Its been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened during the break. We are in the first week of our school holidays, though our older pupils have yet to see the benefit of any time off. In July the public school teachers in Kenya were on strike. As part of a somewhat protracted settlement to the strike the public schools have extended their term and will not finish until this Friday, the 16th of August. This brief study window has been snapped up by our District Education officers to stage a mock exam for all of the oldest primary school pupils. We are 'hosting' two other schools for this exercise which started today. Being part of a public exam is always an interesting experience. The team of supervisors and invigilators that have been allocated to our school have been very busy today, finalizing mark schemes and marking papers. To their credit all the pupils taking the exams have been very well behaved, despite occasional opportunities for cheating when the invigilators have been called out of the exam rooms. It will be a relief when the exams finish tomorrow and our young people can start enjoying their holiday.
We have had a very busy time over the last fortnight working with a group of visitors from Welford (a village close to Stratford-upon-Avon). Our friends Jon (the Pilot) and Fiona May and their children Jessica, Juliet and Nathan have visited our place a number of times over the last six years and were able to persuade a good number of their friends to join them on the journey this year. We started off with a total of eighteen visitors, staying with us for a week. The number went down to eleven for the second week of the visit. During their stay our visitors worked incredibly hard and were a great encouragement to our children and staff. Because of their efforts we now have a really nice playground, with swings, a rope ladder, balance beams and a tyre tunnel in our lower school area and are well on the way to finishing off our Vocational Training Centre building. The primary school pupils were able to enjoy upper and lower school Sports Days and our Secondary School students spent time working on a Happiness Project. We enjoyed an evening of song, dance and amateur dramatics as the children worked in teams with their new friends to put on a show that was, in the end, enjoyed by everybody. It is always sad saying good-bye to visitors to Kosele. We are hoping to see all of them again in the future. In the meantime a very special thank you to the Welford team for being such fantastic people and such good friends to Hope and Kindness.
At one point last week we were uncertain whether it would be possible for our visitors to leave Kenya on their scheduled flights. The fire that swept through the arrivals hall in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,Nairobi, in the early hours of last Wednesday made news all over the world and caused a serious shock in Kenya. The airport is a major hub for East Africa and the temporary cancellation of all flights had repercussions all over Africa and the world. I think it is safe to say that the fire has been a wake up call to public services in Kenya. Because of its strategic and economic importance the airport will no doubt be quickly rebuilt and should provide a much improved service to travelers in future. It will be interesting to see what else rises out of the ashes of International Arrivals.
I have, at last, been reunited with my wife Judi and we are getting stuck into the work that went on hold while she was treated for cancer last year. We will be joined in Kenya by our two children Tom and Ellie next week so will be able to celebrate our 11th year of being in Kenya together as a family. Its been six years since we were all in Kenya together and we are looking forward to spending some very special time together.
This time of year is very challenging for our community. We are approaching a new planting season and everybody is trying to second guess the weather so that crops are planted t the right time. We have had a bit of a false start with rains in the last week so our own planting is currently on hold. Many of our neighbors have ploughed their land in preparation for the rains but will, like us, be anxiously looking to the sky for the first signs of the rainy season proper. The sun is great for tourists but, at this time of year, too much of it is a nightmare for farmers.
As ever there is never a dull moment in Kosele. I'm looking forward to the chance to review some of our projects in time for the beginning of next term and have new plans in the pipeline to mover us closer to the seemingly elusive goal of being self-sufficient. With Judi back on the scene we will, I'm sure, take some new steps before the end of the year. Challenging as the work is very often, I still count myself very lucky to be out here.