All posts by Ruth Young

153 million children

There are more than

2.2 billion children in the world today.  It is estimated that 153 million children of these are orphans (UNICEF).  That moves my heart.  But caring for all of those children is beyond my reach, beyond my capabilities.

Everyone’s Child serves over 500 orphaned and vulnerable students.  That’s a lot less than 153 million, but it’s still a large number of children to keep track of.  We rely on our staff, as well as the teachers and administration we partner with to let us know how they are all doing in their studies and in their lives.  Thankfully, whenever I travel to Kenya I have the opportunity to meet many of these children.  And there is always at least one who captures my attention each time I am there.

Simon Wanjala

This was the case with a young man named Simon Wanjala.  Simon was one of EC’s first scholarship students at Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School (BEDSS) in Lanet Umoja.  This scholarship allowed him to complete his high school education.  I met him once or twice while he was enrolled there, but it wasn’t until after he had graduated that I began to learn about his life.

Simon was an orphan and was also a victim of the post-election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007.  He and his brothers were displaced five times in the span of four years.  He wound up living with family members who mistreated him as he struggled to complete his high school education.  Despite these hardships, upon graduating Simon found a job teaching in a primary school, and eventually was able to find a place to live.  He brought his two youngest brothers into his home, and gave them an opportunity to complete their education together.

young Kenyan man with a new t-shirt bearing the cross
Simon showing off a new t-shirt in 2014

His story

The overriding aspect about this young man is his attitude.  In spite of the difficulties he faced, the loss of his parents, his home, and his struggles to survive while completing his education, Simon has always been upbeat, positive and thankful.  After graduating from BEDSS he went out of his way to thank EC for the education he received.  That single act made a lasting impression on me.

a map of Simon's Story
Simon’s journey from 2006-2010

 

Today Simon is a successful entrepreneur who owns a shop selling kitchen wares in Nakuru, Kenya.  He also volunteers his time for Everyone’s Child, taking food to the orphans in Kampi Ya Moto and assisting in EC’s Mentoring program each month.

Simon Wanjala and William Aludo - dressed to educate!
Simon Wanjala and William Aludo in 2017

Last year I wrote a story about Simon’s life and mailed it to all of our contributors.  It’s a story full of hope, and shows the difference that supporters of Everyone’s Child make in the lives of those who count on our help.  The story can be downloaded here.

Caring for children

I’ve thought about caring for children for as long as I can remember.  As I grew into adulthood that transpired into serving the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.

There is no doubt that supporting all of the world’s orphans would be an overwhelming mission.  But I do know that each one of their lives is important.  And I’m grateful to be able to help even one of the 153 million who are alive today.

Everyone’s Child begins by focusing on the one.   But a task is always easier when others join in to help.  Please click on this link if you would like to help to make a difference too.

As always, thank you for partnering with us to make life easier for people like Simon.  I hope you enjoy his story.

everyone’s child.  changing a generation through education.

 

Exciting News

I have some very exciting news to share.  Last month EC received a very generous grant from Christian Broadcasting Network!  The grant is designated to help establish a struggling primary school in western Kenya.

The Miruya Primary School

As some of you already know, last summer EC’s Program Coordinator, William Aludo, discovered a school not far from his home where young children gathered each day, hoping to get an education.  The only problem was that there were no teachers there to help them learn.  The school building was solid, but it was unregistered as a public government school.  Apparently the Kenyan government had run out of funding to register the school.  As a result, they were not paying to send licensed teachers there to teach the children.

Outside wall of the Miruya Primary School
Outside the Miruya Primary School

Each day between 50 and 100 students showed up and sat on the floor as there were not enough desks.  They stayed simply because there was no where else for them to go.  Parents from the area pooled their money to hire an untrained teacher to stay with their children, hoping that she could teach them some skills, and trusting that she would at least watch their children throughout the day.  Unfortunately, because their resources were limited they were unable to pay her regularly, so sometimes she chose not to show up.  The children continued to go to the school, mainly because they had no where else to go.  Needless to say, it was distressing for parents to learn that their children were left on their own day after day.

The Promise of Assistance

The grant we have received from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) will help put the Miruya Primary School on the map in western Kenya.  Five teachers will be hired, desks and textbooks will be purchased, and a lunch program for orphaned and vulnerable students is being established.  Best of all, plans are underway to dig a well on the school grounds!  At our last staff meeting William reported that the promise of assistance has breathed new life into this area, and already new students are beginning to come to the school.

Children playing outside with their teacher at Miruya Primary School in Kenya
A circle game with students and their teacher at Miruya Primary School

Two Events

This past January two more important events for the Miruya Primary School happened.  First, parents in the area held a successful fundraiser, raising enough to begin purchasing textbooks for their children.  And secondly, William initiated a breakfast program of porridge for all the students, allowing everyone to focus on their studies instead of their empty stomachs.  These events have given everyone a sense of ownership and pride in their school and their community.  And now the additional promise of funding from CBN has made an impact that goes beyond many of these villagers greatest expectations.

