Mellissa teaching her Shine group
As I am sitting here, writing this blog entry I am actually having trouble staying focused on this task. As the sun sets over the savanna my attention keeps being drawn away from this screen, to the breathtaking show of colour and light unfolding around me. Slowly (pole’ pole’) the rolling mountains in the distance are deepening into the deepest shades of purple and blue. The sky is showing off its most brilliant crimsons, oranges and then pinks. Its so captivating. This moment is a wonderful reward after the massive 2 days of running the ‘Shine Kenya’ training seminar.
We (Kelli, Lena and I) are on a Safari break for a few days as our little treat after the successful launch of ‘Shine’. It’s so wonderful to be able to unwind and relax. I’d love to say everything ran smoothly during the training but I must admit there were some challenges and stresses along the way and sometimes you don’t realize you had tension in your body until, in a wonderful moment like this – all of it completely melts from your body.
One of our biggest challenges was that many Kenyans see no problem with organizing things at the very last minute and also don’t keep time very well. When flying in from Australia and having only a week to finalise preparations for a 2 day seminar for 90 people – those 2 challenges had us running around like mad chickens for the days leading up to the launch trying to pull all the little things together.
Teachers in the process of a 'Shine' activity on communication
Despite our challenges I can’t express how happy I am that the training went so well. It all came together just fine in the end (as it always seems to here). Our Lead facilitator, Kellie, was really amazing. She has worked so hard on this project and she was such a dynamo presenter!
The teachers were wonderful. They were enthusiastic and attentive and played full out. I am so excited that this incredible program is about to be rolled out in 45 schools in Kenya! After all the work leading up to those 2 days it was such a joy to see it work out.
I enjoyed co-facilitating so much. It was so much fun. I have to say, one of my favourite things about the training was the wonderful simple experience of just spending time with the teachers during the breaks. I would often find myself sitting outside with a new friend swapping stories about our lives and I would learn snippets of the kikuyu (tribe of this area) tribal language or Kiswahili. The people here are so open and warm and friendly. They smile a lot and laugh a lot. I really adored those moments of friendship and laughter.
The closing of program on Saturday afternoon was the other major highlight. When Kenyan people want to say thank you they really know how to make it impactful!
After we said our closing speeches everybody in the audience stood together and did for us, what is called a ‘manunu’. They raise their arms out to the sides and then up high into the air, and shake their hands like they are raising some energy and then all of a sudden they clap, with straight arms, pointing at us. They repeated this a few times and then they broke into a beautiful song and when these people sing, wow, they sound incredible!
Our good friend George recieving his 'Shine Kenya' certification
We were all so deeply touched by this show of gratitude. It was truly a magic moment and I will never forget it….ever.
When we get back to Kiandu we will only have 3 days left in which we will be helping Kinadu primary school implement the Shine Kenya program. We aim to make it a model school for how to run Shine. We will have meetings with parents and teachers and also teach them about getting sponsorship for materials. Lena also has a busy schedule of drama and computer classes to teach.
For now though, I’ll just enjoy the feeling of a job well done and the sparkling twilight now enveloping these beautiful plains and mountains before me.