Teacher Susan.

For 6 months, 647 hours, I lived that name…” 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 and I snoozed my alarm 10 times and I got to school at 11 a.m.There are days, the sky always stood grey and ugly like the black mist.

There are days when I entered class 5 for Math and they knew there would be no greetings for teacher Susan and in unison, they would start reciting the multiplication tables from 1-12. After those days, the exams would come 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, more than at peace that no student scored a 0.

There are days that Grace and I decided to be the dreams of those kids. Dreams they never dreamt. On those days, we wrote random emails to KWS asking for a free trip for the kids to Nairobi National Park, we wrote to KQ asking for a visit to the airport. On those days, we didn’t show up to school. We walked to Panari Hotel and asked for a one-day decent meal for those kids. Those days we emailed Sauti Sol and asked them to come to sing Soma Kijana for the kids. On those days, we prayed and build hope like a pack of cards. And not on any day did we ever give up.

Even though no reply came.

Then there came days I woke my mum up at 5 a.m for her to read out the kids scores as I entered them in my laptop to prepare the mark sheet. And those days she would sigh, maybe too many times, asking if I was sure I had converted the figures into a percentage.


Yet there are days I felt alive. Life ran through my veins. On those days I would play with the kids all day. On those days I felt probably 10. At 10 years, nothing really 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 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 kids.

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 kids anywhere they found us. We bought food from the slums at lunchtime and we feasted well and I added weight, so all my pairs of jeans stopped fitting and I got used to my friends whining that I had skipped a stage in life.

On these days, we stopped listening to the sad slum stories and actually went for lunch at the kids’ 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.