It is amazing to hear how a not-so-small remote village on the top of a volcanic mountain overlooking the Rift Valley in Kenya can continue to educate their students remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Founded in 2009, Camp Brethren Ministries, of which Camp Brethren Christian School is a major part, has grown from children being fed after church on Sunday to a school of nearly 450 students. Several hundred students board at the school which runs from PK-Form 3 in High School. The new High School, which is all boarding students, goes to Form 3, which is equal to Junior Year in US High School; next year will be the first graduating class. The school also ministers to about 40 orphans and 25 students with disabilities ranging from the Autism Spectrum to physical disabilities. The non-boarding students come from the village that fills the vast remote region surrounding the school.
When the Kenyan government closed schools in March due to Covid-19, students from CBCS scattered to many areas of Kenya. Teachers and staff got to work to ensure the continuity of education from home, especially for the rising 7th and 8th graders who face practice tests (7) and the National Exam (8) at the end of the school year. Camp Brethren Christian School has been placing in the top 5% of schools in Kenya taking the exam, which then leads to the opportunity to continue in High School which provides further education and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty that so many have lived in all of their lives.
Each class (subject) has their own WhatsApp group where teachers send the work to be done at home with a due date. Students use their parent’s phones to receive and then post their work back to the teachers. Questions and answers also go through the WhatsApp group. Teachers are also available on a rotating schedule every evening between 8-9pm to field questions and explain areas of the assignment where students may have had problems. Local students whose parents may not have a phone will walk to the gate of the school, to receive their assignments, along with a meal or provisions they can take home to their family; some walking many miles to participate.
Camp Brethren Ministries is about the whole child, a holistic approach to learning which includes their mental (education), physical (nutritious feeding program & health care) and spiritual needs (encouragement from God’s Word.) Two local churches have been started by CBM and the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached and taught. With churches also closed, Pastor Steve and Mary Njenga who run CBM, put together an outreach program with the permission of the village chief, where they could continue to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of the neediest families in the village, many of which include students from the school. Along with the aid of other CBM staff, each day they fill up the back of Pastor Steve’s truck with food staples, hand sanitizer and face masks and head off into the village and the bush to bring food, safety supplies and most importantly encouragement from the Word of God. Another team led by teachers is following the same protocol and visiting the homes of their students to also check in on their schoolwork and teach safety measures regarding Covid-19 and bring food where needed.
David’s Hope International, the US based partner with Camp Brethren Ministries is raising funds to help with supplies for this outreach. DHI sends about a dozen short term mission teams during the year to help in all areas of CBM Ministry. DHI also runs a child sponsorship program, providing an education, meals, and healthcare to over 140 students. If you would like to give or get involved in sponsorship, there is more information on the website. www.davidshope.org