Blog Post: Inspiring Words

Inspiring Words

Jointly By: Jamie Bankhead, a sponsor, supporter, and visitor & Orkeeswa Students

This past summer, I was honored to be given the opportunity to visit Orkeeswa Secondary School.

Whenever my sister travels, she has a tradition of handing out wooden blocks that are somewhat similar to beads, with inspiring words written on the face. For years I have watched her give these out and it is amazing to see how words can mean different things to different people. When I told her I was going to Tanzania and wanted to take some of her inspiring words, she was thrilled. With my nephew’s help we filled a small pouch with words like Gratitude, Inspire, Take Charge, and Appreciate.

Once at the Orkeeswa, it was so fun to meet the students. As we got to know one another, I asked them if they would like to choose a word from my pouch, most looked at me curiously and willingly. They dug in the pouch for a word and discovering it started a fun dialogue between us all. What did the word mean to them? We shared our thoughts and stories on the word, it was amazing to see where the conversation would go from this one prompt.

My word was Breath. To most that is the act of taking in air, something we do to stay alive. For me, breath is the moment that I stop, look around and take stock of what is important at any given moment. Like most, I am running around all the time and forget about the little things. The smile from behind the counter at the pharmacy, the flower that has cropped up on the city sidewalk, or the incredible attitudes and laughter of the Orkeeswa students.

Here are a few samples of what Jamie’s inspiring words mean to the Orkeeswa students that she met.

The Opportunity is Now

The biggest opportunity in my life is school. I never thought that one day I would be in secondary school. I think that school is everything in my life. It can change my life forever. School is the way that I will be able to reach my goals and my vision.

By: Eunice Godfrey, Form III

Appreciate…the little things.

This word means to me that for anything that I am given, without knowing whether it is small or big, I must feel proud, I must feel glad.

I never know what is ahead of me so I appreciate right now.

By: Justina Richard, Form III

Taking Action

In all of my life I have always liked to take action. Taking action means to me to make ways to help your family, your community and your school. One of the most interesting things that I would like to take action on when I am finished my studies is women and jobs, meaning I wish to help women to find good jobs.

By: Agnes Idrissa, Form II

Appreciate

One day I was walking with my young brother, Sadia. As we were walking we felt very hungry. So I started to think, how can I help my young brother, how can I feed him? I took him home and I made us food, after we ate we did many chores. When my mother came she said, “I appreciate all of the work that you did today.”

My family helps me and I help them. We appreciate each other.

By: Agnes Idrissa, Form II

Blog Post: Saving Lives

Students gathered in the library to donate blood. Shown donating are Form IV students Suzi Wilnard (front) and Helena Zephenia (back) while others wait their turn.

Saving Lives
By: Paskali Sulle and Loomoni Morwo

Last week students donated blood in order to save the lives of others. This was done by the organization called National Blood Transfusion Service.

Given Mwai Pungu is the leader of this organization. His interest in this job came when he was small. “I had a dream of saving people’s lives so when I was in University I studied Social Work so that I could reach my goal.” he said.

After blood is donated, it is carried in the car inside a refrigerator which is to -2 degrees celsius or below. From the school, the blood goes to the National Blood Transfusion Lab in Moshi for testing. Blood is tested for diseases like HIV and others as well as the type: A, B, OB or O. The blood will be given to people that need it, people who are sick or have been injured, people who might die without more blood.

The advantages for students who donate are that they will know that they have done something good. Because the blood is tested they will also know their type. In total there were forty four people who donated at Orkeeswa, including four teachers. That means with each person giving 1 pint, the school made a contribution of 44 pints in total.

Kiepoy, a Form IV student explained “I donated blood because people could die without it. I would like to know that I helped to save a life. I felt just a little bit of pain and it only took them 15 minutes to finish to donate my blood.”

Paskali Sulle and Loomoni Morwo are both Form III students at Orkeeswa Secondary School and past members of the Journalism Club.

