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.
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.
“COVID-19 has done bad things – life has been hard. Since coronavirus started there is no money. People are died. People are loose their jobs. We are no going to school because of COVID-19. Many markets have been closed, but I hope COVID-19 will end. I will go back to school…I pray and I believe. Amen.” A Kenyan student writing to her American friend.
While those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are struggling with election fatigue and the onset of winter, our Kenyan friends are grateful not to be facing an election or cold weather. Both have particularly bad consequences in their country. But the trials they do face every day revolve around the same issue plaguing the rest of the world. Current cases of COVID-19 have risen well above 58,000, compelling President Uhuru Kenyatta to reinstate a nationwide 9 PM curfew. Schools that have been closed since mid-March partially re-opened in mid-October, but only for students in 4th grade, Standard 8 (8th grade), and Form 4 (high school seniors), all who are preparing to take national exams. Students in every other grade know they are missing out on their education, which many of them also know is their ticket to the future.
In October, the Kenyan government made online lessons available nationwide, but access to the internet is needed in order to watch them online. A tv screen is also helpful. Internet is widely available throughout Kenya, but tv screens require electricity, which for close to 73% of the population who live in rural areas, is a challenge to acquire.
Earlier this summer, EC-supported students in western Kenya found an opportunity to study online after EC provided a 32-inch screen and satellite dish so they could watch lessons at a building on William Aludo’s property. On any given week, 16 or more children and young adults show up in small groups to watch lessons online. It’s been a blessing for them to be able to stay connected to their studies, and they are truly happy to be in a learning environment again. A primary student recently told Willam, “I wish my parents could allow me to come every day like I go to school.”
Staying connected to friends near and far has also been an important missing piece for these students. Over the last two months, William and Tracy Guion from the USA teamed up to ask young adults on both sides of the globe to write letters about how the pandemic has affected their every day lives. Kenyan students started by writing and then scanning their letters to students in Vermont. Their stories are poignant, as seen in the quote at the top of this blog and in Judith’s letter to Jonah below:
Jonah and the others who have received letters have yet to write back to their Kenyan friends. But one thing is clear, this pandemic is affecting these Kenyan students as well as countless others in their country. Sharing their experiences is one way of coping.
Everyone’s Child is trying to make a difference every day for students who have lost their parents and are now facing new challenges due to restrictions imposed from COVID-19. Your support will help us to continue providing them with food and hope during these uncertain times. Please consider giving today by visiting www.everyoneschild.net .
Thank you in advance for your help. Every gift counts.
The term “securing the perimeter” refers to an order given to protect an area from outside forces and enemies. When we think of primary schools in Kenya, our mind goes to children laughing and playing, or singing and chanting with their teachers. We don’t usually consider them having to face dangers from outside forces or enemies. But anyone who has traveled in developing nations knows well that such dangers are real. Most are a result of a lack of resources.
A UNESCO book titled “Improving the conditions of teachers and teaching in rural schools across African countries“ provides an “objective assessment of facilities in rural schools [that] reveals a gross and unacceptable state of infrastructural decay.” The findings show that primary schools in particular suffer from these problems, stating that “[t]he vast majority, … have no water, sanitation and electricity …” Notably, the report shares that “[f]ew schools have a perimeter fence or enclosure, making them open to intruders and vandalism.” Even though the report was written in 2011, it still carries weight today, pointing out that a lack of security “…is one of the major reasons for the prevailing crisis in the education system in many African countries.” (p. 68)
A Rural School
A year ago this September I had the opportunity to visit a primary school in rural western Kenya. Getting there was an adventure. Our team drove through the city of Rongo and up into the hills of Migori County, watching the smooth tarmac turn into rough dirt roads. I marveled at our driver David Kiboi’s ability to navigate the rocky terrain leading up to the school. At the same time I marveled at the magnificent scenery. It was beautifully reminiscent of other places I’d been around the world. Every so often I’d ask David to stop so I could try to capture the view, all the while knowing that my cell phone wouldn’t do justice to what I was taking in.
The Miruya Primary School is located an hour and a half from EC Program Coordinator William Aludo’s home in Rongo. The school is at the end of a long driveway, offering small comfort to the administrators who are concerned for the school’s security. For years there has been no gate or fence to keep out intruders.
A group of children were having their lessons outside. We were told they had given up their classroom to provide a meeting room for “the visitors” (us). Our visit was long enough to meet staff and students and see everyone eating lunch. We also saw firsthand some of the challenges these students and their teachers face every day.
The schoolyard was full of rocks, making a trip to the outdoor washroom a treacherous venture. The classrooms had very little in the way of educational materials. There was no designated dining area; instead we saw children lining up along the back wall of the building to eat their meals. And finally, teachers and staff lacked a secure place to plan their lessons and keep their supplies.
Securing the Perimeter
Everyone’s Child has been working hard to upgrade conditions at Miruya Primary School since 2018. That year we raised funds to build a new kitchen (pictured below) in honor of Sr. Kateri Walker. Last summer we held EC’s first matching fundraiser, raising enough funds to build another classroom at this school. Unfortunately, the pandemic prevented the building start date. However, today I am excited to announce that the project is ready to begin, starting with the construction of a fence securing the perimeter of the school grounds.
