What you need to know:
- When Bensouda came back on Wednesday, she asked for all the receipts for soap, jerricans and sanitisers.
- I called her the next day to ask for more as I was expecting about Sh22,730
It was very easy to say how we were ready for the students to report back on Monday (I had even said I was ready for all students, not just Class Eight and Grade 4), but things were different on the ground when they arrived.
On Saturday, two days before the partial reopening of schools, Bensouda, the Mwisho wa Lami Primary headmaster, called me to check on our level of preparedness.
“We have all the protocols in place and we are ready for the students,” I said. It was the third time ever I was using the word protocols in a sentence, and I was surprised at how comfortable I had become with a word I had never imagined myself using.
“All we are waiting for is for the government to provide the necessary PPEs and related paraphernalia so the students can land in school on Monday safely.”
“And when you say government, what do you mean?” she asked. “Remember today is Saturday and we need to be ready for Monday.”
“I am sure you know what I mean by government,” I said. “But I will be more specific, the Ministry of Education.”
“Give me a name, Andrew. I want a name.” she went on: “Listen to me, in the case of Mwisho wa Lami Primary, you and I are the government that we are talking about. Parents, teachers and students are looking up at us,” she said. “And since I have an urgent meeting on Monday, it will be you responsibility. Call me in an hour and let me know your plans.”
I called more deputies than I know of, but they weren’t of much help. So I called Juma, a former deputy of Mwisho wa Lami Pimary and now head of another school.
“I should have been appointed HM of Mwisho wa Lami,” he said after I told him my problems. “That woman was never supposed to be the HM, and that school will suffer until I return there,” he added.
“For the thermo gun, let me give you the contact of someone who is supplying to get you one at Sh6,500. I will recommend that you pay for it then refund the money to yourself when the government deposits funds to the school account,” he said.
“For washing places, be creative, Dre. Get a few old jerricans and make washing stations within the school. And you can carry some soap from home and use it as we wait for the government to send money,” he said.
Additional thermo gun
He also advised me to approach the school alumni. “A former student of my school who works in Nairobi has actually bought us an additional thermo gun, while another has promised to provide washing stations and masks next week.” He went on: “Also, ask your sponsoring church for help; mine is also helping.”
I thought about our former students. The most successful one is a driver. He was a conductor until two months ago when he got promoted. The other one is Ford, a prison warden, and Rumona, Ford’s wife. These three could do nothing.
Further, the school does not have a sponsoring church, but Apostle Elkana considers his church, The Holiest of All Ghosts, our sponsor. The problem is we are actually the sponsors of his church.
Anyway, I contacted the driver, Ford, and Apostle Elkana. I also asked Pius, who, like me, did not attend Mwisho wa Lami Primary, to donate something. All promised to do something, without any commitments.
“I know most schools haven’t received the cash, but if you send me Sh5,000, I can bring you one thermo gun then you will pay the balance of Sh2,000 once the government gives you money,” the thermo gun contact told me.
I discussed my plan with Bensouda and she asked me to proceed. “Buy the thermo gun and I will refund the cash once the government deposits it in the school account,” she said.
Later, she sent me Sh1,000 after I told her I had no money. She told me to borrow the rest. “It will be paid back a few days from now with interest. Just get me the receipt.” I took a Sh4,000 loan from Mshwari and sent Sh5,000 to the supplier.
Juma, the former deputy head, asked me to meet him later at Hitler’s.
“We can’t talk on phone,” he said.
He told me to use my own resources then seek reimbursement once the money from the government arrives.
I was in school at 11am on Sunday together with Branton and Nyayo. We placed old jerricans and buckets at strategic positions. For soap, I had bought a packet of detergent and diluted it with water.
Apostle Elkana was the first to arrive at school on Monday morning. He had come with his anointing water, which he sprayed in the staffroom and classes as he prayed. He donated one bar soap as his personal contribution.
“As the school’s sponsor, I had to do something,” he said. Later, he produced some bottles. “I added medical alcohol to my anointing oil so this is an anointing sanitiser that will protect people from corona and other ailments. It will also offer spiritual protection and nourishment.” He was selling a bottle at Sh500.
When Bensouda came back on Wednesday, she asked for all the receipts for soap, jerricans and sanitisers. I submitted them and was looking forward to a big pay-day. On Thursday, she sent me Sh2,000. I called her the next day to ask for more as I was expecting about Sh22,730.
“The thermo gun is Sh2,500. I know the person who supplied it so I have even given you extra Sh500.” In the meantime, she had claimed the money from the government. I can’t wait to be a headmaster so I can access the capitation myself.