Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Court of Dreams Uses Sports to Make a Positive Impact on the Lives of Children: St. Peter’s Story

Situated on the edge of Kibera slums in Nairobi, St. Peter’s Primary and Nursery School is one of the schools participating in Sadili Oval Sports Academy’s Court of Dreams programme. The school was founded in 2011 by Mr. Titus Ndonga who is now the director and Ms. Clare Amachari, who is the head teacher.

Like most schools in Kibera, pupils at St. Peter’s learn under very poor conditions. With a population of 60 pupils from nursery to Std. 4, the school has only 3 teachers (including the head teacher). All the 60 pupils learn in the same room, barely partitioned using old rags. Outside the building they call school is a foul smelling stream of stagnant water that is full of litter.

Despite these circumstances, the school’s head teacher has chosen to focus on the positive side: the fact that things have been getting better ever since she had the school enrolled on the Court of Dreams programme.

 “I can’t help but notice how much change there has been in these pupils since our school joined the programme. I’m very glad that staff from Sadili often teach them what we don’t have time to teach. We focus so much on teaching them Math and English and Swahili while we forget basics like hand washing, nail-cutting and showering,” says Ms. Amachari. “It is not uncommon for me to meet a parent outside there who is curious to know who has been teaching their child how to wash their hands, because they too have noticed a change. Not too long ago I met one whose son always insists on using soap, something she found very unusual of him!”

Ms. Clare Amachari, Head teacher
A part from these important life skills, Ms. Amachari is happy that the children can now go out to play, at least once a week, thanks to Sadili’s playground (Kibera Tennis Court) set aside for kids in the programme. “We are also very grateful that these kids now have a field to play. Our school is in an extremely squeezed environment and we feel very privileged to have a place for them to play. They always get very excited when it’s time to come to the tennis court,” says the head teacher, “We hope the programme is here to stay.”

A group of pupils in class
Mr. Ndonga and Ms. Amachari founded the school with the aim of helping parents to bear the burden of school fees. St. Peter’s Primary School pupils come from underprivileged family backgrounds, mainly with single parents. The pay very little school fees, just enough to keep the school running. The younger ones in nursery school pay KES 300 (USD 3) per month while those in primary school pay KES 400 (USD 4) per month. Total orphans learn for free.

Learning to play tennis at the Kibera Tennis Court
St. Peter’s is just one of the many schools in Kibera with problems ranging from inadequate teachers to poor learning environments. The Court of Dreams may not solve all these problems, but we are glad that the programme is slowly making a difference in the lives of the children involved, and that the teachers and their parents have noticed this difference. Knowing that these children’s lives are getting better every day gives us a sense of purpose, and is motivation enough to keep us going.

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