Blog Post: Peter Leon’s Visit to Orkeeswa

Peter Leon’s Visit to Orkeeswa

By: Saing’orie Sangau

We were lucky last week to have a special guest from Karatu, a town a few miles away from Orkeeswa, who talked about his background, how he grew up and his education.

Peter Leon is a man who runs Rift Valley Children’s Fund, an orphanage centre in Karatu with the aim of changing the harsh living conditions of the students through good care and schooling.

Hearing Mr. Leon speak, I remembered that I must be tolerant, hard working and also develop skills to help myself and others in my community. He talked about the many challenges he faced without fear in order to be where he is today. I was able to reflect on my life and compare mine with his because he is from my country. Mostly though, he reminded me that I am lucky to be at a good school.

Saing’orie Sangau is a Form V student at Orkeeswa Secondary School.

You can learn more about Mr. Leon’s project by following this link: http://www.tanzanianchildrensfund.org/

SUPER-CHARGED VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF

We don’t take what our staff and volunteers do for us lightly. Without them, achieving what we do at Orkeeswa Secondary would just not be possible. It’s not always blue skies and sunshine working in rural Africa. There are hardships and daily hurdles to overcome, but our volunteers conquer all to help give our students the best educational experience possible.

We are delighted to share some of their stories with you…

JANE WALL School Coordinator 

DSC_0431I am a passionate educator and have worked in a number of different countries over the last 30 years, but it was always a desire of mine to come to East Africa. I’m not sure why, but when I arrived in Tanzania at the beginning of 2011, I felt that my heart was already here.

I spent just over 2 years volunteering in a project just outside of Arusha and during that time heard lots of great things about Orkeeswa – particularly about the friendly, confident, articulate students and the aim to provide a broad education which went beyond that which the Tanzanian curriculum could provide. When my last job ended, I was so pleased to hear that there was an opportunity to work at the school.

I am really appreciating getting to know the staff and the students and learning more about this amazing country and its varied cultures – it is great to see that the students are so keen to learn, but at the same time are also still so rooted in their communities and families.  It is my hope that we can continue to provide a quality education which will enable the students to move on to the next stage in their lives – combining a successful academic outcome with all the skills needed to become successful leaders in their families and communities.

SARA DUPONT Communications Coordinator

DSC_0694Making education accessible to all is what drives me. When thinking about the world and all of its complications, education has long been the only thing that makes sense to me. I believe in human resilience and the ability of individuals, families and communities to take care of themselves, to provide for themselves, to lift themselves out of poverty; education is the means to achieving those things. When approaching the puzzle of an underdeveloped economy, it is best to start at the beginning, best to start by educating a youth that through skills, creativity and leadership can ignite change.

I was not born to be a teacher and so I have found that I can contribute to making education excellent and accessible by connecting people across cultures to worthwhile ventures like Orkeeswa and by telling the stories of the successes, the hardships.  When deciding to come to Orkeeswa I was in part seeking adventure, seeking an opportunity to broaden my perspective, to enrich my own life. Being with students that are so endlessly upbeat in the face of adversity, who are joyous about learning, abidingly curious; they make every day matter. Without knowing it they are making me a much kinder, more generous human being.

I am also inspired to be working with people like Drew and Ellie, Jane, Kirsten and Peter. I am inspired to work with people that put the success of a mission before themselves and that make many personal sacrifices for the work that they love.

ELLIE TURNER Geography Teacher & Volunteer Coordinator

DSC_0137_2I was standing in a classroom in Zambia, 19 years old on a (two month) leave from school attempting to teach English to a class of 50 students and the realization hit me: “What am I doing? Why do I think I can do this? I want to get real experience and then I want to do this properly”.

