Saying goodbye can often be difficult, and this past week has been no exception.
When was the last time any of us received a handwritten letter? Nowadays people almost never take the time to write a letter or note. It’s so much easier to send a quick text or email.
This past month William Aludo held a mentorship camp for students from his hometown of Rongo in western Kenya. One of their activities was to compose a handwritten letter to send to students at Harwood Union Middle School in Duxbury, VT, rebooting our Messages of Mercy Writing Program between students in the USA and Kenya.
The students who wrote these letters come from varied backgrounds, but they hold a few things in common.
All of them speak at least three languages: English, Kiswahili and their native tongue. They enjoy football (soccer), basketball, politics, acting and singing. Several of these students have lost if not both, then at least one parent, and almost all of them have faced the challenge of coming up with sufficient funds for school. Each one of them have dreams and ambitions far exceeding those I had at age 14 or 15. Some have large families that include cousins who have lost their parents and have nowhere else to go. Many say they want to help others who are in need by building health centers, feeding the hungry and helping people who have less than themselves.
William scanned their letters and photos to me, and this week Tracy Guion, EC’s new Messages of Mercy coordinator brought the letters and photos to students at Harwood to introduce them to friends on the other side of the world. William even wrote one to Ms. Jacki McCarty, the classroom teacher!
Tracy called to give me a quick update after the presentation was over. She said she had put all the scanned letters from Kenya into envelopes and printed photos of the students who wrote them. When the Harwood students began to open their letters, the anticipation in the room went from excitement to engagement.
One of the letters opened was from a 14 year old boy named Martin, the youngest in a family of five. Both of his parents are gone. His hobby is fixing electrical equipment and he says that he wants to become “one of the greatest electrical engineers in the world”. He can speak and understand three languages and is learning a fourth. Martin knows that his career choice needs creativity and perseverance.
Supporters of Everyone’s Child
have been providing scholarships in Kenya for orphaned high school students since 2012. On average, 14 students per year have had an opportunity to receive an education through EC’s Student Scholarship Program.
These students come from a variety of backgrounds, but the common denominator for all of them is that they have lost either one or both parents. The reasons for their losses vary. “According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2016, the top leading causes of death were pneumonia, followed by malaria, cancer, HIV/AIDS, anemia, heart disease and lastly tuberculosis in that order…” Road accidents are another more sudden and unanticipated cause of death in Kenya.
No matter how it happens, the impact is universally the same for everyone coping with the loss of a parent. For adults, there is often great sorrow, confusion and a feeling of powerlessness. Children who lose one or both parents experience those same feelings. They are also forced to confront challenges that they are usually unprepared to face, mostly dealing with basic survival and completing their education.
The Cost of Education
In Kenya, most orphans are placed in the care of family members who often lack the resources to help them complete their education. Orphaned children are frequently sent home from school if they are unable to pay school fees or fulfill uniform requirements. However, in 2018, the Kenyan government made it possible for students to attend high school free of charge. This unprecedented move made it more affordable for children to complete their education. Nevertheless, there are some fees that the government does not pay.
Currently Kenyan students pay $108 per year out of pocket to attend secondary school. For many of us this cost would not be considered an issue. But $36 per term is prohibitive for these orphaned children and their adoptive families. The cost of their required uniform is between $50 – $75, another expense that they are typically unable to pay.
Five students recently submitted scholarship applications to EC for the 2019 school year. Their stories are heart rending. I’ve shared some of their requests below so our readers can see the situations they face:
Joseph – 17; no parents
My school fee is paid by my brother with a lot of challenges because he has no job. My parents passed in 2003. The challenges that I face are all about school fees and some of school uniforms.
Carolyne – 15; no parents
I am an orphan living with my grandmother and my younger sister. My grandmother is unable to pay both my school fees and for my younger sister. She does not have a suitable job but just runs a small kiosk selling sukumu wiki (cooked kale). I kindly ask for a scholarship from Everyone’s Child, and if you accept God will bless you.
Michael – 14; mother living, father dead
My main aim for applying for a scholarship is as follows: my father passed on year 2005 in a road accident, leaving behind a widow and four siblings. Due to the situation my mother decided to stop renting home and we all shifted to our grandmother’s home. After a year my mum faced a hardship and disappeared and left us under our grandmother’s care. My grandmother is suffering and old. Food and school fees are a big problem to me. I am always in and out of school.
