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My time at Roko 20

"March 2016 I visited Roko20. I spent 2 weeks helping in the classrooms and getting to know the children and some of the families. Tracey the headteacher and Job the school Director made me feel very welcome. They guided me thought the needs of the school and the surrounding town so that even though I had not been to Kenya before I felt very at home. My duties at the school were mainly around introducing arts and crafts to the lessons. One of my favourite lessons was using found objects to make collage pictures. We used tiwgs, leaves and sand as well as some basic paints and other found objects such as bottle tops and scraps of paper. The children were encouraged to use their imagination to create whatever they wanted. They needed a little guidance but the joy on their faces as they started to see the possibilities in the objects around them was very rewarding. I also had the opportunity to accompany the school Director on home visits. It was interesting to see where the children lived and it helped me gain an understanding of the difficulties some of these children face in their day to day lives. I met Simon who I now sponsor. He was a dirty, sad looking 3 year old when I first met him. He was not attending school. Roko 20 encouraged his parents to let him attend and by the time I left he had transformed into a smiling child who went from sitting alone in a corner to playing football with the other children. Most impressive is the welfare work the school does, helping families become self -sufficient. I also saw with my own eyes how funds donated to Roko 20 are used. Money goes directly to the education and welfare of the children. Everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. I feel I have made some genuinely good friends at the school in particular with one of the teachers with whom I shared a love of the creative arts. I hope to visit again soon. "

Volunteering at the school

"After seeing Tracey’s ad on I volunteered as a teacher at Roko 20 for six months - from September 2016 to February 2017. Although I knew very little about Kenya before I came, I was immediately made to feel welcome by Tracey and Job as they collected me from the airport in Nairobi and helped me settle into the small apartment the school had rented in Murang’a town. I stayed in this apartment for a few weeks before making the decision to move into the volunteer rooms at the school, where I spent the majority of my time. Although the rooms are small, the school has everything people need to live comfortably - a bed, a full kitchen and a warm shower. The school is only 5 minutes walk from Kambirwa village, where there is a small market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables very cheaply. I spent just a handful of dollars a week and managed to eat well throughout my time here. The school is about 6km from the main town of Murang’a, and it is very easy to get around using a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi). These can be picked up on the main road, and will drop you off on the outskirts of the town, a short walk from the centre, for just Ks. 50 (about 50 cents). Town has a couple of nice hotels where you can get a coffee and use their free wifi. There are also a couple of swimming pools you can use. Although the town is small, there are several restaurants and a number of bars showing football all weekend. Only a handful of these have cold beers, though. At the time I was there, the school had classes from Baby (3 years old) to Class 3 (11 years old) and I taught each of these classes once a week in their regular English course. I also taught the same classes in journal writing, video classes and story time. On a number of occasions, I ran some training sessions for the teachers to introduce them to some modern UK approaches to education as well as activity training sessions where we shared ideas for in-class activities. I feel like we achieved a lot together in the six months. We set up a library, with a computer room to follow. We started a morning before-school program to give students the chance to play some fun educational games and activities before school. We also set up an ongoing training and development program for the teachers so they can continue to learn new skills and give the students the best help they can. In addition, I visited Kambirwa Primary School (a local public school) to meet their students and teachers, and taught some English and maths classes there. It is something the school is hoping to develop in the future. This opportunity isn’t just about teaching. It’s about seeing how the school works with the community to develop opportunities for the local people. I had the chance to make several home visits to see the effects of some of the community programs the school runs - such as rabbit and goat projects, opening small businesses, and helping families build homes and become self-sufficient. And finally there are the students. It’s impossible to say how much I miss them all. They are the friendliest, happiest, most welcoming students I have ever taught and they’re an inspiration to all of us. I had an amazing time at Roko 20 and would recommend it to anyone. It’s not always easy, but with Tracey and Job, there is a lot of help and support available, and you really do make a difference to these children's lives."