Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Handwritten Letter

When was the last time any of us received a handwritten letter?    Nowadays people almost never take the time to write a letter or note.  It’s so much easier to send a quick text or email.

The Activity

This past month William Aludo held a mentorship camp for students from his hometown of Rongo in western Kenya.  One of their activities was to compose a handwritten letter to send to students at Harwood Union Middle School in Duxbury, VT, rebooting our Messages of Mercy Writing Program between students in the USA and Kenya.

A Handwritten Letter: April 2019 Mentorship Camp (William Aludo in the middle)
April 2019 Mentorship Camp (William Aludo in the middle)

The students who wrote these letters come from varied backgrounds, but they hold a few things in common.

All of them speak at least three languages: English, Kiswahili and their native tongue.  They enjoy football (soccer), basketball, politics, acting and singing.  Several of these students have lost if not both, then at least one parent, and almost all of them have faced the challenge of coming up with sufficient funds for school. Each one of them have dreams and ambitions far exceeding those I had at age 14 or 15.  Some have large families that include cousins who have lost their parents and have nowhere else to go.  Many say they want to help others who are in need by building health centers, feeding the hungry and helping people who have less than themselves.

Joyce - another Mentorship camper who sent a handwritten letter
Joyce – a Mentorship camper who sent a letter.  She enjoys acting, playing basketball & singing.

William scanned their letters and photos to me, and this week Tracy Guion, EC’s new Messages of Mercy coordinator brought the letters and photos to students at Harwood to introduce them to friends on the other side of the world.  William even wrote one to Ms. Jacki McCarty, the classroom teacher!

Tracy Guion a handwritten letter Messages of Mercy coordinator
Tracy Guion – Messages of Mercy Coordinator

The Update

Tracy called to give me a quick update after the presentation was over.  She said she had put all the scanned letters from Kenya into envelopes and printed photos of the students who wrote them.  When the Harwood students began to open their letters, the anticipation in the room went from excitement to engagement.

a handwritten letter - two Harwood Union middle schoolers reading letters from their pen pals in Kenya
Harwood Union middle schoolers reading letters from their pen pals in Kenya

One of the letters opened was from a 14 year old boy named Martin, the youngest in a family of five. Both of his parents are gone.  His hobby is fixing electrical equipment and he says that he wants to become “one of the greatest electrical engineers in the world”.  He can speak and understand three languages and is learning a fourth. Martin knows that his career choice needs creativity and perseverance.

Martin - one of the students who sent a handwritten letter
Martin – one of the students who sent a handwritten letter
Martin's handwritten letter page 1
Page 1 of Martin’s letter
Martin's handwritten letter page 2
Martin’s letter page 2

The Impact

Tracy walked around the room, asking students what they learned about their pen pals.  She heard comments like: “Wow, this is beautiful handwriting!”; and “She loves novels, I already love this girl”; to “He speaks three languages!”; and “She loves to sing and dance, which are my my favorite things too”.   By the time she left the students had already started to write their replies.
students at Harwood Union Middle School reading their handwritten letters from Kenya
students at Harwood Union Middle School reading their letters from Kenya
Tracy spent a year teaching in Thailand, so true to her profession, she has given them until this Friday to respond, and hopefully sometime next week we will be able to scan their replies to Kenya.
I’m pretty excited to get this program off the ground again.  I’m also very glad to have found someone who loves to see connections happen!
a handwritten letter - Lavender Achieng - a Mentorship camp student who wrote a letter to a student at Harwood
Lavender Achieng – a Mentorship camp student who wrote a letter to a student at Harwood
Tracy contacted me again at the end of this week to tell me that the Ms. McCarty at Harwood Union held parent conferences this week.  All of the parents were supportive and grateful that their children could participate in this work, and kept thanking her over and over for the opportunity.      
reading a handwritten letter
reading a handwritten letter
If you would like your young adult to write a letter to a student in Kenya, click here and let us know and we’ll help you get connected.  Friendships like this can last a lifetime.
Blessings,
Ruth

 

 

 

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

The Art of Giving

I believe that one of the best gifts we can leave our children is to teach them the “art of giving”, something that many of our supporters do every time they give.

