In December we have enjoyed regular updates on extensive building activity at the school, and photos have shown that the work is progressing according to plan.
The pupils had their last day in the old school building on 23rd December, and in January they will start in new premises, which they are all looking forward to.
Hovedgården Secondary School has arranged a »music subject day» with open cafeteria and Effort for others have once again worked to collect money for the school. For this we are deeply grateful.
We have sold Christmas cards all through December, giving us a nice income.
November became an eventful month for us in Oasis of Hope. In the middle of the month we could at last start the building of a new, temporary school. At the same time the erection of a new permanent kitchen house/storeroom and a new latrine on the new site was commenced. Then we are under way! This school now comprises two houses, totalling 12 rooms: 11 classrooms and one personnel room/office.
Hovedgården Secondary School arranged their yearly fund raising days on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th November. Many willing students, parents and teachers contributed to beating last year’s result. Totally we managed to raise kr. 53.142.-. This is a fantastic result! The money primarily covers food for the pupils and otherwise daily doings at the school.
We have also this year sold our own Christmas cards in aid of our school. Anne Cecilie Hagen (Hagen design) made new great cards for us, some value kr. 250.- and some kr. 100.-. The board members got some cards each to be sold in various arenas. The cards are well received, and it is nice to be able to offer professionally made cards.
At the end of November we got the opportunity of selling Christmas cards and several other things (tea, grownnuts, bags etc.) at the Christmas market at Heggedal church. A nice place for marketing, although the sale was not very big.
In October more has happened at the Oasis of Hope school. We have previously mentioned the threats from Ministry of Health to close the school due to bad toilet facilities. Our board in Kenya has tried to argue that we do not wish to spend money on toilets at this site, as we shall soon be moving to another, and this has worked for a long time. But at the beginning of October it worked no longer, and the school was closed immediately for three days, as the one loo we have had to be emptied. It was completely full and could therefore not be used any more.
On 1st October our tenancy agreement with the house owner was anulled. We have received sufficient gifts enabling us to start building a new, temporary school, latrines and new kitchen on our site. In addition we shall gradually be able to commence work on the foundations of the permanent school. It feels good to be under way after a long and detailed process.
26th October had been earmarked for Graduation of next year’s firstformers. The planning had started, but was stopped by Ministry of Education. Nobody was allowed to arrange Graduation until all national exams had been carried through, during October and November. Due to Christmas celebrations there are many holidays in December, and we must therefore postpone the big day till the start of a new school year in January. Fortunately this is not our fault, but due to bad planning on the part of the authorities, and the whole country is affected.
We promise photos and information about both Graduation and school building as soon as we have anything to show you.
August - september 2016
August was a quiet month for Oasis of Hope. The school was running in its usual manner at Mbita and it was still holiday time here at home. September, however, gave us more news to report.
All this Autumn we have been trying to find a way to lay hands on money to build a new school. This is not easy! We have been discussing with the board at Mbita how to handle the problem in the best possible way. Our point of departure has been that we do not wish to spend money on a temporary school but rather stay where we now are, saving up funds for the erection of a new building .
Following many discussions and serious consideration we have, however, concluded that we have to build something temporary on our new site. The reasons for this are many. The rent at our present premises will be considerably increased as from the start of the new year. The building is also showing serious signs of wear and tear, and we do not wish to use money for restoration of a building from which we are going to move .In addition neither the toilet facilities nor the kitchen are up to standard. Ministry of Health has for a long time been threatening to close the school due to the sanitary conditions. Therefore we feel obliged to build a «corrugated iron school» pending the building of a permanent, new school. By doing this we gain the advantage of getting sufficient rooms for all the classes and a room for the teachers, as well as putting up enough toilets, and we can make a new kitchen. As of 1st October we shall anul our contract with the house owner, and if all goes according to plan a small corrugated iron school will be ready to receive the students for a new school year in the New Year.
July 2016 - Travelogue from our school
How many childrens’ hands can an adult hand hold? Haven’t given it a thought, have you? Nor had I until I arrived at our school this July. But when 227 pupils come to the gate to welcome us, and half of them fight to lead us by the hand, I realized that my hands did not suffice. This time I brought with me several family members, and our six days stay at Mbita made a strong impression on us all.
The first thing we noticed was that the pupils seem to be happy and satisfied. At school they have secure adults to associate with, they get education and they know they get sufficient food every day.
Laughter comes easy, and they are keen, obidient and grateful.
