For our preschoolers, Kenya is more than a world away from our school in Dresher, PA. They can’t imagine a life without lunchboxes, playgrounds, and lots of toys.So, when we asked the kids at the Kitui Baby Home to be our “pen pals”, we looked for ways to help our kids make connections. We’ve exchanged letters and photos, sharing about our favorite activities and what we do at school. In December, our kids selected toys and learning games to buy for our Kenyan friends to make their school extra-special. But, you can hardly imagine their delight, when Winnie, the manager of the home, and her husband, Meshak, walked into their classrooms!
Thanks to Chariots for Hope, Winnie and Meshak were able to visit our school for a whole week. Their passion is to change the quality of early childhood education in Kenya, starting with Kitui Baby Home. They observed staff interacting with children in meaningful ways and learning new skills through their play. I was able to talk with them about how to evaluate children’s development and strategies to meet the needs of all the children along with giving them valuable resources. Winnie and Meshak also had the opportunity to spend some time with Margaret Mbugua, one of our teachers who is also from Kenya. She was able to answer questions from a different perspective and help them make the information culturally relevant.
Much of their time was spent in the classrooms with the children and their teachers. “Mr. Meshak” pushed kids really high on the swings, much to their delight. “Miss Winnie” comforted a little girl who was missing her mommy. Lila and Ava made “American food” for them at the dramatic play center. Everyone enjoyed spending time with their new Kenyan friends.
Our students also learned much from Winnie and Meshak. Quinn had lots of questions about jungle animals. Anthony was surprised to learn that Africa was so big. The children learned some Kenyan songs and how to say a few words in Swahili. They had lots of questions about life at the baby home. The faces in the photographs we received became real to them.
Although Winnie and Meshak learned a lot during their visit, we were also challenged by their passion and commitment to the orphans in their care. They left excited about the possibilities for creating a quality preschool program at the baby home. We said good-bye looking forward to working towards this goal together.
Guest Blogger, Pam Post
Director, Chelten Child Development Center