More educational help from Germany

 Brit and Jan Hartmann visit Lodwar again 

In preparation for yet another trip from Germany to Lodwar in February 2009, we had already exchanged ideas with Sr. Yvonne and with Tim Flynn, the Youth Coordinator of the Diocese.

Sister Yvonne suggested that during this third trip it would be very helpful if we could run an educational workshop for the local social workers attached to the Vulnerable Children's Program during our next visit. The main goals would be to refresh the workers motivation and knowledge by introducing various learning materials with instructions and guidance on how these resources could be used to benefit the children.

In designing the Workshop I relied very much on my friend Andrea Wieschmann. Like myself she is a school teacher in Germany but she has lots of experience with younger and disabled children. Andrea offered many helpful suggestions and handed over some excellent learning materials which had been designed in her school. These were successfully inserted into my program for the Lodwar Workshop. I am most grateful for Andrea's generous sharing of her time and expertise.

 

The children cared for under the VCP have significant age variations and so the local social workers have to address the children's different needs on that basis. However one cannot find methodical children's learning materials in Lodwar. I had to come up with alternative solutions. I am therefore tremendously grateful to other kind Lodwar supporters who donated various educational toys, some of which appear in photos on this page. For the youngest children it is also important to touch the learning materials to improve their physical senses at the same time as they are learning how to associate the name of an object with its shape and colour.

For improving the mental retention skills of the children we chose a game called "Memory". The social workers were quite intrigued by this new game and enjoyed playing it themselves. In many ways this educational game poses a bigger challenge for adults than it does for children so there were lots of laughs when we unveiled it for the first time.

 

Some of our learning materials were designed to introduce the children to the numbers 1 through 10 and other exercises related to the letters of the alphabet. Sister Yvonne and I were quite surprised and intrigued by the local method for counting. Certain fingers and thumbs had specific meanings as did the making of a fist. It got more complicated as numbers progressed. You can imagine that we so called "teachers" also did some learning in this Workshop and enjoyed all the fun which resulted.

I took some methodical learning materials to Lodwar which described the months of the year, the weeks in a month and the name of the weekdays. I wanted to demonstrate to the social workers that good practical learning material for catching the interest of the children is basically quite easy to create and not difficult to use.

 

On another day Sr. Yvonne and I went to the Mercy Centre which was opened by the Australian High Commissioner to Kenya, Ms Lisa Filipetto back in June 2008. Readers of various newsletters in this website will know that Sr. Yvonne is very committed to this project. Whilst we were there we entertained the children with instructive songs, played with toys and took care that all the children drank their milk. 

During this most recent visit to Lodwar my husband Jan and myself re-evaluated the computer courses at the Youth Centre in conjunction the local instructors. This resulted in some course content modifications to better conform with the needs of the local people.

 

A further development is the offer to teach ICT on a regularly timetable to the St. Monica's Girls Primary School. The curriculum was built and discussed with headmistress Sr. Antonina during our visit. She immediately confirmed that this course would be a wonderful opportunity for the girls to learn new technologies and skills in preparation for a self determined life. Due to our limited capacity we could only offer an ICT course to two individual groups of 11 girls each who had reached Standard 8. Of course all 55 girls at the school would benefit if only there were sufficient resources.

Thanks to Sr. Yvonne, Bethany House was a place were we could rest, recuperate and "re-charge our own batteries" after Workshop sessions. She and her staff gave us every attention and assured that we would be as comfortable as possible in this remote area of Kenya.

Since returning to Germany Jan and myself were delighted to be informed that ICT instruction at Monica's Girls Primary School commenced in April 2009. This is another example of how people can take over responsibility for their own lives if only they can receive help, guidance and support when challenging obstacles are encountered.

Brit Hartmann
Rostock - Germany
15th June 2009

 

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