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