During the school holidays, the Great Plains Conservation Foundation supports three clubs for the 50 children we serve with scholarships. Each club has a unique environmental/conservation and social theme.
Today was the first day of the August 2020 conservation holiday camp. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have divided the children into three groups in order to take the government recommended precautions. These groups will be trained in different locations near their homes; helping us observe social distancing by having only 13-17 children per training.
The first group, made of 14 children, began the day by sharing what they know about COVID-19, how they have been coping at home, and what they are doing to prevent the spread of infection. We were excited to hear how much knowledge the children have and that they are taking all the necessary measures they were previously trained in. Nevertheless, we made sure to remind them about wearing their masks; supplying them with new masks. We emphasized the importance of handwashing, while our staff demonstrated this. Each child washed their hands before entering the classroom where they also practiced social distancing from each other.
Many of the children shared with us the challenges they are facing at home during the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am really missing classes. Sometimes I try to study at home but the house chores are so much that I can’t revise my notes. Some of my friends are really suffering as when they are in their menstruation cycle, their families can’t afford to buy pads for them and now with COVID-19 it is worse.” Siamanta Sitany, Scholarship beneficiary.
In Kenya, some families, who can afford smartphones, have provided their children with them. This is causing the children to become addicted to technology and social media, resulting in many harmful challenges such as anxiety, depression, exposing children to sexual content, and even teenage pregnancies. Learning this background, we felt there is a need to talk to the children about social media in the social theme, and how they can prevent themselves from being taken advantage of by “social media predators”.
“Social media is good and also bad, this all depends on how you use it”, shared Marias Ripau, our Education and Skills Manager. He further explained to the children that one has to be very careful when using social media; not posting provocative photos, giving strangers phone numbers or home addresses, and being careful to limit their time using technology. We don’t want the children to forget that they are students and should be studying even though they are not in school.
This holiday’s conservation theme focuses on planting trees. It gives us another great reason to be grateful to the Great Plains Conservation for volunteering their employee, Paul Kamau, the head landscaper, to share his expertise with the children. Mr. Kamau was generous in teaching the children about Indigenous trees, the importance of biodiversity, and how to grow a kitchen garden.
“A tree is a symbol of life when you see a tree, you know there is life”, stated Paul Kamau.
The day was a large success! The children planted a tree on the school grounds where the training took place and committed themselves to nurture and care for it.