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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 protected] 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!
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, however, the photo below is worth $5,000! Not long after extending EC’s First Annual Matching Challenge, our fabulous donors came through – meeting the challenge that EC’s Board of Directors presented us with last month! This means that soon there will be a new classroom for students at the Miruya Primary School!
As any elementary school teacher knows, an overflowing classroom means that students and teachers lose the opportunity to connect. In an online article titled “Classroom Overcrowding: It’s Not Just a Numbers Game”, Laura Preble explores the effects of overcrowding in schools. Her research points out that “…overcrowding is seen as the root cause for failed schools as well as teacher dissatisfaction.”
My sense is that happy students are usually found in classrooms where there are happy teachers. We all knows what it feels like to be overwhelmed. There is a tipping point when too many children in one space can cause even the most patient, seasoned teacher to feel inundated. When this happens, children, staff and families suffer.
The plan is to build a new classroom at Miruya Primary School where overcrowding has become an issue for students and teachers alike. William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, recently shared photos of children at the school with me. It’s easy to see that the classrooms are filled beyond capacity, but not for long! Plans for building a new classroom there are underway. Prayerfully the children will be comfortably sitting in their new space by January 2020.
A HUGE Thank You is in order for everyone who contributed, meeting the challenge to get us to $10,000 – the cost of building a new classroom in rural Kenya.
If you still want to give, it’s not too late! Please visit our website to make a secure online donation anytime, or see how and where to send us a check. And as always, asante sana (thank you very much) for your awesome support!
Many blessings always,
I’m super excited to announce that next month I’ll be meeting these students and their teachers when I visit Rongo! I’ll be posting my monthly blog from the beautiful country of Kenya, so stay tuned!
This month’s blog presents a matching challenge to our readers. EC’s Board of Directors is launching a 30-day Matching Challenge for the purpose of building a much needed classroom at the Miruya Primary School (pronounced Me-ru-ya) in Rongo, Kenya.
No Teachers, Books or Learning
When William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator discovered the school three years ago, he found 25 children sitting on a dirt floor, playing games to pass the time. There were no teachers, desks or books. Classrooms were unfinished. Worst of all, no learning was taking place. The government had started building the school but had run out of funds, so parents and guardians scrambled to hire untrained caregivers to stay with their children each day. Payment was iffy, so there were times that these helpers didn’t even show up.
A Thriving School
Today the school is thriving. With the help of a generous grant from CBN’s Orphan’s Promise, teachers have been hired, a kitchen has been built, and the laughter and singing of 129 children can be heard inside and outside the walls of this humble compound. Many of these students are orphaned, most live in poverty. The exciting news is that all of them are learning!
From 25 to 129 students, it’s clear that the school is growing, and more classrooms are needed. Start to finish, each classroom will cost $10,000 to build. Our goal is to begin building a classroom by the end of 2019. This new classroom will cut down on overcrowding and will open the doorway to greater opportunities for learning.
In response to this need, between July 7th – August 5th, the first $5,000 in new donations will be matched by personal contributions from EC’s Board of Directors. If you are in a position to help build this classroom, please click this link to make a secure online donation. Or send your check/money order to Everyone’s Child, P.O. Box 522, Linesville, PA 16424.
As always ~ Asante sana!! Thank you for your support!!