Mwanzo is Back Building!

Thanks to our generous partners and individual donors, Mwanzo has began construction of the second floor of our beautiful new primary school in Rabuor, Kenya!  Much of the necessary building materials are on-site, and our contractor and his employees are busy with prepping the quary stones that will form the outer walls of our second story.  This is hard, manual labor that inspires us.  Take a look at the below pictures.

Mwanzo presently has the necessary funds to build the exterior structure, interior walls, and roof.  We hope to raise the necessary additional $35,000 by February 2018 to bring this wonderful project to a successful conclusion, and make it possible to provide over 300 students a first-class primary education from pre-school through Grade 8!

With your faithful support, Mwanzo continues to partner with residents of Rabuor Village and nearby communities to plant new seeds of hope and opportunity.  

 

DSCN5755.JPG
DSCN5747.JPG
video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more.

Meet John Omondi, Security Guard at our Mwanzo Education Center

John Omondi is a resident of Rabuor Village, and also Mwanzo Education Center’s (MEC) security guard!  A very soft spoken and gentle spirit, John describes himself as one of the lucky people with a regular job living at his now bigger hut that he is working to enlarge. John’s need for a larger hut came about because he recently became a father to two orphaned girls, in addition to his son. 

Mwanzo is lucky that all our staff members go above and beyond call of duty; and this can be said of Omondi!!!  He oversees the safety of our school property at night (his official duty starts at 6:00pm and goes until 6:00am!).  Similar to a night duty nurse, he goes home in the morning to sleep.  He says sometimes it is hard to fall asleep because of the playful shouting of MEC’s children on the playground, which he can hear from his hut.   

During this period when Mwanzo is constructing a new primary school building, John can be seen helping to haul heavy building materials and organizing them to ensure the children are safe.  At other times throughout the year, he volunteers his time as the school caretaker working with our school janitor, Risper, to ensure our school is clean and the grass/hedges well trimmed.  He expresses that Mwanzo has created big changes in the lives of many in the community!

With a big smile, John says that as a man he is stronger financially because of the salary that he earns.  He is grateful because he can pay tuition for his three children and provide them with food both of which are important duties for a man in Luo society.

With a deep breath he says to me:  “Jonathan, TOGETHER WE ACHIEVE GREAT THINGS.

 

IMG_20170825_124913[1].jpg
unnamed.jpg

Why Mwanzo Sends its Schoolchildren on an Annual Field Trip (With Pictures)

Four years past, our founder and Executive Director, Loyce Ong'udi, asked the Mwanzo Board to add a Mwanzo Education Center (MEC) student field trip as a line item in our annual budget.   It was not so clear then how important going on tour would be for our children and the community.  We never realized how big a deal an annual field trip would prove to be for our 200 students and their (mostly) young parents!  Sure it's fun to get on tour buses:  We can remember that excitement from our own childhood! 

In 2014, our schoolchildren were taken across Lake Victoria on a motorized boat to Ndere Island to visit historical sites.  The photos said so much! For most of the kids it was the first time in a moving vehicle!  As the accompanying parents later reported, the children spontaneously made a song for the bus driver, because they thought he had a special power to move the bus - which brought them so much joy. 

In 2015, the children were taken to Snake Park in Kisumu, 20 miles from Rabuor Village, where (most of them) saw 100 year-old turtles, all sorts of snakes, and other reptiles.   That in itself is an interesting story, as some of the adults and children closed their eyes when looking at the snakes, our of a fear of black and green mambas, cobras, haunting their dreams. The great news is that their minds were open. 

In 2016, Mwanzo sent the students back to Kisumu, for a tour of the airport and the city. Especially the boys were excited by the sight of passenger jets.  But the highlight for all was a fantastic "fast food adventure" offering chips, popcorn, and soda.  What a day!

In 2017, the schoolchildren went to Impala National Park.  While we so value the quality education of a classroom (especially the devotion of our teachers and staff to the students!), nothing beats exposing a child to a new experience that broadens their horizons and allow their minds to wonder and dream. 

We thank you, our donors and supporters, for opening doors of opportunity for our schoolchildren and their communities to Dream Big!

