EC – the year in review

Dear friends,

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.

Sr. Kateri feeding the hungry children in Kenya
Sr. Kateri feeding the EC children in Kampi Ya Moto

EC Scholarships

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.

EC students sitting in a classroom in Kenya
EC scholarship students at Bishop Donovan Secondary School

Partnerships

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.

exciting developments of a new board of directors in Kenya
EC Kenya Board of Directors

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.

EC Children Watching the drill and waiting for water
Watching the drill and waiting for water in Orissa, India

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 contributution 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,

Ruth

Jedidah’s Journey

Dear readers,

“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

“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.

Jedidah of Jedidah's Journey with her grandmother
Jedidah with her grandmother in 2007

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.”

Jedidah reading her story Jedidah's Journey
Jedidah reading her story in 2018

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.

You can click on Jedidah’s Journey to read this story online.  And please click here to learn more about how you can make a difference in a child’s life.  You’ll never be sorry that you did.

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.

Blessings,

Ruth

Exciting Developments

Exciting Developments

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!

exciting developments of a new board of directors in Kenya
EC Kenya Board of Directors left to right: Director Dorcas Njorge of Nakuru, Director Joseph Rayudi of Rongo, Secretary Collins Awuor of Rongo, Director Josephine Kinuthia of Nakuru, Director Baraka Someh of Rongo, William Aludo, EC Program Coordinator of Rongo, Treasurer Josephine Omwanda of Rongo, and Chairman James Maina, principal at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Nakuru

Kateri’s Kitchen

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.

exciting developments of Kateri's Kitchen - a stone building that is almost completed!
Kateri’s Kitchen as of early September 2018

As always, Asante Sana (thank you very much) for supporting Everyone’s Child.  Your efforts truly are helping to change a generation through education.

Blessings,

Ruth

Quenching the thirst

This past June I wrote about a donation that came from a relative of mine who was checking things off a bucket list. The item was “I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink”.  Without even knowing it, this relative was quenching the thirst of many children.

Quenching the thirst of children in Orissa India
Children in Orissa, India

A Board Decision

At about the same time, the EC Board of Directors had decided to provide a hand pump to a ministry serving children in Orissa, which is in northern India.  This ministry has been faced with tremendous persecution, making it very difficult to support these children.  They had asked us for help with a hand pump, nutritional care and educational supplies, so our first effort was to provide them with a hand pump and repair their bore well.  Our hope was that the pump and repaired well would prevent the sickness and disease they have all been dealing with from drinking dirty river water.

Quenching the thirst of children in India - Waiting by the drill and watching for water
Waiting by the drill and watching for the water to come

Checking things off our list

My relative’s bucket list inspired others to give, and as a result, I am overwhelmingly excited to report that this item can now be checked off our list too.  In mid-June the funds were sent to India, and a month later I received an email and a video from India, showing that the water pump is now in place.   The video is below, followed by the portions of the email:

“Hallelujah thank you Lord Jesus Christ for this water facilities to these children and families. Lord we bless Everyone’s Child for bringing blessings to these vulnerable children we serve in Orissa.”

“When the water gushed out of the pump … we saw joyful tears in the eyes of the children and families. Truly the Lord is great. See the children how they are very very happy and grateful to you and to the Lord. They prayed.  Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for this wonderful water facilities you provided to bless these children and families. These children were thirsty and starving and were suffering without water but you met the needs thank you Lord for giving us provisions to serve these tribal children in Orissa.  Amen.”

Connecting others to the need

I recently visited the bank where funds for the water pump were transferred to India.  The teller who had helped with the transaction was there, so I had an opportunity to share the video and texts with him.  He was visibly moved, and then asked me if I would be able to share the video and text with him.

His reason was simple.  His children recently had friends over for the evening, and when all the soda pop, bottled water and juice was gone, they found that their only option for quenching their thirst was to drink water from the tap.  “I want to show them this,” he said, “because I told them that there was plenty of good drinking water right there at the sink.  I said that the local Water Authority had deemed it safe to drink, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to drink it.  They need to see what other people deal with when it comes to having clean drinking water.”

Quenching the hungry - Mealtime for the children in Orissa, India
Mealtime for the children in Orissa, India

Quenching the thirst

Looking back, it seems that many of my blogs have been about water.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Water is one of the most needed elements in our world – for people, plants, animals – in fact, for all living things.  And yet, potable water makes up a very small fraction of all the water on the earth.  According to National Geographic*, “While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.”

We all have thirst.  Quenching that thirst is a driving force in life.  For so many of us, having potable water is a non-issue.   However, for every one for whom it is a non-issue, there are at least three who struggle with access to clean drinking water.  The numbers are overwhelming.  844 million people on the earth today lack sanitary water**.

Children and adults Waiting by the drill for water in Orissa, India
Waiting by the drill for water in Orissa, India

Everyone’s Child is committed to providing clean drinking water for any of the schools we help to build.  Beyond that, we will do all we can to make clean water available to children in developing nations.

