Monday, June 13, 2011

Language Translator added to Koins Blog

I just added a widget to the right side of the Koins blog, so if you are reading this in a foreign country, you can now translate the body of the text to your native language. 

Look for the Google Website Translator Gadget on the right side, and choose your language from the drop box. 

We have had readers from many countries around the world, this should make it easier for you to read about the work we are doing in Kenya.

Asante Sana!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Cindy Workman, Teacher Extraordinaire

Class meeting under tree, because of classroom shortage in Kenya
Bret asked that I tell the story of Cindy Workman and Koins.  She has been an important part of the Koins story from the very beginning, when she and Bret met on an expedition to Kenya in 2002, and their individual passions for helping rural Kenyans meshed and the idea for Koins for Kenya was ignited.

Here is Cindy's story:

Cindy Workman, a teacher at Windridge Elementary in Kaysville, Utah, placed a robust jar atop her desk.  She magically described her recent experience in Kenya to her young students, expressively illustrating what wild animals she had seen, and the beauty of the landscape in Kenya.  In her animated way, Cindy talked about the new friends she had made in the local village, and how she had helped carry a large bucket from the watering hole to the mud hut where her friends lived.  As her captivated students listened intently, Cindy then spoke of her long trek up a hill to where a school was supposedly located.  The villagers wanted this American teacher to see their children learning, so she hiked with them up the steep rise, through rocks and thorns, to the village of Chikomani.

Stretching her arms as wide as they could go Cindy described the gigantic size of the baobab tree at the top of the hill.  She told the children that it was often called the “Upside Down” tree since it often looked like the roots were in the air on these giant trees.  Then, as she tried unsuccessfully to choke back her tears, Cindy described what she saw as they drew closer to the tree.  There were forty-five to fifty small children encircling the tree.  An adult stood at the massive trunk holding a broken piece of plywood that had been covered with a thick coat of blackboard paint.  The wind blew constantly, requiring the teacher to keep hold of this makeshift blackboard that thrashed about as she explained the lesson to the small children in front of her.  The large tree provided shade during the heat of the day, or shelter from the rain, but it was a difficult environment to learn.  Cindy was moved at the sight of these small children and what they would endure to gain an education.  Now, standing in front of her own classroom thousands of miles away, she fought back her emotions as she recounted her experience to her stunned students. 

The jar she placed on her desk was to collect the pocket change of her young students throughout the year.  On many occasions Cindy was asked to tell her story again and again.  The vivid recollection of her long walk to Chikomani, the giant tree, and the group of students assemble underneath its massive branches never dimmed.  Day by day the jar collected shiny nickels, and an assortment of other coins.  A few dollars were donated and the jar filled.  Cindy placed a sign on the jar delineating the purpose for which the funds would somehow be used – Koins for Kenya.

At the end of the school year an accounting took place.  The money that had been raised by these diligent humanitarians was donated to the new foundation that had taken Cindy to Kenya.  When the last penny was tallied Miss Cindy’s class had raised enough funds to construct a small classroom building on that hill in Chikomani.  The children of that village have enjoyed a comfortable environment over the past couple of years due to the assistance of the class so many miles away.  Both schools share the same name – Windridge – and although they are separated by vast lands and deep oceans, they share the common strings of education, a windy knoll, and Cindy Workman, the teacher responsible for educating eager minds on two continents, and providing the inspiration for the naming of the Koins for Kenya Foundation.
The Workman's with students in new uniforms under the baobab tree that used to be their classroom
P.S. – Cindy Workman has continued her efforts with the same simple jar sitting on her desk.  Her stories have grown through her many visits to Kenya, as have her fundraising efforts within her school area in the states.  With her coordinated efforts she and her students have constructed additional classrooms, much needed water cisterns, and latrines for her kids in Kenya.  Mama Cindy, as she is known in this village area, is the symbol of the humantarian spirit and endless love for children.  With dirty little faces, and tattered clothes, these village children greet Mama Cindy with a resounding song when she visits.  Parents praise her for her efforts as they recognize how she impacts their children’s lives.  As Mama Cindy hikes the hill to Chikomani, villagers greet her by name, occasionally introducing her to their newborn babies, many who now bare her name.  They will attend the Windridge School that is shaded by the baobab tree.  The Kenyan Government has recently recognized the Windridge School at Chikomani, providing certified teachers for the classrooms.

Through Cindy's passion and love for teaching, she not only brings education to a rural village in Kenya, but she enriches her 6th grade students and starts them on a course of humanitarianism that will stay with them throughout their lives.  

Cindy has made the trip to Kenya several times, and will again visit Kenya this summer, bringing more blessings to the village of Chikomani.  

Cindy and her husband, Mike, are board members for Koins for Kenya.  It is individuals such as the Workman's whose vision and hard work keep hope alive in Kenya.  

Asante sana!