The Art of Giving

During my years as an early childhood educator I looked for opportunities to teach children how to give.  Like many preschool and elementary teachers of today, I tried to instill the concept of “otherness” in them – helping them to see how their actions affected others in their immediate world.  I also introduced them to other cultures and places around the globe, letting them know about some of the challenges facing children in developing nations.  There were positive impacts when parents and families supported these ideas and discussed them at home.
the art of giving - Erica as a preschooler
Erica Dow 2005 – she and her sister Emily held an EC Fundraiser in their home

An Event

I saw the effects of this home-school connection before I left teaching in 2015 to become a full-time executive director of Everyone’s Child.  Several years ago, Emily and Erica Dow, two sisters who had been my students decided to do a fundraiser for EC in their home.  They asked me to come and talk about EC to whoever might show up, then invited their entire family and spent the day baking cookies and cakes for the event.  It was a small gathering, maybe 8 – 10 people in all, but their enthusiasm was so infectious that they raised more than anyone had expected them to that evening.  More important than the funds raised though was the fact that these girls were involved in learning the art of giving, a concept I knew their parents both strongly supported.   Their mom even came to Kenya on an EC School Tour seven years later!

EC School Tour
EC School Tour: Ruth Young, Nancy Chase, Joni Clemons, Pam Dow, Autumn Benjamin, Sara Baker and Lynn Mason
Helen & Jackie teach Autumn how to dance
Helen & Jackie teach  Autumn Benjamin (former preschooler) how to dance

A Letter

Many of the children I taught have stayed in touch with me over the years, and I’ve even had the privilege of traveling to Kenya with former students.  Earlier this week I received a letter with a donation from two brothers who were prior preschool students of mine.  The younger one – now a 3rd grader – wrote the letter.  I checked with their mom, who told me it was fine to share their note and their photos online, so I’ve attached these below:
the art of giving - a child's letter to ec
page 1 of Connor’s letter
the art of giving - page 2 of Connor's letter to ec
page 2 of Connor’s letter

(And now for) The Translation

Dear Sr. Routh (sic) Michael and I, (Connor) are donating $57.27 to you and your orfanige (sic).  This is some of Michael and mines leftover money that we each bought something with.  We wanted to ask you if you had any technoligy (sic) needs.  Please write back.
Sincerely,
Connor and Michael
the art of giving - Connor & Michael school photo
Connor & Michael

Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed and so proud of them for this unsolicited gift.  I was also once more convinced that a child’s heart knows how to give.

The HeArt of Giving

A giving heart begins in the home.  These boys belong to a family that serves in our military, so they are familiar with the meaning of sacrifice and helping others.  I would say it shows, and in spades!

It’s Better to Give

During my childhood, my mom was forever tossing out wise sayings, one of her favorites being “It’s better to give than to receive”.  She was right, of course, and for our family of seven that was an important concept to grasp.  As a child it took me a while to learn that I always felt more alive when I gave.  Today I am so grateful to those who taught me that as the giver, I wind up receiving the greater gift.

Joining Forces

I know that those who support EC understand the art of giving, something for which I am deeply grateful.  I want to thank each of you for your constant support, and for sharing with those who are following in your footsteps the importance of learning how to give.
If you would like to join forces with those who contribute to Everyone’s Child on an annual, monthly or one-time basis, please click here to make a secure donation.  I promise you that the benefits you will reap from having a giving heart will far surpass the challenges you face each day.

Blessings,

Ruth

Challenges

Challenges

The loss of a loved one is one of the greatest challenges that people face.  No matter if we hail from Botswana or the Bronx, the angst of losing someone close to us can be overwhelming.  Kenyan women who lose their husbands find that these challenges are further compounded by the daily struggle of making sure their children are fed, clothed and safe.

Orphaned children have their own challenges to contend with, and their survival is often related to fitting in with their peers.

As is true with most schools in Africa, Kenyan parents are required to provide their children with a school uniform.  For single parents, this need often goes unmet as the cost is too much for their meager family budget.

challenges of having no uniform
a child in Lanet

This past year, Orphan’s Promise partnered with EC to provide orphaned students at the Miruya Primary School in western Kenya with brand new uniforms.  In this blog, William Aludo, EC’s Kenya Program Coordinator provides us with insight into the identity of an orphaned child. He also writes about the positive impact that something as simple as a school uniform can have for these children who don’t want to be any different than their classmates.

