The International Day of the African Child on 16 June 2022 was unique for our students at Ignatius Special Primary School in Kakuma. It was the day the Jennifer Strekal Inclusive Education new building was handed over to the children and the community. It was one anonymous donor’s gift. It comprises four classrooms with furniture. The new building plan was drawn by the engineer of UNHCR.
The students, parents, and teachers were delighted with the building and worked hard in cleaning the compound, arranging the venue, and washing the classrooms. From early morning, the children were ready with their tidy uniforms. The parents and teachers were busy with decorating. The youth group, Vijana Twaweza, which JRS supports too, was busy for days helping with the celebrations.
The guests of honor, Godfrey Okot, Child Protection Officer representing the Head of SubOffice of UNHCR, Fr. Jose Padinjareparampil of Don Bosco Community, Calvin Omondi representing the Deputy County Commissioner of Turkana West, Rayees Sulaimalebbe, Head of International Organization of Migration, Daniela Bruni, specialist in Education in emergencies from IOM Rome, Laura Sicignano, Professional Theatre Directress from Italy, Angelo Pittaluga our JRS Country Director, were welcomed by the Project Director, Fr. Lasantha De Abrew S.J., Steve Oten, the Deputy Project Director, and Truphena Kirior, the Inclusive Education (IE) Coordinator.
Showing the reality
After the welcome, the guests were taken around the school to see the realities of our infrastructure. With all the challenges they face, our teachers are trying their best to provide a personal attentive approach. The students welcomed the guests gladly. The guests were very much touched with the vocational training class for those who are unable to pursue formal education after assessments. The bead making and the tailoring sections were highly appreciated.
Then the handing over ceremony began. Nancy Chelogoi, the Head Teacher, and Susan Duop, Incentive Teacher, were the mistresses of the ceremony. After the opening prayer, the guests of honor were called upon to declare the building open by cutting the ribbon. A parent and a student joined too. It was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm of the parents as they garlanded all the guests. The blessing of the building took place with the grace of Fr. Padinjareparampil. The entertainment by the students and parents were so vibrant and full of joy. Some of the guests too joined the dance of the parents, the Dinka Tribal dance.
The speeches followed. The welcome speech by our IE Coordinator really emphasized the historical process of JRS’ presence and mission in Kakuma and its unique niche in accompaniment, service and advocacy for these children living with disabilities in our protection and education programs. The golden thread of all these messages was the empowerment of our African Child through education with values.
After the final prayer in the Islamic tradition by an incentive teacher, Fr. Lasantha thanked all those who contributed for the Jennifer Strekal IE Building and all who toiled for the ceremony. He also introduced the invitees to the Vijana Twaweza youth group composed of various nationalities, and their “Fishing in the Desert” project.
The guests of honor and parents were accompanied to the new classrooms to see the quality of the gift. Meanwhile the children were seated in their respective classrooms. The guests were amazed with the facility. This is the dream of JRS for children; quality education with facilities – no one left behind.
This was my final public ceremony as the Project Director in JRS Kakuma. This will be my final gift to these children whom I am going to miss.
Fr. Lasantha De Abrew S.J.