Zebras.jpg
This is My Favorite!.jpg
It's Like Jurassic Park.jpg
Monkeys.jpg
Field Trip 2015.jpg
RSCN3278.JPG
DSCN3480.JPG
DSCN3436.JPG
DSCN3431.JPG

Meet Mary Atieno and her Grandmother, Margaret Owiti

Mary Atieno is a 4 year old girl learning at Mwanzo Education Centre. In 2013, her father succumbed to tuberculosis. The death of her father meant that Mary and her siblings came to rely on their grandmother, Margaret Owiti, who is a cook at our Mwanzo Education Centre. In Luo culture grandparents are expected to help with the care of their grandchildren, especially after the death of a parent.

When our Country Manager, Jonathan, asked Mary why she loves Mwanzo and loves going to school, her face immediately broke into a smile. She really loves learning in a beautiful classroom. She also is glad to receive a warm breakfast and lunch while at school.

According to Margaret, the quality education provided at the preschool has led to enroll three grandchildren at Mwanzo Education Centre. Her work as a staff member means a lot to Margaret and the family, since she is able to provide for the basic needs of her extended family. Margaret also says that Mwanzo has helped mothers to think outside the box by involving them in income generating activities, such as selling cereals, horticulture, and rearing of poultry.

Margaret's final words: "Forever I cherish Mwanzo - Long Live Mwanzo!"

Over the coming months we will be introducing you to many of our staff and students!

June 2017 Update from Rabuor and Our Mwanzo Education Center

 

The activities of the school have continued as they were planned without hitches. Students and teachers have been able to continue with their roles without much supervision.  The students have been very positive and consistent in attending the lessons despite the many ups and downs.  Life has not been very easy for the past two months.  Most of the families were not able to provide adequate meals to the children in their homes due to the soaring prices of foodstuffs in Kenya.  This therefore shows why learners - even when sick - were ever present in school-they were able to be served with breakfast and lunch promptly in school.

The school is also benefiting the community in several ways.  On 11th June 2017, the Church had a conference and asked for the kitchen, the dining hall and the utensils to assist them in serving the congregation with food.  They also had a Diocese meeting in early May.  This was done and they were very happy with the kind of services that Mwanzo Education Centre provided to them without restrictions.  The church was not shy to ask for further cooperation with the school in different areas.

The nursery department in the country always organizes for competition dubbed CREATIVE ACTIVITIES.  Mwanzo as a school also took learners drawn from nursery section to go and compete in the above mentioned activities. The competition was held at Mbaka Oromo Primary School, which is ten miles from our school on the 14th June 2017.  The learners were exemplary and managed the following positions.

·         Singing game                          Position 1

·         Creative dance                        Position 1

·         Solo verse English                  Position 2

·         Fashion Show                         Position 1

The head teacher, parents, teachers and learners appreciated the financial support that was received from you through Cynthia, our accountant.  We used the amount to cater for the transport cost and lunch for all the competitors and the teachers who were available on that very day.  Mwanzo Education Centre is therefore proceeding to the next level of competition, which is known as the Sub County Level.  The venue is yet to be communicated by the sub county officials.  

Also. we are expecting the Ministry officials from any time from 21st June, 2017.  They will be coming to carry out an assessment of the school.

Country Manager

Jonathan Aluoka

Thank You to he UCUCC Congregation!

Dear Friends -

Loyce and the Mwanzo Board are deeply grateful for the generosity of the UCUCC congregation, who dug deep in donating over $18,000 during this year's April Special Offering! What a joyous demonstration of your commitment to our work, in particular the ongoing construction of the Grades 1-8 primary school!

With your financial support, later this year Loyce will be returning to Rabuor to proceed with the next phase of our work:  Construction of the second floor exterior and walls, and roof. Over the next six months the Mwanzo Board will be challenging itself and our donors to raise an additional $45,000 to fully complete the second floor and - in doing so - complete the school construction.

Mwanzo will be sharing stories bi-weekly during the coming months to introduce you - our faithful, generous community of donors - to Mwanzo (Kenya) staff members, teachers, and in particular our beautiful schoolchildren.  It is a path of shrinking our world through nurturing the humanity and potential in each person - many hundreds indeed! - who walk this road with us.

 

Mwanzo Preschoolers Strike Gold a Second Time!

On July 20, 2016, 40 preschoolers from our Mwanzo Education Center - along with their teachers, and parents - traveled to Obambo Hall Chief’s Camp, about 12 miles from our school in Rabour.  Our Head Teacher, Margaret Otieno, sent our Board the following message that we want to share with you.

