How is already mid November?! 2023 has danced right on by, as years do.
I find myself reflecting (as I do) and wondering if Everyone’s Child has made a difference this year. Have we? Thinking back on all we have accomplished, the answer is a resounding yes. Yes, we have. And it is all because of you.
EC is the conduit for these accomplishments – but YOU, my friend, are the difference.
Young girls and boys in Kenya and India have eaten a hot school lunch every day this year because of you.
Orphaned secondary school students have received an education this year; their old, tattered uniforms and outgrown shoes replaced with those that are crisp and new.
Young ones across the world have felt loved and seen and supported, all because of you.
As we near the end of 2023, we are hoping to raise $40,000 through our Annual Appeal, which will allow EC to continue to grow and impact the lives of children in Kenya and India in 2024.
If you have the means to do so, please consider donating to our cause. We accept donations via PayPal, credit card, personal checks, and Venmo. For more information, please check out the donation page on our website. To donate via Venmo, please scan the QR code below.
Have you heard the news? Miruya Primary School (MPS) in Rongo, Kenya has seen some big changes – and there’s more to come!
Brick by Brick Fundraiser
Thanks to our incredible donors, EC completed our Brick by Brick fundraiser at the end of August, successfully raising the remaining $5,000 needed to build a new classroom at MPS. Building should start within the next few months and we can’t wait to update you about the progress!
So, what else has been happening at MPS? In partnership with the school’s Board of Management, local contractors, and local parents, four of the current classrooms at MPS were painted, tiled, and had glass panes put in the windows. This was truly a collaborative effort by all parties – the windows were even installed pro bono by the contractors who helped tile the classrooms because they believed in the mission of EC and wanted the students at MPS to have safe and dry classrooms. How incredible is that?
The Importance of Partnership
One of EC’s main focuses is to work at the grassroots level in partnership with the local community. Without the knowledge and endorsement of local people, our projects would not exist. It is through constant collaboration and a shared caring for the welfare of the students that we get the job done.
And just like that – in the blink of an eye – my “Kenya girls” have graduated high school.
If you’ve followed EC’s blogs and announcements over the years, you’ve likely heard about Erin Elwell and Arianna ‘Ari’ Clark. I met them when I visited their eighth grade English class to introduce a pen pal letter writing program between Harwood students and students in Kenya. Both jumped at the chance to partner with me on other EC endeavors, which led to the creation of a club called Harwood Students Making Change (HSMC).
Harwood Students Making Change
HSMC, over the last few years, has implemented three fundraisers and raised nearly $15,000 to assist orphaned high school students in Kenya. The girls implemented a crowdsourcing fundraiser in 2019, followed by an online raffle in 2020. In 2022, HSMC led a Walk for Water fundraiser to raise funds for a well at Miruya Primary School. Because of the leadership demonstrated by these young ladies, there are students across Kenya who have been able to continue their high school education and Kenyan students who have been inspired to support their own peers.
It was incredible to attend Ari and Erin’s high school graduation a few weeks ago and watch them walk across the stage. To celebrate their years of involvement and impact, the EC Board of Directors voted to make them Ambassadors of Everyone’s Child, a title and certificate I had the honor of presenting to each of them after they graduated.
While my “Kenya girls” have graduated from Harwood Union High School, I have no doubt that they will continue to make a difference in the lives of others during their college experiences.
Erin and Ari are prime examples of what a lot of heart and never-ending motivation can accomplish. They have been such an inspiration to me over the years. And do you know the craziest part?
Last month, 43 Kenyan secondary school (high school) students went shopping for new school uniforms. Imagine their joy! There is something to be said for having new clothes. The crisp feel of new fabric, coupled with the clean smell of brand-new clothing can make one feel like a new person.
Orphaned Students in Kenya
These students hail from 13 different schools across Kenya. They all have one thing in common – all have lost one or both parents. The reasons vary: AIDS and COVID-19 have taken some, others have been victims of road accidents, tropical disease, or violence. Most of these children now live with family members, either grandparents, aunts and uncles, or in some cases an older brother or sister. Another commonality they share is their need for support. While family members feel compelled to take in these children, they often lack the means to support their education.
New School Uniforms
These students are accustomed to making things work for them. More often than not, they wear castoffs from other students who have graduated. These are often ill-fitting, dingy, and full of holes. Shoes almost never fit. It’s an embarrassment they’ve learned to live with. For these teenagers, the crisp feel of a new uniform isn’t just about the fit, it’s about fitting in. When I asked William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator how they felt about their new school uniforms, he said they were all “excited, very happy, and thankful to the end!”
