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?
Not so long ago, William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator in Kenya, sent me photos of students from Miruya Primary School. This is the school where EC recently built a new classroom. The children were collecting water from a muddy river William called the “seasonal” Kaboro River.
The next batch of photos featured children walking along a dusty road with large jerry cans on their heads. These cans were filled with the water they had just collected.
From a cultural standpoint, it isn’t so strange to see children carrying or collecting water in Kenya. Water is necessary to live, and most if not all of these children live in homes where there is no running water. The responsibility of collecting water is often left to children. But to our North American eyes, the sight of a young child scooping muddy water from a shallow river gives us pause.
Waterborne diseases are the number one leading cause of death in Kenyan children under the age of five. Among the more popular solutions to the problem of unsafe drinking water are water filtration systems, rain harvesting systems, and borehole drilling.
Providing Clean Water
Everyone’s Child is committed to providing potable water at schools where we support students. In 2014, EC partnered with Christian Broadcasting Network to install a rain harvesting system at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya. Before the system was in place, children were getting water from a muddy river that was a two-mile walk from their village. The mortality rate in that area was also extremely high among young children.
Today the red dust that dominated the area around this primary school has been replaced by a garden, and joy can be seen on the faces of all the children.
How You Can Help
Explorations into the provision of clean water at the Miruya Primary School have begun. In the coming months we will be launching a campaign to raise funds for this effort. If you would like to add your support, please click here to make a secure donation. Our goal is to ensure that the children and staff at the Miruya Primary School will have clean drinking water by this time next year. Stay tuned for more updates on this project!
It has been another exciting year for Everyone’s Child! EC’s programs have grown in Kenya as well as India this year, resulting in the needs of orphans and vulnerable children across the world being met. The Board of Directors and I owe a large debt of gratitude to you, our faithful contributors, for your steadfast support for our programs. Here is a brief synopsis of what has happened this year:
Orphan Feeding Program
EC now partners with school administrations in five different locations to provide over 550 meals a day to orphans and vulnerable students across Kenya. This year we added 138 students from the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya to our numbers. The average monthly cost of this program is $1,500.00.
This past year, the Kenyan government made the wonderful decision to provide free education to secondary students. Families are still required to pay for their children’s lunches and uniforms, but costs are now lowered to $150 per student. In the coming year this change will allow us to help orphaned preschool children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend preschool. The cost to give the gift of an education to an orphaned preschooler or secondary student is just $150 per child per year. Our goal is to offer scholarships to at least five orphaned preschoolers and 15 secondary students during the 2019 school year, for an annual cost of $3,000.
Miruya Primary School: This year, we were blessed to receive a sizable grant from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). We combined this funding with our own to cover needs at the Miruya Primary School, the newest school in our program. We were able to pay for a lunch program, uniforms, teacher salaries, three latrines and a kitchen, as well as books and equipment for the children and staff at this primary school. In 2019, our goal is to continue supporting them and also to provide them with a well and an Administration Block. The total cost of this endeavor is $30,000.00.
EC Kenya Board of Directors: This fall, a group of eight people from eastern and western Kenya met to establish the first official EC Kenyan Board of Directors. The formation of this board allows EC to register as an NGO in Kenya, making it possible for them to raise funds and increase their operations throughout that country. This group is made up of people from different tribes, making this an exciting and historic event for EC. Everyone’s Child is now becoming a national program that encompasses the whole of Kenya.
Northern and Southern India
“When the water gushed out of the pump … we saw joyful tears in the eyes of the children and families. These children were thirsty and starving, and were suffering without water, but you met their needs. Truly the Lord is great.”
Pastor Kishor of Orissa, India
This year we learned about an orphanage in Orissa, which is in northern India. Their water pump had broken, and the children were suffering from dysentery and other water borne illnesses. Our supporters responded immediately, one in particular saying that high on their “bucket list” was giving a drink to those who were thirsty. In 2019, we hope to help fund a lunch program for these children. We also plan to continue partnering with Abundant Life Care Ministries in Hyderabad, India, providing education to the orphans in their care. With your help we can continue supporting these programs. Annual cost: $2,000.
During this season of giving and gratitude,
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. 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.