Where you come in
Everyone’s Child relies solely on donations from individuals to help support students like Michael, Carolyne and Joseph. If you are in a position to contribute to their education, please click here to make a secure donation. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to provide orphaned students with scholarships.
As always, thank you for making life easier for these children who are relying on Everyone’s Child to help them with challenges that children should not have to face alone.
Sources: Institute of Economic Affairs http://www.ieakenya.or.ke
The Art of Giving
I saw the effects of this home-school connection before I left teaching in 2015 to become a full-time executive director of Everyone’s Child. Several years ago, Emily and Erica Dow, two sisters who had been my students decided to do a fundraiser for EC in their home. They asked me to come and talk about EC to whoever might show up, then invited their entire family and spent the day baking cookies and cakes for the event. It was a small gathering, maybe 8 – 10 people in all, but their enthusiasm was so infectious that they raised more than anyone had expected them to that evening. More important than the funds raised though was the fact that these girls were involved in learning the art of giving, a concept I knew their parents both strongly supported. Their mom even came to Kenya on an EC School Tour seven years later!
(And now for) The Translation
Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed and so proud of them for this unsolicited gift. I was also once more convinced that a child’s heart knows how to give.
The HeArt of Giving
It’s Better to Give
The loss of a loved one is one of the greatest challenges that people face. No matter if we hail from Botswana or the Bronx, the angst of losing someone close to us can be overwhelming. Kenyan women who lose their husbands find that these challenges are further compounded by the daily struggle of making sure their children are fed, clothed and safe.
Orphaned children have their own challenges to contend with, and their survival is often related to fitting in with their peers.
As is true with most schools in Africa, Kenyan parents are required to provide their children with a school uniform. For single parents, this need often goes unmet as the cost is too much for their meager family budget.
This past year, Orphan’s Promise partnered with EC to provide orphaned students at the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya with brand new uniforms. In this blog, William Aludo, EC’s Kenya Program Coordinator provides us with insight into the identity of an orphaned child. He also writes about the positive impact that something as simple as a school uniform can have for these children who don’t want to be any different than their classmates.
Widows in Kenya face several challenges. One of the major challenges confronting them is the economic burden of providing for their orphaned children. Like all children, these orphans have need of food, shelter and clothing. Apart from “home clothing”, school-agers need a school uniform.
At Miruya Primary School in western Kenya, the full uniform includes shoes, socks and a sweater. In this poor rural community, it is common to find orphaned children going to school in their home clothing. This has been the case for several orphans in this community. Because their widowed mothers and guardians cannot afford the school uniforms, they have to attend school barefooted and in their home clothing, which are often in tatters. During the rainy season when it’s very cold, these children have no sweaters to keep themselves warm.
It is easy to spot orphaned children in a class or at school assemblies because they stand out. From observation, it is apparent that they are conscious of being the odd-ones out. Their appearance affects their self-esteem and willingness to socialize freely with the other children. Sometimes their demeanor seems to exhibit unintentional aloofness. This in turn affects their learning and participation in class. There is a definite stigma attached to their status as orphans. Everything about them says that they don’t belong.
Consequently, these orphaned students are found to register a high rate of absenteeism and often drop out of school. If an intervention is not found early enough, the eventual result is that they become members of the Miruya community who might not attain their full potential in life. This in turn, leads to a perpetuation of poverty in that community.
Today I thank God for the partnership between the Orphan’s Promise and Everyone’s Child. The funding that came from this partnership has provided full school uniforms for 25 orphans at Miruya Primary School. Vincent, Clinton, Felix, Sheryl and Bonvicar (shown above) were blessed to be the first five children to benefit from this kindness. Now instead of standing out, these children stand in school with their classmates and are proud to be identified as school children. This solution is helping to keep them in school with beautiful smiles on their faces!
If you would like to contribute to our ongoing effort to put smiles on children’s faces, please visit Everyone’s Child to make a secure donation today.
