Taking A Break and Appreciating Life

September 28, 2021

At the end of this week, all schools take a one week break from studies. In normal situations, schools would be closing for at least a month, but due to the tight schedule caused by the time missed by Covid, the school curriculum will be back to back until the final exams for the Form Fours and Standard Eight are carried out in March next year. Students are not happy with the short break; they wish they had more time at home, but that will not be possible this year.

Our task this week will be helping the students cope with the changes in the school calender and making the best of it.  Many of them feel overwhelmed; they don’t understand why they have to be in school for such a long period of time. Being in boarding school has its own unique challenges, and students usually look forward to going home to get a break.

The Form One students are really looking forward to the break; they are still adjusting to boarding school life after being day scholars in their previous 8 years of Primary School. They face many challenges at school; some say they have faced bullying, some keep losing their personal effects, the majority are, too often, home sick, and there are those that feel the climate in their school area does not favour them. Most would like to change their school, but no parent has the money to spend all over again for a new school. School transfers require new school uniforms, stationary and other supplies. It would usually cost a parent up to Ksh 120,000 for a student to join a new school for the first time. Most of these parents do not have stable jobs and those who do, earn very little pay. They are thus forced to take out loans to have their children join Secondary School, and most often, they have other school-going children to think about. Changing schools is something most parents don’t want to consider.

The Form Four students, on the other hand, have their final examinations coming up in March next year; they do not have much time left, and fortunately they all understand that fact. The one week break will be enough for them to spend with their families before returning to school for their studies. Tough as the times may be, coping with the changes is important for the children. Ensuring they understand the need to stay positive is also paramount because we do not want to have children dropping out of school.

Our message to the girls is that one week, though short, can also mean a lot towards achievement. One week can completely alter the future of a girl. The students need to keep themselves away from trouble and not engage in risky behaviour that can have lifetime consequences. We remind the students to stay pure taking care of their mental health; although drugs are plentiful, keep away from them! Visiting relatives at the relatives’ home, during this time, is very common, but the students need to be careful where they go. Those that have been threatened with rape or who have actually been raped, suffered at the hands of perpetrators very well known to them. We advised the girls to take extreme caution and stay away from homes where there is threat of any kind to them.

FGM though outlawed in Kenya, still goes on behind closed doors. We teach the girls to run and report to the relevant authorities if they face any danger of FGM. We research and give them names of centres around their homes that rescue girls at risk.

In this weeks’ holiday briefing at one of the schools, a number of girls actually came up to us to say they fear for their lives. These girls had no doubt they are candidates for F.G.M., and want to be able to call us if they feel threatened. We provided our numbers and ask them to notify us if they face danger. We will in turn call the authorities and have the particular girls rescued.

All girls are vulnerable; there is a lot of evil being perpetrated towards the girl child. As much as we may not be able to save every girl we encounter, it is very important that we try to impart those within our influence, with the skills and knowledge to take care of themselves when they are away from school. Their parents are overwhelmed with the day-to-day chores in their homes, just putting food on the table is next to impossible for most.

We encourage the students to look around them and appreciate the beauty God has provided. The surroundings are beautiful around their schools and on their walks home. The girls are able to witness phenomena that students in other countries only imagine. Appreciating the positives works a long way towards keeping negative thoughts away. We asked the students to look out the window of the vehicles they will be boarding to go home. We suggested they thank God for all the beauty they see while traveling, We also suggested the girls be grateful for the small things in their lives. We look forward to seeing and hearing from them when schools resume in a weeks’ time.

Below are some images of what can ideally be seen on our roads when traveling. It’s the little things that make all the difference, and gratitude for ‘the little things, causes appreciation for life…. 

All of these people are working hard, so they can support their families.

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