During my recent scouting expedition to Kenya, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend two long mornings in a primary school. But not just any primary school. It was named Kibera Primary school and was located in the middle of one of the largest slums in the world. It had over 2000 students and only 30 classes. This means there were on average 80 students in each class. Roughly 4 students per desk.
Our first morning at the school we greeted by a tsunami of students! All wishing to meet us and test out their English! We found out once we returned to our campsite, that many students had ‘gone to the toilet’ when we arrived so could come and meet us, even though they were meant to be in lessons! Which was, to me, such a compliment! That they would leave their lessons just to meet a group of Scouts from England.
That initial morning was spent interacting with the kids in the playground, singing songs, playing clapping games and generally having fun! I carried a lot of kids on my shoulders/back that day! And took part in many many piggy back races!!
This is a few of the scouts just before a piggy back race! I’m 3rd in from the right!
All of the children were fascinated by my hair, they all wanted to touch it and feel it! They also loved the colour as in the sun my hair looks bright red! (Thank you L’Oreal… fabulous hair dye…) They also were surprised at how old I am. Many asked me my name and I replied with “I have just turned 16” and their faces dropped! They all looked so surprised and when I questioned about it, they all thought I was much much older! Into my 20s at least!
Our second morning in the school was as much fun as the first, we were split into groups and got to go into classrooms and work more closely with the children! Many of them asked about becoming a Scout and when they are allowed to join and it was really satisfying to hear that so many of them wanted to join scouting when they reached the next year of school (as they can enrol in scouting through the school). We also taught them a song named campfire’s burning and managed to get it into a 4 part round! Which no one expected!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNYrjDqRffA&feature=youtu.be Here is a link to the recording of the song! I apologise in advance for my truly awful singing!!
Lots of the students asked for sponsorship, or if we would look after them, and it was so hard saying no to them because you could see that they really wanted it! The toughest question to answer, for me, was telling them that we wouldn’t be coming back and this would be the last they saw of us. Just watching as their faces fell as they translated what we said, and then they grabbed onto you even harder as if they thought that if they held on, you would stay with them forever. My friend was asked if she would go home with a little girl as she had no family, and my friends heart broke. She was telling us this story as we were walking home and you could watch as her eyes welled up with tears and was struggling to hold them in, as I had failed earlier and I could tell she was trying to stay strong for me, so I wouldn’t break down into tears again.
It was difficult to fully understand how much those two short visits made such a difference to them. We gave out so many hugs and donated so much equipment that, as our expedition name suggests, we made a difference. We benefited the school with the equipment. But we helped the children, by giving them such a simple thing. A hug. You could watch as their faces lit up when you chose them to be picked up, or hugged. A hug, yet so simple and easy, helped them feel like they were loved, and appreciated, and that made more of a difference than any amount of books and school equipment will. It gave them hope. Hope to work. Hope to achieve. When I asked some students what they wanted to be, can you guess what the majority wanted to be?
They all wanted to travel and see the world. And I really hope they make it. All of them deserve it.
I believe that I helped to Make a Difference
Search Scouting Expedition Kenya 2013 for the official Making a Difference Website.