This past June I wrote about a donation that came from a relative of mine who was checking things off a bucket list. The item was “I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink”. Without even knowing it, this relative was quenching the thirst of many children.
A Board Decision
At about the same time, the EC Board of Directors had decided to provide a hand pump to a ministry serving children in Orissa, which is in northern India. This ministry has been faced with tremendous persecution, making it very difficult to support these children. They had asked us for help with a hand pump, nutritional care and educational supplies, so our first effort was to provide them with a hand pump and repair their bore well. Our hope was that the pump and repaired well would prevent the sickness and disease they have all been dealing with from drinking dirty river water.
Checking things off our list
My relative’s bucket list inspired others to give, and as a result, I am overwhelmingly excited to report that this item can now be checked off our list too. In mid-June the funds were sent to India, and a month later I received an email and a video from India, showing that the water pump is now in place. The video is below, followed by the portions of the email:
“Hallelujah thank you Lord Jesus Christ for this water facilities to these children and families. Lord we bless Everyone’s Child for bringing blessings to these vulnerable children we serve in Orissa.”
“When the water gushed out of the pump … we saw joyful tears in the eyes of the children and families. Truly the Lord is great. See the children how they are very very happy and grateful to you and to the Lord. They prayed. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for this wonderful water facilities you provided to bless these children and families. These children were thirsty and starving and were suffering without water but you met the needs thank you Lord for giving us provisions to serve these tribal children in Orissa. Amen.”
Connecting others to the need
I recently visited the bank where funds for the water pump were transferred to India. The teller who had helped with the transaction was there, so I had an opportunity to share the video and texts with him. He was visibly moved, and then asked me if I would be able to share the video and text with him.
His reason was simple. His children recently had friends over for the evening, and when all the soda pop, bottled water and juice was gone, they found that their only option for quenching their thirst was to drink water from the tap. “I want to show them this,” he said, “because I told them that there was plenty of good drinking water right there at the sink. I said that the local Water Authority had deemed it safe to drink, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to drink it. They need to see what other people deal with when it comes to having clean drinking water.”
Quenching the thirst
Looking back, it seems that many of my blogs have been about water. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Water is one of the most needed elements in our world – for people, plants, animals – in fact, for all living things. And yet, potable water makes up a very small fraction of all the water on the earth. According to National Geographic*, “While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.”
We all have thirst. Quenching that thirst is a driving force in life. For so many of us, having potable water is a non-issue. However, for every one for whom it is a non-issue, there are at least three who struggle with access to clean drinking water. The numbers are overwhelming. 844 million people on the earth today lack sanitary water**.
Everyone’s Child is committed to providing clean drinking water for any of the schools we help to build. Beyond that, we will do all we can to make clean water available to children in developing nations.
I am grateful for the privilege of partnering with so many of you to take care of this and many other needs in our world, especially when children are involved.
Please click here if you would like to support our programs in Kenya and India. Your tax-deductible gift will help with educating, feeding and quenching the thirst of children we serve in these countries.
As always, thank you and bless you for seeing, understanding and responding to the need. I pray that your hearts and buckets will be full to overflowing time and time again.
Providing for needs is constant in life. We have basic needs that deal with our survival as humans: water, food, and shelter. Then there are less-essential needs, such as designer jeans, computers and dirt bikes. What you have been blessed with in life defines your perspective on your own personal sense of needs and provision for those needs.
A relative of mine recently decided to give a recurring donation to Everyone’s Child. I asked where the donation should be directed, and received the most amazing response, copied below:
“My goal was to donate enough to bring water to a school in a year…I went online to learn more and saw the need for water. It was something on my bucket list that has not been fulfilled. Here is my bucket list:
I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
I was in awe of my relatives’ ability to use Matthew 25:35-40 to identify a selfless list of objectives for life. These objectives were all about providing for needs. I wrote the following reply:
“Yours is a more than worthy bucket list. Thank you for sharing it with me. As to your dream of bringing water to a school in a year’s time, we are always on the lookout for that need. After walking to that muddy river in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya it has become my personal quest.”