The number of pupils at our school has increased dramatically during the last year, but the available means to buy food remain the same. We nolticed, therefore, that the variety of the lunch menue was somewhat limited. Previously the pupils got a piece or two of meat and a little fish a few times a week, whereas they now get mostly «ugali» (=thick porridge) and beans. Everybody gets food for which they are grateful, but some fish or meat once in a while would of course be welcome. We therefore need many more regular donors, so that the children may again have a varied and good offer for luncheon.
The majority of the children at the school come from the slum area at Mbita. Here the corrugated iron sheds stand close together, and the inhabitants have no abundance of anything.
It makes an impression on you when you are regpgnized in town and pupils or their superiors call you by name. They know who we are and they are grateful that the Oasis of Hope school exists. This gives meaning!
I am touched and delighted every time I visit the school and see that all the teachers are still working there. They still do an enormous job for the pupils and are true idealists. One of the teachers said tjat «to be a teacher is a vocation…». We give them a wage increase of 5% twice a year. Thereby we show them that we wish them to continue as our teachers and that we are serious when we tell them that we are working in order to be able to give them the wages they are entitled to according to Kenyan standard. It appeared that the Oasis of Hope school is one of the four best schools in the area when it comes to personnel stabilikty. It is not unusual that teachers fail to appear for lessons in Kenya. Our teachers come to work every day. They also expressed their gratitude for the fact that they get their wages every month, which enables them to make plans. This is no matter of course in Kenya.
A donor gave us money before we left for Mbita. We chose to use the money to buy books. The teachers greatly appreciated this as they have much too few books. Now they have got two sets of books in all subjects. The gratitude is great! We also brought with us a great number of skipping ropes, balls and other outdoor toys, in addition to drawing material and puzzles. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this!
The number of children at the Oasis of Hope school has shown an increase of about 100% during the last year. This shows that we are needed! At the same time the number of pupils has now passed the breaking point. We have not got room for all the children. The teachers have moved office and personnel room out into the shade in order to make room for another classroom. At the start of a new school year in January, we shall also have an 8th form that requires its own room, which we do not have. Furthermore the authorities threaten to close the school because we have too few toilets in proportion to the number of pupils, and because our kitchen is not up to standard when it comes to cooking for so many people. It is therefore of the utmost importance to be able to start the building of the new school on our site which is waiting for us. Financial means must be found, and this is a matter of great urgency!
June has given us many positive experiences here in Norway, for which we are truly grateful.
A person celebrating his 50th birthday chose to ask his guests to give presents to us instead of to him, which brought us in almost NOK10,000.-. Such gifts are always welcome, and please accept our sincere thanks.
Hovedgården junior secondary school arrange “Kulturbedrift” every year. They wished to donate this year’s profit to OoH, and at the last mass meeting before the Summer holidays we were given a cheque value 11.519.-, which means that Hovedgården, our sponsor school, has contributed totally NOK 72,410.- during the school year 2015-16. Respect!! Such good sponsors mean a lot to us.
The present situation in Kenya is that we have 227 pupils. This surpasses our ability to consider daily meals for the pupils, room capacity and access to sufficient latrines, Further negotiations are necessary, and we have to find a way in which to use the funds we actually have at our disposal in the best possible way. This also applies to the building o f a new school. In reality we do not have enough money to start the building process and also in this respect we must seriously consider what means we really have at disposal for this purpose, and how far that money will get us.
In the beginning of July Anne Kristi and her family will travel to Mbita. During their stay it will be essential to reach a decision as to what priorities we must make and which road should be followed.
April and May 2016
April was a quiet month, both here at home and at our school, but May has been more eventful.
In Kenya they have got a new volunteer (Night Lumumba) who will be working at the school for free until she can start her studies at teachers training college in September. In addition Elizabeth is back from her maternity leave.
Mbita experienced a severe wind (El Nino) which tore down both the kitchen house roof and the gate leading to the new site. It was dramatic while it lasted, but the teachers managed to put the roof back quickly. (So quickly that we didn’t get the time to take pictures showing the destruction!).
We have finally completed new posters and folders with information about our school. Anne Cecilie Hagen, graphic designer, has been responsible for the design, and we are most satisfied with the result. Our sincere thanks to her!