In the coming year, EC will continue providing food for close to 600 orphaned and vulnerable students in eastern and western Kenya. Nearly 200 of those children attend the Miruya Primary School. We also have plans to continue establishing this school as a safe place for children to learn. If you would like to contribute to these efforts, please consider making a donation by clicking here. Your tax deductible gift goes a long way to providing for Kenya’s youth, making it possible for children all across this beautiful country to be educated safely.
As always, asante sana, deep thanks for keeping these children and their future in your hearts and prayers. They truly do belong to all of us.
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.
Last month, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and a global cry for justice, students sponsored by Everyone’s Child were also facing a challenging time. After schools closed in mid-March, they waited anxiously for almost four months to find out when they could safely return. Last week they learned that the government won’t be opening schools until September. The number of coronavirus cases in Kenya has grown from just seven in mid-March to just under 5,000 at the end of June 2020. Students and their families are now being told that the decision to re-open schools is tentative and will be based on the countrywide status of COVID-19.
School schedules in Kenya are based on an agrarian calendar, with month-long breaks occurring every three months to allow for the tilling, planting and harvesting of crops. But due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the expected month-long break in April turned into three months, and by the time schools re-open it will have been almost half a year since students will have been in a classroom with each other. The Kenyan government has organized lessons on television and via the internet, but in a country where 73% of the population live in rural settings, access to television or internet is not always possible.
The other challenge these students face is that of having enough food to survive during a time when many markets have closed and breadwinners are out of work. All students are guaranteed at least one meal a day while they are in school, but with school closures, that daily meal is no longer available. Also, in recent months the country has seen its worst locust infestation in 70 years. To make matters worse, lockdown restrictions have prevented farmers from protecting their crops from these voracious eaters. Gone unchecked, the locusts will cause catastrophic food shortages throughout the region for months to come.
A Different Kind of Injustice
Life often isn’t fair to the orphans we serve. These children suffer from a different kind of injustice – also resulting from prejudice and ignorance. Rather than being judged for the color of their skin, theirs is the injustice of suddenly being placed at the bottom of a totem pole because one or both of their parents died from HIV/AIDS. This stigmatizes and marginalizes them, and often causes them to become outcasts within their own family. Pity is replaced by silent suspicion, reminding them that the disease that took their parents could also infect them and those who have taken them in.
Not long after schools closed in March, knowing that we were in a challenging time, EC’s Board of Directors decided to direct funds toward providing EC sponsored students with enough food to survive during this pandemic. As a result, during April and May, EC staff and volunteers held two food distributions for over 600 orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya. To a certain extent, this effort seemed like a drop in the bucket. But to each child who received a bag of food, it meant so much more. It meant that they would eat without having to worry about where the next meal would come from. And perhaps even more importantly, it meant that they would be able to contribute to the family that had taken them in after losing their parents.
They Belong to All of Us
Kinship is what happens when we remember that we all belong to each other. Everyone’s Child stands by the precept that the children we serve belong to all of us. These children are the adults of tomorrow. If we can value and treat them with care and concern, then the hope is that they will do the same for those who come after them.
To that end, we have reached out to the students at each of the six schools where we currently offer support to make sure they and their households have food during the outbreak that has rocked our world. Contributors have generously supported the decision of our Board, making it possible for hundreds of children and their families to have food during this time.
Justice for the Orphan
The prophet Isaiah tells us to “seek justice, encourage the oppressed and defend the cause of the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17). Justice may seem to be somewhat elusive these days, and the coronavirus doesn’t seem to be going away. But if in some small way we can reach a few of those who are being negatively affected by current circumstances, then we are all better off for having done so.
Our plan is to continue distributing food while schools in Kenya are closed. If you would like to join us in our efforts to help EC sponsored students get through this pandemic, please consider a gift to Everyone’s Child. Your donation will feed, educate and connect these children, and will give them a chance to discover what is important in life. Please click here to make a secure donation to Everyone’s Child.
As always, asante sana – great thanks for reminding these children that they do belong to all of us.
Early yesterday morning I opened my email to find an encouraging message from James Maina, the Head Teacher (Principal) at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Lanet Umoja, outside of Nakuru, Kenya. Today I want to share that message with our readers.
The Current Climate
The current climate in Kenya is similar to that of other developing nations. The government has responded to the coronavirus in much the same way that governments have all around the world. Schools were closed in mid-March, and non-essential businesses were shuttered not long afterward. People are told to adhere to the rules of the lockdown or risk receiving a beating from local police forces. Street vendors who rely on customers purchasing fruits and vegetables have been forcibly made to stop selling produce. Open markets have also been closed, leaving millions without access to food for themselves and their families. In a country of over 50 million people, there have been 216 cases of COVID-19, with 9 deaths and 41 recoveries to date.
Bags of Food
Everyone’s Child has been doing all we can to provide food to orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya during this global pandemic. The response from our donors has been tremendous. Over the past several weeks people have sent donations and prayers for those who are struggling to find food as a result of all the shutdowns. Last week we learned that the administrators in each of the five schools where we support students had made plans to work with their local governments to distribute food to these children.
