out of this challenging situation.
Anne Kristi had a fundraising at Facebook related to her birthday. The result was more than NOK 20,000, - which we are very pleased with! This comes in handy when we one day open the school again.
OoH news February 2020
The most important thing that happened in February, was the annual journey visiting our school. This time Kristin HS and Anne Kristi from the Board visited the school. They told us about a very well-run school, happy pupils and dedicated teachers. During the last year, three of our teachers have left us. They are now replaced. In our school we experience that the pupils develop a very close relationship to their teachers. They dislike when teachers leave and wanted to discuss this with us. Our big challenge is the low salary we offer them. It is far too low, and we understand that a higher salary in public schools is tempting. At the same time, we see that most of the staff remain in our school, and we are very grateful for this.
The most important thing we experienced this time was the startup of constructing the new, permanent school. The foundation was finished in December, and when we transferred more, the workers were there ready to start. During the days we spent at the compound, we saw the walling at ground floor, both inside and outside. Several day workers were occupied with many things under the hot sun, and they all did a marvelous job. The foreman was there during the whole day, supervising the workers, and the engineer, Thomas, also spent a lot of time among the workers. He seems to be a wise and trusting man, who knows what he is doing.
Our most important job in the near future is to raise enough money so that the construction can continue.
OoH news January 2020
In Kenya they started the New year with a very successful Graduation. The graduation is for the pupils starting in first level. According to the teachers and the Board, this was the greatest Graduation at Mbita. We know from before, that this occasion is the most important during the year, and everyone look forward to this. The have nice food, of course, but also speeches, entertainment and singing. The pupils performed with poems, singing, acrobatics and more. Gifts are also an important part of the Graduation. The main persons receive gifts, and the pupils leaving the school after finishing grade 8. in December, were also given some. They received a dictionary and a Bible, something necessary in Secondary school, thus helping them by saving those money. In this way we support these pupils and encourage them to continue in Secondary school somewhere else.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education and other VIP were invited to the Graduation. It is very important for us to show them our good and well-run school.
Here in our place January has been an encouraging month when it comes to income. A 60th birthday and two church offerings gave us good and necessary financial contribution.
Beside all this, we were occupied planning the journey to Kenya in February.