CBN

CBN’s funding couldn’t have come at a better time for this small primary school.  Beginning in April, desks and textbooks for teachers and students will be purchased.  A much needed latrine will be dug, and a lunch program will be established soon afterward.  The hope of a well with potable water is also in the works.  None of this would be possible without the help of CBN’s Orphan’s Promise.  This is a program that assists orphaned and at-risk children throughout the world, helping them to “thrive so that they can live full of hope and realize their God-given potential”.  It goes without saying that we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to partner with CBN.

Exciting News

If you want to be a part of bringing exciting news to at-risk primary and secondary school students in Kenya and India, please click here.  Please note that there are several ways to lend a hand.  This link outlines other ways to contribute to Everyone’s Child.

As always, ASANTE SANA (Thank you very much) for being the best part of Everyone’s Child!

Meet the Directors

The Board of Directors

The purpose of this blog is to familiarize our readers and followers with nine wonderful people who serve on EC’s Board of Directors.  Some of them have been on the Board since the inception of Everyone’s Child, and others have just joined.  I am excited to introduce  this dynamic group of people whose heart and passion are to educate, care for, and connect with orphaned and vulnerable children throughout the world.


Margaret L. Parkerson, Chairman of Board

Margaret “Maggie” Parkerson divides her time between Suffolk, Virginia and Fayston, Vermont where she and her husband Charles “Charlie” have owned a ski house for 30 years. She was a systems analyst for Newport News Shipbuilding during the 1970’s, and has also worked part-time in human resources at Lancaster Farms, a successful nursery business in Virginia that her husband started in 1969.

After raising their three children, Maggie, who has a degree in mathematics from Mary Baldwin College, became involved with teaching higher math to homeschooled children for 10 years. She is also gifted with a knack for writing and was instrumental in editing Ruth’s doctoral dissertation.  Today she is Chairman of the Parkerson Foundation, a family philanthropic organization. She served as Secretary of the Board of Everyone’s Child from 2009 – 2015, and has been Chairman of the Board since 2015.

Maggie is an international traveler. She has visited most of the continents of the world, touring nurseries with the International Plant Propagators Society.

While she has not yet traveled to Kenya, after reading Ruth’s thesis Maggie was also moved by the importance for communities to have clean drinking water.  She has always had a heart for education, seeing the need for better educational practices in countries like South Africa and Thailand.

Maggie’s three children are grown and married and have given her and Charlie 11 grandchildren. In her spare time she likes to learn new things – taking on tasks such as upholstering. She also loves to read, swim and knit for all of her grandchildren.


S. Tracy Braun, MAAA, Treasurer

Sharlene “Tracy” Braun was born and raised in Northfield, Vermont where she and her husband, Chaunce, also raised three boys. They are snowbirds, spending the spring, summer and autumn in northern Vermont and wintering in Florida.

Tracy is a Pension Actuary and has spent her career in the retirement plan-consulting arena, providing expertise to companies who establish all types of retirement plans for their employees.   Her current position is Vice President of People’s United Bank Retirement Services in Burlington, Vermont.

The Braun’s are both founders of Everyone’s Child, and provided the incentive for this non-profit to begin. When Ruth completed her doctorate in 2008, they approached her to ask if she would want to direct a charitable organization to support orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa. The vision for EC grew out of that initial contact.

Tracy has been on EC’s Board of Directors since the beginning, serving as Chairman for six years and Treasurer for nine years. She has traveled to Kenya twice, and found that her first trip there was life changing. She says, “What struck me about Kenya was both its incredible beauty and the abject poverty of many of its people. But in spite of this, the children were joyful and excited just to have the opportunity to go to school.  It was a very humbling experience, and made my commitment to help educate these children even stronger.  We have so much in America, and it takes so little of what we have to make a true difference in their lives.”

Tracy and Chaunce are now enjoying the newest generation of grandchildren – six of them age five and younger.  This definitely keeps them busy in their spare time!


Laura D. Viens, Secretary

Laura Viens was born and raised in New York City, spending summers in Vermont where she met her husband Freddie.  After graduating from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, the two of them settled in the Mad River Valley where they have raised twin girls and a son, and Freddie runs Shepard’s Brook Auto, a successful auto body repair shop.

Laura worked for many years as a program assistant for Project Harmony International, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering civic engagement, cross-cultural learning and increased opportunities for youth in a digital age. Today she manages a local gift store, does book work for Shepard’s Brook Auto, and spends time volunteering in her community. One of her favorite ways to give back is serving breakfast at the local senior center.

In 2013, her twin daughters traveled to Kenya with Everyone’s Child, an experience, she says, that left an impression on both of them. When she saw and heard about their experiences she immediately wanted to help the children who influenced their lives. Laura joined the EC Board in 2015, serving as Secretary for three years, and also took on the responsibility of collecting the funds in EC’s OFP (orphan-feeding program) coin banks.