I have grown up in a family where campaigning for various NGOs is the norm and I knew that I wanted to work overseas in a development capacity. After my epiphany in Zambia, in my first year at university studying for my Geography degree, I then opted for development economic modules and knew that I wanted to do a job “on the ground”. Teaching was my natural choice, and after two years teaching in England, trained to teach to a national exam system, I was looking to come and take my experience and my interest in development education elsewhere. I was further inspired by the fact that there can be up to eighty people applying for one teaching position in the UK, whereas in countries like Tanzania, schools are desperate for qualified teachers. I came upon IEFT and was fascinated by a development NGO focused on education in a rural area, and one which is still young, growing and evolving.

Upon my arrival, my biggest challenge was gaining the respect and trust from the students and proving that I was capable and that I understood the education system they’re in. Whilst it is crucial that the students are taught to the exam, and can apply their learning to the national exam questions, I am equally as passionate about making their learning investigative, engaging and stimulating. This has been challenging in an environment with limited resources, like rural Tanzania, but I have loved being creative in my teaching and using a whole range of materials that I would never have considered as teaching aids in England.

What has kept me going and excited me every day is the sheer willingness of the students to learn, and they will be cooperative with anything you throw at them in the classroom. I have had Form 1 students spontaneously burst into applause after an activity, and Form 4’s (17 year olds) cheerfully miming out how to do a chain survey on the lawn as we don’t have the equipment here to do one properly. The students are the most positive, unfazed and flexible students I have ever met.

ANDREW COLBURN Athletics & Activities Coordinator

Drew PhotoOrkeeswa’s philosophy of education doesn’t end with classroom activities and lectures.  The holistic approach of Orkeeswa secondary encourages students to get out of the classroom and become active in something other than academics.  Our sports program gives kids the ability to develop leadership skills, dedication, and builds confidence within themselves. We have high standards for our student athletes and expect them not only to perform well on game day but to also be role models at school as well as in their community.  Our clubs and activities allow our students to try new things and become an integral part of our school community.  Whether it’s Mali Hai (environmental club) or Ultimate Frisbee, students grow with other students and develop skills that will help them outside the classroom.

My time at Orkeeswa has been an amazing experience.  I have been able to watch the development of our students and how much the after school activities, clubs, and sports help them to become active members of our school community.  Some of our students have a lot of natural athletic ability and to be able to watch and be a part of its development has been extremely rewarding.  These students will often walk for hours before sunrise to make an hour-long bus ride to play for less than an hour.  The dedication of our athletes as well as their competitive nature is amazing.  They are fearless, often playing other teams that have more size and experience, but they never back down and play to the last whistle.  My journey in Tanzania has started and will end with providing an opportunity for young people to develop confidence, become leaders, and to be representatives of their community.

KIRSTEN HICKS Development Director – USA Staff

I joined IEFT because I was seeking a new experience that was both challenging and meaningful. Upon hearing of this organization’s work, I was inspired. When the opportunity arose to come on board their team, I didn’t think twice.

May 1st was an exciting day for IEFT. It not only marked the day that I began my journey with this organization, but it coincided with the move of our office from Boston to New York City.

The Center for Social Innovation (CSI) is IEFT’s new home and we are thrilled to be one of their founding members. CSI is a sensational new complex located in Chelsea, specifically created for organizations that are working within the area of social innovation. We are certain that this move will prove hugely beneficial for our organization, specifically in regards to community collaboration and our own organizational growth.

To those in the know, a life lived in New York is nothing short of worlds apart from a life lived in the rural areas of Northern Tanzania. It was this fact that propelled me to swiftly make the trip to Orkeeswa Secondary School in Lashaine Valley. Prior to my arrival, through research and many conversations, I felt as though I had a good grasp of the school culture, but nothing could have prepared me for the exceptional experience I would have on the ground.