Many fund raising activities have taken place during the last month. Heggedalsskogen kindergarten have made cakes and organized a café for the parents, an activity which brought in NOK 4004.-. They show great enthusiasm , and we have plans for a closer cooperation in the Autumn. “Effort for others” at Hovedgården junior secondary school have once again made money through various activities,money which they have chosen to give to us. And Ole-cook at Hovedgården continues to bake bread in aid of OoH. Result:NOK 2682.-. We are most grateful!
The highlight of the Spring, Run for Food, took place on 26th May. Perfect weather, more than 50 participants, wonderful atmosphere and plenty of food made also this year’s event a success. Kristin Ulven Jørgensen pulled the strings most convincingly! Kiwi Fusdal, Bankveien and Vettre supplied us with food and Egon Asker donated gift tokens.
We made a little over NOK 10.000.- and thank each and everyone who contributed to the result in one way or another.
This run has now become a tradition.
There is nothing special to report from Kenya in March. The school is being run in a stable and good manner, and the days roll by.
Here in Norway our account has been credited with two large amounts of money: one from a birthday celebration where the persons whose birthdays were celebrated had asked for gifts to be given to Oasis of Hope instead of to themselves, and one anonymous gift. These gifts are deeply valued! It is money badly needed in times of an increasing number of pupils, necessitating more money for food.
We have also established a Vipps account – number 12321. Easy to remember, easy to use! We hope very many of you will use this opportunity!
Travelogue February 2016
On Feb. 15 board members Anne Kristi and Lena went to Kenya to visit our school at Mbita.
We met Charles at the Nairobi airport and travelled 9 hours by bus to reach Mbita.
We were very excited at the idea of meeting the pupils and teachers at the school and seeing the new site we have bought. We believed the number of pupils attending the school to be 106, but Charles could tell us that in the new year there has been a lot of the children at the gate wishing to start school. The teachers have not been able to bring themselves to rejecting children who are hungry , willing to learn and crying to get admitted. Therefore, the school now has 200 children.
When entering the school gate on the first day we were expected, and many children came running to greet us. They were very trustful and wanted closeness. We also saw many happy children playing and enjoying good companionship during the break. When the bell rang summoning them to a new lesson they ran to the class rooms, ready for a new spell of work. The teachers were very engaged and clever, and the pupils hard-working and respectful. They sat very tight in the small class rooms, but in spite of this they showed great ability to work steadily and well during the lessons.
Around 10 o’clock they were served Uji, and they then lined up in a long queue with their cups to get food. There was no crush, because they knew there was sufficient food for everybody. Lunch was served after the next spell of work. They have good handwash routines, having first a queue for handwash and then a second one for food serving. Everything went nicely and quietly, and after having been given their food they sat down to eat in the class rooms or in the shade.
It was great to feel the very good atmosphere at the school, and how well everything was organized by the confident and good teachers working there.
We brought with us from Norway two footballs, five tennis balls and two skipping ropes, as well as balloons for the pupils. Their joy at getting these toys is incredible! Everybody went to the big football field close to the school and started playing – about 50 children to one football!
We had also been given an extra money donation from family/friends in Norway for which we bought textbooks for the teachers. Textbooks are in short supply and most welcome! This was presented in solemn ceremony, wherein the children also took part.
The Oasis of Hope school is a good place to be in for children and adults alike! Many of the children do not want t god home at the end of the school day, and they also come to school during weekends to be together. Some of the teachers are also there during weekends and holidays, so it is not only the children who consider the school a “ home”!
We are glad that all last year’s teachers and cooks are still working at the school! In addition, we have got three new teachers. This is not something we can take for granted because they earn far below minimum wage compared to teachers working in the public schools. Our hope is therefore that we shall be able to increase the teachers’ wages so that we may keep them at our school.
It was also exciting to see the new school site we have acquired. In view of all the new pupils who have been admitted to the school and the narrow class rooms, the need for a new and bigger school has become obvious. To realize this, we depend on support from many quarters and more regular donors.
Our sincere thanks to each of you who support the Oasis of Hope school! By supporting Oasis of Hope you make a difference to many children at Mbita. You give them a possibility of education and thereby a future and hope!
Building works in our new site have commenced. Even if the financing of the enterprise has not by far been assured, it is important to build something, indicating that the site is ours. A latrine has been built and the site has been fenced in.
The latrine is almost completeded.
And this is the gate leading to the site.
In the middle of February board members Lena and Anne Kristi will be going to Mbita to visit the school, talk with teachers and play with the pupils. We shall also discuss the building of the new school with our board at Mbita. This will be an exciting and important trip for us.