My Favorite Academic Teacher

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Since arriving in Kenya, Kenneth Oloo has stood out to me. He is a rising star. I was not expecting to find such a young, capable leader whose character is defined by humility, loyalty and honesty. We call him “Teacher Ken”. He has consistently grown as a leader and consistently grown in my estimation of his abilities. He is a very young man, but does his work with maturity and diligence. He is trusted by the Head Teacher, students and parents and has a deep commitment to Christ and to teaching the Word of God. I sat down with Teacher Ken today to learn more about his life and view of leadership.

Q: How long have you worked at NHA and what position did you start in?

I came here in May of 2013. I’ve been on staff at New Hope Academy for two and a half years. In 2013, I was hired as the Class 4 Teacher. Last year, I was asked to be the Assistant Academic Teacher & Class 5 Teacher. And, now, this year, I am the Academic Teacher which is considered part of the administration and school leadership.

Q: Why did you become a teacher?

First of all, when I was in high school, it was my dream to be a teacher. So, I decided, although my parents were not well off, they were unable to pay for my college, I moved to Nairobi in 2011 and started tutoring pupils, neighbors and decided this would be my career. After tutoring for a while, I started applying for jobs at local schools, but I was not trained. New Hope hired me even though I had not been trained. When I started at New Hope, I started college by taking classes at night and received a certificate in education. Now, I am planning to start my diploma this year in August.

Q: Now, that you are in administration, do you miss teaching?

I still teach Social Studies to Class 7 and English to Class 8.

Q: Who has been the most influential leader in your life and why?

First, when I stepped into this school, I became friend to Head Teacher (Festus Muendo), and he was acting as my parent and mentor. We would sit, and he would advise me and really influenced my life and really made my life to change.

Q: How do you define leadership?

Leadership is the state of the position of being a leader. The way of organizing and planning things in a place or organization to improve the lives of the people.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the students of NHA?

I hope to ensure that the students of NHA reach their academic goals. And, also to ensure that I am a mentor to them. My hope for them is that they live according to the Bible and that they know the Word of God, and the Word is directing them to excel in their life.

Q: Anything else you want to tell my blog readers?

New Hope Academy is a great place that has literally up-lifted the children in Kibera. It is still strong and still looking forward to eradicate poverty in Kibera by educating children here and giving them a hope for their future.

Today I am thankful

I don’t have anything clever to say today or an amazing photo to post about my life in Nairobi. But, here are the most recent photos on my iphone.

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Biashara is working on some new designs this summer. The dark blue/gold necklace is a cascade that our Founder, Karen, designed. And the red/multicolored necklace is actually an old design we are bringing back. Check out our website in the coming months! We are working hard this summer to prepare for the busy fall season and holiday sales.

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Also, I have three teams staying with me over the next month. In the photo above, I am walking behind my friend, Steve, carrying new mattresses and helping me purchase bunk beds (or double decker as they call them) for the guests. Steve is one of my favorite people here. He helps me with various tasks associated with living in Nairobi and he takes care of my car. He is one of the people that I depend on here.

Today, as I was walking behind him, it made me realize how many Kenyans I follow. I’ve started running again with my Kenyan running partner who is obviously faster than me. So, I mostly see his back. I follow him through the roads of Karen and follow his every step. There’s also my friend and colleague, Scola, who manages Biashara. She leads me spiritually, reminding me often of God’s grace and how sufficient it is for our daily tasks. There’s Festus, the Head Teacher of New Hope Academy, who teaches me about the culture and brings a lot of laughter into my life. And, then, there’s my pastor, Ken, who teaches me the Word of God and points me to the gospel each week. You know, I came to Kenya thinking I would serve the people here, but, actually, they are serving me. It’s a humbling realization.

My Favorite Madame

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This lady has become a very bright spot in my life and work here in Kenya. Everyday that I walk into the New Hope Kibera compound, she lights up with a big smile and greets me. She always compliments me and makes me feel like a celebrity just walked up, and I am the celebrity. I have come to adore her, trust her and laugh with her often. Our favorite laugh is making fun of each others colorful rubber boots on rainy days. I have hot pink ones; she has purple.

