Follow up!

Hello friends, far and wide! Today I received the most wonderful email from my former Associate Peace Corps Director, Enos. I’m including it below for your enjoyment, and to thank you once again for being so supportive and generous throughout my service in Kenya. The awesome thing about this email (there are actually several awesome things) is that it doesn’t only cover the accomplishments during my service, but also those of previous Peace Corps Volunteers. Nina is truly the epitome of a success story! Ero kamano, friends!


By Nina Special School for the Deaf

Nina School for the Deaf started as a unit in a regular school way back in 1995 in North Alego location of Siaya County; Nyanza Province of Kenya. This school struggled to make headways of growth till the arrival of the first Peace Corps Volunteer in December 2006. The arrival of Madam Elizabeth Urquhart kindled a great light of hope to the school. Locally known as Achieng, Elizabeth from Wisconsin State, United States of America became a real inspiration in the development of deaf social welfare in Nina. During her stay the school saw the construction of a dormitory by the Ministry of Education, courtesy of her proposal writing skills, lobbying and advocacy skills, and relentless spirit that she passed on to her colleagues. These efforts saw the deaf children move from a one four-walled room that provided classes for multiple grades, into their own fully built and gated school compound.


Her passion for the welfare of the deaf was obvious. It extended to building partnerships with the local community to accept and extend arms of comfort to this population. The starting of a Deaf adults’ church at the Siaya Baptist Church which exists to date was one of the results of these partnerships. Her prowess on matters of improvisation of teaching aids cannot go unmentioned. Save for the post-election violence in 2007/2008 that cut short her stay, the completion of her service would have been of extensive benefit to the deaf learners and community. Beth Achieng (Elizabeth Urquhart) was evacuated due to safety reasons amidst a lot of denial from her community.

January 2010 saw the arrival of another God sent Peace Corps Volunteer: Whitney Holmes from California. She arrived in a style, almost suggesting that she had been sent to complete what Beth Achieng (Elizabeth Urquhart) had left behind. She kept the fire of the teaching aid improvisation burning. She silently observed deaf children fetch water on their heads one kilometer away from school with a lot of remorse. Whitney was so moved that she proceeded to assist the school raise funds and sink a water borehole in the school compound. “Today we can stand tall and boast of a clean water supply in our compound, also benefitting the surrounding community”. It is our pride that learners no longer walk across the traffic on busy roads with pails and basins on their heads to fetch water every morning and evening. The villagers from around the school are not left out. They fetch water from this source at a minimal fee which the school uses for the maintenance of the water pump. That was her dream and she surely achieved it! Whitney’s local name was Akinyi. This name has remained popular to-date especially when people discuss water matters. “We call her so to date as we sip the sweet waters of her sweat”. One community leader exclaimed.


Things did not stop at Akinyi’s departure. Peace Corps sent yet another angel to rekindle the glowing splint in December 2011 after Akinyi’s departure. Kelsey Adhiambo Nyar Siaya (Adhiambo the daughter of Siaya), the ever smiling lady of West Virginia in the United States of America was the replacement. Her real name is Kelsey Full. She proudly blogged about Nina Special school for the Deaf and put Nina in the global web platform. She loved her pupils and taught her classes with such deep passion. Adhiambo, a lover of black tea mixed with ordinary natural lemon fruit reserved the luxury rich milk tea for her pupils: She constituted a proposal and for a dairy project and successfully acquired two dairy cows that initiated the joy of milk tea for the deaf children and extra income for the school. “We report with pride that black tea became a thing of the past in our school”. Part of the milk from this project is sold to the community. The income is used to enhance acquisition of learning materials for the pupils. Adhiambo left Nina shoulder high at the successful completion of her two years of service. The cows have since then given birth and increased in number and milk production.


The school saw great improvement in learner admission from fifteen pupils when the first Peace Corp Volunteer arrived to eighty two when the last one left in December 2013. We still look forward to welcoming other Peace Corps Volunteers to enjoy our hospitality as we share lots of experiences from across the continents.

The school has every reason to thank the Peace Corps organization in Kenya for consistently recommending our school for hosting Deaf Education Volunteers. We are thankful for the American government for allowing its citizens of great repute to come and offer themselves selflessly to the service of the less fortunate in Siaya.

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