Meeting the students at Orkeeswa Secondary impacted me profoundly. Their energy, laughter and enthusiasm was infectious and the dedication they have to achieve academically is admirable. They really have a zest for life that I wanted to bottle up and bring home with me. The teachers were some of the hardest working I have come across, and the parents, many of whom are uneducated themselves, are supportive and endearingly gracious. The existing infrastructure of the School provides the foundation for an enriched and well-rounded educational experience, as well as a place for celebration and play. I know that witnessing life at Orkeeswa Secondary will only serve to make me work harder for these young people’s future.

IEFT is a small organization that has the capacity to truly change the lives of young people living in rural Tanzania. I value working for an organization where I can actually feel the impact we are making and I am excited to now be a part of making that happen.

I would love to share our progress and our future plans with you all! If you find yourself in New York, please come to the Center for Social Innovation, I would love to meet you!

OUR GLOBAL CITIZENS

Image

Introducing Sang’orie Sangau and Kesuma Laizer (pictured from left to right). These two exceptional Orkeeswa students were selected to travel to the USA this year as part of our Cultural Exchange Program that runs between Orkeeswa School and Groton School in Massachusetts.

We were keen to gain a deeper understanding of how the trip personally impacted them, their thoughts on the USA and how they feel now that they have returned home to Tanzania.

We interviewed the boys over lunch in Orkeeswa’s school garden.

Q: What did you learn in the USA?

K: We got experience. I really liked meeting new people and sharing ideas and making new friends. I liked talking about my home country; we were asked a lot of questions. I liked talking about different places.

Q: Do you feel different now that you are home?

S: I feel different. I have had different experiences and learnt different skills. I have seen different things. A vivid example of this is that I met an Architect. I used to see and hear about Doctors and Teachers, but meeting an Architect made me know that there are other opportunities. You can have a different life.

Q: What was your experience like when you first arrived in the USA?

S: When we stepped off the plane in New York, there was so much diversity. We drove down the street and we saw homeless people, people begging, we saw people who were not mentally ok. The USA is a big country and we have learned about it for a long time, we only hear good things about it. I felt glad to see these things, to know that they have the same problems that we do in this country.

Q: Before you left Sang’orie, you spoke to the student body about taking advantage of opportunities that Orkeeswa School provides. How do you feel now about this opportunity? 

S: I really value this opportunity. I wish that everyone could get it. I want to share everything that I have seen and learnt. Particularly with people at Orkeeswa, but outside of the school too. Going to the USA is a challenge, because people will think that we have come back changed. Being exposed to Western culture and to money, they will think we are different. But we didn’t go to earn money, we went as students to learn and gain skills.

Blog: Why We Play

Melanie Baskind is pictured with members of the girls’ football team. From left to right, Agnes, Anna, Flora and Helena.

Why We Play

On only my second weekend as a volunteer at Orkeeswa, I was fortunate enough to go with almost forty of our students and six other teachers to ISM’s Sports Weekend in Moshi. I watched our teams compete against international schools in basketball, football (soccer), volleyball and rugby, and I watched as these kids who rarely leave the village piled mysterious foods like yogurt and parmesan cheese on their plates at the cafeteria buffet. Watching not just how they competed, but how they responded to pressure, dealt with winning and losing, battled through injuries and fatigue, and supported one another throughout it all – I got a good sense of the type of student I would meet in the classroom on Monday morning. Beyond that, I immediately saw the value of the athletics program at Orkeeswa.

As we drove home from our weekend in Moshi, I decided after spending less than a week at Orkeeswa that I would double the amount of time that I had planned to stay.

Before arriving at Orkeeswa, I spent time in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda and all around Tanzania, traveling and volunteering for a few different organizations. As a former Division I soccer player, I played pickup football pretty much everywhere I went. Getting girls to play football in communities where they have never been given the opportunity to do so, and serving as a role model for these girls was an unbelievable experience. The joy of seeing girls participate in sports for the first time, giving them permission to have fun when their lives so often revolve around school and work – tilling the fields, fetching water or firewood and selling vegetables – is something that never gets old.