I was thirsty
I went on to say that the EC Board of Directors had just recently decided to provide a hand pump to a ministry in northern India. I mentioned that this ministry is providing for the needs of 85 children, but they have been faced with tremendous persecution, making it very difficult to support these children. They had asked us for help with a hand pump, nutritional care and educational supplies, so our first effort was to provide them with a hand pump and repair their bore well. This pump and repaired well will hopefully prevent the sickness and disease they have all been dealing with from drinking dirty river water.
I ended my email by saying how glad I was to be able to participate in this bucket list, made only more meaningful by the fact that I was proud to be related to this special person.
Providing for Needs
Providing for needs includes the act of caring for and about others. Sometimes that act is a prayer, other times it involves an action or a financial gift. Here at Everyone’s Child we appreciate contributions of all kinds.
Love is the defining expression in my relative’s bucket list. Please click here to give to someone who will greatly appreciate your gift of love.
“Maji” is Swahili for “water”. Here in the USA we are rarely without it. With it we steep our tea and brush our teeth, water the lawn and rinse off the dog, brew our coffee and wash the car, launder our clothes and cook our dinner. When we’re thirsty, we trust that a turn of the wrist will result in a drink of cool, clear water.
In many places in our world, “maji” does not magically appear. Not clean water at any rate. For years, the children at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya – many of them orphaned – had the daily task of walking a hot and dusty two-mile trek to a muddy river to collect water that was then used for drinking and cooking. The water was usually boiled before it was consumed, but the mere fact that the mortality rate in this area was 50% or higher leads me to believe that boiling alone didn’t remove the incidence of water borne illnesses.
Kampi Ya Moto
Kampi Ya Moto is an arid region of Kenya that literally translates to “Camp of Fire”. Many of EC’s supporters have walked with the children to the river in this area on visits to their school. In a word, it’s repulsive. The water is brown, and the shore is filled with mud-pocked holes made by the hooves of the cows and other animals that shared this watering hole with members of the village.
During the summer of 2013, Orphan’s Promise of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) partnered with Everyone’s Child to install a rain harvesting system for the school. The impact has been nothing short of revolutionary. Children and teachers no longer spend hours a day walking to and from the river to get water. Mary Cheshire, the Head Teacher at the school has reported that overall the children’s health has markedly improved. And their garden is amazing.
Not too long ago, on a beautiful sunny morning, I had just brewed my first cup of tea when my phone began to ding. Simon Wanjala, one of EC’s Kenyan staff members, was sending me photos and videos from the school in Kampi Ya Moto. It was mid-afternoon there. The children had finished their lunch and were gathering outside to play football (soccer). Some were bubbling with excitement at having their photo taken, others were more shy and reticent to be on camera, but all of them looked very healthy.
This was happening in real-time, so I asked Simon to take pictures of the garden as well. What I saw was astonishing. The scraggly corn field I remembered from 2012 was replaced by a lush and abundantly green crop of corn that was beginning to reach the tops of the children’s heads. But even better than seeing all this new growth was the joy that I saw in the faces of the children. The daily struggle of getting water was removed, and they could just be children, learning and playing under the African sun.
EC is incredibly thankful for this gift of maji (water) from Orphan’s Promise. But our gratitude pales in comparison to the thankfulness of the children who use it every day of their lives. From all of them we say ASANTE SANA to all those who contributed to this project.
The mission of Everyone’s Child includes providing clean drinking water in each school we build. Please click here to learn more about supporting the programs of Everyone’s Child.
I’m so excited! In fact, I’m thrilled, absolutely thrilled! Here it is, the beginning of May 2016, and dreams I have been waiting to see come to pass for years are finally being realized.
I believe in the power that a photograph wields, and since we live in an age where pictures can be posted and viewed in a single click, I’m taking advantage of that process and will let these photos do the talking. Well, most of the talking anyway. I’ve added explanations as well 🙂 As they say in Kenya – sit back, relax and enjoy!
More Drinking Water for Kampi:
If you’ve been following the blogs and updates for EC in Kenya you’re aware that there has long been an issue with potable water in an area called Kampi Ya Moto (see photo below) where we have a primary school.
Early this year a donation was made to allow an additional rain harvesting tank to be purchased and set up at the school in Kampi Ya Moto.
Today both tanks are full and should remain that way until the next rainy season.
Now there is clean drinking water for the children on demand,
a school garden,
and happy kids! Contaminated drinking water has become a non-issue for the students at this school!
