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The Promise of an Education

The Promise of an Education

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.

The Promise of an education: young Kenyan girl on a swing
Faith on a swing

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.

The Statistics

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.

The Promise of an education: Providing scholarships for students like this one sitting against a tire
Losing a parent causes many challenges for young students

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.

Everyone's Child secondary sponsorship students
EC sponsored students from Bishop Donovan Secondary School

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.

The promise of an education: orphaned preschoolers in Kenya
Orphaned preschoolers at Lanet Umoja Preschool

Looking Ahead

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.   

Blessings,

Ruth

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.

Providing Scholarships

Providing Scholarships

Supporters of Everyone’s Child

have been providing scholarships in Kenya for orphaned high school students since 2012.  On average, 14 students per year have had an opportunity to receive an education through EC’s Student Scholarship Program.

Common Denominator

These students come from a variety of backgrounds, but the common denominator for all of them is that they have lost either one or both parents.  The reasons for their losses vary.  “According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2016, the top leading causes of death were pneumonia, followed by malaria, cancer, HIV/AIDS, anemia, heart disease and lastly tuberculosis in that order…”  Road accidents are another more sudden and unanticipated cause of death in Kenya.

Providing scholarships for children who have lost one or both parents, such as this lone child by a post
Children who lose a parent face many challenges

No matter how it happens, the impact is universally the same for everyone coping with the loss of a parent.  For adults, there is often great sorrow, confusion and a feeling of powerlessness.  Children who lose one or both parents experience those same feelings. They are also forced to confront challenges that they are usually unprepared to face, mostly dealing with basic survival and completing their education.

The Cost of Education

In Kenya, most orphans are placed in the care of family members who often lack the resources to help them complete their education.  Orphaned children are frequently sent home from school if they are unable to pay school fees or fulfill uniform requirements.  However, in 2018, the Kenyan government made it possible for students to attend high school free of charge.  This unprecedented move made it more affordable for children to complete their education.  Nevertheless, there are some fees that the government does not pay.

Currently Kenyan students pay $108 per year out of pocket to attend secondary school.   For many of us this cost would not be considered an issue.  But $36 per term is prohibitive for these orphaned children and their adoptive families.  The cost of their required uniform is between $50 – $75, another expense that they are typically unable to pay.

EC is providing scholarships for students like this young boy who struggles with school fees and uniform costs
This young boy struggles with school fees and uniform costs

Providing Scholarships

Five students recently submitted scholarship applications to EC for the 2019 school year.  Their stories are heart rending.  I’ve shared some of their requests below so our readers can see the situations they face:

Joseph – 17; no parents

My school fee is paid by my brother with a lot of challenges because he has no job. My parents passed in 2003. The challenges that I face are all about school fees and some of school uniforms.

Carolyne – 15; no parents

I am an orphan living with my grandmother and my younger sister. My grandmother is unable to pay both my school fees and for my younger sister. She does not have a suitable job but just runs a small kiosk selling sukumu wiki (cooked kale). I kindly ask for a scholarship from Everyone’s Child, and if you accept God will bless you.

Michael – 14; mother living, father dead

My main aim for applying for a scholarship is as follows: my father passed on year 2005 in a road accident, leaving behind a widow and four siblings. Due to the situation my mother decided to stop renting home and we all shifted to our grandmother’s home. After a year my mum faced a hardship and disappeared and left us under our grandmother’s care. My grandmother is suffering and old. Food and school fees are a big problem to me. I am always in and out of school.

Where you come in

Everyone’s Child relies solely on donations from individuals to help support students like Michael, Carolyne and Joseph.  If you are in a position to contribute to their education, please click here to make a secure donation.  Feel free to email us at everyoneschildren@gmail.com for more information on how to provide orphaned students with scholarships.

providing scholarships: Tracy Braun from EC helping a student in Kenya
EC Director Tracy Braun helps a student in Kenya

As always, thank you for making life easier for these children who are relying on Everyone’s Child to help them with challenges that children should not have to face alone.

Blessings,

Ruth

Sources: Institute of Economic Affairs  http://www.ieakenya.or.ke

EC’s Annual Appeal

EC’s Annual Appeal

The end of the year is here and EC’s annual appeal has been sent out far and wide.  So far the response has been tremendous! Our goal is to raise $25,000 by the end of 2018.  As of this writing, our supporters have contributed over $14,000 in the space of one month.  We are well on our way to meeting our goal!

A Year of Growth

I am amazed when I look back at all that has happened in 2018. This has been an expanding year for Everyone’s Child.  With your help we have provided over 500 children with a daily meal in five different locations, given an education to 15 orphaned secondary students, and sponsored a Mentorship Program for orphaned and vulnerable teens.  Together we also built Kateri’s Kitchen and dug a well for an impoverished village in northern India.