School Uniforms

Widows in Kenya face several challenges. One of the major challenges confronting them is the economic burden of providing for their orphaned children. Like all children, these orphans have need of food, shelter and clothing. Apart from “home clothing”, school-agers need a school uniform.

challenge of being in class without a uniform - children fitting in with their classmates
Standard 2 students at Miruya Primary School

At Miruya Primary School in western Kenya, the full uniform includes shoes, socks and a sweater. In this poor rural community, it is common to find orphaned children going to school in their home clothing. This has been the case for several orphans in this community. Because their widowed mothers and guardians cannot afford the school uniforms, they have to attend school barefooted and in their home clothing, which are often in tatters. During the rainy season when it’s very cold, these children have no sweaters to keep themselves warm.

Challenges of Children playing at the Miruya Primary School
Children playing at the Miruya Primary School – some with and others without uniforms

Standing Out

It is easy to spot orphaned children in a class or at school assemblies because they stand out. From observation, it is apparent that they are conscious of being the odd-ones out. Their appearance affects their self-esteem and willingness to socialize freely with the other children. Sometimes their demeanor seems to exhibit unintentional aloofness. This in turn affects their learning and participation in class.  There is a definite stigma attached to their status as orphans.  Everything about them says that they don’t belong.

Consequently, these orphaned students are found to register a high rate of absenteeism and often drop out of school. If an intervention is not found early enough, the eventual result is that they become members of the Miruya community who might not attain their full potential in life. This in turn, leads to a perpetuation of poverty in that community.

solved challenges of having a new uniform
Orphaned children at Miruya Primary School with new uniforms

Standing In

Today I thank God for the partnership between the Orphan’s Promise and Everyone’s Child. The funding that came from this partnership has provided full school uniforms for 25 orphans at Miruya Primary School. Vincent, Clinton, Felix, Sheryl and Bonvicar (shown above) were blessed to be the first five children to benefit from this kindness.  Now instead of standing out, these children stand in school with their classmates and are proud to be identified as school children. This solution is helping to keep them in school with beautiful smiles on their faces!

If you would like to contribute to our ongoing effort to put smiles on children’s faces, please visit Everyone’s Child to make a secure donation today.

Many blessings,

William Aludo

 

Jedidah’s Journey

Dear readers,

“Jedidah’s Journey” is the story of a young orphaned Kenyan girl whose hopes and dreams came to an abrupt end shortly after she graduated from high school.  It’s a tale of heartache and brokenness, but also one of hope and resilience.  It’s a story that has been told throughout history, and one that must be told again.

Earlier this year I sent her story in booklet form to EC’s supporters.  This month’s blog makes her story available to a wider audience.  Even if you already received this via snail mail, please don’t let that stop you from reading her amazing story again online.

Jedidah’s Journey

“Jedidah’s Journey” was garnered from a series of emails between Jedidah and me during the early part of 2018.  There were many questions and edits, followed by more questions and more edits.  In the end, however, I felt confident that her story was one that she would feel good about sharing with the world.

Jedidah of Jedidah's Journey with her grandmother
Jedidah with her grandmother in 2007

Responses and Reactions

An hour after emailing her my final draft, I received a text from Jedidah.  She wrote: “Waoh, waoh [wow wow] am lack of words i just could not hold my tears reading my story.”  Moments later she continued with this note: “…it touch my heart soo much. i just hope with my story there [will be] some kids there that will benefit from it. i know there [are] those who go through much more in life.  it will be my greatest achievement in life to know i am able to help them.”

Needless to say, I was humbled by her reaction, and found myself hoping that those who read her story would want to find a way to help young women who find themselves in similar circumstances.

I wasn’t disappointed.  In the weeks that followed the printing of “Jedidah’s Journey”, I received wonderful feedback from people whose hearts were touched by this narrative.  Many people took the time to thank me for publishing it.  Some even donated to our Mentorship Program in hopes of helping orphans who often find themselves feeling unwanted or unloved.  It was encouraging to hear from readers who wrote words such as these:

“I enjoyed reading Jedidah’s story. The challenges she faced were heartbreaking, and yet by the end of the booklet I felt moved and inspired by her words. There’s undeniable strength and hope in her story; her journey. Thank you for sharing it with me.”

Jedidah reading her story Jedidah's Journey
Jedidah reading her story in 2018

Read her Story, Help a child

While Jedidah’s story isn’t picture perfect, it illustrates the struggles that face so many of the children we serve. Instead of ignoring them; we need to be the hand that helps them up.

Everyone’s Child relies on your help, not just to get children to the finish line, but also to keep them on the track. we need to encourage them so that they, like Jedidah, will keep getting back up, even when life throws them down. With your support, we can reach many more orphaned and vulnerable students who need to learn how to make good decisions in their lives.

