Betty Jane Cameron, 80, teaches music to students at St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya
INVERNESS COUNTY — A woman who has had a passion for teaching for most of her life is traveling to Kenya to teach children for a third consecutive year.
Betty Jane Cameron, 80, who lives in Mabou, is heading to St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya on January 8 for three months to teach music, be a spiritual guide for the children and work in the school’s infirmary, as part of the Inverness County Cares organization’s efforts to help underprivileged children in the area.
Cameron, has had an extensive career looking after and teaching others in many fields, including caregiving and music. She continues to teach music in Mabou to children as well as Kenya.
She has continued her journeys to the school because of the personal connections she has made with the children, who think of her as a grandmother figure.
“Everyone was really nice to me the first year – but last year I became their grandmother. That seemed to be the biggest thing I could do.” she said, and then added that her personal connection with the students had resonated with them and made her beloved by the children.
“Some of the children wrote me letters while I was there and one of them said he wanted to be my son because when I first met him, I said his name as I looked at him directly in the eyes. I think to get to know the children by name and know their interests was by far the best part of my trips.”
On her first trip, Cameron brought the children several instruments. On her second, she purchased instruments in Nairobi with donated money from Cape Bretoners: including a piano. This year, she already has various instruments donated by community members to take with her for her third trip to the school.
She said music matters to the children because of its inclusiveness and that it’s enjoyed without a large cost.
“It’s something that has no strings attached. They don’t have to be good or rich. They can just enjoy it and they love music – it’s a very big part of Kenyan culture,” said Cameron who added a lot of the children already had natural talent.
“I didn’t know what I could do because they were already very good at singing and dancing, they were eager to learn and they learned really fast.”
Colleen MacDonald MacLeod, a member of Inverness County Cares, said Cameron has made a big impact on the children at the school because she has made a long lasting bond with them through her personality and caregiving ways.
“Teachers come and go, because it’s hard to pay them enough and they get experience and get a better job – you need continuity and Betty Jane is there and she’s the grandmother figure. She talks to them and they love her so much ” said MacDonald MacLeod.
Brother John Kennedy Oronjo, a member of the St. Charles Lwanga Brothers of Kenya, started the St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School in 2012. The group is comprised of religious brothers, dedicated to the care of youth, traditionally through education.
Inverness County Cares has been involved with the school since 2012, after Oronjo contacted a member of the group.
They have since partnered with the charity, Chalice Canada in Bedford. The partnership enabled the Inverness group make contributions to the school of $60,000 a year with a matching $60,000 a year from Chalice.
For more information on the children of St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School and Inverness County Cares, visit invernesscountycares.com or lwangachildren.com.