11 September 2023
In July, a group of students from Years 10 to Lower Sixth, Fr Gerry, Mr Ross and Miss May visited the Laini Saba School in Kenya, the Sacred Heart-supported school for which the Woldingham community has fundraised over the past five years. As well as having the enriching experience of working with the Laini Saba pupils, our students were also able to explore some of the culture and geography of Kenya, as Lana describes.
Lana T, Year 11
Excited and full of anticipation as to what was in store, we were met by our two guides on arrival in Nairobi. Our first stop was to take in an amazing view of the Great Rift Valley, which was formed by the separation of two tectonic plates. Next, we headed to a Masai Mara tribe, where we were enthusiastically greeted with a warm welcome of energetic dancing and jumping Masai men. We camped with the tribe for three nights, immersing ourselves in Masai culture. We visited a Masai women’s mud house and had the opportunity to ask lots of questions. We bought bracelets from the women, who taught us how to recreate the patterns as we made our own bracelets.
We went on a three-hour hike with amazing views; helped milk cows and goats; walked to a local market; dipped our feet in hot springs; and learnt how to throw a spear. One day, we set off on a safari at 5am, spotting lions, elephants, buffalos, zebras and giraffes. A very memorable experience was when the van got an unexpected puncture in front of a lion!
As we approached the Laini Saba School, which is located in Kibera, it was poignant to see the obvious poverty and conditions that are so different to our experiences at home. At the school, we were greeted by the Head, Sister Lucy, who gave us a tour. We went into every class (ages 5-14) and were greeted by big smiles and welcome songs. During the first two days we were split into groups and started teaching or assisting younger pupils. We taught each other games and dances and did arts and crafts together. Two PE sessions turned into high intensity workouts in the heat for us but the children were clearly used to it as they weren’t even out of breath.
We also spent time with the middle year groups, telling pupils stories and asking them to write their own and read them out loud. We also did simple maths together, including division and measuring different angles. There was also an opportunity to answer students’ questions about ourselves, our lives in England, and our school experiences.
At the weekend we headed to Savage Wilderness camp, where we could canoe down rapids, go zip-lining (even Miss May joined us) and archery. We also visited a local market and did some souvenir shopping.
Back at Laini Saba, we met the older pupils and joined their lessons. We could relate to the older children more easily and enjoyed making friends. On our final day at the school we went on stage and gave performances to each other. We were entertained with Swahili songs, poems and dancing from pupils in all year groups. For our performance, we sang Shine Jesus Shine, the Sacred Heart prayer and taught everyone in the school to do the macarena. Miss May even taught the Kenyan teachers some Scottish dancing.
It was really sad to say goodbye and it was heart-warming when 40 children ran over to give us hugs. This was such an enriching experience, where we all learnt a lot about ourselves and the Kenyan culture. Thank you Mr Ross, Miss May and Fr Gerry for organising this trip and enabling us all to have such a memorable time.