Laura loves snowshoeing, traveling, her family and their four dogs, four cats, three rats and chickens. Needless to say, they are a busy family.


Rev. William W. Stewart, Director

Rev. William “Fr. Paul” Stewart was born on a naval base in Newport, Rhode Island, was raised in New York City, and spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm in Connecticut. In 1979 he was commissioned as a minister of the Community of the Crucified One (CCO) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1983 was ordained as a priest, gaining the name of “Fr. Paul”. After being elected Prelate, he taught in the CCO seminary for eight years. In 1984, he completed a church building project in Moretown, Vermont, remaining there as pastor until 2017.

In 1996, Fr. Paul was sent to Kenya to establish the Holy Cross Church, an international extension of the CCO. This experience initiated a love of traveling and missionary work that has since taken him to many developing nations and given him the opportunity to bring hope to many lives.

Today, Fr. Paul sits on the Board of Elders and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CCO. In addition, he is the owner of Juniper’s Fare Café and Catering, a church-run restaurant located in the heart of the Vermont ski country. He has also been on the Board of Everyone’s Child since it’s earliest days.

Fr. Paul and his wife Kathy have four children and nine grandchildren and make their home in Moretown, Vermont. When he isn’t traveling around the country or around the world, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family, also traveling with them whenever possible.


Rev. Stephen T. Young, Director

Rev. “Fr.” Stephen Young grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Vermont from 1981 – 2016, working as the director of the Vermont Audubon State Office and serving as a youth pastor and assistant pastor of the Church of the Crucified One in Moretown. Prior to those years he worked as a staff member for Congresswoman Margaret Heckler (R-MA), and in 1975 began his career with the National Audubon Society as a staff environmental lobbyist and community organizer in their Washington, DC office. During President Jimmy Carter’s administration Fr. Steve (then Steve) worked alongside his peers from many different environmental organizations to pass the Alaska Lands Bill in Congress.

Fr. Steve has served on the Board of EC since 2009, and today is also an active member of the Sacred Heart Prayer Community in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, vice-chairman of the Linesville Community and Business Alliance, and Board member of the Linesville Ministerium in Linesville, Pennsylvania.

When it comes to service, Fr. Steve attributes many of his thoughts and ideals to the time he spent working as a volunteer fisheries extension agent with the Peace Corps in Nepal. He has had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet people from countless different cultures, religions and traditions. His love for God, His people and His Creation have all been shaped and molded by the incredible wealth of these experiences.

Fr. Steve and his wife Ruth, their teenage son Thomas, and dog Keiko live in a restored farmhouse on 13 acres of land, located in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania. When he isn’t running a meeting or loading wood in the fire, you’ll find him reading a good book on his front porch.


David Dillon, Director

David Dillon was born and raised in Arlington, Massachusetts and is now a resident of Cape Cod where he lives with his wife, Juliane. The two of them have been actively involved in church ministry for many years. Their lives are centered on service of others, beginning at home. Juliane is a community outreach coordinator for a non-profit human service organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.

David graduated from Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1970’s. Over the years he has worked in business development, real estate, and he also served as vice president of the Asia Pacific Division of Remanco International. In 2007, David became the New England Field Representative for Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). He has been a Director on the Board of Everyone’s Child since 2012.

The Dillon’s son and daughter are grown, one in the workforce and the other in her senior year in college, leaving these two “empty nesters” to serve in another way. For the past six years, David and Juliane have shared their home with a single mother and her young daughter, giving them hope and helping them to get a fresh start in life.   The mom has since finished school, found a job, is engaged and has bought a new home for herself and her daughter.

David is also a renowned professional jazz drummer and spends most of his spare time performing on and off Cape Cod.


Therese M. Brady, Director

Therese “Teri” Brady is originally from Akron, Ohio but is now a resident of Conneautville, Pennsylvania where she and her husband, Rev. James Brady have been living since 2002. Prior to that Teri served as a missionary for the Community of the Crucified One in Nashville, Tennessee and Kapaau, Hawaii for 13 years.

Teri retired in 2010, but has had 50 years employment experience with several firms throughout the USA, holding positions such as office manager, secretary, production coordinator, and supervisor in communications. During half of those years she simultaneously served as a legislator and secretary for her church community. Teri may be retired, but she is not one to sit still, and recently became a member of the Linesville Ministerium in Linesville, Pennsylvania.

Teri joined the EC Board of Directors in 2018 and brings a strong background in office management as well as a heart for the children she sees EC serving in Kenya and India. She and her husband have many “spiritual children” from serving in the ministry for so many years. Their door was always open to the helpless and the homeless, so she understands very well the importance of offering support to those in need.

Teri’s favorite pastimes are cooking, reading, and playing guitar. In the summer, unless it’s raining, you can usually find her in the garden.


