This year we are living a very different reality.

Kenya has been in partial lock down since March and everyone has had to adapt to a new way of living, just like in Spain. Schools are closed but the children are still being taught. The curriculum is available on a TV channel and there are also lessons on the radio. Not everyone in Kenya has access to the internet but some teachers are sending in materials which can be downloaded. This is really useful especially for the Nyumbani children who can enjoy benefiting from extra input. All the subjects are covered, maths, science, English, Kiswahili, social studies, etc. so not too different to Spain!

The children in Nyumbani Home in Karen are all well and safe. They have been extra careful with washing their hands and using sanitisers as well being equipped with masks and gloves. None of the members of the Nyumbani family have suffered from Covid-19 and we are very grateful to all the staff who are working tirelessly to ensure the good health of everyone involved in the programme!  No visitors from the outside have been allowed to come since the start of lock down.


Each cottage in Nyumbani Home has children of various different ages, just like any normal family. Each cottage has around 14 children so that’s a large family!
As always the children get up early (6 am!) in order to take their medicines and have breakfast before classes start at 8 am. They then tune into the Educational Channel on TV. The children are divided into groups depending on their grade. Classes carry on until 5 p.m with some breaks and time for lunch too. There is a large open space with grass and trees where the children can run about and play safely. No visitors from the outside are allowed to come so there is very little chance of infection.nyumbani2

Last week the cottages were involved in an art project and made some posters which they displayed on their front doors. They are all hoping that the virus will take note and stay away!




Nyumbani, beyond the Home in Karen.

Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the virus and so a huge number of our Lea Toto families are now living below the poverty line, unable even to access basic food. You may remember some of the lovely crafts which are available for sale in the school at events such as the Mighty Merienda. These crafts are made by our Nyumbani Lea Toto families living in the informal settlements around Nairobi. Now they have nobody to buy their goods.

Nyumbani Village is also in lock down and so the grandmothers who were relying on the sale of their baskets for an income are suddenly left with no customers. The needs of all the families grow daily.

nyumbani3We have had some very welcome donations which have slightly eased the immediate need for food, but as this crisis continues, so also the need becomes greater and the families more desperate. A recent report really brought home the reality of the crisis. A woman told of how she put stones in a pot to boil in the hopes that her children would tire and fall asleep before they realised that the anticipation of food would come to nothing. These are truly tragic times.

Nyumbani4As well as Covid-19, Kenya is also dealing with other emergencies.  A swarm of locusts are destroying the crops while floods are rendering many families homeless.
Despite all the devastation, we are working with great determination to ensure that all our people are staying safe, accessing their medicines and basic foods. We are grateful for any donations, particularly in these times when the needs are global.

Thank you! ASANTE SANA!

Izabella Hearn

Amigos de Nyumbani

Nyumbani UK; Sponsor a Child in Kenya



A Global Citizenship Sandwich


I do like a sandwich… fresh bread, a variety of tasty fillings, a scattering of potato crisps and a beautiful summer’s day on cut grass for a picnic.  But sandwiches come in all shapes and sizes, types and flavors, with a wide variety of ingredients and fillings, no one is perfect but all can be equally delicious.

This is  Etienne in New Zealand preparing one half of a very special sandwich.


This is Angel in Spain preparing the other half of the same sandwich.


We call this an Earth sandwich where two slices of bread have been carefully placed in the exact opposite places on the exact opposite sides of our Earth. 


So if Angel was able to drill directly through the centre of the Earth from Madrid in a straight line he would come out somewhere in New Zealand with Etienne, probably close to the city of Wellington.   There are other places on our Earth, but not too many though, where this unique feat of creating an Earth sandwich can be achieved.  You can see all the green shaded areas on the map below and their opposite locations.  All the black areas would end up in the oceans or seas and therefore not be possible to make the sandwich.


Being a geographer, I love this concept of an Earth sandwich and the accurate use of latitudes and longitudes to map opposite locations.  I especially like this idea of an Earth sandwich when I consider myself as being a global citizen.  Myself and the Earth as the pieces of bread and the fillings being all the unique elements that make me the global citizen that I am and want to be.


