On August 5 the students of the Jambo Jipya school had the privilege of hearing guest speaker Emmanuel Jal. Jal’s unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation that was born out of his experiences as a child soldier in the Sudan has won worldwide acclaim. Emmanuel is a powerful advocate for peace and positive change. His “We Want Peace” and “Lose to Win” campaigns resonate with young people and inspire them to make a difference. Through his story, students learn about political and social issues, global citizenship and their responsibility to take a stand about world events. The focus of Jal’s presentation to the Jambo Jipya students was education. He spoke to them about his own struggles in school and how at one point he got UN grades. He thought he was unclassified because he was so smart but the opposite was true. He performed so poorly that he was given no grade. From that moment he programmed himself to make positive change, pushing himself to take advantage of opportunities and to learn from others. He encouraged the students to do their best no matter what their circumstances and to get rid of any negative baggage they have. Jal stressed that there will always be obstacles put in your way – it is up to you whether you let them stop you from reaching your goals. This was the pledge he had all the students recite at the end of his presentation.
“I will work hard in school
I will set goals and dreams
I won’t let obstacles get in my way
Even when things are difficult I will strive to do more
I am proud of my school, my town, and my country
It is up to me to make the world a better place!”
So how did Emmanuel Jal come to visit the JJ school? Executive Director of Reason2Smile, Donna Rosenblum, a school librarian in New York has had Jal as a guest speaker and performer at her school in 2011 and 2015. Motivated by his story and his accomplishments, Donna discussed the possibility of a trip to Kenya to inspire the students at Jambo Jipya. Finally this possibly became a reality during the summer of 2016 when Jal was planning to do some recording in Nairobi, Kenya at the end of July and then fly to Uganda for a program in August. A side trip to Mtwapa fit perfectly and the planning began. The culminating event was held on August 6th at the Greenwood Resort in Mtwapa. This family fun event was sponsored by local community organizations whose focus was to showcase local talent. The day was filled with events such as freestyle rap, modern dance, traditional dance, modeling and ended with an encore performance by Emmanuel Jal. The experience was amazing, motivating, inspiring, captivating and of course fun!
In closing here is a recent quote of Emmanuel Jal’s – The mind is the greatest battlefield that every person needs to have. When we face countless defeats but still believe there is victory and hope; then you have not lost but are on the path of success. The power of positive thinking is unlimited.”
On Saturday July 23, the Jambo Jipya primary school competed in a day long cultural competition with seven other local schools. About thirty Jambo Jipya students competed in categories such as traditional dance, modeling, solo verses, coral verses, modern dance, choir music, journalism, question and answer session as well as field events like tug of war, balloon races, relay and sack races. It was a wonderful to not only watch the students perform but to experience the other students routing and cheering on their fellow classmates. I was so caught up at points that I found myself screaming for Jambo Jipya alongside the teachers and students. This was the first time Jambo Jipya competed in this type of event and I am happy to report that we placed second of the eight schools. While the students were satisfied with their performance, they are determined to work hard and take first place next year.
Last November, two of our long time children’s home orphans graduated from the Jambo Jipya School. Both Ritah Kakai and Jeremiah Kadish are kind, caring and responsible individuals who would like to pursue an associate degree in business. Since January they were enrolled in computer courses at the Nesbony College of Professional Studies. In September they will begin a two-year diploma course at the Kenyan Institute of Management in Mombasa. Each semester is roughly $350.00 per student. R2S is looking for sponsorship for each semester (350.00) or year (700.00) or 1500.00 for diploma programs for both Ritah and Jeremiah. Please contact Reason2Smile if interested and program details will be shared at this time. Thank you in advance for supporting these wonderful individuals with their dreams.
Students at Roland Chatterton Elementary School in Merrick, New York are smiling from ear to ear as a result of their fundraising efforts this past April/May. The sixth-grade’s unique “Acts of Kindness” fundraiser provided Reagan, an elementary student at the Jambo Jipya School in Mwtapa, Kenya, with another year of schooling through the nonprofit organization Reason2Smile.
The journey began last year with the Class of 2015. The theme of “Act of Kindness” has always been a part of Chatterton’s character education program, but incorporating this project into the present curriculum enabled the sixth grade teachers to take it to the next level. Over a two week period students were responsible for listing one of more acts of kindness a day and then reflect on them. In addition the sixth grade students shared and discussed their actions with classmates as well as worked on a writing piece that used their persuasive writing skills to support a cause of their choosing. Tied to the “Acts of Kindness” theme the students have been learning about the non-profit Reason2Smile and its work in Kenya. Reason2Smile’s mission is to financially assist impoverished orphans and at-risk children living in developing countries with a safe living environment, proper nutrition and a good-quality education. Utilizing the Reason2Smile curriculum trunk, students learned about the Jambo Jipya school in Mtwapa, Kenya and gained a better understanding and appreciation of Kenyan life. The trunk includes a variety of teaching tools to allow students to critically analyze and explore life in the developing world.
