“IF YOU ARE NOT COMING WE ARE GOING WERA”
This year we are privileged to work with schools that rehabilitate drop out children and street connected children. Undugu Basic Education unit is one of those interesting schools we are working with. In short description Undugu has both boys and girls who have been drawn from street connected activities and the school endeavors to rehabilitate them by offering basic literacy and numeracy skills as well vocational training to help them with self employment opportunities. Most of the children in this school are in the age of puberty and adolescence.
After conducting a session with the children as I was on my way to the office to appreciate the teachers for the time and support and also to notify them that we had finished and now leaving the school, three girls of adolescent age came after me running. Realizing that they wanted to talk to me, I stopped to give them a listening ear and this question immediately followed from one of them, “Teacher, are you guys coming back on Friday?” “No, we only come once in a week.” I retorted. “If you guys do not come then we are going wera” They answered, beginning with the first whom I wish to think is the most influential among them and then the other two joined in unison in such a way that one would think they had a rehearsal of it before approaching me.
“Wera” is a slang name for work and even though I have limited proficiency of this language commonly used in Kenyan urban areas with Nairobi being the most popular with it, I no doubt knew what these girls meant. I shared this with their teachers to hear their views about it but they never appeared bothered, all they said what that we will get to understand the nature of their children. Like plague this little conversation with these girls did not immediately vanish from my memory, I kept reflecting on why our absence will make them miss school on that particular day. I stretched the reflection further by meditating on the value our program offers to these young ones that our presence will make them come to school while our absence does the opposite. Immediately it came to my mind that one of the objectives we address in this particular program is to increase regular attendance of children in school. This conversation with the children alone showcases that children are eager to have our team in their school for activities. I am rest assured that Tuesday which is the day we visit the school children will want to attend school unless otherwise. Moving forward I will be keen to have discussions with the children and the teachers to know whether or not there is a difference in attendance on Tuesdays vis a vis other school days.
“If you are not coming, we are going wera.” This statement as was said by the children has become my mantra of reflection on how as an organization we can leverage on this opportunity to help children increase attendance in school.