These fillings are endless… and could be shaped by… our nationalities and heritage, the places we have travelled to and seen, the religions and faiths we may follow,  the hobbies and interests that we have, the way we interact and communicate in person and in cyberspace, the languages we speak, and the habits we probably should give up, and the habits we should try and be better at.


They could also be shaped by the global goals for sustainable development… or even the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

the-global-goals-grid-colorEven schools (should) help us everyday to become people who care for others and the world around them, that is why I am passionate about global citizenship education.

Traffic lights

For me global citizenship is about having a go, being prepared to leave your comfort zone and trying new experiences.   But this is not enough.  A global citizen is always learning, they focus on the moment and make connections with the people and the environment around them.  They reflect on how they were made to feel and how they made others feel, striving to learn more about themselves and other people.  A global citizen always wants to learn more and is not afraid to set personal targets for self-improvement and growth.

In a school and throughout a learning community there are an abundance of opportunities for global citizenship education.  These opportunities should not be perceived as separate, or an add-on, to a formal education programme, instead they should be fully integrated and encouraged to enhance the overall learning a person is able to achieve inside and outside of school.  The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.  There are many individual parts that make up a sandwich, we may not particularly enjoy the individual parts or choose to eat them by themselves, but together as a whole, lovingly prepared and reflectively put together, these many ingredients and fillings can make a truly amazing and successful (global citizenship) sandwich.

Mystery Guest Round

I was in Phuket, Thailand, attending an IB course for geography teachers in November 2003.  The course was great, challenging and collaborative, just as you would expect from the IB programme.  My priority though was finding a television, one with the right satellite connection, this was our time! 


The England rugby team had made it to the final of the Rugby World Cup and were playing their great rivals, Australia (the Wallabies) in the final, right smack-bang in the middle of our IB Geography course!  Luckily, our facilitator was a fellow rugby enthusiast and we were able to motor through the agenda and finish in time to find a suitable venue and watch this momentous match.  It was a tight game, and at 17 – 17 the match entered extra-time.  The England scrum-half, Matt Dawson (number 9) made a darting break through the Wallabies tired defence giving England territorial advantage in the dying seconds.  Matt picked himself up, re-positioned himself and spun the ball back to the England fly-half (number 10) Jonny Wilkinson… the rest is history!  You can watch it here


Matt Dawson is now a TV and radio presenter and pundit for the BBC in the UK.  One of the shows that he features in is called ´A Question of Sport.´ To raise awareness and to support the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, Matt has been doing as many quizzes as he can, joining people from all over the world, online, to complete a quiz.  We were very lucky and honoured that Matt was able to join us for our weekly staff professional development session last Thursday and complete part of our starter quiz.  This was Matt´s 108th quiz so far since starting less than two weeks ago.  It was a real pleasure to meet Matt and to have the opportunity to reminisce with him about the 2003 final.  He was interested in every one of us and how we are successfully adapting our teaching and learning during these testing times.  He also answered a number of questions asked by the teachers at the Meet.  It was a real highlight of the school week and we would like to thank Matt again for his kindness and sincerity in joining us.  #NHSHeroes #StayHomeSaveLives #DawsDoesQuizzes @matt9dawson

Lockdown Likes

Rediscovering books of old

Sporting classics being retold

Rays of sunshine filter in

A joyous time to empty a bin

Lunching together (Spanish time)

Board games, jig-saws, quizzes, mime

Open windows fresh air breathes in

Online meetings (shorts and flip-flops!) let’s begin

Radio podcasts, #BBC

Nothing like a cuppa tea

The patter of rain, rumbles of thunder

Classic films, tears and wonder

International friends in a virtual space

aprendiendo español at my own pace

The distant sounds of cutting grass

Memories, summer days long in the past

Darting swallows busy at dusk

Old San Pedro makes no fuss

Coming together one community claps

The time, the place, the people, perhaps 


Paul Crouch, 23.04.2020

Tres Cantos, Madrid

Khun Nui – ‘I have a disability but I am not disabled’

A disabled body becomes an obstacle,

If broken limbs defeat your heart,

But love does not come from outward appearances,

It comes from the hope we nurture inside.