EC’s Secondary School Sponsorship Program
The EC Student Sponsorship Program began in 2012 when a group of teachers from Vermont’s Moretown Elementary School, a high school teacher from the town of Orange, VT, the 2012 President of the Waterbury VT Rotary Club, and a Harwood Union High School student traveled together to Kenya. They toured the countryside, taking in the views and meeting teachers and EC supported primary school children. After visiting with students at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Lanet Umoja, they became aware of orphaned students who needed help paying their school fees. Over an evening of chai and chapati, a decision was reached to start the EC Secondary School Sponsorship Program.
A Sponsorship Story
The sponsorship program began with 14 students in one high school. Their stories were wide and varied, all with a shared theme of hardship. Among them was Simon Wanjala, an orphan who was also a victim of the post-election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007. He and his younger brothers were displaced five times in the span of four years. For a time, he lived with family members who mistreated him as he struggled to complete his high school education. Despite these hardships, Simon was able to graduate, mainly because of the EC Sponsorship Program. Today Simon is a husband, a father, and a successful entrepreneur. His full story can be found here.
The EC Sponsorship Program Today
Over 200 orphaned girls and boys have been sponsored through this program since 2012. Currently EC is supporting 51 students who live in eastern and western Kenya and attend 13 different secondary schools. Our goal is to sponsor 24 more students this year, for a total of 75 secondary school students.
Adding Your Support
The cost to sponsor one student is approximately $200 per year. This includes the cost of two new school uniforms per child. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please click HERE to visit our website and learn how you can make a secure donation.
As always, thank you for helping these children reach their potential. Together we can change a generation through education.
This morning’s “spring forward” has me reflecting on a few months ago, when EC’s Executive Director, Ruth and I flew seven hours forward to the land that holds our hearts.
Two other travelers joined us on our journey: Jennifer Solomon, who was returning to the country and people she also loves, and René Idowu, who was visiting Kenya for the first time. After a three-year hiatus, we finally made it back to Kenya. And Kenya greeted us with open arms.
To Rongo We Go
Day one found us tossed into the hubbub of Nairobi. Honking horns and busy footsteps on their way to work guided us as we drove out of the city, past the swirling dust devils in the Great Rift Valley, and toward the red-dirt roads of Rongo in western Kenya.
After a brief twilight stop at Kitere Primary School to glimpse their flourishing student-grown gardens, we journeyed to William Aludo’s house where homemade chapati and much needed ‘catch up’ after so many years were waiting for us. The next morning we returned to William’s house to deposit approximately 75 pounds worth of college-lined notebooks and black-inked pens as supplies for the camps William leads for orphaned secondary school students during their school breaks. (These supplies were donated by students at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury, VT!)
Miruya Primary School
Following a mug of chai, we traveled to Miruya Primary School in the hills of Migori County. We were welcomed by throngs of students who gathered to see us even though our visit happened during their school break. After touring the school and assessing the needs there, the headmaster and some of the local partners treated us to a lunch of local goods – sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and juicy mango – as a thank you for visiting the school. One of the local parents also gifted us with a goat, which is an honor in Kenya.
I named the goat Wilbur, and since he didn’t fit in our vehicle he has now become the chief lawn mower at Miruya Primary School.
From Rongo we made the seven-hour trek east to Nakuru where we met with EC-sponsored students at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Lanet. Our team encouraged the students to continue their studies and keep persevering.
Living Faith International
Our last day in Kenya brought us back to Nairobi where we visited Living Faith International, a nonprofit organization which sponsors orphaned students so that they may continue their studies. This visit stood out for me as I was reunited with Martin Hallelujah, a 16-year-old EC-sponsored student whom we met during our 2019 trip to Kenya. As one of Living Faith’s newly sponsored students, Martin’s happiness could not be contained. He proudly showed me around the grounds and thanked us for everything EC has been able to do for him over the years. He asked me to say hello and send his thanks to all of you as well, dear readers and supporters.
Although this was a short trip, we returned home with inspiration and a renewed devotion for the mission of Everyone’s Child: to help orphaned children and vulnerable communities in Kenya.
As always, Kenya gifted us with welcome, warmth, and a wonderful sense of a home away from home. EC’s work is anything but finished, so stick with us, there’s more to come.
Greetings from my Thanksgiving table to yours. I hope this note finds you warm and surrounded by those who bring you joy.