Unlike the majority of girls in rural parts of Africa, the girls at Orkeeswa do not just play sports every once in a while, they are athletes in every sense of the word. They have weekly practices and have to be in good shape. They have to work to make the cut for the team that travels to games and tournaments. They run plays and compete for trophies. They deal with injuries, lopsided playing time and bad (bad!) referees. Teamwork and communication are crucial to their success. They travel to new places and form strong relationships with one another.

The life skills that can be taught through sport, and many of the things that I really valued about being an athlete, are not easy to produce in a place like Monduli, TZ, where resources are few and time is precious. They cannot be learned from a pickup game here, or a week of training there. It takes time and dedicated commitment from numerous people for sports to be something from which you learn and not just something you do. The fact that girls have equal access to these opportunities at Orkeeswa is really special, and carries over into mutual support and respect from their male classmates (or is it admiration mixed with a little bit of jealousy? Those girls bring home a lot of trophies!!).

In Orkeeswa’s mission to develop well-rounded students, students that will be well prepared as leaders, athletics plays a huge role. Watching and coaching sports is one of my favorite things to do with the students. Having been involved in sports my entire life, there was never a question I would enjoy being involved in athletics in Africa and at Orkeeswa, but the extent of its impact on me has caught me by surprise. In Monduli, we are far from pristine fields, pressed uniforms and stadium seating but it is obvious that the opportunity to play and to train, to be a part of a team, that experience has an incredible impact on the growth and confidence of girls anywhere.

In the mere five months that I’ve been an Orkeeswa Lion, I have a renewed appreciation for the importance of athletics and value my time on the field as much as I value my time in the classroom.

-Melanie Baskind

Melanie Baskind is a 2012 graduate of Harvard University with a BA in Neuro Biology and a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Melanie was a four year letter winner in soccer and lacrosse and captained both teams in her senior year. As the recipient of the Trustman Fellowship for year long post-graduate purposeful travel, Melanie was working with Coaches Across Continents which is a football (soccer) program for social development before coming to Orkeeswa. In addition to coaching soccer, Melanie serves as the Chemistry teacher at Orkeeswa Secondary School. She hails from Framingham, MA.

Blog Posting: A Sample of Our Gratitude

Ester Yohana poses with Grace Matthews during Grace’s visit with her family to Orkeeswa.

A Sample of our Gratitude

Dear Matthews Family,
I thank you my dearest sponsors. My gratitude I extend. To you I indeed owe my education. All your support I shall never forget. For all you have done for me, I most sincerely thank you. A thousand words can not really say the gratitude that I wish to convey.
The way you are taking care of my education as though I am your child who needs care, may you all be blessed. I really mean these words “THANK YOU VERY MUCH.”
Your understanding and kindness has brought me much happiness. You are a wonderful family. For you sacrifice, for all your concern and care and all your advice, for your love beyond compare, for all your effort I sincerely like to say thank you.
May you be blessed. May lots of joy come to visit your family. May you have millions of cups, plates and spoons of peace and love. Let me truly say these words from the inside of my heart, God bless you.

Thank you very much for all of your effort to support my education.

From, loving Ester

Let the Rain Fall

Naeku and Anna are zipped up and ready for their walk home.

Let the Rain Fall

A few weeks ago, the first big rains of this year’s rainy season began. It is the spring season when it rains, from March to June. I am very happy about this rain because we can now use this rain water instead of fetching and buying water from far away. Normally, I have to walk over 3 kilometers and pay 100 shillings to get one bucket of water.

The day the rain started, at lunch, I guessed that it was going to come. My prediction became true when we were on our way to Kisa class at Moringe Secondary School that afternoon. I was very happy because I love the rain. Our community depends on the rain to help grow our food, drinking water, cleaning and for livestock. Every person and organism in Monduli is dependent on rain for their daily needs.

By Naeke Logolye

Naeku Logolye is a Form Four student and the Vice President of the Student Body. Like many students at Orkeeswa, her parents are farmers and their livelihoods depend on a good rainy season.

