New Nursery

October 18 2021 | by

IN 2012 the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family bought a plot of land in Subukia, Kenya. They had considered the needs of the local community, which has a mix of ethnic groups and includes internally displaced families – those who are victims of insecurity within Kenya itself. And, although there were many state primary schools in the area there was a lack of teachers, and classes were often overcrowded. Parents often sent their children to schools far away from home, which necessitated a long walk or sometimes a life-threatening motorbike ride. So, bearing these factors in mind, and also the need to provide children of displaced families with good education, the Sisters decided to build a new primary school.


Unity through education


The Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family are an Apostolic Congregation of Pontifical Right, and were founded in 1905 by Blessed Boleslawa Maria Lament in Mohylew, in present-day Belarus. She led a life full of dedicated service and died in 1946 at the age of 84. Her remains are interred in the crypt of the church of Saint Anthony in Ratowo, Poland.

Today, the sisters number over 300, and work in Poland, Italy, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, the USA, Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya. They arrived in Kenya in 1990, and there are now 30 Kenyan Sisters serving in six missions. The primary mission of the Congregation is Christian unity realized through education of children and young people. They believe that empowerment of society comes through quality education. In their 30 years in Kenya they’ve established not only nursery and primary schools, but also day-care centres, medical facilities and a children’s home.


Extra block


The Sisters established the Holy Family Nursery and Primary School in 2014 and, with the help of donors, were able to complete a six-classroom block. The aim of the new project was to construct a separate three-classroom nursery block in order to create educational opportunities for more children, play facilities, and provide safety for kids while their parents are at work. “There were about 130 children attending the school – 50 kindergarten kids and 90 primary school pupils,” says Sister Ascelina Kowiel, regional supervisor. “After completion we estimate we’ll have capacity for about 300 pupils annually.”

Local people were involved in preparation of the land and digging the foundations. By January 2020 the foundations for three classrooms and the construction of one full classroom were complete. The Sisters approached St. Anthony’s Charities to enable the completion of the remaining two. A grant of €35,000 was awarded in May 2020 to be paid in four instalments. Project work began in July 2020.

Everything went smoothly with both the first and second instalments. After completion of works associated with the second instalment, it became clear that there would be more money than necessary to finish the building works. This was because the exchange rate to the local currency became more favourable. So, the Sisters made a request to use the additional money to add a fence around the school. This would help keep the kids safe from the nearby swamp. “Our concern was the safety of the children,” explains Sr. Ascelina. “Teachers and other school workers had to be extra careful during breaks and after lessons, since some children looking for new adventures went swimming there. We wanted to keep them safe.” Of course, permission was granted.

COVID-19, as for many projects in 2020, slowed down the work due to sickness of the workers, but fortunately no one died and the project was completed successfully in April 2021, three months behind schedule.


More space less noise


The main beneficiaries of the project are the children, of course, but also the teachers and the non-teaching staff. “Before the construction, both sections – nursery and primary kids – were in one building,” explains Sr. Ascelina. “Such arrangements were not creating a conducive atmosphere for learning. Learning periods for nursery kids are shorter, and this created unnecessary noise for the primary section.” Now there’s more space and less noise during learning times, and it is easier to control the children during break times. The nursery section now has “nice, big, and bright classrooms,” she continues, “which help to create a conducive atmosphere, giving educational opportunity to more children, and facilitating opportunities for play and to learn new skills.” She also explains that the facilities will also be used by parents and other groups for meetings, workshops and seminars.

In the future the project will be funded not only through school fees, but also by funds from a dairy unit and vegetable garden currently being implemented at the school.


What a blessing


“On behalf of all the parents, teachers, workers, and pupils we are so grateful that you chose to support our school in the construction of nursery classes,” says Sister Felister Mwongeli King’oku, headteacher at the school. “The new classes are very spacious. There is room for the kids to do indoor games and learning without any problems. What a blessing! Everyone is happy. The rooms are so big that we will also be able to have many more pupils than last year. The building of the classrooms has also benefitted the people from our community. We have new teachers for the nursery pupils and we have employed cleaners too.”

Sr. King’oku goes on to explain that the classrooms have been wired to enable them to teach IT skills to the children in the future, and that they have also bought radios, which the kids enjoy a lot. The extra space also facilitates the teaching of the new national curriculum, with teachers able to display the children’s projects. Pupils also have space to store their school books when not in use. She also says that the addition of the fence has been a big bonus, making them all feel much more relaxed about the swamp, and also protecting the school’s maize crops being destroyed by grazing animals.

“We are so grateful for your support,” she concludes. “We have nothing to repay you with, but we promise you are in our prayers. May the almighty God bless you abundantly.”

Updated on October 21 2021