A Change of Heart
Making Life Easier
EC’s Annual Appeal
The end of the year is here and EC’s annual appeal has been sent out far and wide. So far the response has been tremendous! Our goal is to raise $25,000 by the end of 2018. As of this writing, our supporters have contributed over $14,000 in the space of one month. We are well on our way to meeting our goal!
A Year of Growth
I am amazed when I look back at all that has happened in 2018. This has been an expanding year for Everyone’s Child. With your help we have provided over 500 children with a daily meal in five different locations, given an education to 15 orphaned secondary students, and sponsored a Mentorship Program for orphaned and vulnerable teens. Together we also built Kateri’s Kitchen and dug a well for an impoverished village in northern India.
This year we saw the establishment of the EC Kenya Board of Directors, and welcomed Jedidah Kuria – a graduate of our sponsorship program to our Kenya staff. We received a grant from CBN allowing us to pay teachers at Miruya Primary School in western Kenya. Those of you who follow this monthly blog have seen the photos and read the stories. Hopefully you’ve felt the hope and love that emanates from each posting.
It takes a lot of effort to build something – whether that “thing” is a physical building, a program, or a relationship. EC’s Board of Directors and I spend a lot of time planning, praying about and discussing the direction for this non-profit. I believe that the same can be said for those of you who support what we do. Your contributions are not something we take lightly, so it is with great heart and much gratitude that I offer my thanks to you in this season. We understand that there are many organizations doing wonderful things for children all over this world, which makes your support that much more meaningful to us.
During this season of giving
I am writing to ask you to please continue working alongside us as we serve the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future. If you have not already given, you can learn how to make your contribution by visiting https://everyoneschild.net/donate-2/.
All donations are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support. With your help we will continue changing a generation through education.
With warmest wishes for a blessed holiday,
It has been another exciting year for Everyone’s Child! EC’s programs have grown in Kenya as well as India this year, resulting in the needs of orphans and vulnerable children across the world being met. The Board of Directors and I owe a large debt of gratitude to you, our faithful contributors, for your steadfast support for our programs. Here is a brief synopsis of what has happened this year:
Orphan Feeding Program
EC now partners with school administrations in five different locations to provide over 550 meals a day to orphans and vulnerable students across Kenya. This year we added 138 students from the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya to our numbers. The average monthly cost of this program is $1,500.00.
This past year, the Kenyan government made the wonderful decision to provide free education to secondary students. Families are still required to pay for their children’s lunches and uniforms, but costs are now lowered to $150 per student. In the coming year this change will allow us to help orphaned preschool children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend preschool. The cost to give the gift of an education to an orphaned preschooler or secondary student is just $150 per child per year. Our goal is to offer scholarships to at least five orphaned preschoolers and 15 secondary students during the 2019 school year, for an annual cost of $3,000.
Miruya Primary School: This year, we were blessed to receive a sizable grant from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). We combined this funding with our own to cover needs at the Miruya Primary School, the newest school in our program. We were able to pay for a lunch program, uniforms, teacher salaries, three latrines and a kitchen, as well as books and equipment for the children and staff at this primary school. In 2019, our goal is to continue supporting them and also to provide them with a well and an Administration Block. The total cost of this endeavor is $30,000.00.
EC Kenya Board of Directors: This fall, a group of eight people from eastern and western Kenya met to establish the first official EC Kenyan Board of Directors. The formation of this board allows EC to register as an NGO in Kenya, making it possible for them to raise funds and increase their operations throughout that country. This group is made up of people from different tribes, making this an exciting and historic event for EC. Everyone’s Child is now becoming a national program that encompasses the whole of Kenya.
Northern and Southern India
“When the water gushed out of the pump … we saw joyful tears in the eyes of the children and families. These children were thirsty and starving, and were suffering without water, but you met their needs. Truly the Lord is great.”
Pastor Kishor of Orissa, India
This year we learned about an orphanage in Orissa, which is in northern India. Their water pump had broken, and the children were suffering from dysentery and other water borne illnesses. Our supporters responded immediately, one in particular saying that high on their “bucket list” was giving a drink to those who were thirsty. In 2019, we hope to help fund a lunch program for these children. We also plan to continue partnering with Abundant Life Care Ministries in Hyderabad, India, providing education to the orphans in their care. With your help we can continue supporting these programs. Annual cost: $2,000.
