It has been just over a year since I was last in Giriki. Each time I have returned the settlement has grown and changed – it is hardly recognisable now from when I met the first few hundred people who returned to the settlement in 2008.
As we arrived at the site of the new school I am immediately struck by the number of children around.
Chepatai Mary, one of the parents who volunteers to run the school feeding programme for the children at the new school. She comes everyday to make porridge for over 500 children
Alfred is there to greet us and explains that enrolment has gone from 35-40 (it was at its lowest last year when the drought took hold and children were really hungry) to over 600 with another 400 plus wanting to enrol in the new school.
Alfred explained “This last year has been very hard for families here in Giriki. We have been experiencing very hard drought then what little we could grow was destroyed by big floods."
David Cheptoiek enjoying his porridge – part of the ActionAid school feeding programme funded as part of the school building programme
“Hunger was worse than last year until ActionAid started the school feeding programme. The numbers of children enrolling has gone up so much–it has had such a big impression on parents who now prioritising schooling. "
"Can you see the difference in them? Look at their eyes, they are bright. Our pupils are able to study for longer, they don’t sleep in class – it is so very positive for children".
Cosmas Cherup, 8 years enjoying his porridge – Cosmas and his younger brother Mark have enrolled in school for the first time in their lives (photo: ActionAid)
Talking to the children I have meet before I can physically see the difference – they are showing fewer signs of malnutrition, they are lively, smiling and cheeky!
Alfred showed me into the class room where he will teach, "Look, this is what we dreamt of and now it is here" he laughed.
There is a palpable sense of excitement about the opening tomorrow – children have been turning up even before the school is officially opened to take lessons outside.
Rispar Chemutai, 12 years – healthier and enjoying learning.
Groups of children are rehearsing their songs to sing at the opening and David, his best friend Esben and Rispar have been nominated to represent their fellow pupils by cutting the ribbon with our guest of honour from the Dept. of Education during the ceremony tomorrow.
One sleep until we open the school!