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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