On January 9th we had a school party at our school. It was the biggest celebration in our history. Harrison, Grace and I were planing the celebration a few weeks in advance. The background of the celebration was the donation hand over, the official opening of the new school building as well as the presentation of our project and our future plans. We wanted to host all students and their parents. First we wanted to do it at Christmas, but since all the children and parents were still away, that was not possible. So we decided to hold the celebration in the first week of school.
The kitchen team met at five o’clock in the morning and started slaughtering the goat. Then they were preparing lunch all morning. We had pilau rice with goat meet, beans and tomato salad. As we were expecting around 150 guests they had to prepare quite a big portion of food.
While they cooked, we took care of the chairs, tents and electricity. Unfortunately, the electricity didn’t quite work as we expected and we had to improvise. We needed about 100m of cable, which we had to connect with wires every 20m so that we could finally put it into a socket on the other side of the sea (there was no water). Contrary to my expectations our bricolage worked and the electricity was there. So we were able to start the celebration only three hours late. Teacher Ronald Charo was the host and led the guests through the ceremony. We started with the introduction of the teachers and the whole team behind the school. Then it was the turn of the students with their presentation. Each class rehearsed a small performance and then presented it. At the end of the presentation, our student Jumwa Saida sang the song “Mungu”.
Everyone stood up, sang and clapped along. What a beautiful moment! Harrison then took the floor. He told the story of how the school was born and how many challenges he and Grace had to overcome first before they could open the school. How people laughed at them because they only had tin buildings and few pupils. How no one took them seriously and no one believed in them at first sight. It was really a rocky road. But now everything looks different. We have managed to build something! And we can be proud of it. With this celebration, we also celebrated the schools seventh anniversary.
After that he asked his mother to come on stage. He thanked her and all mothers on this planet, for always taking care of us children and for showing us the right way in life. THANK YOU! It was a very touching speech. As we were running a big delay, the food was also pushed back and the people were getting hungry. So we didn’t want to keep them in suspense for too long. During the meal, cosy African music was playing in the background, everyone was sitting happily together and chatted animatedly with each other. When the kids had finished, they gathered in the middle of the square and started dancing together.
Our kids dancing
Since I could now converse in Kiswahili to some extent after my language course in Zanzibar, I started my speech in Kiswahili. I did my very best, but when it came to specific, I had to switch to English and have a translator. However, the people were very happy to hear my Kiswahili sentences. It was important to me to get a message across to the children. I wanted to make them realise what they are capable of in their lives if they work hard. In Kenya a new generation is needed to stand up and to make the nation Kenya a better one. The generation that can do it better are our students. And education is the key for that. So I wanted to convey exactly that to them.
Further I explained the parents how our project is working and how it is funded. They should also be aware that we don’t just throw money around and that there is also hard work behind it.
I was very happy to welcome also my god old friend Mike to the celebration. He knows me since I was a little boy and also wants to support us in future.
“Promise me one thing. In Kenya we have a lot of problems with our system. So we need people to come and change that system. And the ones who can do that are right in front of me.”Joshua Schmidli
So please make sure if you will be in a position to change the nation, do it. If you will be a politician or even the president of this country. Always remember this school in Mshomoroni and the people who gave everything for you. Remember Harrison and Grace wo dedicated their lives to your education. If you will do that, I’m sure you will be able to change the nation in the right way.Joshua Schmidli
Just like at christmas, the gift-giving was on the agenda after the meal. Since we had so many clothes and of course everyone was supposed to get something, the whole thing was not so easy. We put the womens and girls clothes in one room and the men and boys in another. Then the children were allowed to come first and then the parents. Our teachers and Harrison took care of the distribution while I was busy taking pictures. Unfortunately, our delay fell back on us. The darkness fell and we had not distributed all the presents yet. So we decided to hand over the rest at school on Monday morning. However, we managed to give one present to each person. The people were overjoyed with the gifts and very grateful. It was heartwarming to see them presenting their presents to each other and laughing together. Most of them put the new clothes on right away over the old one.
Monday morning we gathered again in a room and prepared the remaining clothes and shoes for the distribution. Since we didn’t have a pair of shoes for every student, we went from class to class and picked out those without shoes. The good thing was that we really had shoes of all sizes. All in all, we were able to give away 55 pairs of shoes! Then we continued with the clothes. Class by class they came by and received their clothes. Everyone diligently tried on clothes and also exchanged them with others if the size didn’t fit. We had a lot of fun! In the end, all clothes and shoes out of a total of 164.5 kg were distributed and everyone was very happy. The donation transport was really worth it. I was able to bring enough presents for everyone. I definitely plan more transports soon and I’m therefore always happy about donations of goods. At this point I would like to thank again all those who donated clothes to us!
official opening of the classrooms
As part of the celebration, we also officially opened the new school building. Together with the guests of honour we gathered in front of the entrance and we told them about the construction of the building and our future plans. I was given the honour of cutting the cord in front of the classrooms and making the opening official. We were all overjoyed. The elders of the village and the priests congratulated us on our achievement. As befits an opening ceremony, there was a photo shoot with all guests in front of the classrooms.
All pictures of the celebration you can find here!