EC Mentorship Program for Orphans:
This month our new Program Coordinator, William Aludo, has started a Mentorship Program for the orphans attending Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School in Lanet Umoja. EC is currently sponsoring 15 students so they can receive a high school education, but we’ve always wanted to be able to offer them additional support outside of their education. William, who is a trained counselor, is using a resource written by Kenyan author and businesswoman Grace Wanjohi to help these young adults make realizable life and career choices. This is a golden opportunity for children who don’t enjoy the same benefits as many of their schoolmates – the direction and moral support of loving parents.
Orphaned students at Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School
Lanet Umoja Preschool:
When I first visited Kenya in 1997, the Lanet Umoja Preschool was the only school for miles around. Today a small city has grown up around this ramshackle building, with many schools – including our own Lanet Umoja Primary School and Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School. The preschool has continued to be used, but there have been many problems connected with it such as leaky walls, flooded floors, African bee attacks, and other issues associated with a building in disrepair.
Last month one of our Board members, Fr. Paul Stewart, traveled to Kenya and wound up helping to construct the first of three rooms that will eventually become the new Lanet Umoja Preschool! I’ve learned that the local government is partnering with us to build one of the classrooms, which illuminates the way that EC does business – working together with private, local and government entities to positively affect an area. The children were out of school during April, and here is what happened with some of the funds that you have helped to raise this year:
The materials arrive
Fr. Paul Stewart helps move the stones
A stone worker carves the blocks
Moving them to the building
Putting up the walls
Laying the steel girders for the roof
The first classroom – nearly done!!
As a lifelong preschool teacher, I’m thrilled. Absolutely thrilled to see this coming to pass.
Thank you for your continued support for these projects. We are just $3,000.00 short of finishing the first preschool classroom. If you are in a position to partner with us to get the job done, please click here and send a secure donation today.
Water has been an issue in Kampi Ya Moto long before I knew this place existed. For years children in this area, many of them orphaned, have had the daily task of walking the hot and dusty two-mile trek to a river to collect water that was then used for drinking and cooking. I’ve been told that the water was usually boiled before it was consumed, but the mere fact that the mortality rate in this area was 50% or higher leads me to believe that boiling alone didn’t remove the incidence of water borne illnesses.
Kampi Ya Moto is an arid region of Kenya that literally translates to “Camp of Fire”. I used to walk to the river in this area with the children every time I visited their school. In a word, it’s repulsive. The water is brown, and the shore is filled with mud-pocked holes made by the hooves of the cows and other animals that share this water hole with members of the village.
For the past several years we have tried to have a borehole dug, but were met with obstacles at every turn. It’s been an uphill climb since we’ve started this process, from the purchasing of the land to the conducting of two geological studies (yes, that’s plural – the first one was lost along the way!), and ending with the unfortunate circumstance of hiring a company who claimed to be Living Waters International but made off with our hard won funds instead. In June 2013, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) – our partners in this project, hired a company that drilled down 215 meters before experiencing “high borehole collapse”. At that point it was determined that the well was dry. After some research and deliberation a rain harvesting system was set up as an alternative, a spigot was installed outside the school and today the children are able to get clean drinking water whenever they are thirsty. This is a HUGE change for these kids, and the presence of the tank has revolutionized their school. During our visit last May I immediately noticed two big differences, first in the appearance of the children – they met us with smiles and waves, despite the relentless heat. The second thing I noticed was that there was a small garden started outside the school. This was a novelty, as prior to this time nothing planted there would have survived the trip up through the soil much less the searing temperatures at the surface.
By last May the 10,000-liter water tank had been in place for over a year, so the teachers and students had been through both the rainy and the dry seasons that dominate that region of Kenya. At that point in the year they hadn’t run out of water, but the previous year they had watched the tank overflow during the rainy season, only to be used up during the months of hot, dry days that followed. The frustration of having more than enough water for a few months and then not enough throughout the remainder of the year, meaning that children would once again have to make the trek to the river for muddy water helped us make the decision to install a second 10,000-liter tank this year. It’s a fairly straightforward process to purchase and install the tank, but one that requires funding, oversight and faith in the people in charge. This is just one of the major projects EC is embarking on in 2016. Stay tuned for more updates!