Tag Archives: Kenya

Everyone’s Child Now

There is exciting news to share!  Everyone’s Child has a new opportunity for the year ahead. But first, here is an update on what our supporters have accomplished in 2019.

Kenya: School Lunches and Sponsorships

The Orphan Feeding Program offered daily meals to 600 orphaned children at five different primary schools in Kenya.  Everyone’s Child now partners with several Kenyan school administrations to bear the cost of this project, a major first step in developing self-sustaining programs.  Our average monthly cost for this program is $1,200, totaling over $14,000 annually.

The Lord has something to say to us about feeding children at Miruya Primary School
Lunchtime at Miruya Primary School

EC’s Sponsorship Program supported 30 orphans in preschool and high school.  This summer three middle school students from Vermont raised over $2,000 to help orphaned high school students with their school fees. Our goal for this coming year is to sponsor at least 10 preschoolers and 30 secondary students, for an annual cost of $6,000.

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

Sweaters for India

In northern rural India earlier this year, temperatures dipped into the low 60’s. EC supporters provided sweaters to over 200 needy children living in Orissa, offering relief during the cold snap.  In southern India, donations helped to pay school fees for five impoverished orphans.  The total cost of both efforts was $2,500.

Everyone's Child Now in India: children receiving a new sweater in India
New sweaters for children in India

Opportunity in Western Kenya

This past September I traveled to Kenya to visit with students, teachers and administrators at each of the schools where Everyone’s Child provides support.  One of the schools we visited was the Miruya Primary School, located in a poor rural area in western Kenya. 

Everyone's Child students sitting at desks outside at Miruya Primary School
Miruya Primary School students sitting at their desks in the school yard

The needs there are numerous, including the continued provision of daily meals, a security fence, leveling the schoolyard, and a new classroom. Enrollment is expected to increase in the coming years, so additional classrooms will also need to be built.  Thankfully this summer’s Matching Challenge raised $10,000 to build a classroom! The cost of the remaining projects there could well exceed $20,000.

EC’s Board of Directors and I are very excited about the new opportunity that lies ahead for us to help the children at this school, with an eye toward building a successful partnership and eventual self-sustainability.

Everyone’s Child Now

Everyone’s Child now reaches over 800 orphaned and vulnerable children globally, providing education, meals, potable water, clothing and connections to those in need.  None of this would be possible without your prayers, involvement and financial contributions.

Everyone's Child Now: primary students in Kampi ya Moto
Children at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi ya Moto, Kenya

Our Goal

Our goal for this year’s Annual Appeal is to raise $32,500, enabling us to sustain and grow our current programs.

During this season of giving, I am writing to ask you to please work alongside us as we encourage the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future.

Donations can be made online by clicking here or by sending a check to EC’s new mailing address: P.O. Box 563, Linesville, PA 16424. All contributions are tax-deductible, used for and appreciated by the children we support.

The Lord has something to say: smiling children at Miruya Primary school
Kindergarteners and their teacher at Miruya Primary School

Asante Sana

In the words of one of EC’s sponsored students, “No matter where you come from, someone somewhere is thinking of you.” On behalf of these students, our deepest thanks to everyone who is thinking of these children. With your help we will continue changing a generation through education. 

Warmest wishes for a peaceful holiday season,

Ruth

Three ideas, Two months, and One student

If you’ve had a chance to read EC’s September blog, you may remember reading about the “value added moment,” when a student named Gordon said that he wanted to raise funds to help orphans go to school.  His enthusiasm was contagious – other students in the room that night said that they also wanted to find a way to raise funds for peers who struggle to pay their school fees. They had all been encouraged by the three girls at Harwood Union High School in Vermont who had raised funds for EC during their summer vacation.

value added mentorship students with Tracy & Ruth in Rongo
Mentorship campers with Tracy & Ruth in Rongo. Gordon is third from the left.

Three ideas, two months, and one student

William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator in Kenya, recently held a brainstorming session with these students, asking them to lay out their ideas for raising funds. They came up with what I call a “3,2,1 plan”. Their proposal involved three ideas, two months and one student. Their three ideas were to sell milk and hardboiled eggs, make and sell homemade potato chips (a.k.a. french fries), and open a barber shop. They challenged themselves with spending the next two months raising funds. Their goal is to raise enough money to send one orphaned secondary student to school in 2020.

Three ideas, two months, and one student: Three Kenyan girls prepare potatoes to make french fries
Elizabeth, Josephine and Judith prepping the potatoes

A lofty goal

This is a lofty goal for students who haven’t yet joined the work force, don’t receive a monthly allowance, or haven’t got a savings account to dip into. But I believe those blocks won’t deter them from reaching their objective. During the first weekend of November they began peeling and cooking potatoes, and by the day’s end had already begin to make sales! In an age where “peer to peer fundraising” is all the rage, these students are putting this concept to work!

Three ideas, two months, and one student. A Kenyan girl named Josephine puts french fries in a bag to sell
Josephine selling chips (french fries) to a customer

Their passion

During this season of giving and gratitude, my hope is that the passion these students have for helping their peers will encourage others to want to give. If you want to support an orphaned student next year, please click here to make a secure donation. Your gift will help a child go to school, and will also encourage these students who are trying to make a difference!