Benjamin L. Crosby, MS, Director

Ben Crosby has watched the growth and evolution of the Everyone’s Child since he was a senior in his rural Vermont high school. In 2013 he traveled to Kenya with Ruth and experienced the work that EC does. This trip opened his eyes and motivated him to integrate development work into his life.

Ben has an educational background in Community Development. His undergraduate degree is in Community and International Development and he also holds a Masters degree in Community Development and Applied Economics, both from the University of Vermont. He has worked on development programs in Honduras and has also spent a number of months serving as a missionary in northern Jamaica. His interest and passion revolves around youth development as well as the economics and business of community transformation.

Ben joined the EC Board in 2018.  He served as deacon of the Youth Ministry at his church for many years, and brings an interest in and passion for helping disadvantaged youth to find sustainable economic futures. In his words, “…education and kids are the foundation of communities and investing in them is necessary for a promising future.”

Ben is newly married and is living in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Gabrielle, a child life specialist, and their pet bunny Olivia. He currently works as an analyst for the utility, National Grid, and enjoys thinking about the intersection of the global energy future and development. Having been born and raised in Vermont, his favorite activities are skiing and being outside.


Adam F. Braun, MBA, Director

Adam Braun was born in New York and raised on a small farm in Northfield, Vermont, where he spent much of his youth playing hockey with his two brothers. He first became interested in Kenya during a mission trip in 2009 when he visited a primary school and participated in an orphan-feeding program.  Despite the poverty the children faced every day, he saw a joy in their faces that he couldn’t explain.  It was this joy that ultimately led to his involvement in Everyone’s Child, joining the Board of Directors in early 2018.

Adam holds a BS in Accounting from St. Michael’s College and an MBA from Babson College.  He is the North America Commission Controller for Philips Health-tech, a global medical device company, and has over 15 years of finance and accounting experience specializing in opportunity analysis, lean finance improvements and forecasting the unknown.  As one of EC’s newest Board members he hopes to recognize opportunities to bring further assistance to the children we are supporting.

Adam and his wife Leah, a practicing family physician, live in Potomac, Maryland where they are raising their two young sons.  He is an active volunteer with his local church, supporting the children’s and men’s ministries. He enjoys gardening, ice hockey and spending time with family.


Ruth T. Young, Ed.D.   Founder and Executive Director

Ruth was born and raised in Williamsville, New York, and spent much of her youth traveling between the USA and Canada where her family owned a farm on Cape Breton Island. She has a BS from Baldwin-Wallace University and an M.S. Ed. from  Duquesne University, and spent several years as an interpreter for hearing impaired children throughout the USA while serving as a missionary for the Community of the Crucified One.

In 1997, Ruth visited Kenya with a missionary team, a trip that deeply affected her and ultimately determined what she would do during the next phase of her life.

There were many moments that stuck with her from her time in Kenya, but one of the most poignant was when she shared a bottle of water with a small child in an arid region of eastern Kenya whose name literally translates to “Camp of Fire”. “I’ll never forget what happened,” she said. “The child took the bottle from me so gingerly, looked at it, then handed it to her older sister.” Ruth watched as the two of them walked off, sharing the water bottle and never looking back to ask for more. She had fully expected the child to drain the bottle and come back for more, but what she saw instead was an act of human kindness and mutual dependency, the smaller child entrusting her older sibling with the gift that had been given to her.

After receiving her doctorate in education from the University of Vermont, Ruth was asked by members of the current EC Board of Directors about becoming the Executive Director of a non-profit organization whose purpose would be to serve underprivileged children in developing nations.  She was chosen specifically for this task because of her research and interest in Kenya.  The organization took the name of “Everyone’s Child” from her dissertation.

In 2016, Ruth and her husband Steve and their teenage son moved from Vermont to western Pennsylvania to live in their restored farmhouse. She enjoys traveling, playing guitar, singing, going for walks with her husband, and finding ways to help children smile.


If you would like to learn more about our programs,  please visit the EC website by clicking here.  And if you know that you want to support orphaned and at-risk children in Kenya or India, please click here to find out how you can help.

As always, thank you for reading and supporting Everyone’s Child!

 

 

 

Finding Solutions

At Everyone’s Child

we are all about seeing problems and finding solutions. When this organization began in 2009, we were presented with the problem of providing an education, healthy meals and clean drinking water to orphaned and at-risk school children in three different locations in Kenya. We found solutions in reaching out to friends, family members and even strangers to ask for help. Nine years later, thanks to the generosity of many supporters, hundreds of orphaned and at-risk children in Kenya have received meals, an education and potable water. We have also had the opportunity to build new classrooms and connect students in the USA with students in Kenya.

finding solutions for children who are now drinking clean water from a spigot in sub Saharan Africa.
Clean water for kids in Kampi Ya Moto

