The covid-19 pandemic changed all our lives in many ways. We had to adjust our social behaviors in unforeseen circumstances, and all we can see and feel is fear and distress calls. It is a very difficult space to be in for families, schools, and communities in this Covid-19 pandemic times. Schools re-opened their doors to students and learning resumed from where it left off. Burning the midnight oil has been the only option available as teachers walk through the syllabus with the students and ensure what is to be covered by the duration given is completed as scheduled. The same students that closed school last year are not the same students that came back, influenced by social issues.
The community schools that we partner with continue to show strength and resilience. When schools re-opened in Kenya on January 4th, 2021, there was a lot of uncertainty from everyone, wondering how will learning resume? How will the health status of students be? How will parents provide the school fees since the majority had experienced pay cuts and layoffs? How will students behave because this had been the longest school break in history? Indeed, the reality presented multiple questions and answers.
To try to mitigate this uncertainty among our community partner schools, Big Picture Learning Kenya Trust initiated a program called ‘Fursa Mpya’ a Swahili word that means ‘new opportunity’; the program is a Covid-19 response concept that is wired towards helping schools get back on their feet and serve their students efficiently. The government of Kenya had laid out requirements to be met before schools re-opened. They had to have hand washing stations, soaps, thermometers to monitor the temperature of students daily, and lastly the required social distance amenities in classrooms.
Big Picture Learning Trust was able to provide handwashing stations, soaps, face masks, classroom seats, and thermos guns, to 5 partner & affiliate schools: Zeal Covenant, Excel High school, Divine Mercy School, Tabasamu Watoto Center, and High-link Education Center. These actions are in line with our organization’s values: Courage, Curiosity, Collaboration and Creativity. I am proud of the schools we serve for they have shown courage in adversity, maintained teamwork in feeding the curiosity of students, collaborating in finding possible solutions towards arising challenges and being creative in stepping out of the ordinary to remain sane.
I leave you with a quote: “Even after this time the sun never says to the earth, you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that it lights the whole sky”. May we never get tired of doing good.
Written by: Cris Oyola 19-3-2021