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

 

 

 

Nakuru to Migori County, Kenya

The drive

from Nakuru to Migori County in Kenya takes about five hours by matatu.  The rains had not yet come to Nakuru in April, evidenced by the billowing clouds of dust that appeared anytime a gust of wind blew across the hardened, cracked fields.

Early Friday morning, two days after arriving in Kenya, my longtime friend and driver Eric Kamau Kuria and I drove away from the noise and heat of Nakuru and up into the highlands west of the Rift Valley.  We came to Kericho, where much of Kenya’s tea is grown and harvested, and most of the large-scale tea plantations are found.  Clusters of whitewashed, almost adobe-style homes with red roofs lay among wide fields of lush, green tea bushes.  “Tea picka’s houses,” said Eric as we drove by.  It seemed incongruous to me somehow, these cozy little homes scattered about the landscape, their pastoral appeal belying the wearisome labor that comes with the manual chore of picking bushel upon bushel of tea leaves.  I felt grateful as I considered how much I enjoy a good cup of Kenyan tea.

Tea picker’s homes in Kericho – a.k.a. “Tea Country”

Eric and I traveled down through the city of Kisii, where the main industry is sugar production.  It was hot and congested, a stark contrast to the acres and acres of verdant tea fields.  We were headed for Rongo in Migori County, an area in western Kenya where William Aludo and his family live.  EC had hired William to be the Kenyan Program Coordinator in March of 2016, but I had yet to meet him in person.  We finally met at the hotel in town where I was to stay for the night, and after a quick stop at a local market for supplies, the three of us drove to his home.

The Visit

William and his wife Beatrice live off the main road on a small farmstead in Rongo.  I marveled at the banana, mango, avocado and papaya trees growing on less than one acre of land that he owns.  A garden behind his house boasted of pumpkins (“We even eat the leaves!” William said), kale, spinach, and tomatoes.  Every inch of his property was being used for the benefit of others.  A large, red brick  building that William constructed sits next to his home.  His goal is to be able to use it for youth camps and programs.  Among his many accomplishments, William has coordinated the implementation of student/youth programs including mentorship, leadership, discipleship and scholarship programs.  All of this was done while he was conducting missionary work in his own country of Kenya.

Ruth with John and Synthia, newly EC sponsored students in Rongo

After showing me the grounds surrounding his house, William ushered us inside his home to meet his wife.  John and Synthia, two of the students EC is now sponsoring in Migori County were there also.  Beatrice was in her tiny kitchen, cooking a meal fit for royalty: ugali, chicken, lamb, spinach and chapatti.  Synthia, a quiet but determined 15-year-old girl, brought water, soap and a basin for us to wash with.  She is in 10th grade (Form 2) and wants to be a bank manager when she grows up.  John, also in 10th grade was just as quiet and very polite.  His goal is to become a university lecturer.

The room was big and dark compared with the bright Kenyan sky, but the cool air made it very pleasant.  Members of William’s family arrived, his father “Baba Joseph”, two of his brothers and a sister-in-law with a few small children, all found their way into William and Beatrice’s home to meet this American who had come across the ocean to visit them in their country.  The conversation was slow but packed with meaning as we made an effort to understand each other.  Their hope was that EC would come to Rongo and begin supporting orphaned and vulnerable children in their area.  My hope was to find the need that most suited our vision.

It didn’t take long to discover our connection, hindered only by a sudden cloudburst that lasted for at least a half-an-hour.  Even this event was taken advantage of as large containers were placed strategically under rain spouts, catching water that would be used for cooking and washing later on.  The rain on the roof was deafening, so everyone stood in William’s entryway to watch the downpour.  Everyone except John, who zipped himself into his white winter jacket and fell asleep on the couch.

A downpour at William’s home

The Needs

During this visit I learned that there are two pressing needs in Migori County.  One is the need for a lunch program for orphaned primary students.  All of the students go home for lunch during the school day, but for many of the orphans and poorer children there is often no food at home.  The head teacher (principal) of the Kitere Primary School in Rongo was hoping to partner with EC to provide a daily meal to these students at the school.

The second need is for a primary school in an area called Miruya (Me-ru-ya).  There are many children there, but the school that was built for them sits empty.  The County government won’t send teachers to this area, possibly because of lack of funding to employ enough Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers in Migori County.  Whatever the reason, the result is that there are children who are not in school.

A Meeting

After returning to the US, the EC Board of Directors held a meeting where we discussed these needs.   A motion was passed to approve the funding of an orphan lunch program in Rongo, and a committee was established to begin looking at the particulars of building a primary school in Miruya.

