When the classroom building was complete late in 2010, the dormitory and the kitchen were still under construction. The weather was not always kind, and sometimes the work was slowed by rain. The dormitory shell was eventually completed (without doors or windows) and the kitchen floor next door was laid. By November 2010 Wangari was back in Kenya visiting the remote villages in the area trying to identify children who could be the first pupils at the school. Altogether 65 children were admitted as day students, aged between 5 and 12.

In the first few months the children still had no school uniforms, but a donation of boys shorts and some red jumpers soon changed that.  At first Wangari had to buy water and have it delivered, then transfered to a plastic tank where the children would queue to top up bottles and mugs but at one stage the tank developed a leak, and some water was lost. A cow was bought as a personal donation by Helen Sullivan of the Karuri School Project committee. This might seem to be not top of the priority list, but the cow would provide milk for the school which would otherwise be too expensive, and it would in time produce a calf or two, adding to the schools assets. The kitchen walls and roof were built of wooden slats to allow plenty of ventilation, necessary because of the wood burning stoves.

 

 When the school opened in January 2011 there were no proper toilets. The children used their own latrines while the staff had a separate latrine. Neither were satisfactory, but they did serve a purpose until damaged by storms and floods later in the year. It was hoped to have a septic tank installed, but progress was very slow, and the school had to continue to make do with these basic latrines.

The dormitories were still not ready and the children, the head and four teachers and the cook had to travel daily into school. A few more day students were admitted, but cooking was still done out in the open. A ground level plastic water tank was installed, and two wood burning stoves ordered.

Sheila Dowling and Patricia Moore from the Karuri School Project visited the school in May (at their own expense) to help assess what was most needed and how the future planning could be made more effective. In the summer a fund raising event back in Northampton raised enough money to buy a second cow. A second, larger, plastic water tank was bought in the summer, and to supplement the bought water a pipe was connected rather precariously to the roof guttering so that rainwater could be collected; you can see this in one of the photos.

As the first academic year drew to a close the school celebrated with a ceremony. They had overcome some serious problems on the way, but the children were now well established in the school, there were still no ceilings, the latrines were still going, and cooking was still quite difficult. The following year would see some stability with many improvements in the buildings and some settling down to hard academic work.