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.
And just like that – in the blink of an eye – my “Kenya girls” have graduated high school.
If you’ve followed EC’s blogs and announcements over the years, you’ve likely heard about Erin Elwell and Arianna ‘Ari’ Clark. I met them when I visited their eighth grade English class to introduce a pen pal letter writing program between Harwood students and students in Kenya. Both jumped at the chance to partner with me on other EC endeavors, which led to the creation of a club called Harwood Students Making Change (HSMC).
Harwood Students Making Change
HSMC, over the last few years, has implemented three fundraisers and raised nearly $15,000 to assist orphaned high school students in Kenya. The girls implemented a crowdsourcing fundraiser in 2019, followed by an online raffle in 2020. In 2022, HSMC led a Walk for Water fundraiser to raise funds for a well at Miruya Primary School. Because of the leadership demonstrated by these young ladies, there are students across Kenya who have been able to continue their high school education and Kenyan students who have been inspired to support their own peers.
It was incredible to attend Ari and Erin’s high school graduation a few weeks ago and watch them walk across the stage. To celebrate their years of involvement and impact, the EC Board of Directors voted to make them Ambassadors of Everyone’s Child, a title and certificate I had the honor of presenting to each of them after they graduated.
While my “Kenya girls” have graduated from Harwood Union High School, I have no doubt that they will continue to make a difference in the lives of others during their college experiences.
Erin and Ari are prime examples of what a lot of heart and never-ending motivation can accomplish. They have been such an inspiration to me over the years. And do you know the craziest part?
Last month, 43 Kenyan secondary school (high school) students went shopping for new school uniforms. Imagine their joy! There is something to be said for having new clothes. The crisp feel of new fabric, coupled with the clean smell of brand-new clothing can make one feel like a new person.
Orphaned Students in Kenya
These students hail from 13 different schools across Kenya. They all have one thing in common – all have lost one or both parents. The reasons vary: AIDS and COVID-19 have taken some, others have been victims of road accidents, tropical disease, or violence. Most of these children now live with family members, either grandparents, aunts and uncles, or in some cases an older brother or sister. Another commonality they share is their need for support. While family members feel compelled to take in these children, they often lack the means to support their education.
New School Uniforms
These students are accustomed to making things work for them. More often than not, they wear castoffs from other students who have graduated. These are often ill-fitting, dingy, and full of holes. Shoes almost never fit. It’s an embarrassment they’ve learned to live with. For these teenagers, the crisp feel of a new uniform isn’t just about the fit, it’s about fitting in. When I asked William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator how they felt about their new school uniforms, he said they were all “excited, very happy, and thankful to the end!”
EC’s Secondary School Sponsorship Program
The EC Student Sponsorship Program began in 2012 when a group of teachers from Vermont’s Moretown Elementary School, a high school teacher from the town of Orange, VT, the 2012 President of the Waterbury VT Rotary Club, and a Harwood Union High School student traveled together to Kenya. They toured the countryside, taking in the views and meeting teachers and EC supported primary school children. After visiting with students at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Lanet Umoja, they became aware of orphaned students who needed help paying their school fees. Over an evening of chai and chapati, a decision was reached to start the EC Secondary School Sponsorship Program.
A Sponsorship Story
The sponsorship program began with 14 students in one high school. Their stories were wide and varied, all with a shared theme of hardship. Among them was Simon Wanjala, an orphan who was also a victim of the post-election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007. He and his younger brothers were displaced five times in the span of four years. For a time, he lived with family members who mistreated him as he struggled to complete his high school education. Despite these hardships, Simon was able to graduate, mainly because of the EC Sponsorship Program. Today Simon is a husband, a father, and a successful entrepreneur. His full story can be found here.
The EC Sponsorship Program Today
Over 200 orphaned girls and boys have been sponsored through this program since 2012. Currently EC is supporting 51 students who live in eastern and western Kenya and attend 13 different secondary schools. Our goal is to sponsor 24 more students this year, for a total of 75 secondary school students.
Adding Your Support
The cost to sponsor one student is approximately $200 per year. This includes the cost of two new school uniforms per child. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please click HERE to visit our website and learn how you can make a secure donation.
As always, thank you for helping these children reach their potential. Together we can change a generation through education.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 [email protected] for more information on how to provide orphaned students with scholarships.
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.
Sources: Institute of Economic Affairs http://www.ieakenya.or.ke
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.
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.
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.