Toward the end of July, Kenyan students learned that there will be no school until next January. The news came as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 exceeded 10,000, ranking Kenya as the country with the second highest number of confirmed cases in eastern African nations, and the eighth highest in all of Africa.
In recent weeks the numbers have continued to rise. At this writing there have been 26,436 coronavirus cases. Of those cases, 12,961 people have recovered and 420 people have died. Kenya no longer holds the dubious distinction of ranking number two in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in eastern Africa, but the fallout hasn’t changed. Adults are out of work, teenage pregnancy and crime are on the rise, and hunger is an ever present challenge.
A recent conversation with William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, revealed that while students are disappointed that school has been cancelled for the remainder of 2020, they are also relieved that they will be less likely to be exposed to the coronavirus. However, many students are also wondering how they can continue practicing and studying in order to prepare for the next school year. The Kenyan government has made online YouTube lessons available throughout the country, but there is a tremendous disparity between those with and those without access to radio, television, internet and computers.
Another pressing issue resulting from the government’s decision to close schools is the absence of feeding programs for orphaned and vulnerable students. To date the Kenyan government has not responded with a nationwide answer to this dilemma. This issue affects tens of thousands of children from pre-primary through high school.
When the news broke that there would be no school for the remainder of 2020, EC’s Board of Directors responded quickly and compassionately. They made a commitment to ensure that the 575 students we support have what they need to survive while they are out of school. To that end, EC plans to continue with monthly food distributions in all of the locations where these students live and go to school. Since this past April, our students have been receiving monthly supplies of beans, maize, rice, wheat and porridge flour, as well as jugs of cooking oil. Young women are also receiving sanitary items that are otherwise difficult to for them to find.
This response is not something we anticipated when we created our annual budget, but I am grateful to report that our supporters have continued to give, allowing us to help these students and their families during this time. As always, we welcome new supporters of Everyone’s Child. If you would like to help, please click here to partner with us in our efforts to provide orphaned and vulnerable children with a monthly supply of food during this pandemic. Your gift will make an immediate difference for these children and their families.
EC’s 10th Year
This August marks the tenth year of the existence of Everyone’s Child as a 501(c) (3) organization. When I stop to think about how far we’ve come in ten years, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of good will, prayers and financial contributions that have come from our many supporters over the past decade.
It has been said that a long journey begins with one step. As we begin moving into our 11th year of operating as a non-profit, our Board of Directors and I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all who have helped to feed, educate and encourage hundreds of children who otherwise would have been left behind on this journey. We know that we could not have come this far without your help. Our gratitude to each of you is unending.
This past week I learned about the situation in Kenya from William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator. He gave a sobering account of schools being closed, people being out of work, and markets being shut down. At this writing there have been 122 cases of COVID-19 in Kenya.
In Nakuru, William learned that while some people have vegetables in their gardens, many still rely on their local markets. The situation is becoming dire for many families.
Kampi Ya Moto
Normally, schools in Kenya are closed during the months of April, August and December. However, Everyone’s Child has always continued to feed students at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto even when school isn’t in session as food insecurity is a major issue in that region.
Last week William spoke with Mrs. Chesire, the Head Teacher (Principal) at that school to see if it would be possible to continue feeding the students there during this epidemic. She told him that the government was not allowing anyone to return to the school, so feeding the children would not be possible. This was bad news, since these children rely on meals they receive from EC during the months that schools are closed.
But then, a few days ago William sent me photos of children in Kampi Ya Moto receiving bags of food! Mrs. Chesire and Sarah (the cook) had managed to hand out 81 bags of dried maize, beans, maize flour and porridge flour to students. They plan to repeat this in two weeks as well. Needless to say, it was such a blessing to know that these children wouldn’t go hungry.
Whatever is Necessary
Everyone’s Child is in a position to help students in need during this pandemic. The situation in Kenya has propelled us to act quickly to alleviate suffering of the children in our care. This past week, the EC Board of Directors gave William the go ahead to connect with school administrators in each of the five schools where we currently feed close to 600 children. Our goal is to do whatever is necessary to provide food to students in need. These administrators will be working with their local governments to ensure that provisions will be distributed to these children and their families.
Your Continued Support
We understand that the impact of the coronavirus will likely lead to a spike in the number of people needing help. As I stated above, EC’s goal is to do whatever is necessary to provide food to students in need. That is why I am reaching out to you today to ask for your continued financial and prayer support for our programs, and specifically for EC’s Orphan Feeding Program.
Change Brings Opportunity
So much has changed. But change also brings opportunity. We are looking for every way possible to continue helping the children enrolled in our programs, while keeping the door open for meeting an even greater need.
I want to thank those who have already reached out to see how they can help make a difference. If you are in a position to help financially, please click here to make a secure online donation. You can also send a check to Everyone’s Child, P.O. Box 522, Linesville, PA 16424.
