We are getting very used to travelling by tuc tuc, the bumpy roads seem to have now blended in with the smooth roads. We arrive at the nursery, but are not allowed to enter as preparations are still underway. Alice arrives on a motorbike, another common way of travelling around Kisumu, she tells that she is returning from the hospital as her cousins child had died last night from servere malaria. she was just 6, Alice didn't show much emotion as she sayes this is very normal.
After about an hour of waiting teachers come out to put decorations up on the gate, it reads 'Welcome to our graduation day' with decoaration we made on Wednesday with them. The gates open and the children are lined up each side to create a walkway for us which we had to dance up to our seats. Loud music played, building a sense of occassion and the importance of this day. We danced to our seats under a tent where we eere both presented with chief guest badges.
If I had one word to describe this day it would be progress. The children have come a long way from where they were when they were bought to the nursery from the slums when they were 3, the grand occassion celebrates the journey the children have had as well as the journey the school has been on in progressing to improve outcomes for children. This sentence has a very familiar ring to it as I can hear Jane telling the whole Yellow Dot Team about putting the children in the centre of everything we do and this is exactly what the graduation day eluded.
As I write this the day comes across as a fluid transition of events, in Kenya people have no sense of time as they have no urgency to get things done. They gave us a timetable of how the day was going to pan out and we sat down and got presented with our badges at 11.30 when the event was surposed to start at 10.00.
We had an hour of entertainment of children dancing and singing with a sense of Joy for their achievements. We had to individually dance with the children, our sensr of rhythm does not compare to theirs, they find our dancing very funny!
We had about 3 hours of speeches, some dragged on a little. Alice and James gave very passionate speeches. They wanted to get across to parents their role in the education of their children. They wanted to remind parents to wake their children up before leaving their home as well as thr importance of paying their fees. Alice works tirelessly to chase fees, Yellow Dot managers can empathise with this, however the difference is that with getting nursery fees from parents in this Kenya nursery is the difference of these children getting their uniforms and books. Parents often see the money that comes from the charity as free and don't recognise the effort of the team in Asante coffee shop in making sure enough they are making profit to continur to support this school. As the school here grows the money the coffee shops brings to thus nursery gets more diluted.
The top 3 children from each class got presented with a rucksack and a book. You coukd see the importance of having these items as well as the pride they had having these gifts. As a child open their 1 book children flocked to read it, they were actually reading the english words. Mary came up to us with such a proud smile showing of her prizes, she tells us she got these items becuase she came 2nd in her class because she worked hard.
After the ceremony everyone was offered a meal, the rice did look very clean :) The children sat eating their food, some sharing off their friends plate and others eating with their food with their hands. Those presented with rucksacks sat clutching their bags while eating their food as this gift presents their hard word. When i asked one boy what he was going to do with his bag he said he was going to put his clothes in it because he didn't have anywhere else to keep them.