You can click on Jedidah’s Journey to read this story online.  And please click here to learn more about how you can make a difference in a child’s life.  You’ll never be sorry that you did.

As always, Asante Sana (thank you so much) for supporting what we do by serving the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future.

Blessings,

Ruth

Exciting Developments

Exciting Developments

Everyone’s Child has some exciting developments to report!  First, very early on Saturday morning, September 8th, I was honored to join (via Skype) a meeting of the first official EC Kenya Board of Directors.  Men and women from different tribes and different parts of Kenya participated in this historic meeting.  Their group is made up of a school principal, a school counselor, a nutritionist, an accountant, teachers, an urban planner, and other highly qualified professionals.  However, their best common qualification is that they are all committed to making a difference in the lives of Kenyan children who have the greatest needs.

The meeting took place at William Aludo‘s home in Rongo, which is in western Kenya. Four Board members are from Rongo, and three Board members live in Nakuru, a six hour trip from eastern Kenya. I was grateful for a good connection and clear reception, despite the sudden rainfall that drowned out the conversation for a while.  EC USA is looking forward to working with this stellar group of people!

exciting developments of a new board of directors in Kenya
EC Kenya Board of Directors left to right: Director Dorcas Njorge of Nakuru, Director Joseph Rayudi of Rongo, Secretary Collins Awuor of Rongo, Director Josephine Kinuthia of Nakuru, Director Baraka Someh of Rongo, William Aludo, EC Program Coordinator of Rongo, Treasurer Josephine Omwanda of Rongo, and Chairman James Maina, principal at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Nakuru

Kateri’s Kitchen

The second of these exciting developments is that Kateri’s Kitchen is 99 % of the way finished!  Many of you contributed to get this project off the ground.  The chimney and a cookstove are the final pieces that need to be put in place before the building is officially declared open for use.  Altogether we need an additional $300 to finish the job.  The cost of a cookstove (a.k.a. “jiko”) is $50.00.  The cost to build the chimney is $250.00.  Please click here if you would like to help see this project through to the end.  Once it is finished, Kateri’s plaque will go up.  But best of all, the children will be fed from a sound building, showing them that there are people who care and want the best for them.

exciting developments of Kateri's Kitchen - a stone building that is almost completed!
Kateri’s Kitchen as of early September 2018

As always, Asante Sana (thank you very much) for supporting Everyone’s Child.  Your efforts truly are helping to change a generation through education.

Blessings,

Ruth

“Maji”

Swahili for Water

“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.

Carrying maji or water from the river in Kampi Ya Moto< Kenya
Carrying water from the river in Kampi Ya Moto

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.

maji means water - a dirty river with a cow and a child both getting water
Sharing the river in Kampi Ya Moto

Partnering

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.

CBN Living Water Plaque in Kampi Ya Moto
CBN Living Water plaque in Kampi Ya Moto

Real Time

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.

Getting maji or water from a tap
Getting water from the tap at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto

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.

a corn field in Africa
Kampi corn!

 

Maji

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.

Kenyan school children getting maji (water) from a faucet
Girls gathering around the faucet in their schoolyard

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.

153 million children

There are more than

2.2 billion children in the world today.  It is estimated that 153 million children of these are orphans (UNICEF).  That moves my heart.  But caring for all of those children is beyond my reach, beyond my capabilities.

Everyone’s Child serves over 500 orphaned and vulnerable students.  That’s a lot less than 153 million, but it’s still a large number of children to keep track of.  We rely on our staff, as well as the teachers and administration we partner with to let us know how they are all doing in their studies and in their lives.  Thankfully, whenever I travel to Kenya I have the opportunity to meet many of these children.  And there is always at least one who captures my attention each time I am there.

Simon Wanjala

This was the case with a young man named Simon Wanjala.  Simon was one of EC’s first scholarship students at Bishop Edward Donovan Secondary School (BEDSS) in Lanet Umoja.  This scholarship allowed him to complete his high school education.  I met him once or twice while he was enrolled there, but it wasn’t until after he had graduated that I began to learn about his life.

