Charlotte’s Reflection

As I sit here in the warmth of the Yellow Dot office and type this post it seems far away from the slums of Kisumu, Kenya. This morning I have had many lovely comments about our blog and the lovely photographs that Maryanne so expertly took, it felt so humbling that so many people wanted to be part of our journey.

What I will remember most from my trip is the children’s stories, their dreams and their hope.

 If we take Janets story:

‘In the year 2011, I met Pastor James Samo in the church preaching. My father told Pastor that I was staying with my aunt since Iwas a young girl.She took me and ran away with me.She ran away with me because she heard that my father and mother were fighting each other because of some small issues.
So after some time,they separated.My mother went away from us and then my father and mother’s family started fighing for us.That is when my aunt came and took me.
I stayed with my aunt for along period of time then my mother came again to take me away with her because I was still a girl by then she knew where we were, she grabbled me as if she was a thief.
I went with her knowing that she will take care of me as her daughter but I was mistaken.Staying with her was just like I was in hell. I suffered a lot there. After staying with her my father just knew that she had taken me.So, he came and took me and asked my aunt if could take care of me again.My aunt accepted and taught me upto class four.After those four years, my aunt started mistreating me.
So, when I came to visit my father, I told him that I wouldn’t go back to stay with my aunt because she was mistreating me. So my father had another wife who seemed to be a good mother than my real mother.
So my father told Pastor James about all this story and he accepted to help me.He told my father to take me to school and have an interview when the school was oppened.My father did as he was told and I passed the interview.I was taken back to class four because they didn’t have class five.Pastor James helped in paying me school fees, lunch and he also paid my exams fees. So that is how I came to Life Centre Junior School’

When Janet grows up she wants to be an accountant, she can now have these dreams and aspirations because she can see her future. Before she began at the Lifecentre school she could have no ambitions as she was fighting for her well being and security. It is amazing how much education can make a difference, it is a way out and gives hope.

Visiting the slums makes you see where the children return to after their day at school or nursery. After they have been given a meal, stimulation, fresh air and freedom they then head home to fend for themselves, into dark galvanised buildings with holes in the ceiling, into the insecuirity of what life might hold.

The Lifecentre School  means a lot to these children, it is a place where dreams can be made into reality, a place of refuge, where a meal is gaurenteed and place of safety. This has to be maintained for the childrens wellbeing and to ensure quality outcomes for everyone. This can only be acheived through the finanical backing and the support of everyone. This is not just in the UK, but in Kenya too. We spoke to the teachers and managers out in Kenya about being more self sustainable, to set up businesses to get income for the schools. This inspired them and they now want to set up a Salon and as well as the sewing machines we have provided for them they can now begin to make money for themselves. The businesses they want to begin have a set up cost, which we want to help raise, so please watch this space to see how you can help!!

As well as making a difference to the school out in Kenya, our trip will also have a very positive impact on Yellow Dot. One of the highlights of my trip was the music, particularly the singing, the sound of their voices in unison was filled with happiness. The beat of the drum in the background added to the story they were telling about their faith in God and the hope for a future. With the sound of the drum came the dancing,  embodying energy and a graceful beauty flowing with rhythm. It is the children’s faces as they danced that will stay with me, their pure enjoyment for what they were doing and their gleaming eyes as they got lost in the movement and sound of the music. Gradually more and more people would join in, binding the community together in keeping life vibrant, contributing to a sense of security, safety and continuity.

A rich voice opens the ear and gives energy to the nervous system. Not only does it help children process and memorise the message, but it also increases their desire to listen more, learn more, and know more. A good voice fills the cognitive and emotional brain. With so many benefits it is a wonder why we don’t embrace music in the nursery so much more.

Looking back at the questions that I sent to Jane expressing an interest in representing Yellow Dot in Kenya I wanted to empower lifelong learning and provide children with greater opportunities to fulfil their dreams. I wanted to build on the characterstics of effective learning and inspire a passion to contribute and share knowledge that in turn will help forge links and build partnerships to acheive common goals.

Have I acheived the above? It is hard to tell as we are always working to improve every aspect of our practise. What I do know is that I will never give up wanting to inspire our children and to make sure they have the skills, knowledge and passion to fulfil their dreams.

On a personal level it made me appreciate what I have, to stop and take stock of the moments we are in before moving on to the next. I am one for racing through each experience to keep striving to move forward, but don’t often take time to reflect and absorb the result of my efforts. I know I need to slow down. However in the fast paced world of Yellow Dot is it often hard to do this as you can get wrapped up in the whirlwind of paper work and time constraints.

It was an adventure that I will never forget and I have taken away so many things. It is hard to put everything into words!