Whenever I travel to Kenya I can feel the prayers and backing of those who support our programs.  Going forward, I am excited by the opportunity that lies ahead for all of us in Kenya.  My motto used to be: “There is no end to the need”, which always helped me feel better about not being able to address every need that I know exists in our world.  Now I find myself saying: “Bring on the need”, because I am confident that the One who created us is faithful to the least of them and will supply enough to meet the needs of those we meet along the way.

If you would like to join us in our efforts to help these children, whether it is to receive a meal or an education, please click here to donate to our programs.  As always, asante sana (thank you very much)!

Resources: www.kenya-information-guide.com/kenya-tea.html

an American woman in Kenya

One Week Ago in Kenya

I had the privilege of talking to a group of men, women and children who were sitting in a classroom-turned-church service in Lanet Umoja, a village just outside of Nakuru, Kenya.  I was telling them about Heidi Keyworth Albanese, or Sr. Eurosia (Roro) as she is lovingly remembered by her brothers and sisters in the small Franciscan community she was a part of in Moretown, Vermont.

Heidi had always wanted to travel to Kenya, mostly so she could hang out with the children whose pictures adorned the walls of the restaurant where she spent many hours cooking delicious meals made from ingredients she had foraged either from the woods or from the discard pile on the restaurant kitchen counter.  She told me this more than once, most recently after I had finished a presentation about Kenya to the congregation in my church in Vermont.

Heidi (Sr. Eurosia) - chef extraordinaire!
Heidi (Sr. Eurosia) – chef extraordinaire!

This woman

was a wonder.  She was creative, funny, and constantly in motion.  As I addressed the men, women and children sitting in front of me in that classroom turned church for the day, it occurred to me that  they all would have loved meeting her.  I imagined her running around the school playground, engaging children in hand clapping games, and even attempting to teach them French, the language she taught in the small primary school I directed in Vermont.  She would have called them  all “lovey”, and they would have wanted to braid her hair, which was usually done up Pippi Longstocking style anyway.  Young boys and girls would have brought her mendazzi to eat, snuggling on her lap while she told them stories about her home in America.  She would have loved them, and they would have known that she did.

Dedicating one of the new classrooms to the memory of Heidi Keyworth Albanese
Remembering Heidi Albanese at a dedication ceremony

At the end of my brief presentation Fr. Thomas Mugi asked everyone to observe a moment of silence, reminding us that their tradition tells them to honor those who have passed.  The room was quiet, with the exception a few shifting feet and a babbling child at the back of the room.  Then he and I held Heidi’s picture and the plaque we had made specially for her, standing for photos in a room surrounded by homemade posters designed to teach Kenyan preschoolers how to read and understand the English language.  I couldn’t help but think about how happy Heidi would have been had she been there that day, but that she most likely would have been outside on the playground, surrounded instead by children, dancing to the music that she heard coming from the homemade instruments and voices of those who attend that church.  Unfettered joy would have filled the air.

I want to thank

all of the people who made it possible for me to travel to Kenya and dedicate this new preschool classroom to the memory of Heidi Keyworth Albanese.  The list is too long to print here, but I am grateful to each one of you for your contributions to Everyone’s Child in honor of Heidi Albanese.  As I say in the video below, the completion of these classrooms is a result of your gifts.  More importantly though, Heidi’s memory now lives in a place she always longed to visit, happily among the children she wanted to meet.

Video of Heidi’s Classroom Dedication:

https://youtu.be/tJqHvv8UdtY

Feel free to email me with any questions you have about our programs at everyoneschildren@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Ruth

TO DO Lists – Preparation the American Way

TO DO Lists:

Packing lists – check.

Travel itinerary – check.

Meeting schedule – check.

Menu for the boys (& dog & fish) – check.

Dr. appointments – check.

“Honey-do” lists – check.

Preparation:

The lists are multiplying.  They tend to appear whenever I go somewhere – whether to the grocery store or across the world, and this time is no exception. I haven’t been to Kenya for some time, so in my excitement I’ve started the preparation process using the American way of thinking – by creating a list for every conceivable thing that needs to be done before, during and even after my trip.

For now my hastily scribbled notes are divided between things to take care of at home and things I hope to accomplish in Kenya, but as my date of departure draws closer the balance will shift.  So much has happened since my last visit, and since I’ll be in the country for less than two weeks there’s a lot of ground to cover.  I expect the Kenyan list to soon be the longest.

At the top of this Kenyan list is visiting with old friends, meeting our new Program Coordinator, and seeing the new preschool classrooms in Lanet for the first time.  Each of these items vies for first place.

