Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Its not goodbye, its see you later.

Today was our last day at the Life Centre School. We arrived with happy children all waving and calling out our names, their faces lit up with big smiles which makes us realise what a great bond we have built with them over the last 3 weeks. 
This morning we made our rounds to each class and said goodbye to all of the teachers and children and to thank them for such a welcoming experience.
The children in Day Care were the hardest to say goodbye to, they have certainly captured our hearts in so many ways and we know that we have made such a difference to their lives in just the 3 short weeks we have been here.

These past 3 weeks have been challenging at times (language and culutre) but so rewarding to see the difference and progress both they and we have made. It amazes us how in 3 weeks you can make such a difference to a child's life, it has certainly taught us never to take anything for granted again. We have had an eye opening 3 weeks which has not only opened our eyes but also our hearts. Our hearts feel very heavy leaving Kisumu, but knowing that we have made a change and had a postive impact to not only the childrens lives but the teachers and other people we have met through our stay is so rewarding.
Kisumu is a community where there is always a happy feeling, a welcoming place where they treat you with all with alot of respect.

We have made many fond memories, have had lots of laughs, have sometimes found it hard to believe what we are seeing at times (African toilets!) and have made lots of new friends who will continue to grow in our hearts, not forgetting the children who we wish for each and everyone of them to succeed in life. Its hard to belive we leave tomorrow after this being our 'home' for 3 weeks. We have been very well looked after by everyone that we have come into contact with, however we are looking forward to seeing our family on our return and sharing our experiences with all of you on our return.

Thank you for being part of this journey with us, you have been supportive and encouraged us in all of your lovely comments.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


Today was all about giving. We asked Alice and James a few weeks ago to identify a family that we could buy a goat and a chicken for. This is a gift to the family to help support them and give them milk and eggs for the future. We asked James and Alice if it could be a child from the Day Care.

Over the last couple of weeks we have identified a boy called Ryan. Ryan has cerebal palsy, he is 2 and a half. He is bright, happy and full of smiles. He engages with everything and is extremely strong and very determined. He is very fond of us and always comes to us to help him up to walk, all he wants to do is be on his feet, but unfortunately he does not have that strength yet and needs support. Currently, Ryan crawls on the hard floor and hard ground outside. We have become quiet attached to Ryan, he just melts our hearts when his face lights up when we arrive and comes over as quickly as he can. He loves to laugh and play  - yes he has us wrapped! He is one of 6 siblings, Ryan being the youngest.

Today we wanted to give our gift and Ryans family were the chosen ones. We went to the local animal market to pick our goat and chicken. We named the goat Florence :-). We then walked through the slums to visit Ryan and his mum at their house, they greeted us with open arms and were very surprised about their gifts. Ryan and his family live in a mud hut that consist of one tiny room which is half divided into a sleeping area and sitting area and the older children sleep in the 'kitchen' area at night on a bamboo mat. We also gave Ryan a Yellow Dot balloon which he was extremely delighted with (see photo). We have also enquired about a walking frame for Ryan, which we will get a quote for it tomorrow. This will be such a tremendous help for Ryan and his family and will enable Ryan to be more independent and to able to access the whole Day Care environment. We know that Ryan will love this and will enjoy having a lot more freedom and to feel more part of the group.

While walking in the slums it was very eye opening and made us realise how lucky we are with our lives back in the UK and how we take lots of things for granted. This includes things like electricity, running water, toilets and washing and cooking facilities. Although, the Kisumu community is a very close knit community who support each other with everything, including sharing food! They have so little but are so giving.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Making the Magic

On arrival this morning we were very delighted to see the children already engaged in activities that were set out on each indivual table both inside and outside. We feel we have made a lot of progress with Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin and this is proving to be consistent within the Day Care.
During the morning we asked Peter (the handyman) to secure some pegs in the Day Care for the childrens belongings, which he did very quickly! All the children and team were extremely happy with this and have already been using them throughout the day. Little things like this make such a difference to their everyday routine and has already given them a sense of belonging, which we value.
Throughout the morning the children were happily engaged and the older children enjoyed using the writing table to form both letters and numbers. Each one of them got excited to show us when they had finished, demonstrating a sense of pride in their work!
Whilst the children were engaged we had time to talk with Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin about Making the Magic. We explained that this was our Yellow Dot values and exactly what we strive to be. Both Teachers showed an interest and were asking lots of question about the booklet. We explained that some things may be slightly different due to certain culture differences however Making the Magic creates a positive enviroment for both the children and team and this is the message we want to achive for the Day Care. Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin will be focusing on embedding this in the next couple of weeks. We look forward to hearing about their progress.
Early afternoon the cupboard arrived, much excitement in the air!!! We took time to organise it, demonstrating to the team how it should be accessible for both them and the children throughout the day. We hope that this will implement more free flow access and allow children to choose resources and be encouraged to return them.
Its lovely to see the changes already and over our last few days we will be working on transitioning times and how changes can happen throughout the day.

