I’ve been in Kenya a week now, and I’m starting to settle in. Yesterday was my 4th day volunteering at Kimuka primary school in Maasailand, and even if things are a bit confused as to what we can do so far, the kids are a total delight.
We have nursery class here, which has kids from age 3-5 depending when their parents can afford uniforms to send them (primary level education in itself is free in Kenya). The youngest, and all the volunteers’ favoutire, is a permasmiling little 3 year old dot with beads in her braided hair, which her parents thankfully refuse to shave (a shaved head for girls and boys is a school uniform requirement).
Classes 3 and 4 have already cornered me several times to get me to come to their English classes, always with smiles and enthusiasm. I’ve been invigilating exams for class 5 though so I’ve told them I will try and go later. I’m hoping to see if I can get some semi-regular English revision or conversation classes going as the lack of textbooks and speed of the classes really hamper the kids’ understanding, and they rarely get the time to ask questions.
Every single one is inquisitive and even if they’re not confident with their English, they still swarm round you, holding their hands out for you to shake or hold. The shy ones giggle and try and hide when you say hello, the confident ones want to know all about you – age, children, married, brothers, sisters, where you are from. Class 4 have even given me my Maasai name, Naserian, or “one who is beautiful”.
Getting my camera out is a guarantee of at least 15 kids wanting to see the picture you’ve just taken, and everyone loves the tiny book of photos of home I’ve brought with me. No-one is short of questions or a shy smile for the mzungus, and I like to think that despite the lack of resources, the motto adorning class 5’s wall in wonky 12-year-olds chalk scrawl, sums up the kids’ mood at Kimuka primary – “BRAINS AT WORK”.