…a Pre School Pupil
My name is Barbella and I am five years old. I live with my aunt and cousins. I sleep on a mat in a room with everyone else. I get dressed in the dark.
Every morning I leave with my two cousins to collect water from a stream quite a way away. My other cousins collect the wood. The walk is nice, it is cool at that time of the day and we play chasing games. At the stream there might be a line of children trying to catch the water in jerry cans and plastic bottles. Men kneel trying to clean their bikes and old women bend to wash.
We balance the full jerry cans on our heads and step slowly up the hill, trying not to spill any. Other children are walking with their goats and cows. At home we sit on the floor and share a jackfruit or a potato.
I walk to school on my own. It is always dusty and the matatus and trucks make the dust fall onto my hair and into my eyes. Sometimes I borrow my cousin’s shoes, as her feet are too big and her shoes too small. They nearly fit me.
My pre-school is called Buwenda and it is very nice and my teacher is kind. Her name is Florence and she wears pretty dresses. At school we play games, sing songs, sit on swings, learn new words and numbers and write with chalk. I love my school, it is a happy place – it is red, blue, yellow, green, white. There are posters on the walls and paintings of the alphabet and little children. We take lunch to school and I have a small blue plastic box with fruit or a biscuit in it. We always have to wash our hands because we get them dirty from playing games in the dirt.
After school I walk home with my friends. I have to go straight home because I must collect water again. It is always very hot in the afternoon and the dust sticks and turns our skin orange. At night time we sit together and eat posho and beans. It makes my tummy full. We eat it with our fingers. My aunt will wash our faces and puts our clothes in a neat small pile in the corner of the room where we all sleep.
I don’t know where my daddy is, but my mummy was poorly and died. They said she was sick. She became thin and weak. Her sister looks after me now. My cousins make me sleep on the end of the mat, but I don’t mind, I am warm and it is dark outside.