                                                                       Miss Thanaree (Nui) Fungpinyopap

Nui speaking at the We Walk Together conference in 2010

Nui speaking at the We Walk Together conference in 2010

Khun Nui has an inspiring story and she is an amazing person.  This is a lady that you must meet and invite into your school or organisation.  Ask her to tell her story and give her own thoughts about education and personal challenge to your students and colleagues.  Then let your team spend time with her and enjoy her company for the day – she likes to eat lunch!

In 2010 Khun Nui was one of many speakers at the Round Square International Conference – she had never spoken publicly before but had worked with the Regent’s students and staff for a couple of years through the community partner learning programme.  When it came to speaking in front of 850 people, 77 schools from all over the world and a royal family there may have been a bit of apprehension on her part!  On the day she really delivered – speaking from the heart and with emotion – there was not a dry eye in the audience.  Khun Nui also received the longest standing ovation of the whole conference.  Since then Khun Nui has spoken a number of times and always focused on her powerful message “that having a disability does not mean you are disabled,” something we can all reflect upon and think about when we find something challenging, difficult or even frustrating.  Below is an account of Khun Nui’s story.  You can also find Khun Nui via Facebook.

Khun Nui with the We Walk Together team at the Father Ray Foundation

Khun Nui with the We Walk Together team at the Father Ray Foundation

A Miraculous Child

My Story – by Miss Thanaree Fungpinyopap

When my father Thanakorn first laid eyes on me he was quite shocked; I was born without my arms and legs. Thankfully my father was a strong man and he promised in his heart to love me despite my disabilities. My mother however struggled to accept me for who I was. My mother’s family also felt my disabilities would bring great shame down on their decent name. They cruelly persuaded her to abandon me and my father.

My mother left our home as I neared my first birthday. I would learn later that she found a new husband and immigrated to Australia. My father now had to assume the role of both father and mother. This was an immense task for him to undertake; especially in those early years. He worked tirelessly to make sure I always had food to eat and clothes to wear. Despite the difficulties my disabilities presented he was always patient and loving with me. He often reminded himself that he was blessed with both arms and legs, whereas I, his daughter, was not. My father was also very protective of me and had little patience for those who looked down on me.

My father knew he couldn’t take care of me all his life. He understood how important it was to teach me how to become independent, confident and happy, so that one day I could take care of myself. Thankfully many of my father’s friends also offered their support. Then Tim, my first nanny, came into my life. Tim became like a surrogate mother to me. My father often took me out of the house and brought me around the town and countryside. People looked at me strangely. They turned their heads and stared as we walked by. But my father was defiant and proud to be with me. He helped teach me as a child not to feel shame for who I was. He always told me that ‘you are disabled in body, but people who mistreat you are disabled in the heart. You should be proud in everything you have; you are entirely able as long as your spirit is strong in your heart.’

When I was seven years old my father hired tutors to come to my home. This would be my first step on the road to education. I really enjoyed studying and I amazed everyone with my beautiful handwriting. I also loved to research books and learn more about general knowledge. I was delighted when I finished primary education; it was my first great achievement. As I neared the end of senior high school I learned of the Tongku School for adult education. This school allowed for its students to study and work at the same time. I applied and was accepted there. I studied here between the ages of eighteen and twenty. The principal of the school, Komkrit Junkajon, was exceptionally kind and helped me a great deal. One day he came to visit me at home. He confessed to be that he found me an inspirational person who gave him great strength to fight many of the problems in his own life. He said I was a miraculous child. He said the world would be a better place if everyone had my positive outlook on life.

