The St. Catherine’s Experience

Posted by Peggy Mativo | Blog

Marvelous does not even begin to describe our experience at St. Catherine’s.

Our journey began on the 16th of January, just a day after most of us had been relocated from Madaraka Primary School. We were welcomed and duly assigned partner teachers and support classes. Who knew it would the beginning of a very interesting time in our lives?

A typical day in our lives is full of fun and action, impact and learning. We get to school early in the morning and begin by marking homework books. Sometimes we stand in for our teachers, on request,  if they are not present and this allows us time to interact with the students on one on one. We also involve the students in extra-curricular activities like Physical Education and Creative Arts and mentoring the school’s scouts team.

We have also been able to start some initiatives like the Wacky Wednesday and the AndikaStori which are geared towards aiding the students in Std 7 and 8 improve in mathematics and composition and insha respectively. There is also a motivation program with the school’s student government with an aim to motivate and empower them.

At St. Catherine’s, we have also been able to create a rapport between ourselves and also between the teachers and us. They are very supportive of many of the ideas we propose and they also offer advice and their support which goes a long way in motivating and encouraging us to be the best we possibly can.

We have been able to establish team rituals such as ‘lunchmwitu’ which is when as a team we go out to buy lunch together in the local shops and eat it from there as we share our different experiences and ideas. We also have selfcare days where we take time to tone down and relax a little. We walk to our respective bus stops together where we also get ample time to review our days and learning points as we also get the highly advantageous exercise we require for health.

Our future plans are numerous. We envision a school whereby all students are able to get access to quality education and they are also able to fully exploit their talents in an encouraging and proper environment.



Our Boat

Posted by Peggy Mativo | Blog

We are sailing to our destination of amicable excellence amid tides of hardship and fear. Our team boat carries hearts service, diligence, valor,reliability and smiles. Despite what we face, our faces never look down and we will never be deterred from our bearing.

Cleanliness breads beauty. In our quest for beauty, we discovered litter out in the playground. Rubbish was being burnt on open ground bound to endanger the humble pupils. Identifying a corner in the school, away from the playground, we dug a pit two weeks after starting work. The pit now offers a safer place for disposal of rubbish and its burning. We killed the birds of beauty and safety with a single shot.

Juliana Stancapiano, chief executive officer of Oxygen Learning, a company that provides an immersive interactive and innovative approach to corporate training reported, after a research, that more learners were able to grasp concepts from drawings as opposed to written notes. Armed with that, we set out a target to pin learning charts in all classes. It was fun. Some of us discovered we can barely draw (well at least we had rulers) while some improved their already existing artistic minds. In the long run, we have been able to pin charts as targeted and this does not stop here, the more the merrier. Pupils now find it easier to understand things from their talking walls. We are confident that this will improve their overall grades.

After interacting with pupils, we also discovered a ‘Math Fear’ “Eeeh, Maths ni ya watu wa Makini”(Math is specifically for Makini Primary School), “Teacher me sitafanya Maths kepe (KCPE)“(Teacher, I will not take Math during my Kenya Primary Certificate Examination, (KCPE).Working with negative minded kids came out as breaking diamonds. Believing in the power of experience and motivation, we talked to the candidates and made them understand the importance of Mathematics. After three or four willing souls were identified, we introduced Math Hour in the classes. Our main aim is to help the kids improve in the subject by making it enjoyable. After loving the subject, we hope they will realize the power in working with numbers.

Another weed that hindered the working of our boat motor was the level of English of the pupils.In a world like this one we live in, communication is key. Not just any type of speaking but eloquent confident speaking. Only a handful of pupils are able to mutter more than twenty correct English words without making a mistake. It is time for a positive change and it starts with only a step. Starting with spellings, we introduced dictation with the urge to improve both oral and written English. So far so great. We have noticed a change their language. Yes we are midway the ocean but we will cross to the other side successfully. 

Apart from teaching, we have been involved in activities like serving lunch, cleaning chairs, helping in organizing school events and motivation of the students. We believe in offering assistance in any field and we will not stop until our presence is justified.

