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Interview of Francis Kimende Musyoki

Sunday 11 October 2009



Sophie Vice –President of “Yenzuva Education et Santé”: What has been achieved by the group to this day?

Francis Kimende Musyoki, Secretary of St Bridget Self-Help Group and Director of the Nursery school, answering the questions:

  • i) Access to information.  The community has now a place, a structure where it is possible to get a lot of information. If the members want to organize a seminar on a specific topic, they plan and look for facilitators to teach them in the center. This access to the center’s activities and seminars is free, whereas people generally have to pay to attend seminars in other places.
  • ii) Training or Seminars:  Since the forming of St Bridget Self-Help Group in 2008, members have been trained in starting small projects focused on farming on small scale or HIV/AIDS. With this knowledge, there is a lot of change in the community approach and attitude towards these matters. The members are able to approach the problems they face more positively. Since they have the  knowledge now, they can do little gardening and install small irrigation systems for their vegetables.
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    Little gardening in Yenzuva
    now, they can do little gardening and install small irrigation systems for their vegetables

This shows that what they are learning at the center is helping them. With more seminars and training we hope they will learn a lot and do a lot for themselves and the community.  NB, the community now can get more information and easily since the center is near them.

  • iii) Nursery School: Parents have understood the benefits for children of going to school when they are young ( three years old) so they have started to bring their children to school as early as possible. We have 23 children in the nursery school.
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    Children of St Bridget Group and Nursery school

The only problem is that there is no permanent classroom for the moment.

  • iv) Facilities or properties: The Group has some properties (the land, materials) and members are planning to build their own office.

Sophie: How many children have reported to st.Bridget Nursery school to this day?

Francis: At the start of the year 2009, in January, we had 25 children but due to some problems of payments and lack of means of transport, few have droped. Today they are 23 children, aged from 2 years to 6 years old. Next year, 20 of these children will join Standart One since they have attained the age of going to Primary School, and they are well prepared. 

Sophie: Where do the children live? How many of them do live with their two parents? How many of them are orphans?

Francis. All the children going to the nursery school live with at least one of their parents at home. 5 of them have lost either their mother or their father. At the moment there is no orphans since children must pay school fees to go to St Bridget Nursery School. Orphans living near the school are living with relatives who can’t pay for them, so they are going to government primary schools. They generally study with problems and do not pursue their education after Primary School, since they depend on their relatives for financial help.
The main problem identified at St Bridget Nursery School is that some children get only one meal at home, and their sleeping conditions are often not good since they share the same bed with their brothers and sisters. That’s the reason why members are putting a strong emphasis on the need of building boarding facilities. When the center provides boarding facilities, children will get proper meals and good accommodation and the standard and conditions of learning will be improved.

Sophie: Do families pay school fees? How much? Do they face difficulties in paying school fees?

Francis: This year, the school fee has been ksh 500 per child per term in our school. At Yenzuva, families also pay that amount but in Nairobi or in other nursery schools offering better facilities, school fees range from ksh 3,500 to ksh 4,000 per term for children going to Baby class, Nursery class and Pre-Unity. In Standard One (Primary School) the fees in private schools go up to ksh 7,000 per term. In boarding schools, the charges are different and school fees higher, since parents have to pay for food and accomodation.
But the fees collected at St Bridget Nursery School are insufficient to start building, so members and parents are trying to come together and give additionnal contributions to buy iron sheets and build permanent classes.

Sophie: How many teachers are employed?

Francis: At the moment just one teacher is employed and paid by the school.

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Yenzuva St Bridget school
At the moment just one teacher is employed and paid by the school

The small amount of school fees collected is used to pay the teacher and buy learning materials.  To provide a good standart of education, we need to have three teachers, one for Baby class, another for Nursery class, and a third one for Pre-unity. Next year, in January 2010, a Primary school teacher will be needed to teach in Standard One. If we manage to build at least two or three classes for Nursery School and Standart One children, more parents will be impressed by school performance and they will bring their children to school.  But there is an urgent need for funds to start the construction in proper time.