Madame Francisco Mutunga is the Deputy Head Teacher at New Hope Academy in Kibera. I like to tell everyone, she runs the place. And, while many people come together to accomplish our work, Madame Mutunga is the solid cornerstone that holds it all together. She is loyal, hard working and bright. She loves her family and has made the New Hope family part of her own.

I sat down with her today to talk about her work and views on leadership. I love her concise yet thoughtful responses to my questions.

Q: How long have you worked at New Hope Academy and what position did you start in?

I have worked here at the school since 2006. I started as a teacher, teaching math, Kiswahili, science and CRE to Class 4, 5, & 6.

Q: What was the school like then?

Terrible. Unexplainable. 

Q: Why did you become a teacher?

First of all, I wanted to work with children and mentor them. Secondly, in the teaching profession, as you do the work you can learn more. That was appealing to me – to continue learning while working. 

Q: Now, that you are in administration at the school, do you miss teaching?

Yes, I miss it, so now I try to find time to be in the classroom as much as possible. I teach science, to Class 4 and math to Class 5.

Q: Who has been the most influential leader in your life and why?

When I was young, my father died, so my uncle took care of me. My aunt (his wife) became very influential in my life. She taught me the realities of life and many things that have helped me in my life.

Also, Head Teacher, Festus, has influenced me and taught me many things in leadership and real life situations. 

Q: How do you define leadership?

Leadership is the ability to direct and involve yourself and others in planning and doing certain things. 

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the students of NHA?

Many of our students come from poor families who stay within the slum all their lives. My hope is that God would help them learn and get a good future and help their families leave the slum and get a better life than they have today. 

Q: Anything else you want to tell my blog readers?

Thank God for you and your heart to help. Thank you for sending Lauren, because she has transformed us. She has been a great support to us. Thank you for the great job you have done to let God fulfill his word unto you that says whoever ministers to these little ones of mine, ministers unto me. Amen! 

Ready for our visitors!

To recharge before our busy season, I went on holiday last week with my parents in the South of France. We had a wonderful time enjoying all the Cote d’Azur has to offer. I thought I’d share a few photos of our trip. Now that I’m back in Nairobi, I’ve hit the ground running!

Our first team arrived last week. Brooklynn and Luke brought a team of 11 from Detroit to work with the teachers and kids in our school and help out with some projects around the compound. On their first day, they hosted an appreciation lunch for our teachers providing pizza, sodas and lots of fun gifts! They also had a chance to fellowship and get to know our teachers and tell them how much they are loved and appreciated!

The past few days, I’ve been helping to host the team as well as getting ready for a very busy season of production for Project Biashara. The summer months are crucial for us to produce all the products we will sell in the fall and holiday season. In addition, we have a huge textile order that we are excited to get started.

Please pray for our teams and projects this summer. Pray for safety and ease in travel and effectiveness in ministry. Also, pray for energy, wisdom and grace for me as a lead and host many visitors.

Please pray for diligence and thoughtfulness for me and our Biashara women and that we will complete our production goals over the next two months. Pray for smooth logistics in packing and shipping products back to the U.S.

Thanks for your prayers and support!

View of Cote d'Azur from my bedroom window. Loved waking up to this view!

View of Cote d’Azur from my bedroom window. Loved waking up to this view!

Mom and I enjoying Cannes.

Mom and I enjoying Cannes.

Having our morning cappuccino and talking selfies.

Having our morning cappuccino and taking selfies.

Bandol wine region of Provence.

Bandol wine region of Provence.

Musee Picasso at the Grimaldi Palace in Antibes

Musee Picasso at the Grimaldi Palace in Antibes

Local food market.

Local food market.

The food...oh, the food.

The food…oh, the food.

Back in Nairobi attending the teacher appreciation lunch at New Hope Kibera.

Back in Nairobi, attending the teacher appreciation lunch at New Hope Kibera.

Big thanks goes to Brooklynn and Luke and their team from Detroit!

Big thanks goes to Brooklynn and Luke and their team from Detroit!