An Encouraging Message
As I stated above, I received an encouraging message in my inbox yesterday. Here is a snapshot of what it said:
“Greetings Sister Ruth. We are grateful to God that we have continued receiving his Grace and Mercy despite the havoc that has been caused by Covid-19 across the world. We are delighted to report to you that today 13/04/2020 (Easter Monday) at 2.00 pm we have managed to distribute foodstuff to our orphans, courtesy of Everyone’s Child.
The students were very happy for the hand of Mercy and really blessed you and Everyone’s Child at large.”
Yours sincerely, James Maina Ng’ang’a
The last sentence in Mr. Maina’s letter touch something deep inside of me. I’ve gotten to know many of these students over the years. Stories of their hardships have made an indelible mark on my conscience, reminding me to be grateful for what I have and to do whatever I can to alleviate their suffering. I am so thankful to see that our plans in this latest endeavor have proven effective!
William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, has continued to send me photos this week. These newest ones are pictures of students at the Nakuru Teacher’s and Kitere Primary Schools receiving bags of food. Needless to say, seeing these makes my heart soar!
Everyone’s Child has been serving the needs of orphans and vulnerable children since 2010. We are able to do this primarily because of the tremendous support we receive from people like you who want to help. While education is our primary vision, we have always recognized the importance of good nutrition as a critical component for learning.
These students need our assistance, now more than ever. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please click here to make a secure online donation. By doing your part, these children will continue to receive what they need to get them through this crisis.
As always, asante sana (deep thanks) for your encouragement and support. It means everything.
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 email@example.com.
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.
For those of us living in the developed world, the promise of an education is something we own. We can bank on it. In fact, very few of us ever consider what it would be like not to have access to primary or secondary (high school) education.
Opportunities to Learn
When I think about my years as an elementary school student, I remember jump rope games and skinned knees. I remember circling pictures in a row that matched pictures in the left column. Learning how to write my name in cursive was another milestone. My high school memories include learning about Argentina in a 9th grade Current Events class and the smell of formaldehyde in Biology. I remember parallelograms in Geometry and left hand turns in Driver’s Ed. There were so many opportunities to learn.
However, for many children and families living in Africa, the promise of an education is not guaranteed.
Last January, an article in the Africa Report stated: “[a]ccording to UNESCO, in sub-Saharan Africa one-fifth of children between six and 11 are out of school, one-third between 12 and 14, and 60% between 15 and 17. Though the reasons are various, ranging from conflict to corruption to lack of provision, poverty is now identified as an overwhelming factor.”
Today, free primary school education is legally guaranteed in 42 of 54 African nations*. Primary education was made free to all Kenyan students in 2003, and in 2017 the Kenyan government introduced free secondary education. A catalyst for free schooling in Kenya began with the dedication of organizations like EC who are committed to making education available to Kenyan children.
The Cost of an Education
For both primary and secondary school, Kenyan parents are still required to pay for school lunch programs and uniforms, a cost that puts a financial strain on many families. For children without parents, the promise of an education becomes even more elusive. Children who have been orphaned are usually taken care of by family members who often can’t afford additional costs. The hope they once had becomes uncertain, and their potential for a successful future is at risk.
Lunch programs typically cost $12 a month per student, and school uniforms cost about $60 annually. These amounts certainly seem affordable, especially for those who are used to paying high fees for children’s programs. But for families who are subsisting on less than $25 per month, these costs can be prohibitive. Sadly, Kenyan students who don’t have lunch money or a proper uniform are suspended from school. Furthermore, preschool in Kenya is not free, and many families wind up paying 20% of their annual income to cover this expense.
The Promise of An Education
In 2010, Everyone’s Child was established to provide an education for Kenyan children who had lost their parents. Since then, thousands of children have received an education, thanks to the generosity of donors who understand their plight. What this has done for them is immeasurable. It has given them a future full of hope.
Today, over 600 orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya are supported by EC. These students range between the ages of 3 and 18. All are either orphaned or belong to families that are unable to afford school fees.
Ways of Contributing
The good news is that we have found a way to help these students. EC’s sponsorship program pays school fees for orphaned and vulnerable secondary students based on donations we receive. The Orphan Feeding Program is sustained by people committed to making sure that orphaned primary students receive a daily meal while they are in school.
Many EC donors choose to give on an ongoing or monthly basis. A continuing contribution makes it possible for many children to enjoy their education without the stress of being sent home for lack of lunch money or improper attire.
If you would like to become a monthly supporter of EC, please click on this link and select the second “Donate” option. One time donations are also welcome and a vital part of maintaining EC’s sponsorship program.
As I look ahead to the rest of 2020, I am anticipating a year of fulfilled dreams and expectations for children who have lost hope. I am also looking forward to working alongside people who have a heart for children who want to be educated but lack the resources for that opportunity.
Thank you so much for joining us in this effort of giving every child the promise of an education.
What you do to the least of them, you do to me. Matthew 25:40
*At the writing of this blog, I was unable to find statistics comparing African countries that do and don’t provide free secondary education.