I am grateful for the privilege of partnering with so many of you to take care of this and many other needs in our world, especially when children are involved.

Please click here if you would like to support our programs in Kenya and India.  Your tax-deductible gift will help with educating, feeding and quenching the thirst of children we serve in these countries.

As always, thank you and bless you for seeing, understanding and responding to the need.  I pray that your hearts and buckets will be full to overflowing time and time again.

Ruth

*https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/freshwater-crisis/

**https://lifewater.org/blog/world-water-day-2018/

 

Feeding the hungry

A friend of mine has been feeding the hungry for more than a decade.  Dyan Walker, also called Sr. Kateri as she belongs to a Franciscan lay order, has indirectly and directly been providing meals for hungry children in Kenya for many years.

The Message

A couple of weeks ago I asked Sr. Kateri how she happened to get involved with feeding needy children.  She said that it all started in 2007 when she attended a church service where a missionary to Kenya was bringing a message about the work he was doing in that country.  She was deeply affected by his stories of children in an area called Kampi Ya Moto – a name which translates to “Camp of Fire”.  Needless to say, life was challenging in that region.  Kampi Ya Moto is located in sub-Saharan Africa where daily temperatures reach high into the 80’s and 90’s and rainfall is scarce during most of the year.  She learned that HIV/AIDS had claimed the lives of many adults in that area so most of the children were orphaned.  Education was considered a luxury.  A primary school was built in 2003, but prior to that there were no schools near their homes.  Their excitement at finally being able to learn was beyond measure.  However, in spite of their enthusiasm, they were fainting in class due to lack of food.

The Orphan Feeding Program

This missionary was reaching out to the church for help with an Orphan Feeding Program, allowing the children in Kampi Ya Moto to receive a daily meal.

Sr. Kateri was profoundly moved by his stories, so she began to pray for a way to help them.  As a recent widow, her budget was limited, but it occurred to her to put aside $10 a week for the orphans.  She began to do that, and continued to pray for their situation.

Then in May 2007, Sr. Kateri was gifted with the opportunity to travel to Kenya with a  group of missionaries.  The trip had a profound impact on her life.  She vividly remembers the sights and sounds, the incredible wildlife, and most of all, the children.

missionaries in Kenya sitting around a round table
Sr. Kateri, third from the left, with missionaries in Kenya

In her visit to Kampi Ya Moto she had a chance to serve lunch to the school children, an experience that is still fresh in her heart and mind.  She also remembered that “…there was a kitchen there but it was dilapidated and falling apart.”  She returned home and began to tell her friends, co-workers, and anyone else who would listen about these children and their needs.  Before long, there was an outpouring of donations for the Orphan Feeding Program, and the effort began to take on a life of its own.

feeding the hungry children in Kampi
Children in Kampi Ya Moto waiting for their daily meal

Feeding the Hungry

Sr. Kateri’s passion for alleviating the suffering of these orphans in Kenya began to affect people throughout the USA and Canada.  Funds continued to pour in, making it possible to address other needs as well.  The kitchen she had seen during her trip was in need of repairs, and two other schools in Nakuru were asking for help with feeding orphans in their schools.  Fr. Paul Stewart, her pastor of many years, told her: “The money you set aside also inspired others to give, so they were able to repair the kitchen and start the Orphan Feeding Program in two new locations.”  Her prayers and continued concern and care for the orphans also led her to join EC’s Board of Directors, a position she held for several years.

Sr. Kateri feeding the hungry children in Kenya
Sr. Kateri feeding the children in Kampi Ya Moto in 2007 – the kitchen is in the background

Kateri’s Kitchen

Today the kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto is once again in a state of disrepair.  Severe drought and extreme heat have taken their toll on this small tin, wattle and daub building.  This summer, EC is raising $2,100 in order to build a structure that will withstand the climate and provide nutritional meals to these school children.

Kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto for feeding the hungry
The kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto

Upon completion, EC will be dedicating the new kitchen to Sr. Kateri.  A plaque honoring her commitment to feed the children will be placed in this building, and in future kitchens also.  Her legacy of giving to the least of them will continue to impact children for years to come.

Feeding the hungry plaque
The plaque that will be placed in the new kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto

If you are in a position to contribute to Kateri’s Kitchen, please click here to help us continue with our goal of feeding the hungry.  Your gift will make a huge difference for the school children who rely on these meals to get them through the day.

As always, Asante Sana (Thank you very much) for your help!

Blessings,

Ruth

Providing for Needs

The Needs

Providing for needs is constant in life.  We have basic needs that deal with our survival as humans: water, food, and shelter.  Then there are less-essential needs, such as designer jeans, computers and dirt bikes.  What you have been blessed with in life defines your perspective on your own personal sense of needs and provision for those needs.