Friday, 24 March 2017

making the difference.....

Over the last few days we have been working together with Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin to understand the importance of routine and daily activities that are interesting and inviting for the children. We explained how we work in Yellow Dot by setting out provocations on the table for the children to explore and how we follow the children's interests. We explained that too much on one table can be too much for a child and that it can sometimes be over stimulating, making it difficult for them to focus. However we also explained that other things can come out if the children lose interest. Both Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin have taken on what we have said.
Today we arrived and the tables were already outside, children sat around them, happily engaged in what activities were going on. Eventually all tables came out as it was a nice morning and the children had 5 tables to explore, each set out with different activities. We were so impressed and really praised both Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin! We spoke briefly about what a difference it has made and how the children are learning through their play. We have noticed the black board has not been used for any formal teaching all week. The children are becoming so proud of their creations they are making and coming up to us to take a picture of it, others quietly enjoy the praise they are given. Their smiles just say it all!
Whilst on the drawing table with the children i noticed one child drawing C4C (photo included), which made me so proud as this is what the charity is all about (Citzens 4 Change). The children were able to draw objects that were familiar to them and the older children wrote letters/sounds and numbers. I wrote a child's name on their paper and she was able to copy it underneath. They love to draw and create models, the language and learning that is going on is just outstanding, and it just shows we can make a difference and we have!
Teacher Selvin said she wanted to take the children out for a nature walk in the local community so they could spot different colours and minibeasts - we thought this was wonderful, as children learn from real life experiences. We gathered all 35 children and walked out onto the street, children from 1 years old to 4 years old walked along while Teacher Selvin pointed out the different colours of flowers, which the children loved to pick and then bring them to us and told us the colour as they gave to us. We also found some grasshoppers and butterflies which they enjoyed showing us. The children of all ages were engaged and we could tell this is something they do regularly, they were happily walking in the streets, very relaxed. All of the children walk to school through the slums with their parents or older siblings so they are used to walking from a very young age. We all collected natural materials whilst on our walk. Once we got back the children were encouraged to explore what they had found, talking about the different shapes, colours and textures they had observed - even a grasshopper and a dead moth made it back to school with us!!
Later on we went to the Maasai market for the Charity Coffee shop in Romsey, Asante. Asante buy things from the market and sell them in their shop, continuing to raise money for the Life Centre School. There are lots of lovely African crafts along with traditional cultural items. We have selected a few items that will be on sale at the coffee shop when we get back. It was extremely hot at the market and we feel obliged to go to every store to show respect to them. A big part of visiting the market is being able to bargain with the stall holders which is exhausting! But we got through it and are very happy with our bargains.

We hope you all have a lovely weekend and thank you for taking your time to read our blog. We can't believe we have been here 2 weeks already and only have 1 left, but we strongly feel we have made a huge difference to the provision in the day care and cant wait to continue with it next week!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A day of progress

We arrived early for Day Care today to continue to role model setting up provocations. We were delighted to see the tables already outside with children sat around them all waving with huge grins when they saw us. It is such a warm feeling knowing we have made bonds with all the children and they get so excited when they see us, its really going to be hard to say goodbye next week!
Teacher Selvin was just setting up the table for the children with provocations, with this we hurried over and helped her continue. Some of the older children were inside and younger ones outside as we got told today the older ones (3-4 years) had exams today!! We were very curious to see what these exams entailed as we were surprised at this age they would be taking them. There exams were to start at 9.30, so we continued our free flow and provocations with the children until then.
Some of the children moved from each table exploring the things that were displayed, once again water play was a huge hit, and we are now thinking we really need to invest in water aprons here :-).
Exams started for the older Day Care children and one by one each child went to Teacher Celin whom had a piece of paper for each individual child and they had to say the pictures/ letters in English to her. This consisted of every day life things like car, cup, apple, sun and letters a,b,c,d,e. She ticked them as the child said it correctly. The exam finished in time for snack time which today we had outside. It was lovely sitting outside as there is so much space and it was nice and cool. At snack time the older children go and get their bags and get their own snack brought in from home (the school does not provide snacks, just lunch). We noticed that their bags are all piled in a corner or on one of the beds so after seeing this we asked James and Alice if we could provide some hooks for the children belongings (like our peg trolleys in Yellow Dot) so that each child can feel valued and have a sense of belonging. This also provides them with more responsibility as they are able to collect and return their their belongings as they need to. We found 2 planks of wood within the school playground and we will provide some hooks for them by the end of the week.
The builder Ben came to measure up a lockable cupboard for all the resources too today and we have asked if that could be made by the time we leave so we can help Teacher Selvin and Teacher Celin organise the cupboard so it provides free access for the children throughout each day.
Before lunch time we encouraged the Teachers to engage children in rings games so that someone was able to set up the lunch time tables. The children love rings games and will play for hours here, its a great social interaction had by all. Lunch time is going really well and we think we have pretty much mastered it!
Over the next couple of days we will be visiting the Day Care's routine to set a structured routine for the Teachers and children and support the transition times. We will also be visiting the WOW factor, Values and Schema's with the Teachers to help them understand each individual child and how they learn and how this can be supported through play.
Tonight we are off out for dinner, we think we have eaten the hotel menu twice over already (its not a very big choice of menu). James and Alice will be joining us to talk about future progression for the school.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A busy day....

