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E-Readers Come to Heritage Academy

Written by admin. Posted in Children, Education, Stories, Village Project Africa

 Guest blogger Audrey Armstrong shares details about the excitement surrounding this summer’s introduction of e-Readers to Heritage Academy.

Hidden ereadersE-Reader Day had finally arrived. The cafeteria was swept, mopped, and decorated.  Chairs had been arranged. Songs and poems had been rehearsed by the students.  Government officials, special guests, community friends, parents, and family members had been invited and were assembling in the hall. Even some guests from Indianapolis were waiting with anticipation as the students and teachers filed in and took their places.  On the table in the front of the room was a huge pile of something, hidden under a cloth.

Children with ereadersThe program started with prayers of praise and thanksgiving followed by welcome songs and speeches from both leaders and students. Finally it was time for the main event!  With loud cheering and clapping the veil was swept aside and e-Readers became visible on the table. Not just a few, but 50—enough for every 6th grader to have one. What followed was truly amazing. First came a demonstration by a few students showing how the e-readers were opened and how they could be read. The remainder of the 6th graders were then handed their e-reader, and with joy and celebration, they moved into the audience demonstrating to their families and neighbors how print appeared on the little screens and more importantly, how they could read their own book. The parents were so overwhelmed with amazement and joy they formed a huge parade and were joined by visitors and students alike. Such clapping and cheering, dancing and hugging!! They all were celebrating the tremendous step forward for Heritage Academy students. The students were proud and excited with anticipation and the parents were amazed at the magic of technology being made available to their children as they continue to master the written word.

Parents with ereadersHow did this all come to be? When a Sunday school class in Indianapolis was presented with the need, they accepted the challenge to help these students get books and raised $10,000 to purchase the readers and provide for the training. What seemed like a large sum was raised quickly when a group of people each gave what they could. Next, VPA partnered with Worldreader to supply the e-readers and program them with text books and other books in both English and Swahili. The Worldreader team came to Heritage Academy, spending a week training first the teachers and then overseeing the training of the students on the use of the technology. (Such an exciting learning curve it proved to be!) The training team completed their work and joined parents and students in celebrating the successful beginning of a new era. The Sunday school class in Indianapolis joined with prayers and anticipation of changed lives and more opportunities for the students of Heritage Academy.


Going Home

Written by admin. Posted in Stories, Village Project Africa

A new regular contributor to the Village Project Africa blog, Stephanie Lewis Williams reflects on her experiences in Kenya and on what it means to come home again after
those experiences.

I recently read a book by Alexandra Fuller, who grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Malawi, and Zambia.  She lives in Wyoming now and occasionally returns to her home in Africa.  Her book, Scribbling the Cat, includes a beautiful passage about coming back to America after spending time in Africa:

 “It should not be physically possible to get from the banks of the Pepani River [in Zambia] to Wyoming in less than two days, because mentally and emotionally it is impossible. The shock is too much, the contrast too raw. We should sail or swim or walk from Africa, letting bits of her drop out of us, and gradually, in this way, assimilate the excesses of the States in tiny, incremental sips, maybe touring up through South America and Mexico before trying to stomach the land of the Free and the Brave”  (p. 72).

 I have visited Makutano, Kenya, three times over the past three years.  For me, it is easy to go to Makutano yet difficult to return to America.  It takes me a couple of weeks or so to get used to life here again, and I have always wondered exactly why—why is the shock too much as Fuller describes?  Part of the answer is that life is busy and moves fast here in America, and once you have danced to a different beat, it is hard to speed up again.  We also have an overabundance of choices for food and other daily activities compared to a small Kenyan village, and we tend to complain about things that seem meaningless from the perspective of rural Kenya.  When you own just one tattered outfit and no shoes, having a perfectly manicured lawn or a newer car is just not significant. 

 Ox and cartBut I believe there is more to the story.  In Kenya, I feel closer to the earth – the buildings are made of mud, the roads unpaved, the main course for dinner fresh from the backyard.  The “layer” of asphalt and plastic and packaging that covers so much of life in America is diminished or absent in Kenya.  There is less to hide behind.  Somehow and in some way, Africa seems to touch and connect with a deeper part of me – of all of us.  I am reminded too that the earliest humans originated in this part of the world.  Perhaps that is why Africa almost feels more like “home.”  Letting go of that experience when returning to America is challenging.  Next time, I may take Alexandra Fuller’s advice and return in a far more gradual way.  Maybe it will help.

Calvary Team Update

Written by admin. Posted in Missions

Our group from Calvary Christian Church in Winchester has now been here over a week.  They were able to frame Florence’s house, and the women from the village will start mudding the walls on Tuesday!  They also got a new iron-sheet roof installed for Violet and her family.  The ladies handed out over 200 pillowcase dresses on Thursday, and our girls all wore their new dresses to school on Friday!  Thanks to the GAiN Organization, we had 40 pairs of Crocs we were able to give to children on Thursday as well.  Several buildings on our campus have been painted, plumbing problems have been fixed, and we even arranged a soccer game with a local school so we could show off the new uniforms they brought us!  They have been able to visit quite a few of our widows and their families in their homes and have been touched by so many of the stories these women have to share. Today they have ventured into Eldoret to buy some tools for some of our workers and to visit the AMPATH headquarters.  They will have 3 more days to help out in the village before they head back to Nairobi on Friday!  So far everyone is healthy, so please keep them in your prayers over the next few days as they finish up their work here! 

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