With a fundraising goal of $300 — the cost of sending an elementary child to school for an entire year — sixth-graders held a two-week “Acts of Kindness” fundraiser in which students found sponsors to support their kind acts. Students recorded their acts of kindness, and sponsors contributed a flat rate for their participation or assigned any dollar amount of their choosing for each act performed. To supplement the effort, sixth-graders of Deborah Cain’s and Victoria Ryan’s classes sold Kenyan jewelry/crafts and Reason2Smile bracelets provided by the organization. The bracelets symbolized community, with an emphasis that all people are connected in some way.
On the final day of the fundraiser, Donna Rosenblum, Executive Director of Reason2Smile and a former Chatterton parent, paid a special visit to the school. She spoke to students about Keela Dates Grimmette, the founder of Reason2Smile, discussed her own involvement in the organization and encouraged students to get involved with an organization they feel passionate about.
Following her presentation, the Class of 2016 presented Mrs. Rosenblum with a donation check for $2,884.85 from their Acts of Kindness fundraiser, Kenyan crafted bracelet and Reason2Smile bracelet sales.
The district commends these students for their benevolent acts and extends its gratitude to all of the Chatterton School faculty, administrators and sixth-grade teachers who made this event successful.
Clinton graduated from Jambo Jipya in December of 2013 and is presently a sophomore attending the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, popularly known as MMUST. Clinton is devoted to his studies and grateful for the opportunity to be in a university setting. He is pursuing a degree in commerce and will major in the area of finance and accounting. I had the opportunity to meet up with Clinton while he was home from University this past August and this is what he had to say:
When I was in high school at Jambo Jipya I always knew that I had to study hard. My family struggles financially so it was clear to me that I had to perform well academically if I wanted a chance to go on to University. I have always loved mathematics, working with numbers and problem solving. My dream of becoming an accountant was always that – a dream. But now I am living my dream and am so grateful to Madam Christine, Jambo Jipya, Reason2Smile and my sponsors. Thank you and bless you for believing in me and my abilities. University is difficult and I work hard in my courses but I am determined to finish and become the person that I wish to be in society. It is wonderful being at the University and having the opportunity to study and broaden my horizons. I am so appreciative to be here and thank God for my blessings. I also ask God to watch over all of my supporters and I pray that they remain safe and healthy.
God Bless you,
This article was published in Floral Park Memorial’s online newspaper, The Shield. You can view the original article here: http://fpmshield.com/3366/features/new-global-awareness-club-aids-african-school/
Reprinted with permission below.
Sophia Ramcharitar September 23, 2015
This year at Floral Park Memorial, there has been a surge of brand-new clubs; one of them is the Global Awareness Club (GAC). As its title suggests, the club’s initiative is to spread awareness about current social and economic issues that people face all over the world.
Unlike many students at FPM who complain about a lack of air conditioning or immense homework, a majority of students in developing countries don’t even have an institution to attend or basic school supplies. This was the story of students from Mtwapa, Kenya prior to the intervention of Reason2Smile, an organization the GAC plans on working with this year. The Jambo Jipya School was founded in 2004 by Kenyan native Christine Mwende. It is a private school and receives no government assistance. Jambo Jipya means “Something New” in Swahili. Mwende recognized the lack of care and attention being paid to many of the poor and orphaned children of her community, Mtwapa, and decided to act. A nurse by profession, Mwende decided to devote the rest of her life to seeing her dream (of building a primary and secondary school where every child can feel safe, healthy, and happy) become a reality. In 2004, the school started with Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. In early 2007, Keela Dates Grimmette, the founder of Reason2Smile, arrived at the school and these two women joined forces in their commitment to Jambo Jipya. Mwende is the heart and soul of the Jambo Jipya School and Grimmette has been the heart and soul of Reason2Smile. Together, through their tireless and selfless, work they have been able to build a better life for many children in need.
Jambo Jipya started with a couple of mud huts and a handful of children. Today, 240 children attend the school with a staff of more than a dozen certified Kenyan teachers. Twenty-two of the children live at the Jambo Jipya Children’s Home because they are orphans or don’t have family members to care for them. The school now consists of kindergarten through to 12th grade and students receive uniforms, shoes, school supplies, basic health care and two meals a day. The school’s monthly operational costs are approximately $5,000. Three years ago, a wall was built to separate the road from the school, providing a safer environment. Future projects include adding a second story to the school in order to better utilize the space. This would provide a larger play area for the younger children as well as critical additions such as a school library.
In 2013, Jambo Jipya School graduated its first class of 12th graders. Seven students (one girl and six boys) completed their secondary certificate! One of these graduates was accepted into university! This young man was offered a space at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, Kenya. He was accepted as a government-sponsored student due to his exceptional grades, so his tuition fees are very reasonable. Again, Reason2Smile is grateful to his sponsor for continuing to support him. This young man has paved the way for those behind him and proved that students who come from small local schools in Kenya (such as Jambo Jipya) can achieve great things. Other graduates are looking to pursue trade school certificate programs and Reason2Smile is working to make their dreams a reality.