Today we arrived at the school for 7.30 am to prepare the day care ready for the children's arrival. When we arrived there were about 10 children inside already. We were greeted by all and then had a quick chat to the teacher about what the plan was for the day. We moved tables outside to set up a free flow environment and laid out provocations on each table. We then encouraged the children to access all the activities choosing freely to play inside or outside. The children continued to arrive until 9am, all calm and happy, the parents greeted us and shook our hands (its the traditional way of greeting in Kenya). Although the children accessed the activities at the table they sat there until they were shown what to do, as this was a new experience for them. We placed out playdough, sensory bottles, colouring in items, scissors, hand gym for the older children for pre- writing skills, duplo and most importantly water play with different sized, shaped and textured sponges. There was lots for them to choose from but as this was new to them they would sit at one table for long periods of time until we encouraged and showed them that they can move around freely and independently gaining experience of all activities. After some time all children were happily moving around, it was a happy and stimulating environment for all.
We worked with Teacher Selvin and role modelled how children learn through play by talking about the colours, sorting, free drawing to develop skills, maths and for the younger children to explore more sensory activities.
We supported Teacher Selvin during transitioning stages so the children would understand and adapt to a routine. This included things like encouraging the children to tidy up, which they were very enthusiastic about and wanting to help with everything, getting ready for snack, washing hands using the new outside tap (which was funded by YD parents over the Christmas period, so thank you), and getting ready for lunch which was served in the classroom today rather than the children waiting for it outside the kitchen.
We noticed at the end of the session Teacher Selvin collecting all the things we brought and taking them to the office to be locked away. We asked why this was happening and she replied saying it would get stolen if it wasn't locked away. After some thought we asked James and Alice to get a quote for putting in a lockable cupboard in the Day Care classroom so it would be easy access for Teacher Selvin and the children throughout the day, gaining more free play and children choices.

Reflecting on today we feel Teacher Selvin and the children in Day Care had a fun packed day filled with laughter, smiles and learning while playing. Teacher Selvin is an amazing teacher in Day Care, she cares so deeply for each individual child and is passionate about children. She takes everything we suggest and advise on board and is a fast learner. She truly inspires us every day and we wish we could bring her back with us to England!
We have another early rise tomorrow, but we are looking forward to what it will bring. Today has been inspiring for the both of us and we feel we are making an impact on the children's learning and development.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Water fun

Today we couldn't wait for lunch time to produce our cups, sippy cups and jugs to the children that we bought yesterday. I honestly wish you could have seen their VERY happy faces when we explained that they will each have their own cup and meal times and they can pour themselves water throughout the day, the amazement and excitement was priceless. We set up the tables using their new silver spoons, cups, sippy cups and jugs for them. During lunch time they sat at the tables holding onto their cups and happily drank all of their water and we offered them more water showing them how to pour from the jug and encouraging them to help themselves.

After lunch we unpacked our 4 suitcases full of things that YD parents kindly donated - again a HUGE THANK YOU for this as it makes such a difference. We are excited for the children to actually see and use different coloured pens and pencils and chalks. We also had 3 footballs given to us from the Asante Coffee Shop. We gave Teacher Selvin a football to go and share with the Day Care children. She was very excited and had so much fun. We watched them playing different games with the ball, all sharing really nicely and waiting for their turn. The reaction of having a football to play with was amazing!

In the afternoon, we went to the food market to buy food for the nursery that will last for the next 2 months. This consisted of rice, beans, maize and corn. The school use the same lady called Linda who is very faithful. The market is full of natural fruit that grows locally it is very busy and chaotic and lots and lots of flies. Linda offered us fresh watermelon which was delicious and very refreshing in the heat and then gave us half the watermelon to bring back with us to our hotel.

Today was a cooler day in Kisumu, 29 degrees which the Kenyans think it is cold and most are wearing jumpers and long trousers. When the weather changes the children don't attend school as much as they get sick very easily - mostly chest infections (by the sounds of it). Due to the heavy storm we had last night, which put the hotel in darkness and we had to eat our dinner in the dark, some children didn't attend Day Care due to the dampness. We were very relived it was slightly cooler today.

This afternoon, the day care children began exploring a large container of water out in the playground (this was the container filled with water for hand washing). Water play is not something provided for the children normally due to the cost. Usually, the children wonder the playground which has not a single resource to play with so you can imagine the excitement and the fun that they had with this. We need not say alot as the pictures say it all! 

We have the weekend off this weekend and going to explore the Kenyan surroundings. We hope that you have a lovely weekend and have enjoyed reading the blog this week.

More to come next week.........