Lanet Umoja Preschool 2016
Lanet Umoja Preschool

 

Dedication:

Not long after I arrive, one of the new classrooms will be dedicated to the memory of Heidi (Sr. Eurosia) Keyworth Albanese, who passed away suddenly a year ago this May.  Heidi spent much of her life caring for people of all ages in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.  She is most commonly remembered as a loving mother, a compassionate friend, a creative chef and an imaginative individual. As a member of a lay Franciscan community in Vermont, Heidi was also known as “Sr. Eurosia”. It was in that capacity that she taught French to children in the small Christian school I directed.  She was a friend to many children, and she used to tell me how much she loved the vision of Everyone’s Child. It’s fitting to be dedicating one of our new spaces for children in Kenya to her memory.

Heidi (Sr. Eurosia) Keyworth Albanese
Heidi (Sr. Eurosia) Keyworth Albanese

 

Congregation:

Another aim of this trip is for me to to meet William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator in Kenya.  William has been instrumental in carrying out EC’s programs in Kenya for the past year, including the development of a successful secondary school mentorship program that is in its second year of operation at Bishop Donovan Secondary School.  I’ll be traveling to his hometown of Rongo in Migori County, where William plans to introduce me to the students EC is now supporting, thanks to the generosity of many donors in the USA. I also hope to meet his friends and associates who are interested in learning more about EC’s programs in Kenya.

William Aludo
William Aludo – EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator

I’m also looking forward to meeting and visiting with the orphaned secondary students we are supporting and mentoring this year.  We will be congregating at Bishop Donovan Secondary School where they will receive letters from American students, one more effort on our part to give these students a “leg up” in their journey to adulthood.

William Aludo with 2017 BEDSS Form II orphans
William Aludo with 2017 BEDSS Form II orphans

 

Organization:

There is never enough time to do everything that I like to do in Kenya. I’ll enter the country on “American time” with my lists in hand, but chances are by the time I leave I’ll be on “Kenyan time” – where a cup of tea with friends could turn into a daylong event. For now, I will organize by planning on meeting old friends, making new ones, and seeing the progress of Everyone’s Child in Kenya, something that I will never, ever grow tired of.

That progress is due in large part to the sustained and one-time gifts from people who want to give children a good start in life.

Heidi Keyworth Albanese was one such individual who cared about children in the core of her soul.  Next week her legacy will be remembered once again at a dedication ceremony in a classroom filled with eager faces and curious minds.  I am incredibly grateful to her family and friends who decided that gifts to Everyone’s Child would be a worthy way of memorializing her life.

If you would like to help make a difference in the life of a child, please consider contributing to our programs by clicking here.  Your donation goes toward the education and care of orphaned and vulnerable preschool, primary school and secondary schoolchildren in Kenya.

Appreciation:

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.

With warmest wishes,

Ruth

Problem vs. Opportunity

The Problem

This year, for the first time in EC’s history we are stepping outside of Nakuru to offer support to secondary students in a different region of this beautiful country.   To say that we’re excited is an understatement.  Last year, William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator, or “boots on the ground” as we like to call him, identified several orphaned secondary students struggling to pay their annual school fees in his hometown of Rongo, Migori County.  Finding out that there are students who can’t afford to go to school in your hometown may seem like a problem, but to us it presents an opportunity.

The Opportunity

Synthia Achar and John Odhiambo are two such students.  Both are in Form 2 (sophomore year), and have one living parent.  Both have five siblings between the ages of 1 – 18 living at home, making the idea of saving $250 a year for school fees almost prohibitive.

Synthia Achar

Synthia Achar

Synthia’s mom is a peasant farmer; she has been paying some of her daughter’s fees in kind by taking maize to the school which is then converted into a cash equivalent.

John Odhiambo

John Odhimabo

John’s mother is unwell and unable to earn anything towards his education.  His grandmother has been leasing portions of her piece of land to help pay for some fees.

In both cases it hasn’t been enough.  Synthia and John still have outstanding fees from 2016 and are in danger of losing the chance to remain in school.  These are very real problems that present us with a very real opportunity to respond.

The Solution

Everyone’s Child was established to help disadvantaged children receive an education.  If they are unable to go to school, we raise funds to pay school fees, and provide them with a mentoring program to teach them life skills.  If they are excited to be in school but are fainting in class due to poor nutrition, we provide lunch.  If their only drinking water comes from a muddy river, we partner with organizations to bring in fresh, potable water for the school.  All of these components add up to a sustainable model for receiving an education.

None of this would be possible without the help of the generous people who give annually and monthly to Everyone’s Child.  It’s as simple as that.  Since 1997, people have been making a difference in the lives of hundreds of orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya through Everyone’s Child.  Plain and simple, we couldn’t do it without you.  If you want to learn how you can become a part of the solution, email us at everyoneschildren@gmail.com or visit www.everyoneschild.net.  

Thank you.