My father, Stewart Geddes, has been generously supporting the development of a small rural school in Kenya for the past couple of years through the CanAssist African Relief Trust. Today I headed back across to the mainland on the ferry to visit the community and the school which has about 75 students from age 3 to 8. Without this small school these little kids would have to walk several kilometers every day to receive education … or not get any at all. Girls, in particular were at a disadvantage and only two girls in the community of 500 people, have gotten beyond grade 4 until now.
I was enthusiastically welcomed and treated to demonstrations of counting and identifying animals in English (remember this is a seoond or maybe third language for these young pupils.) The name S P GEDDES EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT CENTRE is emblazoned on the school gate and the children were happy to chant a Thank you message that they wanted me to take back to my Dad.
Me and little Stewart Geddes at Osiri Village, Kenya.
But the big surprise for me was when the head teacher showed me her six month old Grandson. “We have named him Stewart Geddes”, she said. “At home he goes by Geddes.” I found this both amusing and touching. When I got back to Mbita, I called Dad to share with him the deep appreciation that this community has for his gift to them. I plan to visit a few CanAssist project sites in the next several days and I know that this is just the beginning of the wonderful expressions of gratitude to Canadian Donors through CanAssist that I will receive. I wish that this was something that I could bottle and send back to share with all of you who have supported what we do through CanAssist. Perhaps this little video clip will give you a taste.
My daughter recently pointed out to me that I was fortunate to be the recipient of most of the feedback from the communities in East Africa that we help through the CanAssist African Relief Trust. She’s right. How can I share that with other supporters of CanAssist?
I do consider myself lucky to have been able to visit the schools, clinics and communities that have been supported, in one way or another, by the CanAssist African Relief Trust…or rather by the donors who give to CanAssist to keep our activities afloat. One of the appeals to our donors is that we pay no Canadian salaries, travel at our own expense and therefore every donated dollar is spent by Africans in East Africa. The cost to us as volunteer travellers, however, is repaid ten times over in the wonderful experience of interacting with our friends in Africa.
Recently a group of Canadians who are supporters of CanAssist visited the B.L.K. Muwonge Secondary School in a remote, small Ugandan town called Kyabazaala. One of the students at the school sent back a letter of thanks to CanAssist supporters. I thought it only appropriate that I share this. I hope you find it as motivating as I do to keep doing what we are working toward to help communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with their infrastructure needs.
Students at the B.L.K. Muwonge Secondary School in Kyabazaala, Uganda write exams in a building that was constructed with funding from the CanAssist African Relief Trust.