A volunteer in Kenya, part two

Ernie and the toddlers with their teddy bears, made by the people of Lutterworth and collected and sent to Kenya by Lutterworth Rotary Club
Ernie and the toddlers with their teddy bears, made by the people of Lutterworth and collected and sent to Kenya by Lutterworth Rotary Club

Lutterworth’s Ernie Stanford is in Kenya volunteering for the Kindfund charity. In this, the second in a series of despatches, he talks of crocodiles, teddy bears and school life.

Wamba 2013

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Leaving N’garemara on the tarmaced A2 Great North Road, passing through the village of Archer’s Post (occasional tourists reach here, there is a lodge where they can view crocs in the river), beyond here it is an adventure.

Thirty miles past Archer’s Post we turn off left on to a dirt track which has been corrugated in part and we try to avoid, otherwise it makes for a bumpy ride.

About 40 miles further on we reach Wamba with a main street of shops and both open and covered markets.

It is cooler here - 30-35C - as we are in the foothills of the Matthews Range.

The home is similar in area and buildings to N’garemara. There is a significant difference. The majority of the 40 children are babies and toddlers.

The babies are cared for during the day by ladies who come up from the town.

One remains with them through the night (sadly,the senior lady who is HIV has been diagnosed with malaria, she is resisting treatment from the town’s Catholic hospital -the Lord will help).

The toddlers have a nursery run by girls who have grown up in the home.

They were given teddy bears made by people in the Lutterworth area and collected through Lutterworth Rotary by Elaine Turner. They really cherished them.

They were also given friendship bracelets made by Alice Nataly, a student at Lutterworth High School.

I spent two mornings at the local primary school.

It is situated 1.3km out of town.

They start aged 7 and leave aged 15-ish when, if they pass the exams, they will go to the High School for which they must pay unless sponsored (£240 per annum).

Gideon accompanied me to the school and the classes.

He is waiting to start at High School - he was top of his class and is hoping the national bank will sponsor him.

The staff room will be familiar to all teachers - stacks of books to mark and tea mugs scattered about.

However classes average 100, there is no electric lighting and there is one text book for the class - for the teacher. It is chalk and talk.

They want to learn - education will be a passport to something better.

Although their first language is Swahili, they understood my English - the one language they all learn.

In the home there is mains plumbing thanks to the manager who, previously, had been a plumber.

The night is punctuated by the sound of the guard dogs, distant hyenas and an early morning call from a cockerel accompanied by nearby cattle.

Gideon showed me the main street shops and the open market (the latter was clothes and trinkets). He guided me to one stall and waved a red football shirt with Gerrard on the back - he is a Liverpool supporter, so he now owns it and who paid? - cost 300shillings.

I did ask for Leicester City, and received a puzzled look. Maybe next year.