During the Half Term, a group of eleven girls from New House travelled to Kenya to visit Gilgil Special School in Kivuli.

The first few days in Kenya were spent in Nairobi, exploring crafts markets and visiting animal sanctuaries where they watched orphaned elephants being fed, and even got to stroke them. At a giraffe sanctuary, the giraffes were friendly enough to kiss. On safari at the Nairobi National Park they saw Africa’s finest, including rhinos, lions and giraffes.

The journey by road to Kivuli provided a riveting panorama of daily African life as well as driving etiquette Kenya-style. The group was hosted at Pembroke House School not far from Gilgil Special School where they spent the remaining days helping at the school.

Rhoda Otieno, the Deputy Head Mistress, introduced them to the routines of the school and the children in the five different classes. All the children are challenged by a variety of disabilities, and many lack any family support. The school focuses on providing the care and support the children require to grow up with confidence. The school’s priority is to train their pupils to perform daily life tasks and crafts skills that will allow more productive and independent living when they leave school.

The New House community had previously raised funds to support a physiotherapy room, which was named after the previous Housemistress, Marianne Kerr. The girls were able to see how the facility is used and how the children’s mobility can be improved with a programme of regular therapy.

The girls took thirteen duffel bags full of clothes, stationery and arts and crafts supplies for the school, and all the children received at least one set of new clothes, which was a first for some of them.

The pupils spent the days working and playing with the children, learning more from them than they had thought possible, including how to make bracelets that are sold in the craft markets. They left a lasting mark behind with a series of vibrantly painted murals in the dorms.

On the last day the pupils joined in a whole school celebratory disco party where everyone showed off their best dance moves. For the final leaving ceremony, the children formed a joyful conga to escort them out, leaving the pupils with unforgettable memories.