Back in January, we lost 50 children from the school at Future Stars due to the government inspector’s condemnation of our ‘overcrowding’. That’s 50 children who lost an education. To get these children back into school, we need more space.
Initially, the idea was to rent the rooms opposite those currently occupied by the centre. However, the owner of those rooms has gone one better and built another floor, with Future Stars having first refusal on its occupation.
The New Building
The new building consists of a medium sized room (first door on the left once you get up the stairs), followed by a small room, and a large hall with another small room leading off it.
Future Stars has already taken occupation of these rooms, in faith that we at Chaffinch can come up with the funds for the rent and furnishing. The boys have moved into the first room to the relief of the neighbours. All those boys sharing a room can be quite noisy and we were getting complaints. By moving them across the passage, they will now disturb nobody. A lockable door at the top of the stairs means that they are safe from intruders at night.
The hall has already been used A LOT. Shown in the photo above is its use during ‘guardians day’, when those responsible for the children at the school came to hear about their children’s progress, the school’s plans for the future, and to see the new accommodation. We were also able to provide a hot meal for them, which was gratefully received. In the evenings, this hall is used for the residential children to play together, listen to music, and have fun before bed.
In the future, we hope to furnish the hall to provide three classrooms for the youngest children of the school. We would like to install moveable partitions, painted to double as blackboards. This would mean that the three classrooms could easily be transformed back into one hall for special occasions and school meetings. The two smaller rooms will provide office space and storage space for the teachers.
Of course, the longer term plan is to build premises of our own. A place that we can be certain will provide what is needed for many years to come. The present home of Future Stars is threatened by the government’s slum clearance programme.
There is land available on the edge of Kibera, high on the hill. The air is fresher, there’s a main water pipeline just metres away, there are power lines installed, and there would be space for a playing field, enclosed within the compound to keep the children safe. This is the vision for the future – I hope it will become reality before too much more time has passed.
Yet there’s something much more urgent than the huge purchase of land. The toilet and washroom facilities have reached the end of their life. Last week, we nearly lost little Tashley down the hole when the floor collapsed under her. With a 25 foot drop below, it is such a relief that another child managed to pull her out of the hole that had appeared. The current facilities are totally unsuitable for purpose. In fact, the health inspector is due next week and there’s a real fear that they will be condemned. If this happens, there’s a danger that the school will have to close until new facilities can be constructed.
With so much expansion and construction required, it will take a little time to make formal plans. However, I’m hopeful that the amazing Chaffinch supporters will step up and help to improve the lives of the wonderful children of Future Stars.