An Added Bonus
For those who can give financially, there is an added bonus to consider. On Friday, March 27th, the US Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A provision of that bill makes it possible for American taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions when filing with the IRS, to deduct from their AGI up to $300 in cash contributions to qualifying organizations. For those who do itemize, they will be able to deduct 100% of their donations in this tax year.
For the past several weeks, I have been following the news in order to provide our supporters with a report from Kenya. At this writing there have been seven cases of the virus discovered in their country. So far none of these cases have been reported in rural areas. As the link above points out, when and if this occurs, the results could be devastating for millions of people in Kenya.
I have been in touch with William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, who has confirmed that all schools and universities have closed and all students have been sent home. While this may be good news in terms slowing the spread of the coronavirus, it also presents a challenge for the students who rely on a daily meal through EC’s Orphan Feeding Program.
Everyone’s Child is currently working with our Kenyan colleagues to develop a plan to safely distribute food to children who will be negatively affected by the nationwide school shutdown. I will do my best to update you on their efforts as they unfold. Our goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable children will receive some form of nutrition on a regular basis. If you have questions or thoughts about this please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above all, I solicit your prayers and continued assistance as we work through this global challenge. Your concern and support for Everyone’s Child is valued and welcome.
There is exciting news to share! Everyone’s Child has a new opportunity for the year ahead. But first, here is an update on what our supporters have accomplished in 2019.
Kenya: School Lunches and Sponsorships
The Orphan Feeding Program offered daily meals to600 orphaned children at five different primary schools in Kenya. Everyone’s Child now partners with several Kenyan school administrations to bear the cost of this project, a major first step in developing self-sustaining programs. Our average monthly cost for this program is $1,200, totaling over $14,000 annually.
EC’s Sponsorship Program supported 30 orphans in preschool and high school. This summer three middle school students from Vermont raised over $2,000to help orphaned high school students with their school fees. Our goal for this coming year is to sponsor at least 10 preschoolers and 30 secondary students, for an annual cost of $6,000.
Sweaters for India
In northern rural India earlier this year, temperatures dipped into the low 60’s. EC supporters provided sweaters to over 200 needy children living in Orissa, offering relief during the cold snap. In southern India, donations helped to pay school fees for five impoverished orphans. The total cost of both efforts was $2,500.
Opportunity in Western Kenya
This past September I traveled to Kenya to visit with students, teachers and administrators at each of the schools where Everyone’s Child provides support. One of the schools we visited was the Miruya Primary School, located in a poor rural area in western Kenya.
The needs there are numerous, including the continued provision of daily meals, a security fence, leveling the schoolyard, and a new classroom. Enrollment is expected to increase in the coming years, so additional classrooms will also need to be built. Thankfully this summer’s Matching Challenge raised $10,000 to build a classroom! The cost of the remaining projects there could well exceed $20,000.
EC’s Board of Directors and I are very excited about the new opportunity that lies ahead for us to help the children at this school, with an eye toward building a successful partnership and eventual self-sustainability.
Everyone’s Child Now
Everyone’s Child now reaches over 800 orphaned and vulnerable children globally, providing education, meals, potable water, clothing and connections to those in need. None of this would be possible without your prayers, involvement and financial contributions.
Our goal for this year’s Annual Appeal is to raise $32,500, enabling us to sustain and grow our current programs.
During this season of giving, I am writing to ask you to please work alongside us as we encourage the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future.
Donations can be made online by clicking here or by sending a check to EC’s new mailing address: P.O. Box 522, Linesville, PA 16424. All contributions are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support.
In the words of one of EC’s sponsored students, “No matter where you come from, someone somewhere is thinking of you.” On behalf of these students, our deepest thanks to everyone who is thinking of these children. With your help we will continue changing a generation through education.
When Tracy Guion, EC’s Messages of Mercy Program Coordinator, William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, our driver David Kiboi from Nairobi and I visited the Miruya Primary School in Migori County last month we were treated to a song called “The Lord has Something to Say”. The students who sang it were shy, waving at us from a distance but clamming up when we got close to them. That made sense; their worlds involve home, school and the 3 – 4 km walk between those two places. The sight of these newcomers was a bit startling, especially given the differences in our skin color and vocal accents.
A group of fifth and sixth graders were seated outside when we arrived, their desks balancing precariously on the rocky ground. These students share a classroom in the school building, but they had taken their desks out into the school yard to make space for a meeting that would take place later on with “the visitors” (i.e. – us). Despite their displacement and timidity, they managed to sing a call and response song for us. I’ve posted a video with the lyrics below:
“The Lord has something to say,
The Lord has something to say.
Listen, listen, pay very close attention.
The Lord has something to say.”
I’ve been around young children too long not to sit up and take notice when a child says something that sounds like a message directed at me. There have been many times when a student has said or done something that catches my attention. Educators call this a “teaching moment”, which usually pertains to an adult teaching a student and not the other way around. After the second chorus I decided that I was the student and this was one of those times to be especially attentive. The message eluded me at the time, but in the days that followed their song came back to me over and over again.
