For the fifteenth year, a group of pupils and staff visited Kenya, spending five days around the town of Gilgil (north-west of Nairobi up in the Rift Valley), working in schools and orphanages they have partnered with for some time now. The group then spent three nights in the Masai Mara working through Governor’s Camp, with an eye to linking with some local schools in a digital project to be coordinated by Oundle’s Head of Digital Strategy, Dai Barnes. Finally, back in Nairobi, the pupils visited the innovative sports project at Sadili Oval, situated on the edge of the Kibera slums, which aims to empower children through sport.
History teacher, Head of Charities and Trip Organiser, Ian Clark commented, “Our pupils were impressive, taking everything we threw at them in their stride, from bartering for fruit in the market to making concrete (Kenyan style) whilst working on creating a vegetable garden at Gilgil Special School.”
Naomi Jones, Director of the Stahl Theatre in Oundle, also joined the trip to look at a drama partnership with Ngecho School, Gilgil and Liz Dillarstone, Head of Community Action, furthered already strong links with Gilgil Special School.
Pupil, Fin Moore (16), for whom this was the second School trip to Kenya, commented, “The trip makes you realise how lucky you are whilst enabling you to help others and make a real difference. There is definitely a sense of achievement. For me it was great to return and see the path we built in 2014 still being put to great use.”
Pupil, Emily Acheson-Gray (17) added, “I found it both very sad to see the children in the orphanages yet humbling to see how they are so happy. We were lucky enough to see the two contrasting worlds in Kenya - tourism in the Masai Mara and deprivation in the schools and orphanages of Gilgil. I loved interacting with children and learning a bit of Swahili, as well as seeing close up a pride of lions attack a buffalo.”
Pupil, Hugo Beazley (18) concluded, “Having not worked with special needs children before I was a bit apprehensive, however, the kindness of each individual child shone through so much whilst at Gilgil Special School that it made the whole experience completely magical and something I shall remember forever. With such a small group we all felt we were able to speak to each child properly, making friendships that seemed as if we had known them for life.
The trip made a small impact on the children we met, but a huge impact on ourselves, enhancing so many skills from communication to netball. Ngecho Secondary School brought our own education into sharp focus at the interaction with Kenyan children our own age and allowed us to share the same thoughts and questions about the future, both for ourselves and for them.”
Head of Community Action, Liz Dillarstone commented, “It was a privilege to work alongside such dedicated teachers and carers at Gilgil Special School and in the residential Kivuli hostels. Each child has a story and getting to see their progress in the twelve months since I last visited was for me a hugely rewarding and without a doubt life-changing experience. Through the selfless dedication of inspirational teachers such as Rhoda Otieno, these children’s lives have been transformed. Kivuli is a UK based charity run entirely by volunteers, resulting in very little by way of overheads. A little goes a long way in the lives of these very special children.”
For more information about The Kivuli Trust, a UK based charity supporting the work at Gilgil Special School visit www.kivulitrust.org
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.