In April 2004, a small committee of volunteers formed to raise funds for the parish of Kabazi in the Nakuru district of Kenya.
Since 2003, state primary education has been provided for all children in Kenya, however in the Kabazi area in 2004, there were 836 children and only 11 teachers, an average of 77 children to each teacher. Kabazi, in parallel with a number of other denominations and parishes were working to improve this. Then, they had 3 classrooms with class sizes of 36 in Nursery, 26 in Primary 1and 18 in Primary 2.
The aim of the committee was to help them establish the school by giving them a bit of a financial kick-start. They had already bought a bit of land, built a basic school and were trying to make their own desks and seats and buy schoolbooks and writing instruments, while paying the teachers a small wage.
The new committee were soon into the fray. Ideas which went well included sales of:
- Irish coffee and cakes
- Bacon butties
- Object d’art and rummage
- Raffles of dolls and Xmas cakes
There were also car boot stalls and a 2nd collection, a St Patrick’s Primary School sponsored class tea, plus several other off-the-wall ideas – some of which never actually saw the light of day!
Throughout the year the parishioners patiently put up with the fund raising antics, smiled and contributed generously, in some cases very generously with personal donations. A few even bought raffle tickets but whispered “I really don’t want to win”!
The children in Kabazi School sent us drawings and letters to try and show us what their school and life were like. We were also sent a video by Flight Sergeant Martin Flood and his wife, Sarah, who are stationed in Kenya. This allowed us to see how basic the school actually was and how poor the children are. However, we were all struck by how cheerful they were.
We were frustrated by the fact that there was no direct route to send goods out as the children could desperately have done with the clothes, shoes, books and pencils which we have in such abundance over here. (Especially the pencils, erasers and writing paper!) A route to get these goods directly into the country would have been wonderful, however human (political) frailty prevented this. We did attempt to send some over, collecting clothes and toys and buying pencils and erasers for the children in a very short time. We even managed to get the boxes up to RAF Lyneham in time for the last flight of the year to Kenya. Sadly at this point things went wrong and all the charity donations were taken off the Hercules with only hours to spare, to make room for extra pallets of ammunition! One can only say, that man proposes – God disposes.
With the help and generosity of all St. Patrick’s parishioners, we managed over the last 12 months and in competition with all the other ongoing appeals for charity, including the Tsunami appeal, to raise the grand sum of £7,017.
This sum was sent out to Fr Bobby Kavanagh in Kabazi where it was warmly received. They have recently taken on 3 new teachers as the school is expanding with 108 children in Stds 1 to 3, and 56 in the Nursery (doubled in 12 months). Fr Bobby Kavanagh says that the nursery is “a bit” crowded, as it’s hard to control numbers in Kenya. They will start building on an additional plot of land which they have bought, constructing 4 new classrooms, an office and staff room to begin with. That is where the funds we raised will give Kabazi a big help, as that will cost £12,000.
Thanks go to the volunteers on the Committee (Jan, Vic, Mike, Liz, Linda, Barbara, Bernard and Tony) who have stayed calm, considerate and helpful even when the going got tough and of course to Fr John for his guidance and quiet humour.
And as we close the Kabazi Parish Project, on behalf of the committee, may we thank all the generous parishioners who have given so cheerfully and willingly over the last year, God Bless.
Letters from the children
Moses Gicheru Kihoro
My school is known as All Saints Primary School. There are three classes. In each class there are thirty-five children. There is one teacher in every class. I love my school because it is a place where I meet with my friends.
I live in Mahinga farm in Kabazi location. We are a total numbe of eight children in our family. My father is a farmer. Our home is built in one acre of a peice of land where we grow maize, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, beans, sukomawiki, carrots and casscra. This year we are not having a good harvest, due to lack of rain. Kabazi village is located on the Nakuru-Nyahurury highway. There are shops, hotels, health centres, post office and the market. The place has a lot of people carrying out different activities.
Eunice Wanjilcu Wovngu
My school is called All Saints Academy. We have three classes and a total number of 35 children in every class. We have 3 teachers in our school. My school is one of the best in our area. We are taught how to read, write and draw pictures.
Our home is in Moambi farm in Kabazi location. We are a family of 9. My father works as a watchman. We have just half acre where we live and grow different kinds of crops e.g. Maize, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and carrots. Due to lack of enough rainfall this year, we have a shortage of food.
Drawings from the children