Last year, for the first time in the history of this small non-profit organization, we were able to go beyond the borders of Kenya into a new country. This past year saw EC opening a unique afterschool study program for 20 children in grades 1 – 8 in a rural community outside of Hyderabad, India.

a classroom full of boys learning
Learning after school – an important part of life in India

HIV/AIDS

Unfortunately, the problems we encounter don’t just go away. HIV/AIDS continues to rob children of their parents at an alarming rate each day. It is estimated that there are over 3 million orphans in Kenya, 47% of whom are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. It is also estimated that an orphan sibling heads 12 – 15% of Kenyan households. These children are just that, children. They are not equipped to face problems that adults face. Typically they become anti-social, and are also an easy target for child-traffickers.1  Needless to say, finding solutions for the problems these children are confronted can be very challenging.

child sitting with her head on her hands
A child waiting for an answer

More Problems

Family members will often take in nephews and nieces who have lost their parents, but in many cases, they are ill equipped to care for them. These families find their resources stretched and have to choose between feeding and clothing their own children or their orphaned relatives. The orphan frequently goes hungry.  Oftentimes they are given clothing that is either too small or too big to wear. While the Kenyan government now provides free primary and secondary education, uniforms are required in all schools. Orphaned children typically do not have access to an adequate uniform, as their families usually cannot afford to provide for all their needs.

a group of students in blue uniforms smiling for the camera
students at Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School in Kiti

Finding Solutions

Last year, through the generosity of our contributors, EC was able to supply daily meals to over 400 orphaned and at-risk children. We also provided scholarships to 21 high school students, and conducted a yearlong mentorship program for orphaned high school juniors and seniors. Additionally, our Program Coordinator discovered a school in a rural area in western Kenya where children were simply waiting for a teacher to show up. Those who gave to EC made it possible for a teacher to be hired, allowing these 112 primary school children to begin receiving an education.

Children playing outside with their teacher at Miruya Primary School in western Kenya
A circle game with students and their teacher at Miruya Primary School in western Kenya

One of our BEST Solutions

Our 2017 Annual Appeal has been very successful. Today we are just $2,500 shy of receiving the same amount we received in 2016 ($21,625.00). Our programs are decided by our budget, and our budget is determined by how much comes in each year.

We are extremely grateful to each person who contributed to the 2017 Annual Appeal.  As I wrote in each thank you note I sent out, your gifts provide real and immediate help to children we are serving today.

students sitting in a classroom in Kenya
Bishop Donovan secondary students

Our Resolution

In this New Year, our resolution is to continue supporting school children in Kenya and India. We also hope to reach more children in need in both these countries.

To those who have not yet given, it’s not too late. We welcome your participation in finding solutions to the problems faced by youth who are living in an uncertain world.  Please click here to learn how you can help.

To all of you, I wish you all a very happy, healthy beginning to 2018!

Reference: 1. https://lightuphope.org/the-plight-of-orphans-in-kenya/

Mentoring,Training and Confidence

The Job Interview

My first job interview was not very noteworthy.

Our neighbor across the street asked my mother whether I would be interested in babysitting for her two little boys.  The “interview” took all of two minutes and included questions like “Do you know how to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich?”, and “Are you comfortable changing a diaper?”.  I felt so important when they asked me to stay at their house all by myself, even though I was a mere twelve years of age.  (Of course my mom was within shouting range should anything go awry.)

Several years later I interviewed for my first teaching position.  This was more serious and required an actual résumé, as well as the right clothes for the occasion.  Plus I needed some practice on how to win the confidence of those conducting the interview.  “Confidence” was certainly key.  I was confident that I could do the job, but I was less confident that I could win the approval of the interviewer.  I remember feeling nervous, even anxious and unsure, and then finally elated when I was offered the job.

Mentoring and Training

That experience taught me how to conduct myself during an interview, but there was a lot of mentoring and training that led up to that event.  And privilege.  It’s important to note that I was privileged to know people who invested their time to tell me how to conduct myself in an interview.  What’s more, I was blessed to have a family who cared enough to teach me how to treat my fellow human being.  They taught me the importance of understanding and pursuing my passion in life.  They also showed me the importance of making a difference in the world.  All of this added up to my eventual success at landing a job I really wanted.

a Kenyan mama and her baby
Lizzie Joy and Florence

Mentoring +Training = Confidence

Today I am painfully aware that there are millions of children growing up in our world who don’t have access to this kind of mentoring.  They are everywhere, but the ones I am most conscious of are the high school students we serve in Kenya.  Most are orphaned, and all are at risk of not making it once they graduate.

