Porridge and Rice
Porridge and Rice (PaR) is a British nonprofit organization which supports a network of six schools and a total of 1,000 children and 100 teachers in the impoverished outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Their staff is composed of volunteers with diverse professional expertise who provide an array of services: hygiene and health; financial management; education; building and classroom maintenance.
PaR operates in areas forgotten by the Kenyan Government and NGOs. They improved the health of children and teachers, provide clothes and food, and pay for teachers salaries and structural improvements. They empower teachers and parents to take action and to gain self-sustainability, this way guaranteeing continuous improvement.
A 2016 collaboration with Porridge and Rice led to a two-part series documenting the positive impact they have on hundreds of children, teachers, families, and, ultimately, their communities.
The first series documents the daily life of students and teachers at Lizpal and captured their excitement receiving new books from England to create libraries in each school. The second series combines portraits and summarized interviews of ten students ages 10-14 and nine teachers.
Early in the morning, a woman carries groceries and passes through one of the many makeshift gates that separate neighborhoods.
The slums of Nairobi are akin any metropolis' suburb: children go to schools and mothers run errands, but the lack of basic infrastructure confine its inhabitants to their neighborhoods.
A concrete apartment complex is being erected behind one of the schools by a Chinese developer. Teachers see it everyday as a constant reminder that their school, which is on rented land, might get evicted at any moment.
A Porridge and Rice volunteer hands over boxes full of books to the pupils. The books, which were donated by British citizens, will give birth to a library in each of the six schools being supported by PaR.
A young student happily carrying one of the boxes while he waits for his schoolmates to receive one as well. The head teacher of their school (top right) couldn’t wait to see how many boxes his school would receive.
The young boys head back to their school smiling and laughing, happy to have received books. They came in force, ready to help each other, passing the boxes if they became too heavy.
Teacher Andrew teases one of his colleagues as they browse through books they can use for their classes. These books, evenly divided between the six schools, will help the pupils practice English while reading fiction and non-fiction books; teachers received textbooks and encyclopedias.
Children pose for a group photo, holding up high in the air their new books, all very excited and one girl who couldn’t wait to read. This photo was sent to thank British citizens who donated the books.
The first group of students settled in outside the classroom, a few books arranged on the table. They were kind to pose for this photo; they were anxious to start reading.
The first outdoor reading session was a success. More pupils wanted to join so the teachers kept on bringing out more books and chairs. After a few minutes, the students started chatting; they wanted to know what the others were reading.
Books for all ages were shipped to the schools. This girl joined the reading session after being given an illustration book and sat quietly on the edge of a table. She diligently read each word and made sure to not miss any details on each page.
For his very first time, this young boy is reading English in something that is not a textbook.
Classrooms are made of tin foil supported by wooden beams and most of the light inside is natural. Lizpal is the only one of the six schools to have electricity in each classroom — but they only turn it on before sunrise and after sunset.
Teacher Risper speaks Kiswahili to an attentive audience; it is her favorite class to teach and her enthusiasm and happiness are contagious.
During Kiswahili class, a pupil reaches for his pencil to take notes. Behind him, two boys share a textbook: not all students can pay for the school uniform.
A young girl listens to the teacher with great attention. Note the absence of textbooks on her desk; there aren’t enough for every student at this moment.
This pupil is in his senior year. He’s very studious and wants to pass his exams with the highest scores to have a better chance at a bright future.
Group photo inside a classroom. Teacher Risper stands proudly amidst her students, of the many groups she teaches to each day.
These two students were taking a short break in-between two classes. In general, two or three of them have to share a desk that would accommodate one person in the United States.
I made a presentation about my birth country, Mexico, and taught pupils a few words of Spanish. They had troubles pronouncing them right but overcame the challenge with braveness and laughter.
Teacher Grace is the Assistant to the Headteacher at Lizpal. She dedicates an average of 14 hours a day to her pupils and has become a second mother to many of them.
Nairobi’s summer is very hot and humid for most Muzungus (travelers); not for this little girl.
Inside the Headteacher’s office, handwritten inspiring quotes and weekly schedules surrounded by group photos of the past few years.
A teacher and some of her youngest pupils happily getting their picture taken. This was an excuse to take a short break. Their endless energy and generosity transpires through in this shot.
Thirty pupils came out of their crowded classroom to pose for a group photo. Their classroom measures about 100 square feet (30 square meter) and has one door and one window.
Parents volunteer at the schools when they can’t pay tuition for their children. Many work in the kitchen, like these two mothers sorting through beans before cooking them.
The second favorite time of the day for many children is lunch time, provided by Porridge and Rice; the first one is breakfast. Many children still don’t eat dinner at home.
Porridge and Rice volunteer taught kids to wash their hands after using the communal bathroom and before and after meals. This new habit dramatically decreased the number of health problems that used to plague the school.
A camera is always an object of great curiosity for the children who live in the slums. They like getting their photo taken so that they can see how they look like.
From left to right: Teacher Titus, Excel Emmanuel’s Headteacher; Ken Surridge, PaR’s founder ; Emma Ballinger, volunteer and health consultant; reading thank you cards drawn by the pupils the organization supports.