I am as happy as a king when writing this report because I cannot forget the wonderful day I had on 20th July 2016.

The day was bright.  We hired a vehicle and departed from the school at 900 am. It was a long ride but we were singing as we drove off to our destination in Obambo.

The compound was big with a hall and the North West Kisumu chief’s office beside it. This is the office where the elders pick-up their pension and the chief holds his barazas (meetings) with community members, hence a very important office. On our arrival we found elders at the office patiently waiting for their dues.

The number of schools expected for this competition was 45 - each with 30 participating pupils - thus a total of 1,350 pupils. We had about 1,200 pupils that managed to attend and the other 150 could not due to the long distance and lack of transport to get to the venue. What a pity!

We assembled inside the hall at 10 am and waited for instructions, before we sang the national anthem . The competition was attended by very important persons:  Members of the County Assembly, Ward Administrators, and the media.                        

The activities under competition were:

·         Singing game, both African and Western

·         Choral verses, both English and Kiswahili

·         Set piece

·         Fashion show

·         Creative dance

The activities took long because of the large number of schools participating. By 300 pm we were already done, and we sat down to await the comments from the adjudicators.

They started with the choral verses, then solo verses. In these categories the competition was very stiff so that they had to look for all means and ways to penalize others in order to get their top three. This is how we performed:

    Kiswahili choral verse we were number 4 out of 40 schools with 84%

    English solo verse we were number 6 out of 40 schools with 82%

The next activity was the African singing game. The announcement began with the name of the third runners up; we didn’t know what to expect.  Then we heard:  Mwanzo had emerged victorious. I got confused and was torn between two worlds before hugging my colleagues as I went to receive the trophy. We returned to our seats to wait for the other announcements.

No sooner had I taken my seat than came the announcement that our school had topped the creative dance competition too!  I could not contain my joy as I walked to the podium to receive our second trophy of the day.  I went to my seat as I handed over the trophy to Madam Dorcas, our preschool lead teacher. Before long, I was called back to pick our certificate for Third Place in the fashion show. We ran outside to celebrate in songs and dances with the teachers and pupils. It was congratulations all over as the media took photos of our celebration before we boarded our vehicle to return to Rabuor.

The pupils were so excited and sang songs of praise all along for their teachers, director, and school. The songs we sang on arrival aroused everyone and they rushed to see what it was all about. They were astonished as they saw the beautiful trophies we had brought home. They joined the celebration and congratulated us. Parents received us with joy though it was late. We danced together and thanked the Lord for the brilliant results before departing for home.  

The ball is still in our court and it's still rolling.  Next competition is in the big city - Kisumu - in early August.  We now say:  "Onward, ever - Backwards, never!"

Thanks to our faithful donors who make participation for our beloved children in these events possible! 

Keep tuned....

Mwanzo Nursery School Students Win Creativity Competition

On June 30th, students from our Mwanzo Education Center Nursery School participated with 29 other public and private schools in a district musical competition in Chulaimbo. The competition was sponsored by the Kenyan Ministry of Education Science and Technology, and featured singing, dancing, and fashion shows. In Kenya, musical/dance competitions are as much a part of the culture as our most popular sports here in the states – perhaps even more so, as schools across the country are expected to participate. And like sports, the “playoffs” begin at a district level, and proceed through regional stages to a national-level “final.”

Our three-to-five year old students not only participated in these events, but took first place in English chorus, Ndombolo dancing, fashion show, creativity, and African solo singing! Additionally, the children took second place in Swahili and Luo chorus.

With such a strong showing, our students were named the overall Best-in-Show among all 30 schools, and were also awarded certificates for cleanliness, orderliness, and subject matter knowledge.

The school’s Head Teacher, Mrs. Margaret Oluoch Otieno, was beaming with pride when she called to tell us about this accomplishment – and this is something that all of our donors can all take pride in as well. Because of your support, Mwanzo was rent a van for the school. That van made it possible for these bright, talented kids to travel seven miles from Rabuor Village and return with a trophy in hand!

For now our schoolchildren are basking in their immediate accomplishment, and look forward to their next opportunity to display their skills at the regional completion on July 20th.  Stay tuned for further information; for now, enjoy the pictures below and share in the joy and pride of the children, their families, and their community!