Today’s profile is of one of the truly most important people in our organization, Welliminah Kutai. Welliminah is the ‘mother’ of our organization. She is the wife of the late Abel Kutai, the very close friend of Jim Cummings and she has hosted Kijana President Jim Cummings countless times in her home as well as over 25 of his friends and colleagues. Here is John Mulima’s initial profile. More will be on the way.
I hope that today is a new day to you just as it to me. On the other hand we cannot pretend that yesterday has now gone. It is forever gone. This tomorrow seems to be very short. Perhaps the tomorrow we talk about is today. Welliminah Kutai’s story that we have been talking about is indeed today. You are just on the exact pathway now.
Welliminah Kutai is currently a Christian Religious Education teacher at Essaba Primary School. She is a jovial and calm teacher who is child-friendly. She says that she enjoys being in the company of children. In fact she loves children. I can compare her attitude to that of Mother Teresa. It is not uncommon to hear them calling her ‘Kukhu’. Kukhu is a Luhya word in Kenya meaning ‘Grandmother’. Perhaps it is because she is the eldest in the school or is because she is their guiding and counseling teacher. She has taught here for the last one and a half decades since her arrival in 1996.
She says that she enjoys knitting sweaters and table clothes during her free time. She says that attending to the young and children seems to be a call to her. She says that she does it during her time. “I always have a merciful feeling to help or attend to the needy children to my level best.” Says Welliminah. Kukhu says that her special hobby is listening to Christian music.
She is a highly qualified and experienced teacher who successfully graduated Kericho Teachers Training College in 1982. Before this, she attended Shikoti Primary School and then proceeded to join Shikoti Girls Secondary School which is now called St. Goreti Shikoti Girls. But before this, she says that she was ushered into the education system in 1964 at Kiganjo Nursery school. This was the year when Kenya became a Republic after gaining its independence just a year earlier.
During this period, she has witnessed tremendous changes in Kenyan education and in Essaba, her current school (since her arrival in 1996). She says that more classrooms have been built and the dilapidated ones renovated. Welliminah says that the classroom floors have been cemented making her school a modern one. She says student enrollment has increased incredibly. More importantly, she says that the students’ performance in national examinations has been of exemplary improvement. She says that the school has now a forest they have named ‘Jim Cummings Forest’. Just imagine having a forest in your school! Welliminah says that Essaba Primary School has advanced to having a section of teaching and caring for the handicapped pupils. She says that the school now has a workshop that is used in making furniture that is of great importance. She finally says that everything has changed in comparison to the previous decades.
Kukhu says that Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative has been a big friend of the school. “They have done a remarkable job in this school and we are proud of them.” She says that Kijana has donated many books to the school that has fastened the access of knowledge to the ‘education thirsty’ children. Welliminah says that Kijana has renovated the dilapidated roofs in the school and ensured that all the classroom floors are plastered. She says that Kijana has contributed immensely in the painting of the walls in the school making them worth admirable. Kukhu says that Kijana has donated many seedlings to the school that have been planted to form the young Jim Cummings Forest in the school. She tells me that Kijana has donated some solar panels in the school and also planted a good number of trees some of which have been used in making desks for the increasing number of pupils. Madam Kutai says that she is happy about the sponsorship given to some of the needy bright pupils from her school. She says that this has enabled these pupils to excel academically in preparation for a brighter future. “I know of some of them who are currently in various universities and colleges in Kenya.” She says that Jim’s former colleagues and students like Bruce Huber and Cameron Schuster supported the school by buying sporting facilities like balls. She says Kijana has promoted cross-cultural exchange through the interaction of Patrick Banks and David Watterson with her family, friends and the Bunyore at large. She says Divo, Kelvo, Vincent, Moraa and the ‘Terrible Turkey’ as David Watterson calls it, are missing them so much.
Welliminah Kutai says that Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative is one of the rare organizations in the world that is creating a direct impact on improving the lives of young and ambitious youths in Kenya. “We are proud of what they are doing and we are encouraging them to carry on this wonderful work.”
Story by Roving Reporter, John Mulima