This year we saw the establishment of the EC Kenya Board of Directors, and welcomed Jedidah Kuria – a graduate of our sponsorship program to our Kenya staff.  We received a grant from CBN allowing us to pay teachers at Miruya Primary School in western Kenya.  Those of you who follow this monthly blog have seen the photos and read the stories. Hopefully, you’ve felt the hope and love that emanates from each posting.

a good year: providing a need for a meal for a child in Kenya
providing a meal for a child in Kampi Ya Moto

Your Support

It takes a lot of effort to build something – whether that “thing” is a physical building, a program, or a relationship.  EC’s Board of Directors and I spend a lot of time planning, praying about and discussing the direction for this non-profit.  I believe that the same can be said for those of you who support what we do.  Your contributions are not something we take lightly, so it is with great heart and much gratitude that I offer my thanks to you in this season.  We understand that there are many organizations doing wonderful things for children all over this world, which makes your support that much more meaningful to us.

EC's Annual Appeal: Where we are: World map of EC locations
World map of EC locations

During this season of giving

I am writing to ask you to please continue working alongside us as we serve the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future. If you have not already given, you can learn how to make your contribution by visiting our donate page.

All donations are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support. With your help we will continue changing a generation through education.

With warmest wishes for a blessed holiday,

Ruth

The Orphan’s Foot Soldier: Tiring but Worth it

The Orphan’s Foot Soldier: Tiring but Worth it

Getting There

As the foot soldier for Everyone’s Child (EC) in Kenya, I always look forward to my monthly trips to Nakuru with joyful expectancy. The journey to Nakuru takes about six hours by public transportation (via matatus and bodaboda traveling on the back of a bicycle) from my home in Migori County. I normally change vehicles twice on the way. The trips are physically tiring, but the satisfaction from serving the orphans makes it all worthwhile.

William Aludo

William Aludo on the way to Nakuru in a matatu

Serving There

EC is currently providing meals to a total of 350 orphaned students in three schools within Nakuru. The schools are Lanet Umoja Primary School, Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School and the Lord Ranjuera Primary School.

Unlike the first two schools, breakfast and lunch is served at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto throughout the year due to the desolation in this arid region of Kenya.  This meal program is more important than ever for these children as the drought this year has made food scarcity the number one issue in their lives. Here, food supplies get replenished on a monthly basis. My responsibilities include procuring the food supplies and arranging the logistics of getting the same to the school.  I also ensure that the lunch programs at Lanet Umoja Primary School and Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School are being conducted for the orphans in those schools, visiting the students and staff in those schools several times throughout the year as well.

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Picking up the food at Crater Flour Mills in Nakuru

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Eager helpers unloading the truck at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School  in Kampi Ya Moto

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Children receiving their breakfast in Kampi Ya Moto

Being There

At the Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School (BEDSS) in Lanet Umoja, EC is currently sponsoring 15 orphaned students in Forms 2, 3, and 4 (sophomores, juniors and seniors). During my first visit this year, I made sure that the Term 1 school fees were paid for each of these children so they would be able to enjoy learning without the interruption of being sent home for lack of school fees. The six Form 2 students whose applications were approved for an EC scholarship this year are pictured below. Getting these students to Nakuru town to be measured for new school uniforms is part of my to-do list for next month’s trip.

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Form 2 orphans at Bishop Donovan Secondary School

Mentoring There

I’m excited to be starting the second year of EC’s Mentorship Program for the orphaned juniors and seniors at Bishop Donovan Secondary School. This program is aimed at assisting these students in making good life and career choices. We meet on a monthly basis, holding our second session early this February.

During that meeting, I invited Simon Wanjala to meet and encourage the students in the program. Simon is an alumnus of BEDSS and one of the first beneficiaries of the EC Scholarship program. He lost his parents when he was a young teenager and was left to raise his younger brothers while remaining in school himself.  Despite these challenges his teachers remarked that his attitude was always positive.  After graduating from BEDSS Simon found a job at a nearby primary school helping students who were struggling in class.  Simon understands loss very well and knows firsthand how difficult it is to be a child, an orphan, a student, and the sole bread winner in a family.  He talked about the hardship he experienced as a young adult, telling the students that he never lost his faith in God,  and sharing with them how he continues to experience God’s providence in his life.

Simon Wanjala

Simon Wanjala – former BEDSS student and beneficiary of the EC Student Scholarship Program

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Simon meeting with the BEDSS Mentorship Program students

Blessed There

I am coming up to my one-year anniversary as Program Coordinator for Everyone’s Child in Kenya.  My gratitude and appreciation goes to those who support EC financially, through prayers and otherwise in order to make my monthly trips to Nakuru possible. It is a blessing to be a foot soldier serving these orphaned students. I am always thrilled!

Keep blessed!

William Aludo

PS  If you would like to help the orphans that William sees every month, please consider giving to Everyone’s Child by clicking hereYour gift will be gratefully applied to either the Orphan’s Lunch Program or to the EC Student Scholarship Program and will have an immediate impact on the lives of the orphans we serve in Kenya.  As always, Asante Sana!!  (Thank you very much!!)

