Monday 23 May 2022
It’s here! Our first day at West End Academy and what a day we had. The children are simply beautiful, happy and full of excitement that we were there laughing and playing with them.
We were welcomed by the boys and girls, aged between 2 and 13 singing and dancing for us. A sign that they had been practicing hard in anticipation to our visit. It’s so humbling just to be here in their presence.
We can see the handwork that we need to do over the next couple of weeks. We have two brand new classrooms to build, as well as demolishing and building a new kitchen. But today was mainly getting to know the children, dancing, playing football, making balloon animals and a whole lot more.
I was very fortunate enough to be donated a number of lanyards from Sainsbury’s, they were old Sport Relief ones that were no longer needed. We made them into name tags, so we could get to know their names rather than keep asking. I met a young girl whose name is ‘Jennifer’, which also happens to be my Mum’s name, and I was able to show photos of Mum to her as I always keep them on my phone.
Kenyan children are also fascinated by tattoos. They aren’t used to seeing permanent art on a human body. I have a heart with the initials M and H, for Mum and Heidi, Heidi is my sister who passed away seven years ago, on my wrist. The children kept rubbing their fingers over it, seeing if it will come off.
During a break, I decided to help out with the feeding programme at the school. The cook made mash potatoes and vegetables and I was in charge of placing the mash on to the childrens plates. This was found to be very funny by the female teachers of the schools, as in the Kenyan culture, it is still very much the culture for women to be the cook and the supplier of food. I was so nervous, I didn’t want to put too little food of the plates, as the children would be hungry, but I didn’t want to put too much on the plate. Luckily I didn’t as all children and teachers were fed.
For the last part of the day, myself and ‘Chippy’ decided on the measurements of the new kitchen and with further help from the other Derby County Community Trust volunteers, we were able to level out the ground, ready for our first full day tomorrow in the construction of a new kitchen and classroom.
Upon leaving the school and travelling on our bus, I was able to take a stunning video of some of the children running behind us. A clear sign that they enjoyed our company today. I can safely say, that the feeling was mutual.