By far, the biggest thing in Sereolipi is the school. At its outset, the school consisted of a blackboard around a Thorn Tree. Students took their lessons altogether outside. In 1975, the first classrooms were constructed (around the same time the bridge was put up) but enrollment remained very low. Why?
(1) Traditionally, families employ their children to tend the livestock, to protect and graze and goats and cows. Since this was the sole source of food and income for these families, they simply could not afford to send their children to school during the day.
(2) The Samburu are nomadic people, they go where the grass is. Families and homes move (as often as every 5 weeks, but in some cases they will stay in the same place for up to six months) and the walk to school becomes longer and longer. Many families simply did not have the stability to send their children to school.
(3) For many Samburu families, education seemed simply impractical and had little perceived benefit in their day-to-day lives. 98% or 99% of the parents currently living in Sereolipi have never set foot inside of a classroom. There were no role models in the community, no success stories to bring the benefits of education from the cliche catch phrase down to something tangible.
But now everything in changing, dramatically, in large part due to the work of two Georges (George the village Chief and George the school Principal) and Jane Newman. Much more on how this happened later, but first, my mentee Thomas gives us a tour...
Take the Tour
See the Photo Album