Send My Friend To School: Jess & Samina’s Kenya diary published online

Jess and Samina school display
Jess and Samina's school display of their Kenya trip. Photo: Twitter/LimehurstCit

Last month, Limehurst School students Jessica Hardy and Samina Begum, travelled to Kenya as Young Ambassadors for the Send My Friend To School 2016 campaign. Travelling with Deaf Child Worldwide, they investigated the educational barriers for Kenyan deaf children.

Now, the pair’s diary covering their 5 day East African adventure has been published online by the charity.

On arriving in Kenya, Jessica says she “couldn’t help but be amazed at how beautiful the country is,” but that “the massive groups of people and the loudness of the capital city was almost overwhelming.”

The girls met with Raynor from the Elimu Yetu Coalition (EYC), Kenya’s Global Campaign for Education and gave them an insight into the challenges children face, especially those with a disability. They also learnt how to communicate with deaf children with Richard Mativu, the Deaf Child Worldwide Technical Advisor.

Jess and Samina Send My Friend To School
Jess and Samina learn more about the successes and challenges in Kenyan education. Photo: Twitter/LimehurstCit

On day 2, the pair visited two schools and two children’s homes in Nairobi. Their first stop was Baba Dogo Primary School, a mainstream school with a specialist deaf unit which has just 18 teachers for 1,500 pupils. Later, the girls were moved by seeing conditions at Shadow Mountain Children’s home which has 73 children and just 4 teachers and 1 caretaker/cook to care for and educate them.

Next, Jessica and Samina attended a support group at Thawabu Primary School for parents of deaf children where they discovered how the support group has improved their lives and helped them learn Kenya Sign Language (KSL) for free, enabling them to communicate with their children more easily.

Day 3 began with an early morning meeting at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology before visiting Tusome (“Let’s Read” in Kiswahili) Primary School. The day was rounded by meeting the Kenyan Union of Teachers (KNUT) to find out why the ratio between teachers and pupils is so shockingly high and more about the reality of teaching in Kenya.

Jess and Samina Send My Friend To School
Jess and Samina meet CS Fred Matiangi during their Send My Friend To School Kenyan visit. Photo: Twitter/DeafChildWW

Rural Diani was the destination for day 4 after a very early 4.30am start. Showing the pair another side to Kenya, the built up and bustling Nairobi was replaced by red sand and greenery for a visit to The Education Assessment and Research Centre (EARC) in Kwale where they met the Kwale County Director for Education.

Next they visited Kwale Residential School for the Deaf where the smell of burning was prevalent throughout. Samina said what scared her “was when the head teacher told (them) that the smoke is constant and the school is polluted was because farmland owners were setting hundreds of trees on fire to clear their land.”

“The pupils are using WOOD to put out TREES that have been set on fire. They are literally risking their lives for their education. My eyes started to get red and sore from all the smoke, but some of these students have been tolerating this for years.” – Samina Begum

The final full day in Kenya took the girls to Kinango School for the Deaf, a boarding school in a rural and remote area. What hit the girls was how quiet the whole school was before they realised this was because everyone was speaking in sign language.

Jess and Samina school display
Jess and Samina’s school display of their Kenya trip. Photo: Twitter/LimehurstCit

The diary, illustrated with many photographs from their trip, is a fascinating read and the girls have obviously learnt a lot from their visit. It is well worth reading and you can access it online from clicking here.