One of the most hardest things to deal with is the impoliteness and disrespect from pupils. Owing to their backgrounds, the children often talk back at teachers. Discipline instills fear for a number of minutes and after that, the child goes back to his/her ‘normal state’ It becomes hard to talk to pupils because of their obvious responses. Either way, persistence is part of us and we will not change course.

Did we forget to mention love as our fuel? The best way of showing love is through service and that is why the bustling traffic of the city does not stop us from going to work every morning. Joseph Kang’ethe Primary School team has come so far. We are not yet there, but our boat is not capsizing any time soon.

By Jerusa Valarie,

PACE Volunteer
Joseph Kang’ethe Primary School

World Teachers Day- Teacher Susan

Posted by Peggy Mativo | Blog

For 6 months, 647 hours, I lived the name “Teacher Susan.”
“And it perhaps changed how my whole life works out or will ever work out.”

There are days I felt like quitting; and those days were many. Teaching was tough, the number of books waiting to be marked’ overwhelming; and the whole routine annoying. There are days that the mornings got chilly. On those days, I hit snooze my alarm 10 times- I got to school at 11 AM. There are days, the sky always stood grey and ugly like black mist.

There are days when I walked into class 5 for Math and they knew there would be no welcome from teacher Susan; until after reciting the multiplication tables from 1-12. After those days, the exams would be administered and my class would have a mean score of 28.37% because all we did for the month was sing tables. But I felt at peace that no student scored a 0.

There are days that Grace and I decided to be the dreams of those children- the dreams they did not dream. On those days, we wrote random emails to KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) asking for a free trip for the children to Nairobi National Park. We wrote to Kenya Airways asking for a visit to the airport. We walked to Panari Hotel and asked for a one day decent meal for those children. Those days we emailed Sauti-Sol and asked them to come sing “Soma Kijana” for the children. On those days, we prayed and built hope like a pack of cards. And not on any day did we ever give up.

No reply came.

Then there came days I woke my mum at 5a.m to read out the children’s’ scores as I entered them in my laptop. Those days she would sigh, maybe too many times, asking if I was sure I had converted the figures into a percentage.

Then there are days I felt alive. Life ran through my veins. On those days I would play with the children all day. On those days I felt probably 10. At 10 years, nothing worries you. No one has convinced you that you can’t sing or that your voice is adenoidal. So you sing your lungs out and you close your eyes to the flow of music which hardly makes sense. At 10, you dance like you have no bones. At 10, you play and know that dirt is good.
There are days when I read class 7 compositions and I’d be enamored by the growth in the simple sentence structures. That the sentences no longer read, “Teacher not walk out of class sad” but “The teacher walked into the classroom looking blissful.” Those days were good days, because I got an A from one of those children.

Then there are days we stopped being klutzy. We no longer wore jeans and tights, not even on our free Saturdays. We were to be role models for these children anywhere they found us. We bought food from the slums at lunch time and we feasted well and I added weight, so all my pairs of jeans stopped fitting.

On these days, we stopped listening to the sad slum stories and actually went for lunch at the children’ homes. We spent all our evenings listening to problems, to rape cases, to family break up stories, to lost hopes and no futures. Those days we cried and got mad at life but on these same days, we went home happily broke after we bought all our classes candy and assured them there is hope. Those days Grace started a movement and we always went home playing games. Some were funny but most made us feel stupid. But feeling stupid was fun.
Yet in all these days there was something to hope for. There was always a deep longing to put a smile on a child’s face.


Ambassadors of Character

Posted by Peggy Mativo | Blog

I had just concluded my end of semester examinations and the feelings of both excitement and anxiety engulfed me: I am reporting to Wangu Primary School in Dandora Phase 3 to start my journey as a Teaching Assistant.

That was three months ago. How time flies!

At the onset, I had second thoughts about the decision I had made. Flash forward to the present and the story could not be more different.  As I jot this down I am all smiles. Getting into class in the morning and the bright faces of eager learners meet me; I have never felt so fulfilled!

A moment I will forever cherish is a mid- morning when I went to assist teach in Class 6 A1. My  gaze meets four boys, strategically positioned in class wearing ‘spectacles’ made by a series of interwoven wires. You see, I wear spectacles. That is when it hits me just how much of an impact I have on these kids. They not only look at me as a teacher but also as someone they want to emulate. That moved me.