Ms. Rosenblum, the advisor of the GAC, is the chair of Reason2Smile’s educational committee. She has travelled to Jambo Jipya many times, most recently this past summer. Rosenblum always describes with admiration how remarkable the students are and the tremendous impact they have had on her life. The members of the GAC eagerly look forward to working with Reason2Smile. According to Bryan Lezama, one of the club’s vice presidents, “It’s great knowing that many FPM students are coming together in order to help this organization and others like it. I’m really excited to see where this club goes.”
In December, the club will hold a bracelet sale for Reason2Smile. The rubberized bracelets will be available in a variety of colors and display the signature Reason2Smile logo – perfect for Christmas presents.
Listen out for more exciting events sponsored by the Global Awareness Club throughout the year!
For more information about Reason2Smile, see Ms. Rosenblum in the library or check out http://www.reason2smile.org/
Recently the sixth grade class of 2015 at Roland Chatterton Elementary School was involved in a unique program. Lead by their teachers – Mrs. Cain and Mr. Horodyski, the students embarked on a writing assignment where they journaled their “Acts of Kindness.” The theme of “Act of Kindness” has been always part of Chatterton’s character education program, but incorporating this project into the present curriculum enabled the sixth grade teachers to take it to the next level. During the two week period of April 27th to May 8th sixth graders were responsible for listing one of more acts of kindness a day and then reflecting on them. In addition the sixth grade students shared and discussed their actions with classmates as well as worked on a writing piece that used their persuasive writing skills to support a cause of their choosing. Tied to the “Acts of Kindness” theme the students have been learning about the non-profit Reason2Smile and its work in Kenya.
Reason2Smile’s mission is to positively impact others though education for children globally and service to organizations in developing countries that provide education, food, clothing and healthcare to orphaned and at-risk children. Utilizing the Reason2Smile curriculum trunk, students learned about the Jambo Jipya school in Mtwapa, Kenya and the importance of education for these 230 students. The trunk includes a variety of teaching tools to introduce and enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of Kenyan life. The overall goal is for students to utilize the resource trunk material in order to critically analyze and explore life in the developing world.
The trunk includes:
- an assortment of picture books that represent themes such as Kenyan culture, language, wildlife conservation, universal education as well as , problems that face the developing world.
- Kenyan crafts and jewelry
- Kenyan music and audio resources
- An array of lessons alignment to the common core learning standards
- A diverse range of graphic organizers aligned to the common core learning standards
- An introduction about the Jambo Jipya school and its founder Christine Mwende
- Pictures and brief biographies of students attending the school
As the sixth grade students were performing and logging their acts of kindness they were also finding sponsors as well. The donation was based per kind act or a flat rate fee. At the end of the allotted two weeks all donations were tallied to be donated to Reason2Smile. The culminating event was a visit to Chatterton School on May 8th by Donna Rosenblum, a school librarian, Merrick resident and Reason2Smile board member. Ms. Rosenblum gave a presentation about the Jambo Jipya school and the work of Reason2Smile. The students were extremely engaged and asked important questions about the school, the orphan students and Reason2Smile. The class of 2015 then presented Reason2Smile with a check in the dollar amount of $1715.21. The class requested that a portion of the money raised be used to sponsor one of the younger orphan students at the school with the plan of having the future sixth graders support his education until at least 12th grade.
On Sunday November 9, the holiday season began a little early in Merrick, New York with a special event to benefit Reason2Smile. Janet Paolucci hosted a wonderful party featuring Lia Sophia jewelry, makeup from Makeup Tech and beauty creams/lotions from Biodroga. Guests received the royal treatment upon entering the Paolucci’s home being served wonderful appetizers and drinks. Then the real fun began!! First were the five beautiful raffle baskets donated by Lia Sophia, Biodroga, Burberry’s, Makeup Tech, and Joseph Paolucci.
After raffles was the ultimate shopping experience. Karen Grodsky, a sales representative from Lia Sophia, helped the attendees select the perfect gift from the assortment of beautiful necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Many friends and family will be very happy this holiday season.
Janet Paolucci worked her magic demonstrating the proper techniques in applying makeup and skin care products. We all got quite an education and had a lot of fun at the same time. As a result seven hundred dollars was raised for Reason2Smile and the Jambo Jipya Academy. A personal thank you goes out to Janet and Joseph Paolucci for all their hard work and time in putting this successful event together. Thank you to La Piazza in Merrick for their generous donation of food and dessert, all of the raffle basket donors and to Joan William (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the gorgeous photography.
Keela was chosen as one of three recipients of the Lisa March Ryerson Outstanding Achievement award! Check out the article here.
December Issue of Herlife Magazine (and cover shot!)