Our first school year is complete. My heart brims with joy as our students celebrate their graduation. They started with us in September mostly speaking the local language Bambara and finish the year respectfully speaking with the teachers in French and with a good vocabulary in English. All the children this first year were on full scholarships since they come from families living below the poverty line (less than $2 per day) in an area that was severely impacted by the recent civil wars in Côte d’Ivoire.
We have served over 3796 meals of vegetarian food at our campus this past year. The children have relished being nurtured in such a profound way always honoring the food by washing their hands, singing a song together before eating, sitting quietly enjoying the food and then taking a precious long nap together under the loving care of our teachers. Many of these children come from tumultuous homes where having your own bed is a rare luxury for a child. Two children didn’t miss one day of the year, which is a success story of devotion from their parents along with their health being strong. The main reasons for the children being absent are malaria, malnutrition and colds.
Five parent meetings were held over the year. All events were well attended with 10-30 parents present at every gathering. Subjects such as the importance of nutrition, sleep and rhythm of the day have been discussed. The parent community have shown great appreciation for these events with enthusiastic interactions which is a great sign of the involvement of our growing community in Bouaké.
Three festivals were held over the course of the year. The themes were Cacao, Yam and Mango. All of the festivals were thoroughly prepared and the subjects were weaved into the weeks leading up to the events with special songs during the morning circle, storytelling and crafts.
The frequent nature walks and planting crops on the land of the school were some of the highlight activities. Traditional broom making was notably one of the favorite of the creative exercises and later using the brooms to keep the classroom clean was also something they thoroughly enjoyed.
I am so proud of our two teachers and heroes; Virginio Silue and Innocent Adiko. Even with all the challenges faced they have embodied grace, patience and creativity with the children every day. This is the Waldorf way to live the teachings. Over the past year I have come to develop an indelible trust and respect for them and their level of commitment to the children. They have both successfully completed two modules at the Waldorf education center of East Africa in Kenya and their next module in Nairobi is coming up in August.
Eleven children, in the ages 3-4 years old, completed this first year of kindergarten with us. All children this year were on full scholarships from L’Ecole Des Enfants made possible through generous donations from hundreds of kind souls from about ten countries supporting our operations. I don’t want to single out any individuals since ALL of you who donated made a BIG difference! In particular I want to thank the Mahle Foundation and IASWECE for their bounteous grants that significantly supported our mission.
Energetically and etherically I want to thank Nana Göbel and Shannon Honigblum who have been gracefully working with myself and the teachers on many different levels to ensure that it is indeed the teachings of Rudolf Steiner that is flowing at our campus, which is paramount to make the lasting impact a Waldorf Education offers. I have the utmost gratitude towards both these extraordinary women for all their guidance, wisdom and encouragement.
For our next year we anticipate to hire one more teacher and new admission is open for non scholarship students. Our scholarship children from this year will continue the next year and this will be made possible thanks to the benevolent donations that our organization continues to receive from around the world.
This past year we have just been able to cover the operational costs and we still need to raise $14.000 to drill a well on our campus to bring fresh water to our site as this whole year water has been transported from the closest village some kilometers away. We all know and appreciate the importance of access to good quality water and this is a key priority for us and we welcome the support to realize this next step to improve our campus.
Finally I want to thank the local administration for their tenacity; Marc Soro, Aboubacar Sylla, Cedric N’Dja, Ramadan Sakson, Yaya Diomandé and Elias Kouame. I also want to thank the global leadership team for your continued passion; Tuija Voutilainen Lynch, Xuanhang Zhang, Johan Forsberg, Li Xu, Elizabeth Dickson-Stevenson, Betzabe Villarreal and Julie Lattouf.
It’s been my tag line from the onset of the project and time and time again you have all proven it true: #TogetherWeCAN!!!