Two years ago William Aludo pioneered the Mentorship Program that is available to the orphaned 11th and 12th grade students we support.  These children are about to step out and make their marks on the world.  The program explores questions that teenagers commonly face, such as “who am I?” and “what is my passion?”  The goal is to give students confidence in themselves and in their abilities, and teach them that they can make a difference in the world.

students sitting in a classroom in Kenya
Bishop Donovan secondary students

Success

I believe that success begins with knowing who we are and ends with identifying and pursuing what we are good at doing.  A child who has a sense of who they are is better equipped to handle life’s challenges.  A confident child is also more likely to identify and pursue his or her vocation or career.  Children who grow up in a safe, loving environment have easy access to this kind of success.  But this success is more elusive for those who grow up in uncertainty or without the involvement of a caring family.

Kenyan child in a warm jacket
Dressing for success on a chilly day in Kenya!

Our Goal

This coming year we want to expand on the accomplishment of this unique mentorship program.  Our goal is to help more students gain confidence in themselves and achieve their full potential as active citizens in the future of Kenya.  Whether they want to be a farmer, a doctor, a driver or a teacher, we want to equip them to be the best at what they will do.  If you would like to join us in this endeavor, please click here to donate to Everyone’s Child.  Please give generously.  Your gift will make a long-term impact in the lives of children who with our help can make a difference in Kenya.

As always, thank you, and blessings to you and your families in this holiday season.

Ruth

 

everyone’s child: they belong to all of us

Dear friends

Dear friends,

Every year I begin our Annual Appeal with these words, and every year I have the pleasure of crossing off “friends” and personalizing each letter that goes out to our supporters.  The rest of the letter describes our programs and gives a short report of what has happened in the past 12 months.  I love being able to add a note at the bottom as it brings me that much closer to those who have helped EC to accomplish so much.

The Appeal

Three weeks ago I sent these appeals from coast to coast and even into Canada.  My hope is to once again reach out to the dear friends and supporters who have been so faithful to the children we serve overseas.

Children receiving their lunch in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya
Children receiving their lunch in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya

This Year

This past year in Kenya EC fed over 430 orphaned and at-risk children daily, educated 21 orphaned high school students, and led a monthly mentorship program for seven orphaned high school students.  Two state-of-the-art preschool classrooms were built and dedicated in April.  We also started a unique after school program for 20 at-risk primary school children in rural India.  Each of these children now have a chance to reach their potential in life.  And that is possible because our supporters have made it so.

a classroom full of boys learning
Learning after school – an important part of life in India

Our Goal

In the coming year our goal is to continue feeding, mentoring, and providing an education for as many orphaned and at-risk students as we can, in Kenya and now in India as well.  The children at the Miruya Primary School in Kenya needs school supplies including desks and schoolbooks.  They also need a well.  Altogether, our fundraising goal for this season is $50,000.00.

Your Part

Even if you did not receive a personal letter from me asking for your support, you can still help. Your gift of $30 will feed a student for one month.  $300 will provide a high school education for an orphaned child for one year.  $1,000 goes a long way toward digging a well for the Miruya Primary School.  And $2,000 will fund EC’s After School Program outside of Hyderabad, India.

All donations are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support.  Please click on this link  to make a secure online donation to Everyone’s Child.  You can also send a check or money order to Everyone’s Child, 19204 Cole Road, Conneautville, PA 16406.  And from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Your gift will make an immediate and real difference in the lives of these children.

John, Ruth and Synthia in Migori County, Kenya
John, Ruth and Synthia in Migori County, Kenya

Blessings,

Ruth

 

The Miruya Primary School Challenge

The School

This past June I wrote about the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya where children were in attendance, but there were no teachers.  Since then, William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, has told us about the hardships these children face on a regular basis.

As many as 112 children are on the rolls at this school, but their teachers only come once in a while and do more crowd control than any actual teaching.  The issue is that although the Kenyan government provided a school building for these children, soon afterward they placed a moratorium on registering new schools due to a lack of government funding. Therefore, there are no trained teachers at the school.  However, parents in this rural area continue to send their children to the school and have hired three untrained teachers who are paid infrequently and show up sporadically. The children technically have a school, but they aren’t receiving a quality education.  What’s more, they face a multitude of difficulties every time they go to school.

Outside wall of the Miruya Primary School
Outside the Miruya Primary School

The Challenges

Here are some of the hardships that children are confronted with at the Miruya Primary School:

  1. Lack of potable water – There is a need for clean drinking water. The nearest water source is a river that is two kilometers from the school.
  2. Lack of trained teachers – Ideally, the school should have at least five trained teachers. Instead, it has three untrained teachers handling 112 children in preschool through to grade 5.
  3. Inadequate classrooms – The school has only four classrooms, one of which is incomplete with an unfinished floor and un-plastered walls. Students in different grades have to share one room; which causes confusion and distraction when more than one teacher is teaching. The school needs four additional classrooms to accommodate the current number of preschool and primary students (grades 1 to 5).
  4. Inadequate desks – Some students sit on the floor due to a shortage of desks. William Aludo donated desks to the school, but more desks are needed.
  5. Lack of textbooks – The school does not have the requisite textbooks for covering the current curriculum set by the government. Ideally each pupil should have a textbook for each subject, although in many schools like this one, three or four students usually wind up sharing one textbook between them.
  6. Inadequate toilets – There is only one toilet at the school. The school should have separate toilets for girls, boys and teachers.  Two other latrines need to be built.
  7. Lack of adequate nutrition – There is no food provided for the children.  A daily, nutritional lunch program for the children is also needed.
The Miruya Primary School
Miruya Primary School

