March 2nd – Visit to Star of the Sea Primary School, Mombasa.
Sister Ruth, Principal of ‘Star of The Sea Primary School’ in Mombasa was ready to greet me at the door of her office.
She looks after 1,145 students and 28 teachers, and although it’s a Catholic school, they welcome children from many religions including Hindu and Muslim. “We used to think technology was something for a different kind of people,” she said. “Now, with Camara as our partners, all our children learn to use computers and this will help them to a better future”.
Madam Rose, the school’s English Teacher, is thrilled with the computer room. “I teach some English lessons on the computers. The children love it. Today we’re doing a quiz. This way, the children learn so much more, and so quickly.”
Having seen quite a few schools in Ethiopia and Kenya now, what is becoming very clear to me is the consistency of the Camara model in Africa – consistent computer room set up, consistent IT teacher training, consistently high-quality lessons taught through the computers, consistent glowing feedback from school staff about Camara’s support and, most of all, the seemingly never ending amount of children who love working on their computers. Seeing this level of success is inspiring, and huge credit must go to the Camara staff on the ground in Africa, as well as the many donors back home.
The final school visit of my trip is all set for tomorrow. I can’t wait for it but, at the same time, there’s a tinge of sadness already growing within me because it is the last one. I think I’ve become addicted to the amazing feeling of so much positive energy fostered in every Camara ELC. It’s like walking in to a new world every time.
March 3rd – Mji Wan Salama Children’s Home and School, Mombasa.
Mji Wan Salama is much smaller than Star of the Sea Primary School which I visited yesterday. Here there are 391 children and 14 teachers – which represents a much more manageable ratio of 27 students per teacher.
Head Teacher Viola Kabara once again spoke of the importance of having 21st century educational resources for her students: “The children love the computers – we are trying to change their lives. Two of our children from the home are now studying for a career in IT. The children in this home come from broken backgrounds, broken homes, and some have parents in jail. Now, with Camara computer training, they are more advantaged when compared to other children in the area so for us this is a big plus.”
March 5th – Safari Njema Abhaile
As an Irishman in Africa, it seems apt to blend some Irish and Swahili words together. I think Safari Njema Abhaile has a nice ring to it – The Good Journey Home. As my maiden trip to Africa ends, I’m looking forward to going home.
Yesterday, Madam Rose, the English teacher at Star of the Sea Primary School in Mombasa, told me proudly with a smile, “This is Kenya. This is my home. Home is always best.” Wonderful, softly-spoken, simple words of wisdom. These words warm my heart for my long journey home today.
There were many heart-warming moments on this trip and at the core of every one were the wonderful people that I met. From the children of all ages whose universal language of laughter brought a smile to me every day, to the teachers and staff at the schools I went to visit – kind, humble, proud and honourable people, working hard to give the next generation of children a better chance to break the cycle of poverty through education.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, Camara Education supports over 1,000 schools in Africa, and the demand for our services is huge. In Ethiopia alone, there are more than 300 more schools requesting computers from us now. Camara’s computers have helped educate more than 900,000 children since we began almost 10 years ago.
This is the measure of our incredible success, and it is down to the dedication and hard work of every Camara worker and volunteer on the ground in Africa, as well as the staff and volunteers back in our hubs in Ireland and the UK. However, I realise that we have just scratched the surface, and there is a lot of work still to be done in what is a long-term partnership with schools across our network. There is no quick-fix.
Our success so far wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful continued support of all our donors – donors of IT equipment, financial aid, and volunteer staff. Camara thanks you sincerely. Without you Camara would be nothing. You are our partners. We are in this together and we need your support for the long-term. Together we have achieved much, and together we have much, much more to do.
From Africa, goodbye.