Rural Entrepreneurship Program (RED): Creating Sustainable Futures

The first class of entrepreneurs are presented their loan contracts. Pictured from left to right are Peter Luis, Founder & Director; Mary Tumaini, Margaret Melkiori, Thomas Laizer, 2nd Headmaster; Mzee Lesnet, Head of Security; Samwel Kuresoi, Seth Heinert, School Operations Coordinator; Mbayaba Sainguran and Brady Grimes, Agriculture teacher.

Rural Entrepreneurship Program (RED): Creating Sustainable Futures

Mbayana is a businessman. In an era where few American University students work to afford college, Mbayana put himself through primary school and his first four years of Orkeeswa School. At age nine he left home to enroll in school against his parents permission, learning early that one of the only ways to escape his current situation was to take a risk for the chance at something better. Learning of his enrollment in school, his parents condoned his decision but could not offer financial support, leaving him with the option to quit or determine a way to make money. Graduating from Form Four (10th grade), Mbayana has successfully paid his way through eleven years of school by buying and selling livestock in the local market. Mbayana’s story is not unique. Well over 90% or Tanzanians fall into the informal economy, having to create their own path to financial self reliance. With a loan of $250.00 (375,000 TZ shillings) through our entrepreneurship program, Mbayana can now formally expand his livestock business, significantly improving his chances of generating a substantial profit.

My favorite definition of entrepreneurship records it as the pursuit of opportunity without regard for what you have. Hearing stories like Mbayana’s it is plain to see that the students at Okeeswa have unmatched desire for success and a deep well of motivation to create better lives for themselves, their families and their communities. The step that we have been able to offer them has been the creation of an opportunity.

In the second half of 2012 we began the draft of what has become the IEFT Rural Entrepreneurship Development (RED) program. The mission of RED is to give every student the tools for business creation and vision to see beyond the limits of their current financial situations. In the program we are planning to put every Form One (7th grade) and Form Two (8th grade) student through a formal entrepreneurship course, culminating in an original business plan to be proposed by the middle of their Form Three (9th grade) year. Real plans are then offered real money; the students will compete for loans for business start-ups. Though a natural goal is project sustainability through loan repayment, we are equally concerned with having the students funnel profits into a personal savings account to be used for education fees so that they can realize their goal of becoming first generation University graduates.

Where we differ from similar programs is in our confidence. We know that our students are not only well prepared academically but are determined and creative enough to take on an ambitious business project. They are trustworthy enough to stay within the guidelines of the program and to seek our support and guidance when they need it. We also know that one of the only sustainable ways to ready our students for a post Orkeeswa world is to have them create the next steps for themselves.

As a contributing member of the Entrepreneurship development team, I have come to see this program not only as a catalyst for personal transformation for our students, but a device with which we deliver innovative products and solutions to the community through those with the energy and ability to do it best, its young people. The years of formal business education in Forms One (7th grade) and Two (8th grade) will go far beyond graphs and numbers, and focus on real issues and potential solutions in the local context.

This is the first year that the program is in full operation, the first year that we have had students old enough to enroll in it, and I am very pleased with the outlook. Through a grant provided by USAID, we have been able to purchase three classroom sets of education materials for our entrepreneurship course, and the prospect of an investment has been a popular conversation for our students. The first group of entrepreneurs, Mbayana and Margaret (whom you will read about below) included, have been incredible successes, and we are looking forward to twenty more business start-ups by June.

-Brady Grimes

Brady Grimes is a 2012 graduate of Texas A & M University, College Station, TX. He received a BS in Ecosystem Management and Horticulture, graduating as the top student in both majors. He began volunteering at Orkeeswa Secondary School in August of 2012. At Orkeeswa, Brady teaches Agriculture and Entrepreneurship and oversees the campus small farm enterprises, including the garden and school livestock. Brady hails from Houston, TX, USA.

