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.
Tracy walked around the room, asking students what they learned about their pen pals. She heard comments like: “Wow, this is beautiful handwriting!”; and “She loves novels, I already love this girl”; to “He speaks three languages!”; and “She loves to sing and dance, which are my my favorite things too”. By the time she left the students had already started to write their replies.
Tracy spent a year teaching in Thailand, so true to her profession, she has given them until this Friday to respond, and hopefully sometime next week we will be able to scan their replies to Kenya.
I’m pretty excited to get this program off the ground again. I’m also very glad to have found someone who loves to see connections happen!
Tracy contacted me again at the end of this week to tell me that the Ms. McCarty at Harwood Union held parent conferences this week. All of the parents were supportive and grateful that their children could participate in this work, and kept thanking her over and over for the opportunity.
If you would like your young adult to write a letter to a student in Kenya, click here and let us know and we’ll help you get connected. Friendships like this can last a lifetime.
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
I believe that one of the best gifts we can leave our children is to teach them the “art of giving”, something that many of our supporters do every time they give.
The Art of Giving
During my years as an early childhood educator I looked for opportunities to teach children how to give. Like many preschool and elementary teachers of today, I tried to instill the concept of “otherness” in them – helping them to see how their actions affected others in their immediate world. I also introduced them to other cultures and places around the globe, letting them know about some of the challenges facing children in developing nations. There were positive impacts when parents and families supported these ideas and discussed them at home.
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!
Many of the children I taught have stayed in touch with me over the years, and I’ve even had the privilege of traveling to Kenya with former students. Earlier this week I received a letter with a donation from two brothers who were prior preschool students of mine. The younger one – now a 3rd grader – wrote the letter. I checked with their mom, who told me it was fine to share their note and their photos online, so I’ve attached these below:
(And now for) The Translation
Dear Sr. Routh (sic) Michael and I, (Connor) are donating $57.27 to you and your orfanige (sic). This is some of Michael and mines leftover money that we each bought something with. We wanted to ask you if you had any technoligy (sic) needs. Please write back.
Connor and Michael
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
A giving heart begins in the home. These boys belong to a family that serves in our military, so they are familiar with the meaning of sacrifice and helping others. I would say it shows, and in spades!
It’s Better to Give
During my childhood, my mom was forever tossing out wise sayings, one of her favorites being “It’s better to give than to receive”. She was right, of course, and for our family of seven that was an important concept to grasp. As a child it took me a while to learn that I always felt more alive when I gave. Today I am so grateful to those who taught me that as the giver, I wind up receiving the greater gift.
I know that those who support EC understand the art of giving, something for which I am deeply grateful. I want to thank each of you for your constant support, and for sharing with those who are following in your footsteps the importance of learning how to give.
If you would like to join forces with those who contribute to Everyone’s Child on an annual, monthly or one-time basis, please click here to make a secure donation. I promise you that the benefits you will reap from having a giving heart will far surpass the challenges you face each day.
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.
We have seen some great beginnings for EC in 2019! Our 2018 Annual Appeal more than doubled from last year’s appeal, making us wonder what could be in store for the months ahead. It didn’t take long to find out. Early in January we received a request from Pastor Kishor Senepati, one of our contacts in northern India. He and his wife Mary were asking for help with the children of Orissa, where we provided funds for a well last year.
Although it is in northern India, Orissa is a tropical region, lying just south of the Tropic of Cancer. Temperatures in that region typically range between 80 – 110 degrees F, so even 60 F feels cold. This past month, nighttime temperatures in Orissa have been as low as 40 F, which is much colder than usual. We were told that the children in the village didn’t own any warm clothing, and they were beginning to get sick. Thanks to our generous supporters, in mid January we were able to wire funds for over 200 sweaters for these children. EC also teamed up with Juniper’s Fare Catering of Waterbury, VT to provide funds for a meal. Having something warm to wear is a good reason to celebrate!
A Change of Heart
Witnessing a change of heart is a reason to celebrate also. Two weeks after wiring the funds we discovered that the money had not yet been received in India. This meant that the children still didn’t have their much needed sweaters. Pastor Kishor told me that shop owners don’t usually let their goods out on credit. I believe in the power of prayer, and immediately began to pray for a change in this shopkeeper’s heart. A day later, I received a text telling me that this man had agreed to allow the sweaters to be purchased on credit! Now my prayer is that he and his business will be greatly blessed.
Making Life Easier
In the coming year EC will continue to feed and provide education for orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya. We are also excited to be branching out into new areas. It is a blessing to make life easier for vulnerable children, no matter where they live.
To our faithful donors, we want to thank you for these great beginnings. Your partnership makes this work possible. If you would like to begin this new year by joining us in our efforts, please click here to make a secure donation today. Or feel free to contact us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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**.
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.