It's been a bit since my last post and I kind of feel like I've been lying to y'all by omission. My last post was definitely written at the pinnacle of my time here so far and things have degraded a bit since then.
We've run into some trouble with some of the staff at my school. A new headteacher was hired right about the time that I arrived. He was hired to make changes, with the intention of making the school function more like a school. Unfortunately, some of the changes he tried to make had to do with discipline and they went a bit far.
Corporal punishment is very common here, even though it has technically been outlawed. For the most part it takes after the States of not so long ago - something akin to a rap across the knuckles. At our school, the new headteacher took it to some new heights and it started to verge on abuse. Obviously, that is not a practice that we can support, and GVI was forced to pull out of the school. We are still providing limited financial support until the end of the term in a couple weeks (for the sake of the children having water, etc.), but none of the volunteers have been teaching. So far the kids haven't been given very much information about what is going on, they just know we aren't there.
There have been a lot of meetings between the head GVI staff and the directors of the school. The directors had been taking a step back from the school and were largely unaware of what was happening. Now that they are aware, GVI is sort of waiting to see what action they decide to take. Unless things can be resolved satisfactorily, we'll be forced to pull out for good. Frustratingly for those of us on this end, the school is approaching things the Kenyan way, which means polepole - slowly, slowly.
For the time being, us displaced volunteers have been doing some other things in the community. There is an orphanage that is just getting started very near my school. It is run by an Australian woman who knows one of the staff members here, so some of us have been helping out there. The rest of us have been visiting a different school called Junior Learners. It is a little bit farther from our village and has some random connections to people here.
I have been working at the school, which has actually turned out to be an amazing experience. It's a wonderful place to be. The children are very smart and respectful and the staff are so welcoming and joyful. It has been an absolute pleasure to be in a school where everyone is happy and respectful - to go to P.E. and watch the teachers playing and joking with their students. It is a nice change from Olive's. The atmosphere there has not been so nice lately.
This week is the end of the school year here, so it sounds like we are going to be doing some extracurricular things with the kids at Junior Learners and next week we will be doing the same with our kids at Olive's. I'm looking forward to being with them again. I miss my class a lot. I'm waiting, though, to find out what will happen in the long term. I want to know what I am coming back to in January. Right now, everything is bittersweet.