NCS Co-Ordinator reports back following Day Nine of the group's stay in Kenya - and it proved to be the most dramatic so far.
Jambo! We arrived for our penultimate day at Jubilee to be greeted as usual with smiling faces, cheers, high fives and the welcome song. Immediately after, Chris and I headed off to a local paint shop to collect what we needed for the classroom. 11,800KSh later, we headed back to school. The girls immediately got to work, separating the top and bottom of the walls with masking tape before starting to paint the top half in white. It was hard work as there are lots of holes in the walls. Recruiting Luke to paint the top of the walls, the white painting was soon finished. After attempting to wash the brushes, they were left to dry so the second colour could go on the bottom half of the walls. Paige took the lead, showing her knowledge of the Hunter family trade!
While the brushes were drying, we were told it was time to play the football match we had been promised. The school team put on their blue Hartlepool United kits, along with two of Susannah’s adult sons who both play for a football team. We then got kitted up in the strips that were kindly donated by Seaton Carew FC. Thinking it was only a kick-about, we all went onto the pitch only to be told by a referee (!) that we were only allowed 11 players on the pitch and we were playing offsides. We were on the school playground! We had a couple of the children on our team and Paige was the manager of both teams. This worked in our favour later in the game when she subbed all their best players! We quickly went two down but thought that in the second half (we were playing two halves of 30 minutes!), it would be easier for us as we were kicking into the biggest, muddiest puddle in the whole of Kenya. How wrong we were, the game finished 10-4 to them with Man of the Match most definitely being awarded to the home team goalkeeper, 12 year old Evans, who was unstoppable and even wiped out Chris in a 50-50 challenge!
Just before the end of the game, Ellie L, Ellie H, Amy and Taylor started on the second half of the paint job, ensuring we had a lovely, memorable BLUE AND WHITE classroom for the children! They listened to their music through Amy’s phone and Craig’s speakers and were finished before lunch, albeit covered in paint!
The girls left the music playing in the next room while we all had dinner; it was our first taste of chapattis and we loved them! Suddenly, we noticed the music had stopped playing in the next room so Amy went in to investigate, only to find her empty phone case lying on the floor. We told Edith who immediately rounded everyone up. Children were spoken to but we couldn’t really understand what was going on as it was in Swahili, but we could understand the tone of voice. The children were then locked in the classroom and three of the male staff went running out of the school grounds, one even going through a gap in the fence so he could get to the other side more quickly.
We weren’t really sure what was going on but the staff returned and asked for Amy. It turned out that Edith’s 8 year old son had spotted a boy outside the fence with blue and white paint on his clothes. He wasn’t a pupil at Jubilee Academy. He had climbed over the fence behind the building and climbed through the classroom window. Once back out, the boy then gave the phone to someone else before he was caught by the teachers. They brought him back to Jubilee and took him into a classroom. He was around 10 years old. Edith told him that if they didn’t get the phone back, they would be calling the police. He told them who had the phone and it was brought straight back to school. I think it helped that everyone within the community knows each other and the staff were very quick to help. The staff were very shaken and upset that this had happened, as they told us how much they appreciate everything we have done for them. We explained that we appreciated what they did to get the phone back and that things like this happen in England as well. Gilbert told me how embarrassed he was that this had happened but I just told him how thankful we were for the support of all of the staff and of course, Edith’s young son.
Amy and I sat in the classroom waiting for the phone to be brought back, with some of the staff and the young boy who stole the phone. He was so small and he looked so frightened as he waited for Susannah to come and speak with him. His eyes were filled with tears and he looked so lost; this was not the face of a master criminal. After speaking more to Gilbert, he told us that this boy’s parents were thieves and that he would have been told to steal the phone. Amy and I were not angry with the young boy; we actually felt so much pity and sadness for him. Although it was a stressful ordeal for Amy, it was also a sad realisation for us just how desperate some of these people really are. We also saw real genuine kindness from all those who helped us.
We played some more with the children before the end of the day. We decided with Edith that we would have a party tomorrow for the children with it being our last day. Each of our group put in 1000KSh towards the party. We gave Edith 7000KSh to purchase meat and vegetables from the market and took the rest of the money to the supermarket to buy oil, rice, flour, sugar and salt. This means that every child in the school will have a good filling meal (with chapattis!) for our last day. We also bought sweets to share with the children.
An early night is on the cards tonight as we prepare for an emotional and memorable day tomorrow.