Anthony Thurham, doing V.S.O. at MWEA Secondary School
P.O. Box 80, Kangoya, Kenya

Here I am at last. At the moment I am teaching in a small secondary school at Mwea, 60 miles from Nairobi and 9 miles off the tarmac. So far facilities have been bad, but we are just becoming state-aided and have been given the money to build a laboratory immediately and to buy the equipment which will be a great help. The first day I was here I was presented with a list of science equipment by the Headmaster and told to spend 5,000 shillings by Christmas!

It's fairly hot here since we are lower than both Nairobi and Nyeri - about 78-87o by day and about 55-60 o by night. There are a lot of malarial mosquitoes about owing to the new irrigation scheme that surrounds us.

For the first two weeks I was teaching maths in a Junior Seminary in Nyeri and I promised both the boys there and the boys in Mwea that I would find them penfriends among the Salvatorian boys at my School. Would you be able to send me a list of boys and their hobbies etc.

Since I came here I have been able to get about a bit. I have been to Nairobi including the Game Park and across the Aberdare Mountains into the Rift Valley. I have also made the acquaintance of a priest whom I met in Boxmoor in 1964. The only non-Africans around are a Peace Corps Worker and myself and we do our own cooking over a charcoal fire....

MWEA November 1968

The time is 16.45. Laying aside my last pieces of work I carry my kerosene lamp into the kitchen to open and drink my third coke of the day. Yes - even out here where one would have to travel fifteen miles to buy cheese, fish, marmalade, pork etc., Coca-Cola is as well-known as back home in England and is sold at every duke and bar! Although it has been dark for the last half hour, it is hot - shirtsleeves would be more than warm enough but as they offer no protection against the mosquitoes, I prefer to be safe and sweat.

Here I teach Science at a local school, nine miles from any made-up road, fifty miles from any sizeable town. It is so-called Haranbee school - financed by the peoples own efforts, but now at last it has qualified for a Government grant and this month the contractors will begin to build a laboratory, to be ready for next term. So far the boys have only had a very rudimentary training in science and now I am faced with the establishment of a scientific tradition at the school, being the only science teacher here, with the materials with which I am provided.

Today began like most other days - about 15 minutes too late - at 7.15 a.m. After cooking a breakfast of Chapati (local pancakes) and tea, we began school at 8 a.m. There was a ninety minute break for dinner - fresh tomato, lettuce, egg and a tin of salmon, which was a luxury. School went on until three, we had a break for 10 minutes for a 'coke' and then began the lab periods. I take nine bays at a time after school in a poky little storeroom, which holds what little apparatus we have. At 5.30, with my lungs smarting from an overdose of N02 and S02, I returned to the little bungalow I share with a boy from the American Peace Corps for the second coke of the evening and then spent about an hour perusing a list of Science textbooks, preparing a list for the school. That is a fairly typical day's work here at Mwea. In the evenings we sometimes go out with our two African teachers for a drink and talk at the local 'bar' or just stay home and take stock; at weekends we can travel to Nairobi or Nyeri - if one does not mind changing buses four times and finishing up in a 1900 Peugeot. Far more rewarding is to visit local homes with the African trekkers or have a nosh-up with the local Mission Fathers. All in all it is a wonderful opportunity to try new things, see new places and generally sort out one's ideas.

Anthony Thurham.

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