Simon was an orphan and was also a victim of the post-election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007.  He and his brothers were displaced five times in the span of four years.  He wound up living with family members who mistreated him as he struggled to complete his high school education.  Despite these hardships, upon graduating Simon found a job teaching in a primary school, and eventually was able to find a place to live.  He brought his two youngest brothers into his home, and gave them an opportunity to complete their education together.

young Kenyan man with a new t-shirt bearing the cross
Simon showing off a new t-shirt in 2014

His story

The overriding aspect about this young man is his attitude.  In spite of the difficulties he faced, the loss of his parents, his home, and his struggles to survive while completing his education, Simon has always been upbeat, positive and thankful.  After graduating from BEDSS he went out of his way to thank EC for the education he received.  That single act made a lasting impression on me.

a map of Simon's Story
Simon’s journey from 2006-2010

 

Today Simon is a successful entrepreneur who owns a shop selling kitchen wares in Nakuru, Kenya.  He also volunteers his time for Everyone’s Child, taking food to the orphans in Kampi Ya Moto and assisting in EC’s Mentoring program each month.

Simon Wanjala and William Aludo - dressed to educate!
Simon Wanjala and William Aludo in 2017

Last year I wrote a story about Simon’s life and mailed it to all of our contributors.  It’s a story full of hope, and shows the difference that supporters of Everyone’s Child make in the lives of those who count on our help.  The story can be downloaded here.

Caring for children

I’ve thought about caring for children for as long as I can remember.  As I grew into adulthood that transpired into serving the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.

There is no doubt that supporting all of the world’s orphans would be an overwhelming mission.  But I do know that each one of their lives is important.  And I’m grateful to be able to help even one of the 153 million who are alive today.

Everyone’s Child begins by focusing on the one.   But a task is always easier when others join in to help.  Please click on this link if you would like to help to make a difference too.

As always, thank you for partnering with us to make life easier for people like Simon.  I hope you enjoy his story.

everyone’s child.  changing a generation through education.

 

Exciting News

I have some very exciting news to share.  Last month EC received a very generous grant from Christian Broadcasting Network!  The grant is designated to help establish a struggling primary school in western Kenya.

The Miruya Primary School

As some of you already know, last summer EC’s Program Coordinator, William Aludo, discovered a school not far from his home where young children gathered each day, hoping to get an education.  The only problem was that there were no teachers there to help them learn.  The school building was solid, but it was unregistered as a public government school.  Apparently the Kenyan government had run out of funding to register the school.  As a result, they were not paying to send licensed teachers there to teach the children.

Outside wall of the Miruya Primary School
Outside the Miruya Primary School

Each day between 50 and 100 students showed up and sat on the floor as there were not enough desks.  They stayed simply because there was no where else for them to go.  Parents from the area pooled their money to hire an untrained teacher to stay with their children, hoping that she could teach them some skills, and trusting that she would at least watch their children throughout the day.  Unfortunately, because their resources were limited they were unable to pay her regularly, so sometimes she chose not to show up.  The children continued to go to the school, mainly because they had no where else to go.  Needless to say, it was distressing for parents to learn that their children were left on their own day after day.

The Promise of Assistance

The grant we have received from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) will help put the Miruya Primary School on the map in western Kenya.  Five teachers will be hired, desks and textbooks will be purchased, and a lunch program for orphaned and vulnerable students is being established.  Best of all, plans are underway to dig a well on the school grounds!  At our last staff meeting William reported that the promise of assistance has breathed new life into this area, and already new students are beginning to come to the school.

Children playing outside with their teacher at Miruya Primary School in Kenya
A circle game with students and their teacher at Miruya Primary School

Two Events

This past January two more important events for the Miruya Primary School happened.  First, parents in the area held a successful fundraiser, raising enough to begin purchasing textbooks for their children.  And secondly, William initiated a breakfast program of porridge for all the students, allowing everyone to focus on their studies instead of their empty stomachs.  These events have given everyone a sense of ownership and pride in their school and their community.  And now the additional promise of funding from CBN has made an impact that goes beyond many of these villagers greatest expectations.

CBN

CBN’s funding couldn’t have come at a better time for this small primary school.  Beginning in April, desks and textbooks for teachers and students will be purchased.  A much needed latrine will be dug, and a lunch program will be established soon afterward.  The hope of a well with potable water is also in the works.  None of this would be possible without the help of CBN’s Orphan’s Promise.  This is a program that assists orphaned and at-risk children throughout the world, helping them to “thrive so that they can live full of hope and realize their God-given potential”.  It goes without saying that we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to partner with CBN.