The following is a student, Margaret’s perspective on RED.

A Student Looks to her Business Future

I’m Margaret Melkiori. I graduated from Form Four (10th grade) in November of 2012. I am a member of the class of 2014, the first class of students of Orkeeswa School and now I am in the first class of Orkeeswa entrepreneurs. I was motivated to join the Rural Entrepreneurship Development (RED) program so that I can save money for University. My family will not be able to pay for my University fees or to buy my learning materials so I am trying to save money so that I can do that for myself.

I was so excited when I heard that an entrepreneurship program would be at Orkeeswa. I was so glad that I had this chance and that I AM NOW A BUSINESS WOMAN.

My business plan is to buy and sell sugar. I am happy that my business is going well, although there are a few challenges. One challenge has been price fluctuation. I get alot of support from the Orkeeswa family. Teachers and everyone are helping me to overcome any challenges that I face. I would like to give very special thanks to Brady who helped to established the Entrepreneurship program at Orkeeswa. This program is good because it will help students like me to achieve our goal of going to University.

This program has changed my life completely because I have big dreams of not only buying and selling sugar but of owning big companies.

-Margaret Melkiori

Margaret Melkiori is a Form Four (10th grade) graduate, we are anticipating her return to Form Five (11th grade) in early March. Margaret was the 2012 Student Body Vice President and she has been a member of the Kisa Girls’ Leadership program. Throughout November and December she spent her 100 community service hours teaching younger students English at Orkeeswa and she is currently in a nearby city, Moshi doing her Kisa leadership emersion work, teaching younger girls a life skills class.

More than we Hoped

Seth Heinert poses outside of his office with two students, Jonaice, a Form One student and Eliapenda, a Form Four student.

Dolly and Reba have been wandering around Orkeeswa for nearly three months now. When we got them it was obvious Dolly was pregnant. Her size, however, kept us wondering. We all knew the day was drawing near when she was going to give us a new baby. Then, as if by design, the first week of school not only brought us our old students, but also twin goats. It was more than we could have hoped for.

In so many ways, Orkeeswa is a place where you get more than you could have possibly hoped. Here are highlights of a few things that have surpassed my expectations since we started the school year last week:

Our leadership continues to be talented. We have three new volunteers, returning volunteers and several volunteers that have stayed on from the 2012 academic year. We now have 13 teachers in total from three different continents. The students are as motivated as ever. It was so fun this past Friday to walk around and watch them laughing and competing with one another in anything from volleyball to musical chairs to word games. We received excellent marks on our Form Two National Exams; we are in the top 10% in the entire region of over 350 competing schools. The classrooms which are being built for the new Forms Five and Six are nearly finished and look terrific. The Entrepreneurship program which was launched before the winter holiday is going well. We have been in touch with all of our participating students, heard the progress and challenges of their business endeavors and we have begun depositing their earnings in their individual future education funds. IT IS GREEN! With the help of quality groundskeepers and rain the campus looks great! Agriculture projects have already produced amazing results. After the baby goats were born we learned to make goat cheese, we discovered that one of our two bee hives has a swarm inside, and the grass we planted for making hay grew to over two meters tall. And…I got to drive our in the mud to get to school a few days last week! For me personally, my time at Orkeeswa is drawing to a close. My wife Lisa and I have been volunteering here for over two years and we will return to our home in Wyoming, USA in April. As we plan for our departure, I believe even more now in the work we are doing. I believe in our kids, our teachers and our IEFT staff to finish what we set out to do which is, of course, to change these communities surrounding Orkeeswa in a positive way.

I believe Orkeeswa can and will continue to be a place where everyone gets much more than they could have possibly hoped.

Seth has been volunteering at Orkeeswa Secondary School since August 2010. He teaches Agriculture and is the School Operations Coordinator. Seth grew up in Heulett, Wyoming, USA. He has a BS in Animal Science from the University of Wyoming and an MS in Agriculture Education from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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