Monday, May 23, 2011

East Africa Day 5: Behind the Scenes at Daraja

I got to meet with Daraja's Vice Principal, Victoria this morning to discuss some ideas that I had for campus – the first being a Blue Sweater Book Club, and the second an Alumni Association. We had SUCH a great talk! Victoria (and Daraja's Onsite Volunteer Coordinator, Andy are now reading two of the copies of The Blue Sweater that Jo-Ann and the NYC Acumen Fund office donated to Daraja. I can't wait to hear what they think of one of Jacqueline Novogratz's story, since she is one of the reasons that I am here in East Africa. (If you have not yet read the book, then please do!)

Pamela and I spent the remainder of the morning assisting the kitchen staff with vegetable peeling and chopping in preparation for lunch and dinner. It reminded me of my CIT summer at Frost Valley, when I learned to really appreciate all of the hard work that happens in the kitchen! This morning I peeled potatoes, peeled and chopped onions, and diced tomatoes. Since we were preparing food for 77+ people, we got to spend a good amount of time getting to know the kitchen staff - Cecilia, Beatrice and Aloyis. Daraja's nurse and mental health counselor, Jacinta stopped into the kitchen on her way to check on a student. We got to learn about her work as a nurse in the private Nanyuki hospital. And then lunch was served!


I was supposed to assist in the campus garden in the afternoon, but heard that Alice, the Gardener, was away from campus. I stopped by the garden after lunch just in case she was in, and surprised one of the campus hens in the compost bin! Hilarious. I discovered that the campus compost center is THE place to observe area birds up close – especially directly after the students have emptied a fresh pail of compost into the compost bin:)


I spent the bulk of my afternoon preparing to begin my main project, which I believe I will begin in earnest tomorrow. Details still forthcoming.

I then attended the Form 2 (sophomore class) WISH class. Today's topic was about the importance of creating short and long-term plans for yourself. Vice Principal Victoria led the class. She asked the students to pull out their WISH journals and to list a handful of short and long-term goals for themselves, and then asked them to illustrate their long term goal with colored pencils that she handed out to the students. Afterwards Victoria asked the students to share what they had written and drawn with the class. It was really cute – most of the students who presented talked about their aspirations for very high marks in both their Daraja classses and the KCSE (the national exam that they will take at the end of Form 4.)


Intended to go for a run after dinner, but since the sun was about to set, I took a short walk along the inside perimeter of the Daraja electric wire fence on the way up to Jenni and Jason's house on the side of the hill overlooking Daraja's campus, and appreciated the sunset, instead … tomorrow is another day:)

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