Exciting News

If you want to be a part of bringing exciting news to at-risk primary and secondary school students in Kenya and India, please click here.  Please note that there are several ways to lend a hand.  This link outlines other ways to contribute to Everyone’s Child.

As always, ASANTE SANA (Thank you very much) for being the best part of Everyone’s Child!

Meet the Directors

The Board of Directors

The purpose of this blog is to familiarize our readers and followers with nine wonderful people who serve on EC’s Board of Directors.  Some of them have been on the Board since the inception of Everyone’s Child, and others have just joined.  I am excited to introduce  this dynamic group of people whose heart and passion are to educate, care for, and connect with orphaned and vulnerable children throughout the world.


Margaret L. Parkerson, Chairman of Board

Margaret “Maggie” Parkerson divides her time between Suffolk, Virginia and Fayston, Vermont where she and her husband Charles “Charlie” have owned a ski house for 30 years. She was a systems analyst for Newport News Shipbuilding during the 1970’s, and has also worked part-time in human resources at Lancaster Farms, a successful nursery business in Virginia that her husband started in 1969.

After raising their three children, Maggie, who has a degree in mathematics from Mary Baldwin College, became involved with teaching higher math to homeschooled children for 10 years. She is also gifted with a knack for writing and was instrumental in editing Ruth’s doctoral dissertation.  Today she is Chairman of the Parkerson Foundation, a family philanthropic organization. She served as Secretary of the Board of Everyone’s Child from 2009 – 2015, and has been Chairman of the Board since 2015.

Maggie is an international traveler. She has visited most of the continents of the world, touring nurseries with the International Plant Propagators Society.

While she has not yet traveled to Kenya, after reading Ruth’s thesis Maggie was also moved by the importance for communities to have clean drinking water.  She has always had a heart for education, seeing the need for better educational practices in countries like South Africa and Thailand.

Maggie’s three children are grown and married and have given her and Charlie 11 grandchildren. In her spare time she likes to learn new things – taking on tasks such as upholstering. She also loves to read, swim and knit for all of her grandchildren.


S. Tracy Braun, MAAA, Treasurer

Sharlene “Tracy” Braun was born and raised in Northfield, Vermont where she and her husband, Chaunce, also raised three boys. They are snowbirds, spending the spring, summer and autumn in northern Vermont and wintering in Florida.

Tracy is a Pension Actuary and has spent her career in the retirement plan-consulting arena, providing expertise to companies who establish all types of retirement plans for their employees.   Her current position is Vice President of People’s United Bank Retirement Services in Burlington, Vermont.

The Braun’s are both founders of Everyone’s Child, and provided the incentive for this non-profit to begin. When Ruth completed her doctorate in 2008, they approached her to ask if she would want to direct a charitable organization to support orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa. The vision for EC grew out of that initial contact.

Tracy has been on EC’s Board of Directors since the beginning, serving as Chairman for six years and Treasurer for nine years. She has traveled to Kenya twice, and found that her first trip there was life changing. She says, “What struck me about Kenya was both its incredible beauty and the abject poverty of many of its people. But in spite of this, the children were joyful and excited just to have the opportunity to go to school.  It was a very humbling experience, and made my commitment to help educate these children even stronger.  We have so much in America, and it takes so little of what we have to make a true difference in their lives.”

Tracy and Chaunce are now enjoying the newest generation of grandchildren – six of them age five and younger.  This definitely keeps them busy in their spare time!


Laura D. Viens, Secretary

Laura Viens was born and raised in New York City, spending summers in Vermont where she met her husband Freddie.  After graduating from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, the two of them settled in the Mad River Valley where they have raised twin girls and a son, and Freddie runs Shepard’s Brook Auto, a successful auto body repair shop.

Laura worked for many years as a program assistant for Project Harmony International, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering civic engagement, cross-cultural learning and increased opportunities for youth in a digital age. Today she manages a local gift store, does book work for Shepard’s Brook Auto, and spends time volunteering in her community. One of her favorite ways to give back is serving breakfast at the local senior center.

In 2013, her twin daughters traveled to Kenya with Everyone’s Child, an experience, she says, that left an impression on both of them. When she saw and heard about their experiences she immediately wanted to help the children who influenced their lives. Laura joined the EC Board in 2015, serving as Secretary for three years, and also took on the responsibility of collecting the funds in EC’s OFP (orphan-feeding program) coin banks.

Laura loves snowshoeing, traveling, her family and their four dogs, four cats, three rats and chickens. Needless to say, they are a busy family.