<< Looking back
This time of year is the season for reflection; for looking back on the past year to reflect on the experiences that have led to growth and progress. Here at EC, we have so much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the children whose lives we have been able to touch – and whose hearts have stolen ours. We are thankful for our many incredible supporters and donors who believe in EC’s mission to help the children of the world.
Looking forward >>
As we look back on this year, we also look forward to the coming year.
As we near the end of 2022, we are hoping to raise $35,000 through our Annual Appeal, which will allow EC to continue to grow and impact the lives of children in Kenya and India in 2023. It is through the donations of supporters that EC is able to do what we do. This holiday season, please consider giving to our Annual Appeal. Because of compassionate contributors just like you, we have already raised over one-third of the funds. Can you help us reach our goal?
If you have the means to do so, please consider donating to our cause. We accept donations via PayPal, credit card, and personal checks. For more information, please check out the donation page on our website. Additionally, EC is now able to accept donations via Venmo!
P.S. We’re excited to announce that after a three-year hiatus, EC’s Executive Director, Ruth Young, and I will be flying to Kenya in January 2023! We plan to meet with EC Kenya’s Board of Directors and several EC sponsored students. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming trip!
Two years ago, the USA Board of Directors for Everyone’s Child partnered with the EC Kenya Board of Directors to establish the EC Kenya Scholarship Fund. This fund was set up to give students who had benefitted from EC’s Secondary School Sponsorship program the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary degree. Members of both EC Kenya and EC USA’s Board of Directors contribute to this fund each year, paving the way for orphaned students to attend college or training programs after graduating from high school. This year we have good reason to be celebrating scholarship!
A Letter of Recommendation
Last month, William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator sent us a wonderful recommendation letter that one of our scholarship students, Esther Njenga, received from the hospital where she conducted an “attachment” (similar to an internship). Her letter of recommendation is below:
Needless to say, we were overjoyed with this news! Esther’s performance at the hospital was exemplary, and she has been highly recommended for future positions. This means that there is a very good chance she will be able to find work in a hospital or other medical facility when she graduates in 2023. Not bad for someone just finishing up her college degree! This is the best kind of news to receive when it comes to helping students, and we are excited to be celebrating her scholarship with our supporters.
EC’s Sponsorship Program
Everyone’s Child supports orphaned and vulnerable students in a variety of ways. We provide orphaned primary school students with a daily meal while they are in school, and orphaned secondary school students are eligible for our sponsorship program. You can learn more about these programs by visiting our website and clicking on Our Mission in the menu. Please be sure to contact us if you want to learn how to support these students who rely on outside help to complete their education.
Some of you may have already received and responded to ourannual appeal in the mail. For those of you who haven’t received or responded to this appeal yet, this is a gentle reminder that each year Everyone’s Child asks for support for our Orphan Feeding Program and Secondary School Sponsorship Program. To keep these programs running, we rely on the generosity of people like you, who understand that it is through consistent, generous contributions that we can feed and educate these orphaned and vulnerable children each year. We are now asking for your support for these initiatives.
A Daily Meal and an Education
Despite pandemic restrictions, this past year EC was able to provide a daily meal and an education for close to 700 orphaned students in Kenya and India. This was all possible because of the generous donations from people who give on a monthly basis or gave during last year’s Annual Appeal.
School Supplies, Uniforms, and a Daily Meal
In the coming year, EC will continue providing daily meals to students at six different schools throughout Kenya. This program costs $25 per school year for each student. With the help of our partners, we also plan to sponsor up to 40 orphaned secondary students, providing them with school supplies, uniforms, and a daily meal. The annual cost to sponsor one secondary student is $200. We also plan to support up to 25 vulnerable students in northern and southern India who want to attend school.
Asking for Your Support
This year, the Board of Directors and I are asking for your support to help us raise $35,000, enabling us to sustain, build and grow our current programs.
If you would like to participate in this goal, donations can be securely made online by clicking here.
Everyone’s Child is a registered 501 C3 corporation, and 90% of our administrative costs are covered by those on the Board of Directors, therefore close to 100% of your donationwill go directly to our programs.
As always, thank you for your support for Everyone’s Child.
Early in 2017, William Aludo introduced us to a small school located about two hours from his home. The Miruya Primary School is tucked away in the hills of Migori County, in a beautiful but very rural part of Kenya. He had visited the school, and found three dozen young children waiting for their teacher to arrive. There were no desks, so the children were sitting on the dirt floor. After speaking with them, he learned that on the days she came, they sang songs and played circle games outside. There were days she didn’t come though, apparently because she wasn’t always paid. The government hadn’t yet recognized the school, so it was up to the parents to pay someone to teach their children. The children still came every day, in hopes that their teacher would show up.
