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Betty Jane – Cape Breton Post, December Article

Mabou grandmother traveling to Kenya for third year

Betty Jane Cameron of Mabou is seen at St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya, last year, teaching a student guitar.

Betty Jane Cameron, 80, teaches music to students at St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya

INVERNESS COUNTY — A woman who has had a passion for teaching for most of her life is traveling to Kenya to teach children for a third consecutive year.

Betty Jane Cameron, 80, who lives in Mabou, is heading to St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya on January 8 for three months to teach music, be a spiritual guide for the children and work in the school’s infirmary, as part of the Inverness County Cares organization’s efforts to help underprivileged children in the area.

Cameron, has had an extensive career looking after and teaching others in many fields, including caregiving and music. She continues to teach music in Mabou to children as well as Kenya.

She has continued her journeys to the school because of the personal connections she has made with the children, who think of her as a grandmother figure.

“Everyone was really nice to me the first year – but last year I became their grandmother. That seemed to be the biggest thing I could do.” she said, and then added that her personal connection with the students had resonated with them and made her beloved by the children.

“Some of the children wrote me letters while I was there and one of them said he wanted to be my son because when I first met him, I said his name as I looked at him directly in the eyes. I think to get to know the children by name and know their interests was by far the best part of my trips.”

On her first trip, Cameron brought the children several instruments. On her second, she purchased instruments in Nairobi with donated money from Cape Bretoners: including a piano. This year, she already has various instruments donated by community members to take with her for her third trip to the school.

She said music matters to the children because of its inclusiveness and that it’s enjoyed without a large cost.

“It’s something that has no strings attached. They don’t have to be good or rich. They can just enjoy it and they love music – it’s a very big part of Kenyan culture,” said Cameron who added a lot of the children already had natural talent.

“I didn’t know what I could do because they were already very good at singing and dancing, they were eager to learn and they learned really fast.”

Colleen MacDonald Macleod, a member of Inverness County Cares, said Cameron has made a big impact on the children at the school because she has made a long lasting bond with them through her personality and caregiving ways.

“Teachers come and go, because it’s hard to pay them enough and they get experience and get a better job – you need continuity and Betty Jane is there and she’s the grandmother figure. She talks to them and they love her so much ” said MacDonald.

Brother John Kennedy Oronjo, a member of the St. Charles Lwanga Brothers of Kenya, started the St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in 2012. The group is comprised of religious brothers, dedicated to the care of youth, traditionally through education.

Inverness County Cares has been involved with the school since 2012, after Oronjo contacted a member of the group.

They have since partnered with the charity, Chalice Canada in Bedford. The partnership enabled the Inverness group make contributions to the school of $60,000 a year with a matching $60,000 a year from Chalice.

For more information on the children of St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School and Inverness County Cares, visit invernesscountycares.com or lwangachildren.com.

 

Emmanuel’s Story

This is the story of Emmanuel a teacher at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School (SCLSS) in Nairobi Kenya.

This is the story of Emmanuel a teacher at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School (SCLSS) in Nairobi Kenya.

My name is Mr. Emmanuel Machanja, the Geography and Religion teacher at SCLSS. I come from a very humble background, the ninth in a family of 12, three of whom have passed on. My father died while we were very young, He was asthmatic and we couldn’t afford his medication. He left the full responsibility to my mother who was a peasant farmer. Life was not easy; getting food was a problem and getting school fees was a big challenge and most of us dropped out of school.

In my primary education, I studied at a school six kilometers away from home, where we would walk each day without food.  Life was not fair and there were times when I almost dropped out to help my mother with our family.

Fortunately one of my teachers, Madam Josephine, (God rest her soul in eternal peace) paid for my school fees and I was able to complete my primary education.

I qualified for a provincial secondary school but I had to I stay out of school for one year since I didn’t have the school fees. I later was able to join a school when my mother borrowed a shirt, shoes and trousers from my neighbor whose son had completed his schooling.

Life was not easy in secondary school and I was often sent home for lack of school fees. In secondary school I worked so hard and I attained a very good grade so I could be accepted to university. My mother was happy I had completed secondary school but her major challenge was the university fees.

I was accepted at many universities but was unable to go because of lack of fees. I decided to volunteer in my neighboring school through which the headmistress linked me with Brother John Kennedy Oronjo. He welcomed me at SCLSS where I served as teacher and a boarding master. After one term he decided to sponsor me to join the university. I owe him much gratitude for that. I worked so hard both at the university and at the SCLSS. I completed my University education this year in April and graduated in July the same year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.

I thank God and all those I have mentioned, for this and I am working so hard to improve the living standard of my mother and those who live together with her.

Thank you.

 

Agriculture Mentoring

St Charles Lwanga Secondary School and Children’s Centre is located in Ruai, Nairobi Kenya. The school is supported by Inverness County Cares (ICC), an Inverness County, NS based volunteer group and Chalice Canada, an international aid group based in Halifax. The school is involved in educational partnerships with several international groups and they also receive assistance for essential needs from other global supporters.

