Making A Difference in Africa

Posted by Bev Koops, 5th grade teacher

Two years ago we had an elementary chapel about the need of people in Kenya to get water, especially clean water.  Boni Piper had come back from Kenya after helping build bases for water tanks, and she shared with us how much getting clean water drastically improved their lives.  Some of the kids were moved to help raise money for those tanks.  Two of the current 7th graders are still raising money for WEI, the organization that helps with this.  Now Agnes, a lady from Kenya who had received a tank several years ago, was in Seattle to give a speech.  She wanted to meet and thank the kids who had raised money.  She came and talked to the 5th and 7th graders.  What a wonderful opportunity to meet face to face with a person who benefited from our giving!  We could see that we had made a difference! 

We had the opportunity to ask her some questions.  Here are some of the questions and what we learned from her.

What is school like in Kenya?  Most of the kids don’t go to school.  The girls fetch water every day for their families.  Right now girls need to walk up to 8 miles a day to get water and then carry the water back.  Then the next day they do it again.  The boys are busy with other jobs.  There is no time to go to school.  If they are able to go to school they don’t have grass like we do.  They don’t have desks, papers and pencils.  When the teacher gives an assignment they go out in the dirt and work it out in the dirt.  The teacher comes around and checks their work and then go on to the next problem.

What games to the kids play?  They like to play jump rope.   They make a rope and then can play.  They like to hoola hoop.  There is one particular tree that is good for curling the branches into a circle and tying them.  They like soccer.  They don’t have balls so they use clothes.  They take the clothes and tie them in a ball.  Their moms warn them to bring the ball back because they need to wear the clothes again until the next time they play.

What are your homes like?  We make them out of mud, and they are not very big.  Our classroom could easily be made into four homes.

What things has she seen on her first trip out of Kenya that surprised her?  One of her first days in Seattle, it was raining.  She saw water running down the street and it was so surprising to her that no one was hurrying outside to catch some of the water!  People just let it run away!  And when we wash our hands so much water goes to waste!  For someone who works so hard to get water it was a shock.

The kids were so moved by what she had to say.  Many wanted to send paper and pencils or toys back with her.  But the biggest need they have is water.  Some decided they could make a difference by taking care of the things they have.  Some could make a difference by not wasting water.  Some could make a difference by saving money for water tanks for Kenya.  There are many ways to make a difference in our world.