Report by Volunteer - Guy Tolhurst
Christmas and New Year 2009-2010
Christmas came a little bit early at Destiny Garden School this year, with some donations from my UK friends and family, I was able to buy each of the children a small Christmas present, a magic slate each, that they could use to draw and write either for fun and learning without the need for pencils or paper, both in short supply.
With rapid distribution of the 180 magic slates and a quick lesson for each of the classes, they were well away and were writing and drawing everything from the alphabet to tables, to people, to faces, their imaginations ran wild and there were even some budding artists among them !!
I agreed with Jacob that we would have a big Christmas lunch for all the kids on the 23rd December, great news for the kids but not so good news for the Goat I bought, as he was on the menu; even a couple of small pieces of meat for each of the children is a luxury and the goat tasted superb.
We were joined for lunch by a lady from the education authority and her daughter, as a friend of Jacob’s she was happy to advise Jacob about the school and the necessary standards, a fence to secure the school perimeter and to protect the children was top of her agenda when we spoke.
For the remainder of the day many of the children sang songs, read poems and told stories either individually or as a class, their confidence and smiles were infectious.
With Christmas out of the way I sponsored a feeding programme for the remainder of my trip, with many of the teachers away until 3rd January the school took on a more relaxed environment and fun was very much on the agenda. The kids didn’t have to wear their uniforms, they could invite their friends along to play and they each knew they would be getting a healthy meal every day. Every day we played lots of different games, such as marbles, hula, catch, football, skipping, rounders, volleyball, bouncing balls for as long as possible and I taught them how to play Stuck in the Mud in Swahili - Ganda Quenye Oodongo. We set up 2 football matches with another school, we lost the first match but won the second, much to the delight of the 60 or so supporters. The boys and girls ran around tirelessly in the sweltering heat, many with no shoes on and only one sock on their favoured foot.
I thought it would be good to arrange a day away for all the kids, Jacob helped us to hire a bus from the Moi Forces Military Academy and for a reasonable price we took 80 kids and a few adults to Nyali beach for the day, about an hour drive and ferry journey from the school and the kids sung in unison all the way.
Some of the children had never seen the sea and beach and most had never swum before, so it was amazing to see them playing for hours in the shallow water, they were all smiles, I have never seen so many grinning teeth!!!
We took the net and posts from the school so we were able to play volleyball on the beach, girls versus boys and much to the girls delight they were victorious and Jacob led them in a celebratory parade along the beach.
My last day at the school was the kids first full school day book, back in their uniforms, well fed and happy after days of non-stop fun and games they were all set for new challenges in 2010. I helped take the school register, listened intently and helped where possible as the teachers carried out about 20 induction tests for new kids vying for a place at such a well run school. Then sadly it was all over, the 2 weeks flew by but I wouldn’t have changed a thing, it changed my outlook on life and I have the kids to thank for it.
Guy says - "My time at Destiny Garden School can be described as the most rewarding experience of my life. Jacob and Brenda welcomed me into their home in Mombasa with open arms and nothing was too much trouble, from there it was easy to get to the school every day and travel around at weekends.
The kids were just fantastic, they all look out for each other and the sense of community and pride in the face of such adversity is a testament to the passion and support bestowed on the school from Jacob, the teachers and other supporters from around the world.
I miss all their always smiling little faces, can’t wait to go back but overall I am pleased I have found such a worthy cause to support where ALL of the donations help the children directly. A little help goes a very long way. "