Dormitories at a school - what for?
On the importance of completing two dormitories
A German-Kenyan-Italian joint project
Two dormitories - what for?
In Kenya, it is common for children of a certain age to sleep at school, like in a boarding school. Both parents and teachers believe that this is important for the education and development of the children. At our school it is especially important for those who live in very difficult circumstances. A life at the school, with a community, a structure, hot meals and water, is the goal of many. In September 2018, we were able to complete two dormitories - one for girls and one for boys - which today offers a proper educational environment for 40 kids.
At first, I could not understand this expensive (almost 20,000 euros) project of the school. Why should the children live at the school when their home is not far from here? Why should they be away from their parents for weeks at a time?
Then, when the director began to acquire large grants from Rome, I knew he was serious. In 2018, I was able to see the project myself. The building was not completed and so German partners also supported the project financially and the entire school community lent a hand, painting work was done by children as well as teachers - a real community project.
Today I understand the importance of the dormitories
I am glad that we could support the last steps of the project at that time. Today, 3 years later, I understand the importance of the dormitories. Education is a matter of community in this culture, where families do not yet live as 'isolated' as we do. The whole village educates a child. For example, if you are invited to dinner at a family's house, you can be sure that there is at least 1 child at the table who belongs to a neighboring family. At home, however, one is only to sleep, the rest of the day the child gathers experience outside, being with other children, adults, listening to stories from the elders.
The dependence on parental care and education is spread over a whole community. And the school is also part of it, which carries the largest part of moral and religious education on its shoulders - especially here, at an institution run by Catholic brothers.
Education as a community task
If you ask children what they did at home during the vacations, they say: nothing. It was boring, they may have helped in the field, but due to the work of their mother, parents or the person they grow up with, the children are usually left to their own or spend time with the neighboring children. Hardly any parent is able to control homework - simply because of their own lack of school education.
Here at the Kandongu Project, the children are not only students of different school subjects.
They pray together, read the Bible, have it explained to them, they sing, they discuss social conflicts, get various advice in "Guiding and Councelling" and an open ear for their personal issues. They cook together, do their laundry, clean and are thus a natural part of this large school community. They don't miss eating, drinking and hygiene here, and the set times for studying and doing homework give them a structure of independent learning that they rarely experience at home. Here, everyone is equal, no matter what their backgrounds are.
"I am always impressed with the maturity and sense of social responsibility of these young students and wish many other children the opportunity of School-Boarding, of living at their school."
Translated from German: Njoki.