Elma Barnett Children's Centre, Kamonong began as a basic Christian home for children in the Kamonong area of Kenya. Today EBCC is a complex consisting of a school and living area for primary children (grades 1-8) and a shamba (farm) with crops and livestock. Directly adjacent is the Elma Kamonong High School campus, featuring a well-oufitted school that serves our older students plus boarding students from other areas.
The primary boys and girls live year-round in dormitories, grouped together by gender and age. Each child has a bed with personal storage area and for some of them this is the most secure and stable home they have ever known. Apartment areas provide living space for the two dorm parents (boys/girls) who care for the children on a daily basis and provide a parental role model.
A dining hall provides space for meals, crafts, assemblies, indoor play during the rains, and worship on Sunday morning. Originally a room with open windows, it now has paned glass and a newly tiled floor, to improve durability and ease of maintenance. When Walindwa directors visit, we are always treated to singing, traditionally led by one of the elder girls. Here's a video from 2012, the year Walindwa was formalized.
Directly across from the dining hall stands the kitchen, where a cook prepares meals for the 40+ primary students. A typical lunch menu includes githeri (a stew made from beans and maize) plus rice. Dinner might be green grams, also known as mung beans, supplemented with eggs and meat from the chickens and milk from the cows. While sounding plain, the meals are nutritionally complex and complete.
The primary classrooms are a short walk away from the living areas, at the top of a small rise. Here you find a long building with two classrooms and flush toilets. A nearby building provides staff housing. Traditional paper and pencil workbooks are supplemented with eReaders, giving the children a glimpse of the technology that awaits them in high school.
The boys and girls each have their own areas for toileting and showering. As is common in Kenya, there is no actual standing toilet, but instead a porcelin waste hole with a raised flush tank. No sitting down here! Toilet paper and soap are stored with the dorm parents and retreived by the children as needed. Pro tip: the Swahili word for bathroom is choo.
Laundry is old school: done by hand in tubs of water and then hung on the line to dry. If a brief rain passes through, the clothes get an extra rinse! Each child is responsible for the care and cleaning of their own wardrobe, which includes a school uniform plus casual clothes for play and weekends. New underclothes are a constant need, with so many growing children.
Kenyans are a physically active people and of course the children are more so! A football pitch (soccer field) is essential and the play area also includes swings and a place to play net ball (volleyball). Soccer balls have a short life here, since the turf is rough and they are constantly used. In 2018 a slide was added to the area, in memory of Della Weller, mother of Jill Weller, Walindwa's founder.
Teachers & Staff
The primary children are taught by two teachers. Due to the vast differences in education that the children have experienced before coming to live at the Centre, there may be a wide range of ages in children in the same grade. The curriculum in use allows the students to work at a pace that is appropriate for them.