Posted by: Annette Achieng, edited by David Omondi
I’m Annette Achieng a teacher at Akili preparatory School .This is my third year working at Akili school.
I started my work at the Obunga slum campus teaching grade one. I came to learn that my pupils had lots of problems at home that were affecting them academically, so my class was believed to be the worst grade in school.
I had to learn the problem of each child and its cause, meet their parents and talk them into supporting the education of their children. I came to learn that most of my pupils came from single families; some live with their grandmothers and others with well-wishers. Some pupils were to do extra work to put food on the table like selling alcohol, charcoal, and green groceries. Others looked after their younger siblings as their parents went out in search of odd jobs to make ends meet. As a result, many of the girls had little or no time with their books, thus registering dismal performance in their termly tests.
Everyday, I would deal with cases of girls coming to school unkempt; some with no books and others sleeping right from the time they set their foot in class because they were either too tired or hungry to concentrate in class. At one point, one girl fainted in class when I gave her painkillers after complaining of a headache. I later learned that she had gone for the entire weekend without food, her last meal being porridge she had taken at Akili School.
Having lost my parents at a tender age and surviving under the care of my grandmother, I was motivated to do all I could to support the girls in my class. I got to know them and their parents, understood where they came from and their living conditions at home. Understanding every girl and their needs allowed me to appreciate where they were and how to meet their individual needs in and outside of class.
Many of the girls in my class didn't know how to read. I started teaching them the phonics, encouraging them to keep trying every time they tried and failed to read. The good rapport and teacher-student relationship I encouraged created trust between us and the girls become so free with me that they didn't shy away from trying or asking questions. Each progress they made brought a smile to my face. Gradually, they started being self confident and their soaring grades brought me so much happiness.
When the construction of the boarding school at the Obambo Campus started, my greatest dream was to see my girls in boarding school where they would have ample time with their books, a safe place to live and would be assured of getting a meal without working for it due to their young age.
I couldn't be happier when my girls joined the boarding school in January this year and I was promoted to continue serving them at the boarding school in Obambo. My greatest achievement is seeing girls like Lillian Akoth, Kate Debra Mercyline Mwajuma, Laura Akinyi and Harriet Achieng amongst others now in boarding school and able to read English fluently.
Every time I see them play freely, with an aura of confidence during recess, my heart sings out with immense joy. Knowing that I am helping them realize their dreams makes me so happy!
They have promised to give me their best. I can’t wait to see how they are going on to change the world!
Thanks to everybody who had a hand in this. Let’s make the girls reach their full potential!!
Riley Orton Foundation
Riley Orton Foundation (ROF) provides holistic education and promotes gender equality in STEM education to ensure girls and a community with the agency to realize their full potential