Given another chance, I will continue inculcating proper life values through the “Ambassadors of Character” club that I started in the course of my internship at Wangu.  I realized with the environment that the kids interact on a daily basis, they pick up twisted values that will eventually deteriorate their society. That, I am determined to change!

As for the PACE experience, I struggle to find the right words to sufficiently capture it. What I have learned  from PACE: Great impact can be achieved through small acts of service.


Salma’s New Story

Posted by Peggy Mativo | Blog


My Best and Not-So-Best Moments:

The highlights of my PACE experience at Madaraka was, without a doubt, the banter that I enjoyed with many of the students I taught. It was a real joy just interacting with the students and being able to convey to them the information I sought to teach them in a relaxed way. While it is a bit too early to tell, it is my hope that the friendly and applicable manner of my teaching was successful in developing interest in, and allaying fear and negative attitude towards mathematics in particular (which was my primary subject).

My not-so-best, but perhaps most instructive and insightful moments were those where I learnt about some of the difficult material circumstances some of the students were in. There was a week in particular, when several school charges were due from the students’ parents/guardians and it became very apparent, the socioeconomic pressures children so young already have to endure. It was a bit difficult to grapple with so blatant a manifestation of economic hardship.

If I had stayed longer…

Had I been able to spend more time at Madaraka (and I sure wish I could!) I would really want to continue with the one-on-one structured support I was providing a number of students in English and Mathematics. While I am hopeful that the sessions we had together were useful, I know more time was needed to really make permanent the gains we had made. That said, I tried as much as possible, even when teaching entire classes, to impart learning strategies that would enable the students to continue learning and studying successfully on their own.

How has PACE changed me? What next?

As a student of public policy and African studies, I often encounter issues of education, development and social welfare in my academics. What my 2 months volunteering with PACE has done for me is to really contextualize, and in many ways complicate, the theories I come across in my coursework. My PACE experience has therefore enriched my college education.

Also, when considering what my role is in contributing to social change, I have almost always focused on the larger, macro, policy processes. While I still believe that that there is where real change happens, my time with PACE has convinced me that even at the grassroots level of civil society, where one’s sphere of influence is smaller, one call still effect change that might not seem so small to the person one is working with.

On a more personal level though – volunteering at Madaraka has shown me that teaching is work that I would be very happy doing. I can think of nothing else that has gratified me as much. As a result, education is a life path that has very much been put on the table

5) Become a role model in your community

4) Join a fun, tight-knit community of friends

3) Learn new skills: communication and confidence

2) Help children in under-resourced schools to access better quality education

1) Work with kids on something new and exciting everyday

“As a teenager, I always wanted someone to look up to: a big sister who cared both about my academic performance and my life experiences. I was lucky to find that person in my mentor, Peace. She lit a special candle in my life and challenged me to give back.

The Race of PACE

Posted by isa | Blog

“ My name is Doris; delightful Doris.” These alliterated introductions have become a sort of tradition in kicking off the training of PACE volunteers. This year, it was no different at Parklands Baptist Church. Excited, energy filled individuals gathered at the Church’s mother room on Monday, January 12th- volunteers, and the friendly interactive members of the PACE team: the founder of the organization, Peggy Walenda Mativo, the Program Co-ordinator, Doris Kiogora and the Teaching Assistant Co-ordinator, David Mwaura.

PACE on the Panel

Posted by isa | Blog

Peggy Walenda Mativo is many things. She is a daughter, an alumnus of Loreto Limuru Girls, a Harvard graduate, a Harvard MBA student-to-be, the founder and Executive Director of PACEMaker International and a 2014 Global Laureate Fellow. She is also a kind and compassionate friend and a hapless optimist, who believes in the inherent good of mankind and our ability to make a difference in our societies.

A few children eagerly crowd around as the speakers and the sound system are set up. Then, suddenly, the sound of loud music pierces the air, marking the start of one of the most anticipated days on the school Calendar of Kawangware Primary: The PACE Fun day.