Every day a school day…

Earlier in the month I posted a blog about the dilemma faces by African girls who attempt to cope with the monthly need for sanitary pads with no money to purchase them.

Here is a video of Mama Benta Odhiambo of Kanyala Little Stars on Rusinga Island, Kenya outlining that need.

I have also written a complementary article for the Kingston Whig Standard published on April 4, 2013. If you are interested, here is a link to that article.

Congratulations are in order …

The CanAssist African Relief Trust has been a supporter of the Kanyala Little Stars School on Rusinga Island for the past few years. We have become good friends, visited often and shared the friendship with other Canadians who, like me, love to visit Mama Benta and the kids at the school.

Since we first met the school in 2007, it has grown. When I first visited them there were four classrooms with students up to about Grade 3. There are now 300 students at the school. It is bursting at the seams. Despite this crowding, they are not compromising on academics.

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Last year they graduated their first Class 8 students and when I was there earlier this month they proudly showed me the results of the standardized country-wide exams that students write to gain entrance to Secondary School.

They had 19 candidates and all of them passed. In addition, one of the “Little Stars” was first on Rusinga Island and second in the much larger Suba District. They also proudly reported that the second standing at the school was a girl, Phelistus Ogola.

This week I also learned that Elisha Onyando has been “awarded a full comprehensive scholarship from Equity Bank Kenya based on his superb academic performance.”

I am so proud of the students, teachers and directors of the Kanyala Little Stars organization. They are all working to build a better Kenya.

Congratulations to Elisha Onyando on his academic successes and the scholarship to help him pursue his Secondary School education.

Congratulations to Elisha Onyando on his academic successes and the scholarship to help him pursue his Secondary School education.

A letter to my grandson, Noah …

Dear Noah

This week I visited the Kanyala Little Stars school on Rusinga Island in Kenya. I have come to this school every year for the past nine years. The school is quite small in size but there are now 306 students registered at it from nursery class to grade 8. Last year they graduated their first Grade 8 students who are now eligible to go on to secondary school. Unfortunately many of these kids don’t have parents who can afford to send them on to high school. Their academic performance in the standard exams was very good – one of their students was second amongst hundreds in the district.

imageWhen I went into one classroom their first quesion to me was “How is Noah Budd?” They remembered that last year on your birthday you told your friends not to bring presents to your party but to bring some money to buy supplies for these students in Kenya. When I visited the school last February,I took them school supplies and a soccer ball and
a picture of you that they have hanging in the school office. The students in grade 3 wanted me to say hello to you. I though it was better if they do this themselves so I took this short video to bring their greetings back to you and a song for you as well. I hope that you enjoy it and that you are glad to know that your kindness to these students who you don’t know and who live far away in Africa is something that they know is special and they are grateful for your caring.

In one class they were studying mathematics, doing algebra equations. I told them that you, too, like math and that some day I hope that you can come and visit these kids in person.

In the schoolyard is a tree that I planted in July 2011 when I brought some CanAssist supporters to Kenya and we visited the school on what they called “The Big Day”. The tree is growing just like the students and hopefully will soon be providing some shade in the small play area.

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Noah, I want you to know that the kindness you showed to these fellow students by giving up a few birthday presents last year to send school supplies to Little Stars School was a generous and thoughtful act which they remember with thanks. And I, too, am proud of you for your kindness in sharing with others.

Love,

Dedo

Hot off the press

Kennedy Onyango from Mbita Kenya, has sent along this photo of the celebrations happening now at the Kanyala Little Stars school on Rusinga Island. CanAssist and her supporters are most pleased to be a virtual part of this special Day for the school.

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Another “Big Day” for Kanyala Little Stars

One year ago, twenty Canadian supporters of the CanAssist African Relief Trust joined the children and staff at Kanyala Little Stars School on Rusinga Island, Kenya to celebrate the “opening” of the school farm. With a lot of hard work by the Kanyala team, financial and moral support from CanAssist, and a sprinkling of engineering advice from Canadian Andrew Forsyth, the school turned a dry open field into a lush garden that now produces vegetables and fruits to support the school, both nutritionally and economically. Some of the initial challenges included getting water to this dry property, fencing it to keep the hippos from ravaging the garden at night and enriching the soil to make it fertile.

This week, I received this email message from Mama Benta Odhiambo, the director of the Kanyala Little Stars School :

“I am writing to share with your honourable self and the CANASSIST-Canada Team that we are planning for a Big Event on Wednesday 25th July 2012 to celebrate the 1st Anniversary since our Farm’s launching by CANASSIST. This day-long event will bring together key local goverment officials and local groups and community members to see for themselves how the farm has changed from a drought-strickened, barren Land to a green, beautiful heaven with variety of fruits,trees and crops.

We will also hold a big celebration for the orphans and the Little Stars children, where they will be given fruit salads made from our farm produce on that day.

The Canadian flag will be raised high on that day both at the farm-gate and in the school to show our gratitude and appreciation to CANASSIST and the people of Canada.

We owe you alot and would feel happy if you allow us share this success wih the government of Kenya,locals groups community and the children.”

Val Horsfall and Erin Firlotte ride with students of Kanyala Little Stars School to the School Farm where the school and their visitors from Canada celebrated the official opening of the farm project on July 25, 2011.

There has been another remarkable surprise. The CanAssist farm and the hard work of the Kanyala team has been internationally recognized. Last month, Mama Benta attended a conference in Geneva, Switzerland to present the CanAssist Kanyala farm as a model for mitigating the effects of drought on food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Quite a change for Benta to go from rural Rusinga Island to an international meeting in Geneva.

Africans know what to do to improve their lot. They do, however, lack the financial resources to put their plans and dreams into action. CanAssist is happy to be able to provide the needed spark to ignite this development. Following the Kanyala success, CanAssist has also started a second school garden in the Mbita region. The school has named it “The CanAssist Oasis of Hope”.

Congratulations, Kanyala Little Stars, on your success.

This week, several of the Canadians in the group that visited the farm a year ago gathered for a reunion of their own. They were happy to record greetings and messages of congratulations to their friends at Little Stars in Kenya and send them through is short YouTube video.

CanAssist supporter, Susan Potvin, interacts with children at the Kanyala Little Stars “Big Day” on July 25, 2011 when the school celebrated the official opening of the Kanyala CanAssist Farm.