A Donation

A relative of mine recently decided to give a recurring donation to Everyone’s Child.  I asked where the donation should be directed, and received the most amazing response, copied below:

“My goal was to donate enough to bring water to a school in a year…I went online to learn more and saw the need for water.  It was something on my bucket list that has not been fulfilled. Here is my bucket list:
I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: 
I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
providing for needs: two adults give a meal to a child in Kenya
EC Program Coordinators Susan Enoch and William Aludo providing a meal for a child in Kenya

Provision

I was in awe of my relatives’ ability to use Matthew 25:35-40 to identify a selfless list of objectives for life.  These objectives were all about providing for needs.  I wrote the following reply:

“Yours is a more than worthy bucket list.  Thank you for sharing it with me.  As to your dream of bringing water to a school in a year’s time, we are always on the lookout for that need.  After walking to that muddy river in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya it has become my personal quest.”

I was thirsty

I went on to say that the EC Board of Directors had just recently decided to provide a hand pump to a ministry in northern India.  I mentioned that this ministry is providing  for the needs of 85 children, but they have been faced with tremendous persecution, making it very difficult to support these children.  They had asked us for help with a hand pump, nutritional care and educational supplies, so our first effort was to provide them with a hand pump and repair their bore well.  This pump and repaired well will hopefully prevent the sickness and disease they have all been dealing with from drinking dirty river water.
I ended my email by saying how glad I was to be able to participate in this bucket list, made only more meaningful by the fact that I was proud to be related to this special person.

Providing for Needs

Providing for needs includes the act of caring for and about others.  Sometimes that act is a prayer, other times it involves an action or a financial gift.  Here at Everyone’s Child we appreciate contributions of all kinds.

Love is the defining expression in my relative’s bucket list.  Please click here to give to someone who will greatly appreciate your gift of love.

Two Kenyan children walking arm in arm providing for needs
Walking to get water at the river in Kampi Ya Moto

everyone’s child: they belong to all of us

“Maji”

Swahili for Water

“Maji” is Swahili for “water”.  Here in the USA we are rarely without it.  With it we steep our tea and brush our teeth, water the lawn and rinse off the dog,  brew our coffee and wash the car, launder our clothes and cook our dinner.  When we’re thirsty, we trust that a turn of the wrist will result in a drink of cool, clear water.

In many places in our world, “maji” does not magically appear.  Not clean water at any rate.   For years, the children at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya – many of them orphaned – had the daily task of walking a hot and dusty two-mile trek to a muddy river to collect water that was then used for drinking and cooking.  The water was usually boiled before it was consumed, but the mere fact that the mortality rate in this area was 50% or higher leads me to believe that boiling alone didn’t remove the incidence of water borne illnesses.

Carrying maji or water from the river in Kampi Ya Moto< Kenya
Carrying water from the river in Kampi Ya Moto

Kampi Ya Moto

Kampi Ya Moto is an arid region of Kenya that literally translates to “Camp of Fire”.  Many of EC’s supporters have walked with the children to the river in this area on visits to their school.  In a word, it’s repulsive.  The water is brown, and the shore is filled with mud-pocked holes made by the hooves of the cows and other animals that shared this watering hole with members of the village.

maji means water - a dirty river with a cow and a child both getting water
Sharing the river in Kampi Ya Moto

Partnering

During the summer of 2013, Orphan’s Promise of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) partnered with Everyone’s Child to install a rain harvesting system for the school.  The impact has been nothing short of revolutionary.  Children and teachers no longer spend hours a day walking to and from the river to get water.  Mary Cheshire, the Head Teacher at the school has reported that overall the children’s health has markedly improved.  And their garden is amazing.

CBN Living Water Plaque in Kampi Ya Moto
CBN Living Water plaque in Kampi Ya Moto

Real Time

Not too long ago, on a beautiful sunny morning, I had just brewed my first cup of tea when my phone began to ding.  Simon Wanjala, one of EC’s Kenyan staff members, was sending me photos and videos from the school in Kampi Ya Moto.  It was mid-afternoon there.  The children had finished their lunch and were gathering outside to play football (soccer).  Some were bubbling with excitement at having their photo taken, others were more shy and reticent to be on camera, but all of them looked very healthy.

Getting maji or water from a tap
Getting water from the tap at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto

This was happening in real time, so I asked Simon to take pictures of the garden as well.  What I saw was astonishing.  The scraggly corn field I remembered from 2012 was replaced by a lush and abundantly green crop of corn that was beginning to reach the tops of the children’s heads.  But even better than seeing all this new growth was the joy that I saw in the faces of the children.  The daily struggle of getting water was removed, and they could just be children, learning and playing under the African sun.

a corn field in Africa
Kampi corn!

 

Maji

EC is incredibly thankful for this gift of maji (water) from Orphan’s Promise.  But our gratitude pales in comparison to the thankfulness of the children who use it every day of their lives.  From all of them we say ASANTE SANA to all those who contributed to this project.

Kenyan school children getting maji (water) from a faucet
Girls gathering around the faucet in their schoolyard

The mission of Everyone’s Child includes providing clean drinking water in each school we build.  Please click here to learn more about supporting the programs of Everyone’s Child.

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!