Rev. William W. Stewart, Director

Rev. William “Fr. Paul” Stewart was born on a naval base in Newport, Rhode Island, was raised in New York City, and spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm in Connecticut. In 1979 he was commissioned as a minister of the Community of the Crucified One (CCO) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1983 was ordained as a priest, gaining the name of “Fr. Paul”. After being elected Prelate, he taught in the CCO seminary for eight years. In 1984, he completed a church building project in Moretown, Vermont, remaining there as pastor until 2017.

In 1996, Fr. Paul was sent to Kenya to establish the Holy Cross Church, an international extension of the CCO. This experience initiated a love of traveling and missionary work that has since taken him to many developing nations and given him the opportunity to bring hope to many lives.

Today, Fr. Paul sits on the Board of Elders and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CCO. In addition, he is the owner of Juniper’s Fare Café and Catering, a church-run restaurant located in the heart of the Vermont ski country. He has also been on the Board of Everyone’s Child since it’s earliest days.

Fr. Paul and his wife Kathy have four children and nine grandchildren and make their home in Moretown, Vermont. When he isn’t traveling around the country or around the world, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family, also traveling with them whenever possible.


Rev. Stephen T. Young, Director

Rev. “Fr.” Stephen Young grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Vermont from 1981 – 2016, working as the director of the Vermont Audubon State Office and serving as a youth pastor and assistant pastor of the Church of the Crucified One in Moretown. Prior to those years he worked as a staff member for Congresswoman Margaret Heckler (R-MA), and in 1975 began his career with the National Audubon Society as a staff environmental lobbyist and community organizer in their Washington, DC office. During President Jimmy Carter’s administration Fr. Steve (then Steve) worked alongside his peers from many different environmental organizations to pass the Alaska Lands Bill in Congress.

Fr. Steve has served on the Board of EC since 2009, and today is also an active member of the Sacred Heart Prayer Community in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, vice-chairman of the Linesville Community and Business Alliance, and Board member of the Linesville Ministerium in Linesville, Pennsylvania.

When it comes to service, Fr. Steve attributes many of his thoughts and ideals to the time he spent working as a volunteer fisheries extension agent with the Peace Corps in Nepal. He has had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet people from countless different cultures, religions and traditions. His love for God, His people and His Creation have all been shaped and molded by the incredible wealth of these experiences.

Fr. Steve and his wife Ruth, their teenage son Thomas, and dog Keiko live in a restored farmhouse on 13 acres of land, located in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania. When he isn’t running a meeting or loading wood in the fire, you’ll find him reading a good book on his front porch.


David Dillon, Director

David Dillon was born and raised in Arlington, Massachusetts and is now a resident of Cape Cod where he lives with his wife, Juliane. The two of them have been actively involved in church ministry for many years. Their lives are centered on service of others, beginning at home. Juliane is a community outreach coordinator for a non-profit human service organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.

David graduated from Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1970’s. Over the years he has worked in business development, real estate, and he also served as vice president of the Asia Pacific Division of Remanco International. In 2007, David became the New England Field Representative for Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). He has been a Director on the Board of Everyone’s Child since 2012.

The Dillon’s son and daughter are grown, one in the workforce and the other in her senior year in college, leaving these two “empty nesters” to serve in another way. For the past six years, David and Juliane have shared their home with a single mother and her young daughter, giving them hope and helping them to get a fresh start in life.   The mom has since finished school, found a job, is engaged and has bought a new home for herself and her daughter.

David is also a renowned professional jazz drummer and spends most of his spare time performing on and off Cape Cod.


Therese M. Brady, Director

Therese “Teri” Brady is originally from Akron, Ohio but is now a resident of Conneautville, Pennsylvania where she and her husband, Rev. James Brady have been living since 2002. Prior to that Teri served as a missionary for the Community of the Crucified One in Nashville, Tennessee and Kapaau, Hawaii for 13 years.

Teri retired in 2010, but has had 50 years employment experience with several firms throughout the USA, holding positions such as office manager, secretary, production coordinator, and supervisor in communications. During half of those years she simultaneously served as a legislator and secretary for her church community. Teri may be retired, but she is not one to sit still, and recently became a member of the Linesville Ministerium in Linesville, Pennsylvania.

Teri joined the EC Board of Directors in 2018 and brings a strong background in office management as well as a heart for the children she sees EC serving in Kenya and India. She and her husband have many “spiritual children” from serving in the ministry for so many years. Their door was always open to the helpless and the homeless, so she understands very well the importance of offering support to those in need.

