DIRTPOL at a Secondary School Cultural Day in Kibera by Ann Kirori

>When I walked into this secondary school in Kibera, through its main gate after defying the odds of a chilly drizzly morning on Tuesday 11th November, 2014, the sight that greeted me warmed my heart. From the cordial and welcoming people to the architectural finesse, to the fine lawns and lush green vegetation, “school X” is a gem worth a visit. It remains to be one of the most beautiful schools I work with.  It is the greenest school in the country.

I was an invited Guest of Honour representing DirtPol Project at the “school X” Cultural Day 2014. The theme of the cultural day was ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION: IMPORTANCE OF RECYCLING, PLANTING OF TREES AND CLEANLINESS. The school is one of four Jesuit schools in Africa and also a new school in the DirtPol Project. This was the second visit to the school. However having previously worked with the school before made it easier to gain entry and also get an opportunity to be a guest speaker at the annual event. In this cultural day my role was to give a 20 minutes talk on ‘Cleanliness’. The cultural day participants were Form 1, Form 2 and Form 3 students who are 13 – 16 years old since the Form 4’s (17 years) had just completed their final exams and departed from schools.

When the program began, our contact person for the event who doubled as the emcee allowed for some thrilling entertainment before ushering inA geography teacher at the school to give a talk on the theme. She was very comprehensive and eloquently so in tackling the three key pillars of the theme which were Environment, Cleanliness and Culture. The students appeared increasingly knowledgeable about the issues concerning environmental conservation with focus on tree planting, recycling, cleanliness, culture and even other issues such as climate change.

The teacher’s presentation was followed by artwork presentations where students had come up with different drawings that were reflective of the theme of the day. This was followed by a series of creative and traditional wear runway shows. The shows were both entertaining, intriguing and eco-friendly. For example, a student showcased handmade sandals and a shirt made out of waste polythene bags. The judges put to task some of the respondents asking them to explain the relationship between what they were presenting and the theme of the day. Majority of the students were in-sync with the theme and could draw out deeper meanings. Skits, songs, poems, and dances also disseminated crucial information concerning the need to conserve the environment, observe cleanliness and hygiene and protect biodiversity.

I had an opportunity to present a 20-minute talk about cleanliness and environment while adorning the school uniform. There were loud screams and cheering as I walked on stage wearing the school uniform. The students jumped up and down waving madly at me while screaming at the top of their voice. It was such a moment! I felt young again and the love around me was overwhelming! I waited till the crowd calmed down and went straight to my talk which began with a question on the origins of cleanliness. Fifteen volunteer students attempted to respond to the question, “Where did cleanliness come from?” to no avail. While most of them took academic dimensions and sophisticated social studies’ terminologies, none of them came close to the answer sought for. While the answer is now known, I will leave it out for the purposes of allowing you an opportunity to think about it. I must say that the book titled ‘Clean’ a history of personal hygiene and purity’ by Virginia

Overall, Form Three West under their class teacher, Millicent, emerged winners. The climax of the cultural day was the announcement of Mr. and Miss “School X” 2014 where Arnold and Beryl were declared winners respectively. After the final prayer, the students were glad as we were to take a few photos before we all left for home. A truly enlightening, thrilling, and awesome experience that was!

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