The Mwanzo Educational Center was closed a year ago by Kenya’s Ministry of Education due to the pandemic. Mwanzo’s teachers and staff began outreach activities—downloading and copying lessons, assembling schoolwork packages, then delivering these along with food and sanitation supplies to students and needy families. Students receive two nutritious meals each day when at school; closure translated into hunger for many. Teachers sometimes walked as far as six kilometers to deliver these packages and by September over 200 families had received assistance! Mwanzo also coordinated community outreach education about sanitization, health and safety measures and COVID-19 symptoms. Mwanzo’s donors, and an emergency relief grant to Mwanzo from One Day’s Wages, made much of this possible.
Fourth graders returned to school in October and school reopened fully in January, with 92 students the first week. Attendance has swelled to 225 currently, and with the Mwanzo bus operating again, children from neighboring villages are once again able to attend. With a new national competence-based curriculum, teachers, students, and staff are working hard to make up for those lost months!
News and a Spring Celebration
~Rose Morrison, Mwanzo Board Member
As I walked through Montlake several days ago, a young tree caught my eye. It pushed deep pink double blossoms up to the sky as if reaching for the slim ray of sunshine that had found it. My heart, weary of winter and COVID, was struck by a spark of joy!
My thoughts turned to the community of Rabuor, on the other side of the world, and affirmed that no matter the continent or latitude, they too have weathered a COVID winter. Having received recent news from them, I smiled to know they are seeing signs of renewed hope and growth, facing their future together. Here is the news from Rabuor village about the school and surrounding villages:
With 225 students, The Mwanzo Educational Center is humming with activity. Both teachers and students are working diligently to make up lost time: traditionally students progress to the next grade in January; this year graduation will take place in July. Due to testing schedules, fourth graders returned to school in October. All other grades returned in January. Jonathan Aluoka, Kenya country manager of Mwanzo, reported that the recent evaluation the fourth-grade students and ongoing competence-based evaluation of the rest of students show “great improvement”. With the Mwanzo bus again in operation, more students from neighboring villages have been able to attend.
In addition to standard classes, students are learning botany and are hands-on in extracurricular agriculture/gardening and home sciences activities.
Solar panel installation is planned in the week of March 21, during the school break. The Mwanzo community is profoundly grateful for the support that enabled this project! Reliable solar panels will power cell phones, computers, other electronics, water pump and future school kitchen ovens.
A new, two-story Mwanzo Community Center is being planned. It will occupy the cleared site of an old, condemned building near the school. The communities of Rabuor and Mwanzo hope to construct this over the next few years. The architect’s preliminary drawings show the ground floor including an early childhood education and day care center (moving from the main school building), an office, a health care room, and cybercafé. The second floor
will house a library, multi-media computer lab, a large meeting room, and storage.
A unique collaboration – Mwanzo has partnered with the graduate students and faculty of the Wake Forest University Department of Engineering to design and install a filtration system for the cisterns and piping that supply 40,000 liters of collected rainwater for washing, drinking and cooking.
The following news from beyond the school highlights the community working together, even under challenging conditions:
When public gatherings were prohibited this past year, Rabuor’s women envisioned starting a tree planting program! They asked a local expert agronomist for training and selected varieties suited to the community’s needs and the climate changes Rabuor is experiencing. Seedlings of many varieties are now nearly ready to be transplanted. The project will be a step towards mitigating deforestation accelerated by cutting trees down to make coffins during the height of HIV/AIDS. New trees will sustain community life with shade, food, traditional medicines, and wood as a primary cooking fuel.
After months of being “on hold”, catering for community events has carefully been resurrected, with safety precautions in place.
The resilience and community-centered lives of Rabuor continue to inspire me. I believe we have much to learn from their example – the Hope in Mwanzo gives me hope!
Mwanzo deeply appreciates being the recipient of April’s UCUCC Special Giving collection. Watch for more information at our on-line worship services in April to see how your giving will impact others.