Phase Two Finished!
Phase Two of the Lanet Umoja Preschool building project is finished! This past May I wrote about the completion of Phase One of this project, and now I am thrilled to be able to report that not only has our goal has been reached, but that it has been completed ahead of schedule. Phase Two began in mid-June, not long after the first classroom was finished, and in early August the classroom was ready for the students to use. The word from Kenya is that people passing by have commented over and over again about the beautiful building in their village. My heart is overjoyed at the sight of the pictures, and I am so looking forward to the day when I can see it in person.
Waiting, praying and hoping
I was a head teacher and director of a large Christian preschool program in rural Vermont for over 20 years, and during that time I saw many changes to our program both in terms of demographics and physical building structure. We expanded our space three times and moved from being a small preschool serving church families to a primary school program that reached out to families in the Mad River Valley and beyond. Every time there was a building project the children, staff and families waited, prayed and hoped, and waited some more for the day that we were able to finally move in. I know and understand firsthand what the families, staff and children in Lanet Umoja have been experiencing with regard to both Phase One and Phase Two of this project.
But in recent months this community has also experienced a tremendous loss. The tragedy that took place at the church next door in June shocked the community and destroyed the hopes and dreams of a family. Jane Peter, the child who died during the fire was a preschooler, and many hearts were broken at the loss of her life. The church sanctuary was also destroyed in the fire, so the people in that area now use the new classrooms to hold their Sunday services. In the face of this horrific event, we are grateful that the people of Lanet Umoja have a place where people can gather with their children to support one another, find hope and look forward to the future together.
It’s no coincidence that the Kenyan word “Umoja” means “unity” or “together”. The people I have gotten to know in Lanet Umoja are the same ones who came together to start “Everyone’s Child” – the program that supported the orphans attending their school by providing for their needs throughout the school year. This unprecedented act of kindness caught my attention in 2007 and was the spark that inspired the beginning of Everyone’s Child, Inc. in the USA. I have watched these people come together since 1997 to build, to worship and to support one another. That spirit is still very much alive today, and I am no less amazed to see people coming together now than I was when I first traveled to Kenya. It’s the spirit of “harambee”, which is the rallying cry of Kenyans telling people to “pull together” to get something done. The people I have met are resilient, compassionate, strong, and they definitely get the job done.
The work goes on
The local Kenyan government has agreed to take on Phase Three by adding one more classroom to the preschool. When that is finished we will come together to have a dedication in usual Kenyan style – with great fanfare, many speeches, loud music, lots of friends and wonderful food. I can’t wait for that celebration!!
In the meantime, Everyone’s Child continues to provide over 300 meals each day to orphaned students with our lunch program, and currently we are helping 12 high school aged orphaned students attend school. Your gift makes a difference in the lives of many children who would otherwise find it exceptionally difficult to attend school. Please consider sending your tax-deductible donation to help support these programs by clicking here to make a secure tax-deductible donation today.