February 2019 to date
Mrs Collman and Miss Lanaway visited Nyabondo for the second time in February 2019 and spent much time at the school. Their teaching focused on sharing a love of reading and they took a range of age-appropriate texts for all the classes, including The Gruffalo and the Journey trilogy, as well as touch and feel books for the pre-school pupils. Over the course of a few days, Mrs Collman and Miss Lanaway spent time with each class, using these texts to engage, learn and laugh with the children.
As well as leaving these books as a gift from Beacon Hill School, our teachers (with some help from other members of the charity team) tasked themselves with creating and painting a mural in every unadorned classroom, as lasting reminder of their work with the children there. This process was messy and fun and caused much curiosity and excitement amongst both pupils and staff (some of who decided to join in the process!).
During the visit, they shared the happy news that the two cows, previously purchased through fundraising, were both pregnant. They have since given birth, each to a healthy female calf. This will ensure the production of milk, which will be a vital source of nutrition for the orphans at Nyabondo. Eventually, at least one of the calves will be sold, giving important income to the school.
Finally, although an exchange of teaching staff is not taking place this year, the link continues strongly into 2020. Mrs Collman and Miss Lister are creating a timetable of opportunities for Beacon Hill School children's work to be sent to Nyabondo and have recently distributed some interesting letters from pupils at our link school (describing the range of animals found in Kenya) to our class teachers. These will be shared with all pupils.
A new display board has also been created in our school hall so that it can be easily accessed by parents, families and friends when visiting the school. This will be kept updated with news from Kenya and our current fundraising focus and target.
In the meantime, if you are interested in the work of Amani UK, the charity that administer our link with Nyabondo and who also work to support rural communities in western Kenya, please visit their website. This also has links to Buy a Gift and orphan support. Details at http://www.amaniuk.org.uk.
Visit to Nyabondo - February 2018
In February 2018 (slightly later than scheduled, due to the postponement of the Kenyan elections and the subsequent unrest), Miss Lanaway and Mrs Collman embarked on their first visit to Nyabondo, a trip which marked nearly a decade of links between the two schools. They received a very warm welcome from staff and children and were excited to see evidence of completed projects that had been supported by the generosity of family and friends of Beacon Hill School. They also met the two cows purchased through fundraising across the Haslemere confederation of schools and witnessed their first health check from a local vet.
Their first role was to distribute clothes and shoes that had been donated from Beacon Hill families at a whole school assembly. Teachers selected children who were total orphans first, then children who had lost one parent. However, it was quickly apparent that there were many other children who would benefit from shoes and some were removing the shoes they did own (often flip flops in disrepair) so that they would be called forwards. Despite the level of hardship, the children showed an incredible level of resilience, with a focus and determination to succeed, as education can be a route to a better standard of living.
As Miss Lanaway and Mrs Collman were both keen to spend time with each class across the school, they had designed some fun, hands-on science lessons revolving around theories of sinking and floating, which were delivered outside. Their lessons were conducted in English, but Kenyan children put us to shame by being able to speak three languages by the time they leave primary education – the local dialect, Swahili and English. Some of the Kenyan children took a little while to embrace this different approach to teaching, but they all were engaged with the learning. Once the lessons were over, they introduced the children to new equipment supplied by Beacon Hill, which enabled them to play a range of games, including very energetic and competitive rounds of beach volley ball!
On the final day, all staff and children showcased their talents in a whole school assembly, with poetry recitals, music, singing and dancing. It was a real honour to see such an incredible display of talents and a wonderful way to finish their visit.
Latest News - January 2018
Thanks to the fundraising across the Haslemere Confederation, electrical installation work and glazing at Nyabondo is now complete, as is the building of the cow shed. Two cows have also been purchased and have been introduced to the school, where they will shortly be taking up residence. Mrs Collman and Miss Lanaway are looking forward to reporting back on how they are getting on after their visit to Nyabondo in early February.
Confederation work together for Nyabondo (November 2017)
For nearly a decade, Beacon Hill School has built strong links with Nyabondo school in Kenya, a connection made and sustained through the charity Amani UK. As detailed below, over the years, staff from both schools have made reciprocal visits to learn from each other's teaching practices and cultures, bringing back knowledge and experiences to their own schools.
Beacon Hill School community, including children, parents and staff, have also contributed generously over this time to fundraising events to support building projects at Nyabondo. These include a classroom for the youngest children who were previously taught under a tree - a problem in the rainy season! More recently, the Haslemere Confederation of schools, including Woolmer Hill, St Bartholomews, St John's (Churt), St Mary's (Chiddingfold), Grayswood, Shottermill Infants and Juniors have joined forces with Beacon Hill through an initiative instigated by the Conferation School Council to further support Nyabondo. Through their efforts, including collections taken after school performances and donations for mufti days, over £2,500 was raised which has already enabled a range of projects to commence.
In fact, their efforts raised enough money to enable the installation of electricity in all the classrooms and the staff room, glazing fitted in the windows of the Early Years class and the purchase of a cow (whose milk will be used to help feed the orphans) and cow shed. It is hoped that these projects will be completed early in the new year, with the electrical installation work already underway.
Amani UK forward a big “thank you” to the Haslemere confederation of schools from Nyabondo and staff from Beacon Hill School are hoping to report back on the benefits after their visit to Kenya next year.
The Nyabondo School, Kenya
The school has a wonderful link with the Nyabondo School in Kenya, Africa. Miss Greenfield, our Year 1 teacher, visited the school for the second time during the October half-term 2015 along with Mrs Rebecca Huntingford (her first visit to Kenya and the Nyabondo School). We were awarded another grant from the British Council for this trip. We also raise funds throughout the school year to help towards improving the school, and have now managed to help them to build a new classroom with a roof and drainage.
We have hosted our third visit by two members of the teaching staff from the Nyabondo school and this was an amazing experience for them and for our school. They spent a week in our school attending lessons and talking to the children enabling them to learn all about Nyabondo school in Kenya and the way in which the pupils were taught.
In October 2016 half term, Sue Walker and Rebecca Huntingford embarked on the next school visit to Kenya and Nyabondo Primary School.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by singing and dancing from all the pupils and teachers. Nyabondo has a new headteacher who expressed his gratitude for the link between the two schools and the work that is being done.
The children were very excited to see us and show us all the hard work they had been doing over the past year. The last few visits have focused on developing the children’s reading skills through phonics training. We have provided a range of teaching and learning resources, including much needed story books. Whilst looking around the school, we saw many children benefitting from these resources and were even invited to observe a reading lesson, where the focus was decoding through phonics.
Thanks to the incredible fundraising from the children and families at Beacon Hill, this year we were able to take sports equipment out with us. We took footballs, skipping ropes, tennis balls, French skipping and pumps. The joy that these items brought to the children and teachers was amazing. We played games of football on the school field amongst the cows, who appeared very unfazed by 100 or so children charging around them! We also took musical instruments to the school that had been kindly donated. We taught music lessons to all the classes, singing traditional Kenyan songs and teaching them how to play various percussion instruments. The children had natural rhythm and confidence and at the end of our trip they performed to us, using the instruments that we had given them.
At the end of the trip the school closed for their long holiday (November – January) and all the children returned home to help on the farms. Thanks to your generosity and support, we look forward to continuing to build on our relationship with the children, parents and teachers of Nyabondo Primary School.