During this season of giving and gratitude,
I am writing to ask you to please continue working alongside us as we serve the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future. You can learn how to make your contribution by visiting https://everyoneschild.net/donate-2/.
All donations are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support. With your help we will continue changing a generation through education.
With warm wishes,
“Jedidah’s Journey” is the story of a young orphaned Kenyan girl whose hopes and dreams came to an abrupt end shortly after she graduated from high school. It’s a tale of heartache and brokenness, but also one of hope and resilience. It’s a story that has been told throughout history, and one that must be told again.
Earlier this year I sent her story in booklet form to EC’s supporters. This month’s blog makes her story available to a wider audience. Even if you already received this via snail mail, please don’t let that stop you from reading her amazing story again online.
“Jedidah’s Journey” was garnered from a series of emails between Jedidah and me during the early part of 2018. There were many questions and edits, followed by more questions and more edits. In the end, however, I felt confident that her story was one that she would feel good about sharing with the world.
Responses and Reactions
An hour after emailing her my final draft, I received a text from Jedidah. She wrote: “Waoh, waoh [wow wow] am lack of words i just could not hold my tears reading my story.” Moments later she continued with this note: “…it touch my heart soo much. i just hope with my story there [will be] some kids there that will benefit from it. i know there [are] those who go through much more in life. it will be my greatest achievement in life to know i am able to help them.”
Needless to say, I was humbled by her reaction, and found myself hoping that those who read her story would want to find a way to help young women who find themselves in similar circumstances.
I wasn’t disappointed. In the weeks that followed the printing of “Jedidah’s Journey”, I received wonderful feedback from people whose hearts were touched by this narrative. Many people took the time to thank me for publishing it. Some even donated to our Mentorship Program in hopes of helping orphans who often find themselves feeling unwanted or unloved. It was encouraging to hear from readers who wrote words such as these:
“I enjoyed reading Jedidah’s story. The challenges she faced were heartbreaking, and yet by the end of the booklet I felt moved and inspired by her words. There’s undeniable strength and hope in her story; her journey. Thank you for sharing it with me.”
Read her Story, Help a child
While Jedidah’s story isn’t picture perfect, it illustrates the struggles that face so many of the children we serve. Instead of ignoring them; we need to be the hand that helps them up.
Everyone’s Child relies on your help, not just to get children to the finish line, but also to keep them on the track. we need to encourage them so that they, like Jedidah, will keep getting back up, even when life throws them down. With your support, we can reach many more orphaned and vulnerable students who need to learn how to make good decisions in their lives.
As always, Asante Sana (thank you so much) for supporting what we do by serving the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future.
Everyone’s Child has some exciting developments to report! First, very early on Saturday morning, September 8th, I was honored to join (via Skype) a meeting of the first official EC Kenya Board of Directors. Men and women from different tribes and different parts of Kenya participated in this historic meeting. Their group is made up of a school principal, a school counselor, a nutritionist, an accountant, teachers, an urban planner, and other highly qualified professionals. However, their best common qualification is that they are all committed to making a difference in the lives of Kenyan children who have the greatest needs.
The meeting took place at William Aludo‘s home in Rongo, which is in western Kenya. Four Board members are from Rongo, and three Board members live in Nakuru, a six hour trip from eastern Kenya. I was grateful for a good connection and clear reception, despite the sudden rainfall that drowned out the conversation for a while. EC USA is looking forward to working with this stellar group of people!
The second of these exciting developments is that Kateri’s Kitchen is 99 % of the way finished! Many of you contributed to get this project off the ground. The chimney and a cookstove are the final pieces that need to be put in place before the building is officially declared open for use. Altogether we need an additional $300 to finish the job. The cost of a cookstove (a.k.a. “jiko”) is $50.00. The cost to build the chimney is $250.00. Please click here if you would like to help see this project through to the end. Once it is finished, Kateri’s plaque will go up. But best of all, the children will be fed from a sound building, showing them that there are people who care and want the best for them.
As always, Asante Sana (thank you very much) for supporting Everyone’s Child. Your efforts truly are helping to change a generation through education.