Cynthia Kairu is a mentor with the School Series Programme. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Community Development. Initially, she joined the team as one of our community mentors. She then successfully applied for the position of programme coordinator. As such, she was incharge of running the Secondary School Programme throughout 3rd term. Here is her account of the term:
In preparation for the third and final term of the year, School Series recruited a fresh batch of Community Mentors in August 2015. A process that proved quite satisfactory due to the high quality mentors recruited. After a successful two week training of the Community Mentors, the team opted to retain 10 out of the 15 trained mentors. With 10 brilliant and skilled mentors under our wing and a new term closing in, a smooth transition from term two to three was promising.
However, this was not the case. In early September, public school teachers from both primary and secondary schools went on strike. Teachers refused to return to their respective schools for the final term of the year until their grievances were addressed. What was initially anticipated to be a short lived strike, dragged on for 5 weeks. As our partner schools were public schools, they were among the schools affected by the strike and we were unable to proceed with the programme during the strike period. As the strike progressed, we became uneasy and unsure of what the future held for the Secondary School Programme.
However, with every cloud there is a silver lining. While the strike was on-going, School Series managed to partner with yet another secondary school, Moonlight Centre. The school had continued to run despite the strike. Upon our preliminary visit to Moonlight Centre, we were humbled by the efforts of the school’s founder to build not only a learning institution, but also a safe haven for its students, most of who are from disadvantaged and difficult backgrounds. The students were a delight to interact with: disciplined, polite and eager to learn as well as excited to receive the programme in their school.
Much to our relief, the strike was called off on October 5th 2015. We immediately hit the ground running, resuming the programme in our partner schools, Moonlight Centre included. Our fear that the students in the three schools (Lavington Mixed, Nembu and Uthiru girls) would be uncomfortable with the change in community mentors was needless. After the first session with the community mentors, the students immediately warmed up to them and displayed a positive attitude towards their respective class mentors. The same can be said for Moonlight Centre: mentors spoke highly of the warm reception by the students and of the students’ willingness to learn and apply the training to their lives.
Save for a rocky and unsure beginning of term three, the rest of the term carried on smoothly without any major challenges. Though we only had a maximum of 6 weeks with the schools this term, they were without a doubt exciting and impactful.
The two greatest highlights of the term would be: interacting with a bright batch of mentors and introducing a new school to the life skills education programme. We aspire to continue to expand the scope of our impact, more so to students in communities that rarely have the opportunity to be exposed to programmes that guide them on how to better shape their lives and future.
With the term ending on such a positive note, we anticipate that we shall begin the New Year with the schools on a high note as well. We look forward to 2016 and whatever we may achieve by implementing what we have learnt this year.
By Cynthia Kairu