Teri’s favorite pastimes are cooking, reading, and playing guitar. In the summer, unless it’s raining, you can usually find her in the garden.


Benjamin L. Crosby, MS, Director

Ben Crosby has watched the growth and evolution of the Everyone’s Child since he was a senior in his rural Vermont high school. In 2013 he traveled to Kenya with Ruth and experienced the work that EC does. This trip opened his eyes and motivated him to integrate development work into his life.

Ben has an educational background in Community Development. His undergraduate degree is in Community and International Development and he also holds a Masters degree in Community Development and Applied Economics, both from the University of Vermont. He has worked on development programs in Honduras and has also spent a number of months serving as a missionary in northern Jamaica. His interest and passion revolves around youth development as well as the economics and business of community transformation.

Ben joined the EC Board in 2018.  He served as deacon of the Youth Ministry at his church for many years, and brings an interest in and passion for helping disadvantaged youth to find sustainable economic futures. In his words, “…education and kids are the foundation of communities and investing in them is necessary for a promising future.”

Ben is newly married and is living in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Gabrielle, a child life specialist, and their pet bunny Olivia. He currently works as an analyst for the utility, National Grid, and enjoys thinking about the intersection of the global energy future and development. Having been born and raised in Vermont, his favorite activities are skiing and being outside.


Adam F. Braun, MBA, Director

Adam Braun was born in New York and raised on a small farm in Northfield, Vermont, where he spent much of his youth playing hockey with his two brothers. He first became interested in Kenya during a mission trip in 2009 when he visited a primary school and participated in an orphan-feeding program.  Despite the poverty the children faced every day, he saw a joy in their faces that he couldn’t explain.  It was this joy that ultimately led to his involvement in Everyone’s Child, joining the Board of Directors in early 2018.

Adam holds a BS in Accounting from St. Michael’s College and an MBA from Babson College.  He is the North America Commission Controller for Philips Health-tech, a global medical device company, and has over 15 years of finance and accounting experience specializing in opportunity analysis, lean finance improvements and forecasting the unknown.  As one of EC’s newest Board members he hopes to recognize opportunities to bring further assistance to the children we are supporting.

Adam and his wife Leah, a practicing family physician, live in Potomac, Maryland where they are raising their two young sons.  He is an active volunteer with his local church, supporting the children’s and men’s ministries. He enjoys gardening, ice hockey and spending time with family.


Ruth T. Young, Ed.D.   Founder and Executive Director

Ruth was born and raised in Williamsville, New York, and spent much of her youth traveling between the USA and Canada where her family owned a farm on Cape Breton Island. She has a BS from Baldwin-Wallace University and an M.S. Ed. from  Duquesne University, and spent several years as an interpreter for hearing impaired children throughout the USA while serving as a missionary for the Community of the Crucified One.

In 1997, Ruth visited Kenya with a missionary team, a trip that deeply affected her and ultimately determined what she would do during the next phase of her life.

There were many moments that stuck with her from her time in Kenya, but one of the most poignant was when she shared a bottle of water with a small child in an arid region of eastern Kenya whose name literally translates to “Camp of Fire”. “I’ll never forget what happened,” she said. “The child took the bottle from me so gingerly, looked at it, then handed it to her older sister.” Ruth watched as the two of them walked off, sharing the water bottle and never looking back to ask for more. She had fully expected the child to drain the bottle and come back for more, but what she saw instead was an act of human kindness and mutual dependency, the smaller child entrusting her older sibling with the gift that had been given to her.

After receiving her doctorate in education from the University of Vermont, Ruth was asked by members of the current EC Board of Directors about becoming the Executive Director of a non-profit organization whose purpose would be to serve underprivileged children in developing nations.  She was chosen specifically for this task because of her research and interest in Kenya.  The organization took the name of “Everyone’s Child” from her dissertation.

In 2016, Ruth and her husband Steve and their teenage son moved from Vermont to western Pennsylvania to live in their restored farmhouse. She enjoys traveling, playing guitar, singing, going for walks with her husband, and finding ways to help children smile.


If you would like to learn more about our programs,  please visit the EC website by clicking here.  And if you know that you want to support orphaned and at-risk children in Kenya or India, please click here to find out how you can help.

As always, thank you for reading and supporting Everyone’s Child!