My name is Sharon Emma. I am a program coordinator for a non-profit focused on education for young children and teenagers. The bulk of my experience is in working with children and youth from low income environments and other underrepresented minorities to access quality education and digital skills.
My friend, Martin and I were catching up one day when he introduced me to AIC Siyiapei Children’s home and the amazing work he and his sister, Caroline had been doing there. The topic came up because of a shared interest we have in working with children and youth to equip them with knowledge and skills in STEM subjects (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics). He told me about the amazing children there and their resilience, hope and passion for learning. I was immediately interested to know more and potentially contribute, even the slightest, to making an impact there.
Fast forward, we were graciously welcomed to spend a week with the children. The goal being to assess the children’s academic needs in Mathematics and English and begin working to bridge the gaps. I was excited. And so, on Sunday 7th March, we traveled from Nairobi and arrived at Siyiapei Children’s Home where we were welcomed by a vibrant community, warm smiles and hugs. Many many hugs! I felt at home immediately.
Our approach would be simple. To address a child’s learning from their level of understanding and not their grade in school. So, this meant addressing basic counting, reading alphabets and 3 letter words, counting using sticks, addressing multiplication as repeated addition, learning basic sentence structures, testing understanding through interpretation of word problems and inspiring a reading culture. And of course, making time for digital skills which included typing pen pal letters and attaching links and pictures on typed documents. We used worksheets, 1:1 lessons and peer to peer learning as tools for teaching and learning.
The days went by fast. The children got more excited about learning with each passing day. They worked in groups and as individuals. They asked questions and sought clarification. The classes were a bee-hive of activities that week. And everyday, it was more and more inspiring to wake up in the morning. A major highlight was the 1:1 sessions with the children where we reviewed the school performance and had a conversation about challenge areas in various subjects and set personal goals for growth.
I was inspired greatly by the passion for learning that was present in the children. They were curious and hungry for knowledge. And they expressed it in words and actions. Some of the feedback we received was: ‘I never knew I could like math, but now I do…’ and ‘…thanks for teaching us, please stay 2 more weeks’ among others. My wish is that the time spent passing these skills and knowledge to the kids will imply a better foundation to build on as they continue to learn in school, and that their attitude towards learning improves and translates to them becoming independent thinkers and modern day problem solvers.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa
May the ripples we started in AIC Siyiapei Children’s Home grow to waves that change the world.