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Postcard from Kisii

We fell asleep late to the sound of cicadas and to the roar of the river. This morning we woke up early. We lay in our beds at the hotel and listened to the lively sounds of the cows, dogs and hens. All this mixed with traffic, eager horns and lively conversation in a language we do not understand. We are really in the country and also in a major provincial city in Kenya. We will hardly get closer to real life in Kenya. We are here to start up, project Jambo Shule. A project, that by the end of the year has to send orphans and children at risk to boarding school.

We're going on an official visit and tour to the boarding school that Jambo Shule's currently only child has attended since January. En route we see life in Kisii. Everywhere there are people who either just sit down and kill time or work in their small businesses, run on the ground with everything from blacksmith, mechanic, sales of vegetables and much more. People just walk around and we suspect that that they are just killing time and that they actually have no goal, except for the small school kids in their fine school uniforms, who are chuckling at the sight of a white man, on their way to school.

We reach the school gate. Here there would usually be a guard but today there is a stubborn heifer that has absolutely no plans to leave her position from the middle of the driveway. However, with a little honking, the heifer comes to strike a bold blow with the backside and give us permission to pass.

We walk unnoticed by some classrooms and rejoice at the sound of children's laughter from classes. It is evident that the children are happy.

We are quietly waiting for brother Francis to finish teaching. He is the one who will tell us about the school's educational principles and give us the big tour.

Brother Francis proudly shows Kisii's last statement of school grades. The school is mostly in first place in two of the three parameters measured, compared to other schools in the province. Quite good for a school, which is only nine months old.

We were a little worried that there was too much discipline at the school and that the children were not allowed to be children. However, we quickly came to realize that the school's core value is that children should feel safe. Here they must have a good childhood and if the children have a problem they should confidently be able to come to one of the adults. Every Sunday all the children are invited into the office for a chat about how the week has passed and how next week will unfold.

We begin the tour and the first thing we see is a sports class. All the boys are wearing sports wear and they do diligently their sit-ups. Among them is our child Stephen. He is clearly shy due to our arrival but when I accompanied him to the school the week before he was clearly a happy and a lively boy who had come to peace. A freedom and peace of mind he did not have where he was earlier and this also confirms that the project, which Jambo Shule is running, is the path ahead for these children. He laughed and asked questions about Denmark and about what I could remember about his deceased mother.

We visited a grade and interrupted their teaching. Here reigned peace and respect for teaching but there was also room for fun. The class ends and the eager little boys in their fine uniforms run towards the dining room, while they laugh and talk.

The dormitory consists of bunk beds covered by a mosquito net. There is order and cleanliness and the small boys must even wash their clothes and clean up themselves. A skill they'll be in need of later on in life. You could clearly hear the summing of lively boys who were on their way from gym class to the dining hall. It's lunchtime and it is important to be first in line for food.

When we entered the large dining room the boys stood patiently in line to receive their lunch, which consists of the classic ugali (corn bread), beans and vegetables. They had fun and the boys who had received food sat in groups talking pleasantly while they looked and smiled at us. They were happy. Brother Francis told us that no one was allowed to go hungry to bed, which could easily be the case if they had been at home with their families.

We drove out of the gate full of confidence. The values here are as close to the Danish values concerning education and reassurance as they could possibly be. On the other hand it worried us that on the list of the ten best schools in the area was no school for girls among them.

A challenge that must be solved.

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