A Scenic Area
This was the second day of our trip and Miruya Primary School was the first of several schools we planned to visit. I had been to Migori County in western Kenya one other time and was once again awestruck by the beauty of this area. The hillsides were covered with a checkerboard of fields, looking for all the world like a scene from Ireland or Vermont.
But the moment we stepped onto the school grounds we became aware of the challenges that people living in this rural area face every day. The schoolyard was riddled with rocks, making walking hazardous and a game of tag an impossibility. Classrooms held little more than a chalkboard and rough wooden benches attached to planks that served as desks. Two or three students shared dog-eared books. The windows had glass, but there were no educational posters on the walls and teacher’s desks were non-existent. Most of the 165 students enrolled wore the school uniform of green and blue, but children who had just joined the school wore hand-me-downs or whatever was available at home.
As we moved through the classrooms, children reacted timidly to our small group, some smiling shyly and waving, but most viewing us with wide eyes. It was plain to see that they knew William, who is Chairman of the Board of Management at the school, but we were unfamiliar to them.
Not long after we arrived it was time for lunch. We went behind the school where children were lining up at the new kitchen that EC supporters helped to build last year. We had brought along a “Kateri’s Kitchen” plaque to put up on the building, dedicating this kitchen to the memory of our dear friend Sr. Kateri Walker who was so instrumental in building EC’s orphan feeding program.
The children ate their meal outside, leaning against the wall of the building, some waiting for others to finish so they could share the bowls which at that time were too few for the growing enrollment. I shuddered at the thought of the germs that were also being shared among the children. (Since then, 200 cups and bowls have been purchased and brought to the school.)
The Lord Has Something to Say
After leaving Migori County, William, David, Tracy and I spent the next four days visiting other schools where for the past ten years supporters of Everyone’s Child have provided meals, uniforms, clean water, classrooms and connections with peers in other countries. As we traveled from school to school, I thought about the song I had heard at the Miruya Primary School and wondered what I was meant to learn from those shy children and their little tune.
Everywhere we went we were met with smiles and laughter. Students were pleased to show us what they had learned in school. It was encouraging to see the changes that had taken place, especially as several of the schools we visited had started in rocky fields with less than a hundred students and few resources at hand. Enrollments have increased, and children are happy and proud of their schools, as evidenced by the smiles on their faces and the high scores they receive on their national exams.
Another major change has been the establishment of partnerships between EC and the school administrations. Several of these schools now share the financial responsibility of supporting orphans in their programs with us, a first step in building self-sustaining programs on the ground.
Every Journey Begins with One Step
As our trip came to a close it became clear to me that the message hidden in that song was for us to stay the course and continue building at the Miruya Primary School. The children in this area are poor and need a school within walking distance of their homes. The changes I had seen in the other schools we visited reminded me that every journey begins with one step, and that rather than be discouraged by the enormity of the task, we should be encouraged by what has already been accomplished.
Addressing the Needs
There are many needs to be addressed at Miruya Primary School; the most pressing being to continue providing students with a daily lunch program. The school yard needs to be leveled and a security fence has to be installed. The funds raised with this summer’s Matching Challenge will build a classroom for next year’s seventh graders. The administration expects the enrollment to increase each year, so additional classrooms will need to be built.
The EC Board of Directors and I are excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for us to help the children at this school, with an eye toward building a successful partnership and eventual self-sustainability.
If you would like to contribute to this effort, or to any of our programs serving orphaned and vulnerable children, please click here to make a secure online donation. Feel free to send us an email at email@example.com to learn more about our programs. We’d love to hear from you!
As always, asante sana – thank you very much for your interest in and support for what we do for the orphaned and vulnerable children in our world. You are making the difference that brings the change for them!
Saying goodbye can often be difficult, and this past week has been no exception.
Early in the morning of June 8th, our dear friend and former EC Board member Sr. Kateri (Dyan) Walker passed from this life into an eternity with her beloved Lord.
Sr. Kateri served on the EC Board from our beginnings in 2009 until September 2015 and was a champion of the Orphan Feeding Program, bringing it to where it is today – feeding over 500 children per day at five primary schools, two preschools and several secondary schools in eastern and western Kenya.
Sr. Kateri dedicated her life to prayer and was EC’s designated prayer warrior. Her love and prayers for children in general, but especially for the orphans in Kenya has had a tremendous impact on all of our programs over the years.
Last June we were blessed to dedicate the new kitchen at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto to her honor, naming it “Kateri’s Kitchen”. The July 2018 blog describes her life and the influence she has had on the children we serve. Shortly before she passed, she learned that we will be dedicating a new kitchen at the Miruya Primary School in Kenya to her name as well. As part of her legacy, Everyone’s Child will continue to dedicate to her memory future kitchens that provide meals for orphans.
As I wrote above, even in the best circumstances, saying goodbye is difficult. Sr. Kateri will be greatly missed by those who knew her, loved her, and had the privilege of serving with her. A memorial service will be held for her at her church in Moretown, VT this Friday.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
If you are in a position to contribute to Kateri’s Kitchen, pleaseclick 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!