“Let’s be grateful for those who give us happiness; they are the charming gardeners who make our soul bloom.” – Marcel Proust
Mrs. Phoebe Bukhalana, the Head of Essaba Secondary School, one of our flagship secondary schools in Bunyore Kenya, is a strong-willed and determined leader. As Head of Essaba for the past six and a half years, she has guided the school through several advancements ; yet, she sees challenges ahead as she seeks to guide the school to the next stage in its development. Mrs. Bukhalana, a thirty year veteran of the teaching profession, is committed to improving the state of Kenyan education. She says that as a teacher, if there is a school in this country that you would not send your child to, then that`s where you need to work. In this way, educational standards can be improved. Each of us needs to step out of their comfort zone to some extent to better our society. “Quality education is the bedrock of our children`s success-and of our country`s continued progress,” adds Mrs. Bukhalana. We should find ways to challenge ourselves and others to progress.
Mrs. Bukhalana is an alumnus of Kaimosi Girls School in Kaimosi, Kenya. Kaimosi Girls is one of the oldest and most established schools in Kenya. Founded by American Quakers, almost a century ago, it has molded scores of young women who have gone on to serve Kenya and the world in a variety of ways. Kijana President Jim Cummings had the privilege to attend the first Kaimosi Girls All Girls Reunion Day in July of 2010. Mrs. Bukhalana was their not only as a student alumnus but also as a faculty alumnus. Many former students gave “shout outs” to Mrs. Bukhalana, commenting on the memories of her positive impact upon their lives.
Mrs.Bukhalana taught at two schools prior to returning to her alma mater, Kaimosi Girls. Her first teaching posting was in Kivaga where she to taught for 7 and a half years. She was later transferred to St. Anne`s Boys School where she taught for another 4 and a half years and then moved to Kaimosi high school ( one of the best performing schools in Western Province) for 13 and a half years.
Mrs. Bukhalana takes pride in several achievements at Essaba. The achievements include the improved academic performance of the school in national exams, the improved student text book ratio to one book for every two students; completion of the school library; the initiation and completion of the school`s electrification project and the purchasing of six modern model computers. Our planet is not just becoming smaller and flatter, she says, drawing from Thomas Friedman; “it is also becoming smarter”. And that means we have the potential to change the way the world literally works. Mrs. Bukhalana is optimistic about the school`s potential. Many students’ skills are awaiting full development, according to her. The students have accomplished much with limited resources though. With a half basket ball pitch, the school`s basketball team made its way to the provincial sports competition, beating teams from schools with very good infrastructure.
Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Mrs. Bukhalana is indebted to Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative for assisting in lighting the flame. Kijana equipped Essaba’s laboratory. which according the school`s deputy principal is the best laboratory in Emuhaya, The solar electrical systems, the hundreds of books donated to the school, tree seedlings and the scholarships for orphaned yet capable students are among some of the initiatives undertaken by Kijana. According to Mrs. Bukhalana, these initiatives have contributed highly to the improving performance of the students and added to the infrastructural development of the school. On behalf of the staff, parents, and the students` body, the principal would like to move a vote of thanks to the Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative.
At Kijana, we are also grateful to determined educators, such as Phoebe Bukhalana, who have inspired and shaped so many students over the decades. Mrs. Bukhalana has kindled many sparks and we expect to continue to partner to kindle many more. Together, we strive to help the educational soul of Kenya and our world blossom. We need the millions of young voices, and minds to play positive roles in shaping our future.
Story by Annegracia Kutai and Jim Cummings. Photo by John Mulima