Sophie: Do the children bring their lunch or do they get food at St.Bridget Nursery School?

Francis:   At the moment children carry their lunch toschool. But our plan is to provide food to the children on the school compound. The problem is that the amount of money collected from the parents is not enough to buy food and pay somebody to cook. So we plan to ask the parents to pay more so that their children could have tea and lunch at school.

Sophie: How is the project perceived by the community?

Francis: When the project started, most of the parents thought that there was enough money to do every thing, that they wouldn’t have to pay anything, so many came. When they realized that their contribution was needed and that they had to register as members, many withdrew. At the beginning the group counted 31 members. Now we are just 15 members but we are all fully committed and we do work hard for the project. The members have understood that the project is theirs and that no one is to help them unless they start the work.
The parents who are not members are also very satisfied with the project. They are concerned by their children education and they know that St Bridget center will provide good services. They know that if the health care center is build,  it will also provide good and useful services. Every one hopes the project could get support to develop.

Sophie: Do the community members support the group? How?

Francis: The community has supported the group on several occasions, for example when seminars or trainings  were organized. Some came to join and offer their help, others gave us support with food or materials, like ustensils.
Parents are very supportive. .

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Classroom made of wood

They carried sand from the river in anticipation of the construction of permanent buildings and they built the small classroom made of wood that we use for the moment

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Sieving the sand
They carried sand from the river

The parents who are not members have been paying the school fee well, and they are asking us to build the classes since they want their children to stay and learn at the center.The group members are therefore planning for a Harambee  to raise funds.

Sophie: What main problems and challenges do the group face to achieve its goals?

Francis: The main problems are:

  • 1) Funds: we have some materials that could be used to construct two classes, but due to the drought we have been experiencing for quite long, members have no funds to start the construction. We only hope that it will rain soon so that we get enough food to sell and get some money.
  • 2) Understanding of the Community: For the past few years, since the election of President Kibaki in 2002, the community has been used to free education and free medical services. To change their mind and habits and to make them understand that to get good services they must give a small contribution is not an easy task. But the work and progress they have witnessed in the center up to now make them progressively change their mind and attitude to the project.  We hope that with time this problem will be solved.
  • 3) Low income: Our people depend on rain and cattle. Due to the drought and the poor harvests we have been experiencing for the past few years, parents do not have money and payments of services take long.

The Kenyan Government is not giving a lot of support to such projects so the community has to work hard to see the project stands up. It will probably take a long time to reach our goals and this is a big challenge for the community. The services we want to provide are really needed for the development of this area, and St.Bridget group is geared for bringing this change, but the support from friends and well wishers will be necessary. With the good will of the members and support from friends, we trust we will achieve the goals of the project.

Sophie: Did the group receive some support from Kenyan authorities or well-wishers?

Francis: We haven’t received any help from the Kenyan government yet. We have presented the project to local authorities and applied for support to give food to the children at school. Some representatives of the Kenyan Government even came to school to see how the children are taught, but they did not give us the assistance we were asking for, and it is like they are not going to give us anything. They claim the parents could buy their children food, since they can pay something.

Nevertheless, some well-wishers are supporting the project. Recently somebody donated a swing for our children, some balls, and writing materials. All our building materials were donated by friends, who live in the area or abroad. The computers we have were also donated.

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Computer lesson
The computers we have where also donated

As already mentionned earlier, the members are also contributing a lot, they have brought a lot of building materials which are enough to build two classes. They have also cleared the field so that many activities can take place without any problem of space.

Since the group started 2008, they elected some members to be in office and oversee the development in the group. Some have stopped coming, so for sometime our office was having some post without members. Recently we had election and the following are the committee members.

1.   PATRON             BRO JOHN MUSYOKI



4.    ASS.SEC.          MUTEI          PETER,

5.    TREASURY         MWENDE     VUNDI

6.    MEMBER                 NZUKI           MULEWA.

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