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Hello! My name is Megan Weill and I am a Peace Corps volunteer in a small village outside of Kakamega, Kenya. I teach Math, Physics, Chemistry, and English at a small rural secondary school in my community. This page has been created to help raise money to build a library for the school. That's right, we're a school with no library.
My school, Shiduha Secondary School, currently has approximately 200 students that come from my community and neighboring communities. Most of my students are very poor, and a large number of them cannot even afford to pay their school fees.
The funds raised for this project will be stewarded by myself, and will go directly to the construction of the library. The project is described in detail below. The funds for this project and the construction of the library are being done as a project beyond the scope of my Peace Corps assignment. I feel personally that it is important to leave a permanent legacy for the community that I am serving.
In 2008, Humphrey Rapando was called on to open the school on the site of a former all girl school. Shiduha Secondary School as it is known today was then opened. We started with a modest four classrooms and an administrative building that is currently still made out of mud. A laboratory was built shortly after. Until now our library, stock room, and treasurer's office were all housed in the Form 4 (equivalent to 12th grade) classroom. However, we have our first Form 4 class this year, and a temporary wall was put into the laboratory to temporarily house what little library we have as well as give the treasurer a temporary office. Because the library also serves as an office, the students are hesitant to use the library freely. So that's where we stand now. Before the end of the year, we would really like the library to have its own building so that the students can use it freely.
Our school is a government school, which means we get a small stipend from the government, the size of which is determined by the number of students enrolled at the school. This, however, does not mean that the students' tuition is paid for; they still have to pay a small tuition fee on top of that. And many of the students can barely afford their school fees. The combined income of the goverment stipend and students' tuition does not leave the school with enough money to fund building projects or expansions. Our laboratory and new classrooms were built from a combination of savings and donations from the community.
Currently our library stocks only Kenyan textbooks, which means the students only have access to reference material that is written by the Kenyan government and not always correct. I'm looking to broaden the stock as much as possible. One of the things I'm trying to encourage with my students is recreational reading. Most of these students speak the local language as their first language, Kiswahili as their second, and English as their third. However, English is a national language (as is Kiswahili) and the exams that the students are required to take at the end of their four years in secondary school are exclusively in English, with the exception of the Kiswahili exam. I'm trying to encourage the students to read what they call story books in their free time because it will help them improve their English as well as expand their imaginations and hopefully help them to think more outside the box. Kenyan students learn by rote memorization and reading helps acquire critical thinking skills. In order to encourage them as much as possible, I've started a reading club in which the students are given a short story every week or two and we get together before or after school to talk about what they read and what they think about it. In summary, books are incredibly important for language and thinking skills, and changing their perspective on the world. I want to give the students their best chance to achieve this.
We need $11,000 to build a library and future home of a computer lab. The funds will go to the construction of a cinderblock structure with concrete floor and roof. Plans for the structure are in place and we have already made plans for the gifting of some of the materials required. We will begin construction as soon as we have received sufficient funds to pour the foundation. From start to finish the building will take 2-3 months to construct. None of the money donated will be used to procure books. I have been in contact with a couple of different organizations about stocking our library, but before we can stock it, we need to build it. We will keep this page up to date with any progress that is being made on the building, so feel free to check in every now and then.
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