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Then and Now By Winnie R. Makokha

By June 10, 2020No Comments

It was a bit dusty then, September of 2016. Much construction going on, of course, this was expected, and the environmental impact assessment report had alluded to it. In the report, it outlined ways to minimize the dust. It was also quite hot, which made the dust seem a lot like a brown cloud sometimes, especially when the winds came by. The dust often settled on the few roofs that had been erected in the complete buildings, the Form 1 block, the dining hall, the then Amboseli and Tsavo residences, the water tower, the indoor sports hall. But just like the wind passing, I knew even the dust would soon end.

It is cool and not dusty at all now. Even when the sun is scorching hot, the shades of the planted trees all around the compound were clearly defined and grown now, bringing a cool breeze. I remember one Wednesday of February 2020 when I told the girls in my mentorship group, “I saw a tree that finally has good shade, let’s go sit there and have our lunch.” That tiny tree behind the current Agriculture room, in the quadrangle between Block E and the Administration block, that tree now has a shade we can enjoy with well-manicured green lawns. Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience; 4 years later, I see how true that is.

Did I mention the few buildings that were complete then? They were few, but they served the purpose and the population – 96 students, about 55 staff. It was enough. But I wondered about the grand plan for more staff and more students. See I am not good at visualizing spaces, especially from paper. I saw the architectural model, but I couldn’t envision how they will all fit in. But the architects saw it.

Now, a drive through the gate and then a walk around the 75 acres, the buildings are almost triple the initial ones. Six more student residences up from the initial two, all named after various parks around East Africa. More staff housing, a well-resourced (pun) resource Centre, all the three classroom blocks complete, including one that is double-storied, various sports fields, a swimming pool, an ever-busy maintenance yard, 9 Academy vehicles.

All this being able to be occupied and utilized by about 680 students and 180 staff. We bought drinking water then; we bought chicken, we bought fish. All these were part of the catering menu, and the water, well- water is life. We bought vegetables, we bought tomatoes, we bought milk, we bought eggs. At the furthest end of the 50-acre site of the Academy, we had the grand plan of a farm. It had a mixture of construction material and soil. A farm manager and her team began the work of turning into arable land.

Turns out what you have read or heard about land reclamation is feasible. Now, we rear chicken for eggs (layers) and meat (broilers), we have a dairy unit- the most recent addition to the farming unit, we treat and distribute our drinking water, we have fish ponds for our fish needs, we plant assorted vegetables, we have greenhouses…we even sell some to staff and a few customers from outside the Academy. It’s a spectacle to have witnessed that transformation.

Then it started with a skeleton staff in each department, stringing the pieces together to make it whole. Sometimes it was a one person or two people job—all on their own.

Few student activities and clubs, we had to stretch ourselves thin, sometimes the footballer also doubled up as the basketball player and the poet was the musician.

Now, it’s a bustle of activity seeing meetings within departments, inter-departmental collaboration, distribution of roles across different sections, having students participate in numerous activities, full sports teams, having our trophy cabinet filled with pride, our Mondays colourful with all the awards that the learners have won. All of us, working towards a shared vision.

Then, it was a vision on paper; a few people sat and conceptualized it. Now, we have a functional Academy, whose vision has been brought to life by the committed, hardworking staff, creating an opportunity for our learners to become transformational leaders.

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