December 2018 Update from Rabuor Village

Friends!

As we approach the end of 2018 through the nearing Holiday Season, Loyce and the Mwanzo Board send your our wishes for the time to gather and give thanks for our blessings.

We would also like to share some recent news and photos from Rabuor, Kenya, and our founder and executive director, Loyce Ong’udi!

We are thrilled with the continued progress in moving closer to completing our primary school (Grades 1-8). On a given day there are often 10-20 laborers helping with finishing of the school exterior, installation of the stairway and second-floor guard rails. Work too is proceeding on the teachers’ office space which doubles as the water pumphouse.

After recent compromised harvests, Loyce is encouraged to report that the maize harvest to date has been strong, helped by the purchase of fertilizer using your generous donations.

I hope these pictures of community members, construction laborers, and other Mwanzo partners brings a big smile to your face!

Yours in service,

Mark Peterson, on behalf of Loyce and the Mwanzo Board

A Beautiful School and Community Space!
Such Detailed Work!
Our Water Pumphouse
Mother and Daughter Out for a Walk
Guard Rails for the Stairs and Second Story
A Good Harvest

Celebrating our Preschoolers!

On June 13, 2018, a number of our younger children attending Early Childhood Development classes at Mwanzo Education Center participated in the zonal (district) cultural competition at the Maseno School for the Deaf.  Nineteen other schools from this area of Nyanza Province joined our kids in a friendly competition to demonstrate their singing, dancing, and story-telling skills.  

The day began with children and teachers departing for Maseno via rental bus.  Both young and old were excited about the opportunity to display their self-made costumes, and share their school pride with the other schools and competition judges.  

After a long, exhausting day we received the judges' results:  Three First-Place certificates for our children! I happened to be visiting Loyce, our Executive Director, at lunchtime on June 13th, and spoke by phone with our Headteacher, Margaret Otieno, who had just arrived back in Rabuor with the children.  In the excitement and pride of the moment, it was hard to speak and to listen.

We are so proud of our schoolchildren, our teachers, school staff, and parents who devoted time to making the outfits worn during the competition.  The below pictures convey some of the joy of the day.

Thank you for caring about our schoolchildren, and shrinking our world just a bit by affirming the beautiful humanity of the residents of the 12 communities who say "Erokomano" for your part in creating "New Beginnings" (Mwanzo) and ensuring that "Hope Has a Home Here!"

Mark Peterson

Celebrating our Schoolchildren
First Place in Creative Dance
A Young Lion Takes the Stage
African Singing Certificate

Meet Janet Andar!

Janet Andar is one of Mwanzo's greatest resources on the ground.  She has been for many years a critical leader in establishing, facilitating, and expanding the women's groups active in Rabuor Village and nearby communities.  Additionally, Janet has been involved in implementing the micro-finance/savings and loan associations that bring together over 300 women to assist each other in (1) providing loans as well as (2) acting as a community "bank."

Janet is a widow raising 5 children, from preschool age to 21 years.  Her two youngest children attend our Mwanzo Education Center.  Janet is also active in Mwanzo's chicken coop prototype, which aims to improve nutrition and provide additional cash to households.

In spite of the daily challenges in raising a family, Janet manages to inspire her friends with her giving to the Rabuor community.  Two weeks ago Loyce and several women leaders paid Janet a surprise visit and presented her with a solar lantern as a gesture of our admiration and thanks for her inspirational leadership.

As we celebrate this holiday season, please keep Janet Andar and our many partners in Kenya in your thoughts and prayers.  And thank you for your gifts which allow Mwanzo to plant seeds of hope and opportunity.

Enjoy the pictures!

Janet Andar with Loyce

Janet Andar with Loyce

Loyce Bearing Gifts - Janet is in Blue Headdress

Loyce Bearing Gifts - Janet is in Blue Headdress

A Solar Lantern!

A Solar Lantern!

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.  

 

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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.

 

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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!