Aquinoe Learning Centre

Volunteer Tom

Volunteer Tom

Volunteer Tom

Hello my name is Tom and myself and a friend went out to teach the children of Aquinoe School from September to October in 2007.

View over the Rift Valley

I have been asked to write a piece for the charity run by a special lady whose passion for improving the children’s lives in that school has had in turn a major affect on me.

I had no expectations before the trip, my mentality was ‘being up for anything’, and throwing myself into anything I possibly could in order to make a difference. I would like to state that no amount of words I write will ever come close to the feelings and the life situations I experienced at Aquinoe, which is why if you are reading this and have a burning desire to help as I do I advise you to experience this yourself. The biggest compliment I could give my experience would be it has made me a better person, and no amount of money would ever compare to that. The staff are incredibly friendly at the school, and I have made great friends with them. The children are incredibly special and my personal belief is that they needed my help far more in all ways, for example emotional, economic and physical than the children currently did within the school I work in England, and that was confirmed to me after my return.

Entrance to the school

I warn people who wish to go to try to appreciate the poverty and what I like to call ‘real life’ scenario which you will be faced with within the school, I realize this is hard to imagine, but I would say, imagine what you believe and multiply that by 100.

I taught all subjects within the school apart from the native language spoken for obvious reasons. I wasn’t working every hour at the school, whilst not working I was planning lessons and interacting with the other staff members in the staff room. I stayed in the school house which is right next door to the school. The house keeper there (Rachel) is an amazing person and so welcoming to all. I went out at the weekends with three lovely teachers and had great times in the local pubs and clubs.

The pupils enjoyed Tom’s visit

I arrived at Nairobi airport and the drive to Kitale from there is incredibly bumpy and long, however worth it when you get there. The living conditions were good; you have a western toilet which you have to fill yourself. You will receive a bucket for a shower with hot water provided by Rachel.

I never in all my time there felt threatened in or around the area I stayed in Kitale. 95% of people we met were incredibly warm and welcoming if a little unsure as not many white people have visited there. There will always be people who do not like your presence, but this was few and far between. Beds are comfy, you get eggs for breakfast! But please bring videos as the television (the little they have) is truly appalling lol. I found teaching the children a privilege and a challenge. However a challenge which was overcome as the children speak good English and they seemed very interested in all I had to say. There are around 200 children, and the school is an ‘inclusive school’ which integrates children with special needs into the mainstream, which I myself am an advocate of. The whole experience for me was not only teaching the children, but interacting with the community and explaining our culture to them, as they had many misconceptions.

Say Cheese!

There are children who deserve better as far as opportunity and resources they receive in life. Some children have truly tragic stories, stories which you understand and deal with when you are there. This situation although far from England is all our responsibility and we should all try to aid in the welfare of these children as best we can in my opinion. Money in Africa goes very far with the English pound so I urge you all reading this to just step back like I have and think would you (in my experience for example) rather go for that extra pint in the pub or send that to the children to aid in changing their lives. I plan to return to the school as soon as I can afford to, as this experience is voluntary and you must pay for your flight and accommodation.

The pupils look forward to Tom’s return

My thanks to Jean and Josphat who enabled me to interact with these special children, who I think about still all the time. Thanks again.

Tom Bayley