My father got remarried. Soon I had two young brothers to play with. Unfortunately this meant the expense on our household increased and my father’s business, a car repair shop, struggled more and more. As our debt mounted my father and step-mother argued often. The stress led to my father suffering a brain hemorrhage and he passed away. This was a terrible tragedy for me. Sadness overwhelmed me. I wished I could have followed my father on his journey and not remain here all alone.

I didn’t think I could live without him.

His death led to further problems with my step-mom. She couldn’t handle the stress of maintaining the household and she put the blame on me. There was no love left for me in the house and I knew I had to leave. At first I had nowhere to go. My real mother was now living in Australia for over twenty years and I learned that she still couldn’t accept me and my disabilities, even after all this time. But then a former customer of my father’s shop, Daorung, who ran a tour guide company, gave me a job as a tour operator. I worked here for nine months.

Khun Nui receives a gift of thanks from Eye

Khun Nui receives a gift of thanks from Eye

After I finished working here I was taken in by P’Nuch and moved to house near my old home. During this period I was desperately sad. I put on a brave face and told everybody I was fine, but behind closed doors I cried myself to sleep and prayed for my father to rescue me from my loneliness. Then, as if my father heard my prayers, an old friend of his helped turn things around for me again. After my father’s old friend heard of my plight he offered to take me to Bangkok to live with him. He bestowed on me the same love and kindness that my father did and he restored a lost spirit in my heart.

It was during this time I applied for a two year course in Computer and Business Management in English, at the Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled in Pattaya. This was the first chance I had to enter the school system on a full time basis. At first I was both excited and nervous. Excited at the prospect of learning, nervous that my disabilities would make me stand out. But soon this worry vanished as I made many friends and immersed myself in study. It felt like a second home for me. My grades were good and the life lessons I learned here as a disabled person was invaluable. Fr. Ray wished his students to become independent people and rightly proud of themselves; I thank him for this legacy, as do all of my fellow students at the school.

My world became even larger when Fr. Deang presented me with a red electric wheelchair since I just came for 3 days. It was as if I had been given a pair of wings as now I could go anywhere I wanted to on my own. Entering my last term at the school I got a job at the Postway Company and I worked in telephone marketing and advertising. It gave me the opportunity to show that a disabled person could work as well as anybody else.

My graduation day was a great success and delight for everybody. I proudly received my certificate and felt ready to take on the world. I was ready to climb all obstacles and fight for what I wanted; a good job that would allow me to support myself and a family. My next step was to begin a BA in Public Relations at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. I graduated in November 2008 and receive my BA on January 15, 2010 and would like to thank all who have supported me in achieving this.

After Postway Company closed down I was lucky enough to be taken on by doctor Surapol as a salesperson of Zhulian Company. I traveled around Thailand with the good doctor presenting products to consumers such as toothpaste, shampoo, vitamins, ginseng coffee, wheat grass powdered drink etc… This job was my first opportunity to really see the beautiful country of my birth, Thailand, and was a liberating experience. I always wish the doctor good fortune on his travels and thank him for showing me my country.

Today I work, thanks to Khun Anon and all the priests, at The Redemptorist Centre Pattaya. I really like my job taking reservations supervisor. I also enjoyed to take care all the group guests to come here and love spending time in the beautiful natural surroundings of the centre. Here I have finally found a peace in my life and can achieve all those things which my father wished me to achieve; independence, self-belief and hope for the future.

Things I have learned in my life; ‘Positive thinking is everything – speak only with good words – treat others as you wish to be treated – give and you will receive.’