The Miruya Primary School Challenge

In a few weeks, EC’s annual appeal will be starting.  Many of you choose to contribute regularly throughout the year, while others choose to give generously once a year.  We are very thankful for both types of giving.   Your gifts help to fund student scholarships and lunch programs for orphaned and vulnerable primary and preschool children in Kenya, and a unique after school study program in India.  This year we are also hoping to raise funds to help the Miruya Primary School get on its’ feet.  We are aiming for $50,000 to get us well on our way to funding our current programs and addressing the challenges the children in Miruya face every day.

Please click here to learn how you can help us provide a quality, sustainable education for these children.  All donations are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support. With your help we truly can change a generation through education.

Children playing at the Miruya Primary School
Children playing at the Miruya Primary School

As always, Asante Sana (thank you) dear readers!

An open door in India!

An Open Door

This past July, a door opened for Everyone’s Child and 12 Indian boys in grades 1 – 8 from India. Earlier in the year, Lee and Praveena Ruud of Abundant Life Care, based in Hyderabad, India solicited our help.  They wanted to start a program designed to help children with their studies after school. We learned that numerous parents in rural areas of India don’t understand the importance of education.  As a result, many children are not able to study at home, and most spend their afternoons working in the garden or taking care of cattle. Their education suffers, and they are unable to reach their potential. Everyone’s Child responded by funding a pilot after school program for up to 20 students. The reaction has been positive and encouraging.

Lee, Praveena & John Daniel Ruud
Lee, Praveena & John Daniel Ruud

The Value of Education

In the past three months as Lee and Praveena have talked with parents about the benefits and value of studying after school, families have begun allowing their children to attend this after school program. Five days a week their children gather in a classroom in Shamirpet, a suburb located a half an hour northeast of Hyderabad.

A teacher was hired to help the boys with their homework. She also shares information about health, hygiene, and important educational values.  She reported that even after one month she was able to see a substantial increase in the focus and concentration of these students.

a classroom full of boys learning
Learning after school – an important part of life in India

A New Opportunity

For us working with Everyone’s Child, we are extremely excited about this new opportunity. Not only have we been able to broaden our horizons by reaching out into new areas of Kenya this year, now we are also crossing the ocean to lend a hand to needy children in India. The goal is to provide a strong education for the next generation, increasing the potential for leadership in the years to come. We are all looking forward to what will come of this and hopefully other similar programs in the future.  If you would like to help with this endeavor, please consider making a secure online donation here, or visit our website here to learn more about Everyone’s Child.

children in the ALC/EC After School Program in India
Boys in the ALC/EC After School Program in Shamirpet, India

ధన్యవాదాలు Dhan’yavādālu! (Thank you! in Telagu)

 

 

Crunch Time

It’s August, and the students all over Kenya are taking a break from their studies. They call it a “holiday”, which is apt, since it will be “crunch time” once they return to school. At that point there will be three more months of the school year to test their mettle.  For now they are relaxing, just as we are, and trying not to think about what lies ahead.

CRUNCH TIME

This November Standard 8 students (8th graders) all over Kenya will be sitting for the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education). This exam helps determine which high school students can attend.  The competition is high, and a lot of effort that goes into preparing for these tests. The goal is to end up with grades that are high enough to allow them into the secondary school of their choosing.

Enter “Crunch Time”.  Crunch time happens in late hours after school is over, when schools with electricity leave their lights on for students who have none at home, allowing them extra time to study. It also happens between 6:00 – 8:00 AM when students arrive early to get in a couple extra hours of study time before the school day begins.   Studying for the KCPE is serious business, because no one wants to fail this test.

Standard 8 students at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto
Standard 8 students at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto

EC SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

There is no free public education for secondary students, so without a scholarship students have to pay school fees. As you may imagine, scholarships are usually awarded only to the brightest students, and typically orphaned children do not rank in that category.  While family members in Kenya frequently take on the responsibility of raising their orphaned nieces and nephews, oftentimes those families are unable to pay the school fees for anyone other than their own children.

In 2012, Everyone’s Child began the EC Scholarship Program, knowing that these students would not be able to go to high school without outside financial support.  Currently, Bishop Donovan Secondary School (BEDSS) in Lanet Umoja is the only high school in the Nakuru area that offers a full scholarship to orphans.