Escaping Poverty

Escaping Poverty

The only opportunity they have of escaping poverty is through education.

Those words were seared into my consciousness as I conducted my doctoral research for the University of Vermont in 2007 – riding around Kenya boda-boda style on the back of my interpreter’s bicycle, meeting with villagers and teachers in Lanet in order to explore the connection between the primary school and the surrounding village. I was learning about the way this relationship affected the reciprocal development of one with the other.

In looking at the ways that the community affected the school, I examined how the villagers supported the school. From the school’s perspective, I pursued questions related to improved housing, the creation of new employment, and the general quality of life in the village. As I interviewed parents, shopkeepers and teachers in this poverty-stricken area, one after another strongly supported the existence of the school, saying that the only hope that the next generation had of escaping the poverty that surrounded them would be through receiving an education.

I agreed with them, but wondered about the older children I saw walking on the road or working in the fields, kids who were obviously too old for elementary school but too young to be a part of the workforce. I learned that they were mainly orphans, children whose parents had died from AIDS, or car accidents (a primary killer in Kenya), or tribal warfare. Most of them lived with family members, but these families were already paying for other children to attend secondary school and couldn’t afford to pay school fees for another child who wasn’t a part of their immediate family. The big question that kept coming back to me was what will happen to these children if they don’t have the opportunity to receive an education?

Primary school is free in Kenya, but secondary school is not.  For many Kenyan youth, my question was moot. These children are from families who can afford to send them to secondary school. But for hundreds of orphans, 8th grade is the end of the line. These children wind up at home caring for their younger cousins, or in the fields alongside adults, tilling the soil for the rest of their lives. Opportunity and hope snuffed out at the age of 12. I knew there had to be a way to help these children, but didn’t have the resources to make it happen.

Toward the end of 2009 our church built a secondary school next to Lanet Umoja Primary School and named it Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School (BEDSS) after the late Bishop Edward V. Donovan of Pittsburgh, PA. The school opened with 75 students, 5 of whom were orphaned. In the following years the enrollment grew, and each year a few more orphans joined the ranks. They were being supported by funds raised at Juniper’s Fare, our church–run restaurant in Waterbury, Vermont, but resources there were hitting the proverbial ceiling. In 2012, two years after EC was incorporated and established as a 501(c) (3), I conducted the first EC School Tour with several teachers from a local primary school in Vermont. They were amazed at what they saw, both in the schools and villages. At the end of the trip each one of them pledged to support between one and as many as seven high school students who otherwise would not have been able to go to school. The BEDSS sponsorship program had begun! Since 2012,  12-orphaned students have had the opportunity to graduate from BEDSS, receiving a high school education, thanks mainly to the generosity of people like you who are reading this blog.

This December, two of the students we have been supporting will graduate from BEDSS. These students have also been a part of EC’s first Mentorship Program for secondary students. I asked William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator to get each of them a gift, a token showing that we are proud of them for completing the mentoring program as well as four years of higher school. He asked them what they could use. Apart from asking for more education (driving lessons and additional schooling for computer skills), Alice said she needed a basic cell phone, and Anthony said he could use a pair of shoes. William was able to bring a phone with him to Nakuru last week, but as the photos show below, at the time of his visit he had not yet gone shopping for shoes with Anthony.

Anthony receiving his Certificate of Completion of the EC Mentorship Program
Anthony receiving his Certificate of Completion of the EC Mentorship Program

Alice receiving her certificate of completion from William Aludo
Alice receiving her certificate of completion from William Aludo

I am humbled by their requests and wish in my heart that we could do more for them. Ultimately however, I’m grateful that we have had the opportunity to give them something that they will have for the rest of their lives. Each of them has gained skills, relationships, and understandings that would not have been theirs if their only choice had been to stay at home.

Education in and of itself is not THE answer. But when a child is taught to read, he or she can make up their own mind about some of life’s bigger questions, such as who to vote for, or how to pursue their life’s passion. The greatest gift we can give any child is to provide them with the tools they will need to find success, an opportunity to escape the poverty that is so pervasive in their world. To that end we have created the EC Student Sponsorship Program that funds the education of any orphaned student attending Bishop Donovan Secondary School.

In 2017 there will be 8 orphaned students in their final year at Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School.  Their tuition costs are $250 per student.  If you would like to help them to complete their education, please CLICK HERE to make a secure online donation, or send your check or money order to Everyone’s Child, Inc., 19304 Cole Road, Conneautville, PA 16406. (Please note that this is a new address as I moved to PA in June!)  Your gift makes a huge impact in the lives of these young men and women who are just starting their life’s adventure.  By giving them the gift of an education, you are giving them a chance to escape poverty in their lifetime.

With warmest wishes,

Ruth Young, Ed.D.

Executive Director

Alice with her new phone
Alice with her new phone!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela