One of the main priority and highlight of our visit and stay was to interact and bond with the more than 200 children who come to The Ng’ope School. It is still called Ng’ope School and not Captain’s Choice Academy yet because it is being incubated by the Ng’ope SDA Church as we build the Captain’s Choice. So it is still at the church compound occupying little semi-permanent structures used as classrooms.
The second day after our arrival we got invited to attend one of the school’s morning prayer sessions that is held every Friday morning. We were obviously expected to say something so we gave a short speech to encourage the kids and their teachers and to assure them that the Captain’s Choice Academy building going on would soon be finished and be open for them. This was met by a thunderous applause which was actually quite a challenge reminding us that we needed to speeden up things to get it opened ASAP!
Guada Mecado our friend in Melbourne had given us a pack of toothbrushes to give to the pupils which we then gave to every child as they walked back to their classrooms. We also gave them two balls that had been donated by Peter Huggan and Jazzy which they started kicking and playing with right away as it was already break time. It was interesting to see the whole school come alive with joyful noises that villagers around had never heard before as they just didn’t have any balls to play with! We have video recordings of this to share later. Geoff and I quickly decided that we needed to add them two more balls as the excitement was just so palpable yet the smaller kids were kind of missing out in all this fun as they were no match to the bigger kids.
Later during our stay I kept volunteering to assist the teachers with teaching duties here and there and for a few hours or so whenever I could spare some time. This gave me a firsthand experience of the pupils and teachers needs which is still huge but it also surprised me heaps of their amazing capabilities and potential. The Ng’ope school kids are obviously very brilliant and highly intelligent, speaking very good English with a clear polished accent and they are very eager to learn. Most times they asked me to keep teaching past their break time!
I tried to teach something in almost every class from class 2 to 6 on almost every subject as I had downloaded some very useful material from a Kenyan Education website that I was also trying to introduce to the teachers to use. After test-driving it I was quite convinced that this material will take them to yet another level as both teachers and pupils unanimously liked it very much. Deidre also joined in to teach and being a Nurse Midwife taught a combined class 5 and 6 the reproductive health science, a subject that they tremendously enjoyed together with their teachers given their beaming faces when they all walked out of her class!
Every pupil in every class from baby class onward received an exercise book and a pen or pencil for the junior ones which really excited them all! By the time we were done they were all calling me “Teacher Mark”, a tag I reluctantly had to leave behind as much as I wanted to keep teaching these amazing kids; it was obviously time to leave as there is still a lot of work to be done from Melbourne to get the Captain’s Choice Academy finished and operational with education freely provided to these kids as well as their older siblings and village mates who’re all yearning for quality knowledge of any kind, form or shape!
To all those who have partnered with us and are supporting this worthy cause, this post is for you and is to encourage you to keep on doing what you do as you’re obviously touching and changing the lives of these children and so many other more. To this end we wish to recognise and acknowledge Geoff and Deidre Williams Bartlett, Judy Lyew, Rudalyn Lonzaneda, Jubilee fellowship Church, Frankston SDA Church, Mark and Deidre’s Lesson class for relentlessly supporting the school feeding program, Sharron Sidandi, Guada Mecardo, Bongi Wohlers, Dean and Erna Scott family, Brian L McFarlane, Pastor Ian Rankin, Trent Martin, Norman and Joylyn Baladjay Melarpis family, Paul Saluni and family, Merari Castillo, Marie Chris, Joan and Peter Landgren, Doreen, Andrea Puddy, Ronelle Prior, David Rons, The Rotary Club of Croydon and The Captain’s Choice – Private Jet Tours including all the gorgeous anonymous donors whom I have probably missed out here including all those working so hard in Kenya to keep things moving like the teachers, Morris Saka, Julius Ouko, Donald Owino Odhiambo and Rose Otieno among others – you are all so much appreciated with most gratitude!