William reported all of this to the EC USA Board of Directors, who responded by partnering with CBN to hire teachers, establish a lunch program, build a kitchen, and provide uniforms and school supplies.
Miruya Primary School
“If you build it, they will come,” the saying from the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” bears repeating here. During the past two months two new classrooms have been built for the seventh and eighth students. Enrollment is up from last year. What is more, the school is now fully registered with the government – as public a school as they come. This means they are able to receive government funding, and can hire government paid teachers.
A Visitor to Miruya Primary School
Not long ago, the area MP (Member of Parliament) came to visit the school. He was greeted enthusiastically by the students and joined them as they danced and sang. The new tile floors made an impression, and gave him the confidence to say that he wants to help with some other changes to the school. Among those improvements, he plans to initiate the hiring of a government paid ECDE teacher. He will also give the school 80 new desks. The students and teachers have come a long way since the day that William found them sitting on the dirt floor waiting for their teacher to show up.
Walk for Water
Last month, walkers all across the US joined forces to raise funds to dig a well at Miruya Primary School. The goal was to raise $5,000 to be matched by the generous donations of our supporters. A well at the school will cost $14,000, so our intent was to conduct another small campaign to get us to the finish line. Once again, the heart and generosity of our supporters came shining through. The Walk for Water event raised over $9,000, allowing us to sign a contract with the well digging company. Plans are underway to have a well dug before the start of the new school year!
As we look ahead, there is a lot to look forward to. With two new classrooms in place and a well soon to be dug, we hope to see a lot more smiles on the faces of these children. As always, we want to thank all those who are helping these students reach their goals and realize their dreams.
Please click here to learn how you can help to educate, care for and connect with students across Kenya and India.
In 2017, I published Simon’s Story, a story about Simon Wanjala, an orphaned student who was displaced five times within a five-year period. A lot has happened in his life, so it’s time to give an update to the story.
A Successful Beginning
Simon was part of the first group of orphans in EC’s student sponsorship program in 2010. He graduated from Bishop Donovan Secondary School two years later and has stayed in touch since then, helping with EC’s programs in and around Nakuru. After graduating, Simon held several different jobs, and by 2017 he had built a successful Forex training institute in Nakuru. He hired three team members who taught both online and in-person classes to people interested in learning about trading foreign currencies.
During this time Simon was caring for his two younger brothers, giving them a home, paying their school fees and making sure their needs were met. He also met Felisters, the woman who eventually became his wife. The two of them married at the end of 2019, after a long courtship which included saving for and presenting a dowry, with the hopes that the offering would be accepted by her parents.
A Pandemic Setback
In 2020, shortly after cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Kenya, the government shut down all non-essential businesses, including Simon’s TopRank Forex Institute. However, he has never been one to succumb to difficulties, as the story of his early years bears out. In recent months as restrictions began to loosen, Simon dug into his savings to open a gym and beauty salon near his home in Lanet. Although he still lacks some gym equipment, he is hiring staff, providing much needed jobs to people in his area.
Simon’s generosity doesn’t end there. During the lockdown he used his savings to help provide food for families in his town who were out of work. His example falls directly in line with the vision of Everyone’s Child to “care where there is great need“. As he stated in Simon’s Story, his aim is to “…let society learn from me that God always provides for needy kids…”.
An Update to the Story
Last week Simon contacted me with some exciting news. Felisters had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl, making him the happiest man on the planet. He was waiting to pick both of them up from the Margaret Kenyatta Mother Baby Wing, a mega maternity wing at the Rift Valley Provincial Hospital in Nakuru. His exuberance could be felt through the airwaves, and with no wonder. Experiencing the miracle of new life is one of those moments that outweighs all others.
We at Everyone’s Child are happy and excited for Simon as he continues his journey. It’s wonderful to be able to track with him, celebrating his wedding and the birth of his firstborn child. We are rooting for this little family and praying that his new business will thrive.
EC has been able to impact the lives of hundreds of orphaned secondary students like Simon since 2010. This year we are supporting 23 orphaned high school students in several different schools in Kenya. If you would like to contribute to the education of a student in need, please visit us at everyoneschild.net/donate/. Your gift will make a difference that will have an impact for generations to come.
Thank you, and many blessings,
Everyone’s Child: changing a generation through education.