OUR GOAL

Since 2012, more than 40 orphaned teenagers have received a scholarship from EC, allowing them to work toward completing their high school education. This is no small thing, given that the majority of orphaned children in Kenya usually struggle just to make it through the 8th grade. The devastation of losing one’s own parents, coupled with the rejection of not being able to attend high school is often all that it takes for a child to lose hope. Our goal is to supply hope to these children, in the form of an education. Beyond that, the EC Mentorship Program, led by our Program Coordinator William Aludo, and his assistant Simon Wanjala offers life skills guidance for scholarship students who are getting ready to graduate.

Orphaned students at Lanet Umoja Primary School
Orphaned students at Lanet Umoja Primary School

THEIR GOAL

Incoming students need marks of 200 or more (out of 500) in order to be accepted into BEDSS.    I am praying for all of these 8th grade students to pass with flying colors, but am especially holding the orphans in Lanet Umoja up in prayer. With good marks they will have a shot at entering a high school that offers financial and emotional support as well as a solid education.

OUR GRATITUDE

The only way we’ve been able to do this is through the unflagging help of our supporters.  Without you the EC Scholarship Program would not be possible. We are incredibly thankful for everyone who has helped us get through our “crunch time” and reach out to students who otherwise might not have had a chance in life.  And in the long run, giving kids a chance to achieve their potential is what really matters. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a student, please click here to learn how to donate to Everyone’s Child.

Greetings from students at Nakuru Teacher's Primary School!!
Greetings from students at Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School!!

As always, from their heart to yours, Asante (Thank you) Sana (so much)!!

Educate, Connect and Care: EC’s Mission

EC’s Mission

When EC was established in 2009, our goal was to educate where there were no schools, connect where there was isolation, and care where there was great need.   We took over an orphan feeding program that had been established through Kids in Kenya, an offshoot of CCO Ministries in Moretown, Vermont.   A writing program between Kenyan and American students was up and running.  Both of these efforts had a positive impact on students, but we wanted to do more.

In 2010, Juniper’s Fare, a church-run restaurant in Waterbury, Vermont began raising funds to pay the school fees of orphaned students attending Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School (BEDSS) in Lanet Umoja, Kenya.  Prior to that, orphaned primary school graduates usually wound up staying home.  They worked in the garden or took care of cousins or siblings too young to go to school themselves.

In 2012, Everyone’s Child established a scholarship program to help the orphans attending BEDSS.   Since then, more than 35 orphaned students have received scholarships from EC.  At first we were thrilled just to be able to educate these children.  But after a few years it became clear that something was lacking.  Students were graduating, but only a few were able to attend college or university.  Most were left to find their way.  Some found jobs, usually involving menial labor.  Girls often got pregnant or in some cases were married.  The majority had received no training or preparation for life after secondary school.

classrooms at BEDSS
classrooms at BEDSS

A Mentorship Program

Last year EC ran a pilot mentorship program for the Form 3 and 4 (11th and 12th grade) scholarship students at BEDSS.  William Aludo met with these students once a month, and using a training manual called 27 Things You Must Do to Get and Keep Your Dream Job by Kenyan author Grace Wanjohi, he began preparing them for what to expect after graduation.  The book is chock full of inspirational quotes from historical figures like Thomas A. Edison: “We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation,” and Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Chapter headings such as “Pinpoint Your Unique Selling Point (USP)”, “Research the Potential Employer”, and “Be Sure to Write Thank You Notes” all help students to focus on how to go about achieving their goals.

Ruth with Grace Wanjohi, author of 27 Things You must Do to Get and Keep Your Dream Job
Ruth with Grace Wanjohi

The response has been tremendous.  Earlier this year James Maina, Head Teacher of BEDSS, told me that the students are very encouraged by this program.  William, a former pastor, also uses a curriculum he developed specifically for this program, introducing them to their Heavenly Father who cares deeply for them.   The encouragement is important for these orphans as they don’t often receive support from family members.  William and Simon Wanjala, a graduate of the EC scholarship program, not only educate these students about what to expect, but they also tell them that they matter, that they can make it, and that God is on their side.  In addition, they listen to these students, which is just as, if not more important than the dissemination of knowledge.

Simon Wanjala and William Aludo - dressed to educate!
Simon Wanjala and William Aludo

Educate, then Graduate

This December, eight students receiving scholarships will graduate from BEDSS.  They will be the first group of students who have been a part of the EC Mentorship Program for two years.  Next year a new group of students will join the class, and plans are currently underway for introducing the program in new areas of Kenya.

How You Can Help

Real life can be scary.  Our goal with this mentoring program is to educate by addressing fears and preparing for the future.  Our hope for these students is that they will be able to apply what they have learned in these mentoring sessions, from matching their passion with their ability and understanding what their strengths are to knowing how to dress for an interview.  All of this takes time, effort, and funds.  Please click here if you would like to join us in our endeavor to support orphaned students with their high school education.

As always, thank you for your support.  You are the reason we can successfully do what we want to do most in life.

EC Scholarship Students
EC Scholarship Students

“Success consists of doing the common things of life uncommonly well.”  Unknown