Today we visited St. Patrick’s High School in Eldoret, the subject of our pilot for boy’s schools. Also known as ‘the runner’s school’, it is a mark of national pride for many, having “taken Kenya’s flag all over the world” as Olympian and alumni Mike Boit put it. This is no understatement, considering his fellow alumni include Matthew Birir, Wilson Kipketer, and Japheth Kimutai. So well known is this area for producing runners that when driving to the school, it is not uncommon to see an international array of trainers testing their endurance along the dusty wind-swept roads of Eldoret.
This was my first visit not only to the library but to the actual school premise, and it was somewhat daunting to know where to begin. The boys themselves were wonderfully receptive. Charming and confident, they were almost the antithesis to the shy reception received from the girls at Precious Blood. And yet, the standards of the library, and indeed any indication of a reading culture, was much weaker. Although, like a pair of old shoes, the library still served a semblance of its purpose, it was dilapidated, outdated, and neglected. The dust-heavy books completely separated from the austere reading desks, it was not surprising when the teachers admitted it was not the most popular destination on the school grounds.
That being said, we had a promising discussion with the faculty of the school as we explained our project to them. It is hard to say this early on how engaged or supportive they are of the project, but hopefully tomorrow when we deliver our first set of books, our intentions of helping the students enrich their literacy skills will be fully grasped.