Written and Translated by:

Miss Thanaree (Nui) Fungpinyopap

Khun Mechai – transforming education in Thailand

Khun Mechai with the RS 2010 student steering committee

Khun Mechai with the RS 2010 student steering committee

The Mechai Patana School, also known as The Bamboo School, in Buriram in the North-east of Thailand is an amazing place for learning and community engagement.  In fact Khun Mechai Viravaidya, the founder of the school, likes to refer to the school as a 7Eleven – a ‘hub’ for the community that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.  Khun Mechai has never done things by halves and is one of the leading social entrepreneurs and innovators of education in Thailand today.  Many people knew of Khun Mechai as ‘Mr. Condom,’ the man who spoke out in the 80’s and 90’s about the imminent threat of HIV/AIDS to Thailand and travelled the country promoting the use of contraception and using his ability to use humour and wit to get the message across to the (especially rural) Thai people.  He has rightfully been recognised with numerous awards and global positions for his work on population, development and HIV/AIDS issues as you can see in his short biography below.*

Mechai Patana students who have studied at Regents over the last three years

Mechai Patana students who have studied at Regents over the last three years

Today, though, he is still working hard for the rural disadvantaged and believes education is the key factor to bringing better opportunities and equality to rural communities and the people.  The Bamboo School is a unique and holistic approach to education within a typically rote learning based Thai education system.  His model gives young rural people the chance to learn life skills and the confidence to use them to be successful in life – not just for themselves but also for their families and their communities, ultimately preventing the educated from migrating to the urban centres such as Bangkok.  The Mechai Patana students engage in service learning, work experience, social enterprise initiatives, the interviewing and recruitment of their teachers, financial responsibility, creativity, sustainable thinking and action, etc.  They really are amazing global citizens who are independent learners and succeeding academically.  Khun Mechai has recently formed a partnership with a prestigious Thai university that has recognised that the MPS students are equipped with the learning skills and values to be successful in tertiary education and beyond and has agreed to offer places to every student that graduates from the Bamboo School.

Who is teaching who?

Who is teaching who?

Khun Mechai spoke at the We Walk Together conference in October 2010 and is an inspiring speaker for young people and educators.  I strongly recommend that you visit the Bamboo School in Buriram or in Jomtien (south of Pattaya), even better invite Khun Mechai into your school or workplace – you will not be disappointed.

*Khun Mechai Viravaidya is the Founder and current Chairman of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), one of Thailand’s largest and most successful private, non-profit, development organizations. Since 1974, PDA has initiated community- based family planning services, innovative poverty reduction programs, large-scale rural development and environmental programs, as well as groundbreaking HIV/AIDS prevention activities throughout Thailand.

Mechai Viravaidya had a pivotal role in Thailand’s hugely successful family planning program, which saw one of the most rapid fertility declines in the modern era. The rate of annual population growth in Thailand declined from over 3% in 1974 to 0.6% in 2005, and the average number of children per family fell from seven to under two. Mechai Viravaidya pioneered and championed many of Thailand’s social mobilization and community development efforts that are now taken for granted. Although much of his time was spent in the NGO sector, Mechai Viravaidya has also served in the Thai government as a Senator, in 1987 and again in 1997, and as a member of the cabinet during 1985-86 and 1991-92. As a Minister to the Office of the Prime Minister for Anand Panyarachun in 1991-92, Mechai Viravaidya was the chief architect in building Thailand’s comprehensive national HIV/AIDS prevention policy and program. This initiative is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding national efforts by any country in combating HIV/AIDS. By 2004, Thailand had experienced a 90% reduction in new HIV infections. In 2005, the World Bank reported that these preventative efforts helped save 7.7 million lives throughout the country and saved the government over US$18 billion in treatment costs alone. In recognition of his efforts Mechai Viravaidya was appointed the UNAIDS Ambassador in 1999.

Apart from his involvement in the government and the NGO sectors, Mechai Viravaidya has business and corporate experience as member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of many major corporations. He also served as trustee on the Board of many Universities and international organizations. For his efforts in various development endeavours, Mechai Viravaidya has been accorded numerous awards and recognitions including: the United Nations Gold Peace Medal (1981), the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1994), one of Asiaweek’s “20 Great Asians” (1995), the United Nations Population Award (1997), and one of TIME Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” (2006). More recently, Mechai Viravaidya has been awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth (2007). Again, PDA and Mechai Viravaidya were the recipients of the Gates Award for Global Health in 2007, and are one of the Skoll Awardees for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008, both of which are awarded with a cash gift of one million US dollars.