This month we will focus on an agriculture worker at the school. Thomas was a student leader (head boy) at St Charles Lwanga School who demonstrated great potential. Shortly after graduation from Form 4 (Grade 12) he was hired at a factory and was advancing in his position. Unfortunately he was involved in a workplace accident, which resulted in the loss of the thumb and index finger on his right hand. He is from an impoverished family with no father present and his mother has passed away. He is responsible for the care of his 7-year old brother who lives with him. In 2014 school headmaster, Br Kennedy hired him to take care of the school grounds and garden and this provided him with enough money to rent a small room for himself and his brother and to pay his brother’s school tuition and personal needs.

Thomas’ life and prospects brightened when he became involved in a Kenyan program introduced by a Go Global, a Vermont non-profit partner of St Charles Lwanga and by the University of Vermont.  With their encouragement, he was trained in a program which will lead the St Charles Lwanga School and other affiliated schools, toward sustainable agriculture.

Thomas was introduced to permaculture by The Permaculture Institute- Kenya and trained in basics of permaculture in a two-week Permaculture Design Course.   He will continue to partner with Permaculture Institute-Kenya based in Nairobi.

Permaculture is defined as: the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems, which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Graham Bell, The Permaculture Way.  

He is presently traveling near the area of the proposed new St Charles Lwanga School where he is working with Mr Jeremiah ad sharing his knowledge and agricultural skills with the residents of Rodi a community near HomaBay and Lake Victoria. He is educating the children and adults of these communities and is working with them to build garden plots for vegetables. This coming January representatives of University of Vermont will work with him to expand his learning and involve more local people and students in this program. Thomas will provide agricultural leadership at the much anticipated, future St Charles Lwanga School. This new school will be located in a fertile agricultural area near Lake Victoria.

https://lwangachildren.com/

http://invernesscountycares.com/

St Charles Lwanga School is always interested in volunteers wanting to work at the school. Contact numbers are available on our webpages.

Thomas in the garden

Thomas watering newly planted trees

Thomas teaching

Community outreach

Thomas in brown shirt in center

 

Youth Workshop

October Report

This week has been a very joyous week as the students couldn’t hide their joy as they offloaded some boxes sent by friends of the school from Netherlands through Berend De Boer. The boxes contained some computers for the students which would help them in their computer lessons. The St.Charles Lwanga fraternity wish to express their sincere gratitude to friends from Netherlands for their kind and generous support towards the school through the computer donation. The staff and the students have promised to use the computers effectively to improve on technological classes.

Talent Thursday

“Talent Thursday” as the students calls it, is a day in which students and teachers gather together in the afternoon and each class is given a chance to perform their different talents. This Thursday the teachers carried the day with the theme Youth and Technology. The students were so excited on the various performances their teachers demonstrated. The day was a learning moment for the students in different areas such as stage management, poetry and narratives amongst others.

A brighter day for Mercy.

Mercy Anyango is in class six at Ayub Okoko primary school. She is the first born in a family of three siblings and her parents have no permanent job while the mother operates a small kiosk where she sells tomatoes and onions for their living. It was during this time that Brother Kennedy meet her as she was helping her mother in their kiosk, and curiosity got the better part of Brother Kennedy where he inquired why she wasn’t in school. Mercy explained that she has been in and out of school due to lack of school fee as the small business her mother operates can’t pay her fees, medical and also support their daily and basic needs. Brother Kennedy promised to help her and today Mercy is rejoicing of an answered prayer as a person from Inverness County Cares decided to support her in her education, in memory of the demise of Brother Kennedy’s Uncle and Mr. Fredrick’s Brother. Thank you so much and may God bless you abundantly for lighting a candle in Mercy’s life.

Success story.

My name is Faith Atieno in form three at St. Charles Lwanga children Centre. I am an orphan as my parents passed on while we were still very young. We are eight siblings under the guardianship of our elderly grandmother who struggles through thick and thin to provide for our basic needs. I am happy I am in school as some of my elder brothers had to drop out of school to help my grandmother in providing for the family basic needs. I joined St. Charles Lwanga at a time when I had given up in life and had lost hope for a better tomorrow but since I joined the St Charles Lwanga School my life really changed and I have hope for a brighter future. At the Centre, I found Brother Kennedy, friends and teachers who are loving and caring, they build my self-esteem and also realize my talent as a designer. I am so proud of my school especially with the renovation of the new classes, which are very spacious, new desks and the new computers, which just arrived at the school. Much appreciation goes to Brother Kennedy, Chalice foundation, Inverness County Cares, friends from Netherlands, Berend De Boer and all good people for putting a smile on our faces through your donations and support towards our school. God Bless you.

Containers from the Netherlands

New computers from the Netherlands

With the hat is Brother Christopher

Madam Ann presenting a narrative

Mercy Anyango

Faith Atieno

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