Asante sana! (Great thanks!)

The Lord Has Something to Say

Newcomers

When Tracy Guion, EC’s Messages of Mercy Program Coordinator, William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, our driver David Kiboi from Nairobi and I visited the Miruya Primary School in Migori County last month we were treated to a song called “The Lord has Something to Say”. The students who sang it were shy, waving at us from a distance but clamming up when we got close to them. That made sense; their worlds involve home, school and the 3 – 4 km walk between those two places. The sight of these newcomers was a bit startling, especially given the differences in our skin color and vocal accents.

The Lord Has Something to Say with Children sitting outside at Miruya Primary School
Fifth and sixth grade students sitting outside at Miruya Primary School

A Song

A group of fifth and sixth graders were seated outside when we arrived, their desks balancing precariously on the rocky ground. These students share a classroom in the school building, but they had taken their desks out into the school yard to make space for a meeting that would take place later on with “the visitors” (i.e. – us). Despite their displacement and timidity, they managed to sing a call and response song for us. I’ve posted a video with the lyrics below:

“The Lord has something to say,

The Lord has something to say.

Listen, listen, and pay much attention.

The Lord has something to say.”

Taking Notice

I’ve been around young children too long not to sit up and take notice when a child says something that sounds like a message directed at me. There have been many times when a student has said or done something that catches my attention. Educators call this a “teaching moment”, which usually pertains to an adult teaching a student and not the other way around. After the second chorus I decided that I was the student and this was one of those times to be especially attentive. The message eluded me at the time, but in the days that followed their song came back to me over and over again.

A Scenic Area

This was the second day of our trip and Miruya Primary School was the first of several schools we planned to visit. I had been to Migori County in western Kenya one other time and was once again awestruck by the beauty of this area. The hillsides were covered with a checkerboard of fields, looking for all the world like a scene from Ireland or Vermont.

Beautiful fields and rocky dirt road leading to Miruya Primary School
Beautiful fields and a rocky dirt road leading to Miruya Primary School in Migori County, Kenya

But the moment we stepped onto the school grounds we became aware of the challenges that people living in this rural area face every day. The schoolyard was riddled with rocks, making walking hazardous and a game of tag an impossibility. Classrooms held little more than a chalkboard and rough wooden benches attached to planks that served as desks. Two or three students shared dog-eared books. The windows had glass, but there were no educational posters on the walls and teacher’s desks were non-existent. Most of the 165 students enrolled wore the school uniform of green and blue, but children who had just joined the school wore hand-me-downs or whatever was available at home.

poor students at Miruya Primary School
Fourth grade students at the Miruya Primary School

As we moved through the classrooms, children reacted timidly to our small group, some smiling shyly and waving, but most viewing us with wide eyes. It was plain to see that they knew William, who is Chairman of the Board of Management at the school, but we were unfamiliar to them.

Sharing lunch

Not long after we arrived it was time for lunch. We went behind the school where children were lining up at the new kitchen that EC supporters helped to build last year. We had brought along a “Kateri’s Kitchen” plaque to put up on the building, dedicating this kitchen to the memory of our dear friend Sr. Kateri Walker who was so instrumental in building EC’s orphan feeding program.

Students holding a Kateri's Kitchen plaque
Students holding a Kateri’s Kitchen plaque

The children ate their meal outside, leaning against the wall of the building, some waiting for others to finish so they could share the bowls which at that time were too few for the growing enrollment. I shuddered at the thought of the germs that were also being shared among the children. (Since then, 200 cups and bowls have been purchased and brought to the school.)

The Lord has something to say to us about feeding children at Miruya Primary School
Lunchtime at the Miruya Primary School

The Lord Has Something to Say

After leaving Migori County, William, David, Tracy and I spent the next four days visiting other schools where for the past ten years supporters of Everyone’s Child have provided meals, uniforms, clean water, classrooms and connections with peers in other countries. As we traveled from school to school, I thought about the song I had heard at the Miruya Primary School and wondered what I was meant to learn from those shy children and their little tune.

Students at Lanet Umoja Primary School in Lanet Umoja, Kenya

Everywhere we went we were met with smiles and laughter. Students were pleased to show us what they had learned in school. It was encouraging to see the changes that had taken place, especially as several of the schools we visited had started in rocky fields with less than a hundred students and few resources at hand. Enrollments have increased, and children are happy and proud of their schools, as evidenced by the smiles on their faces and the high scores they receive on their national exams.

Ruth with orphaned students at Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School in Kiti, Kenya

Another major change has been the establishment of partnerships between EC and the school administrations. Several of these schools now share the financial responsibility of supporting orphans in their programs with us, a first step in building self-sustaining programs on the ground.

Tracy Guion with children at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi ya Moto, Kenya

Every Journey Begins with One Step

As our trip came to a close it became clear to me that the message hidden in that song was for us to stay the course and continue building at the Miruya Primary School. The children in this area are poor and need a school within walking distance of their homes. The changes I had seen in the other schools we visited reminded me that every journey begins with one step, and that rather than be discouraged by the enormity of the task, we should be encouraged by what has already been accomplished.

Addressing the Needs

There are many needs to be addressed at Miruya Primary School; the most pressing being to continue providing students with a daily lunch program. The school yard needs to be leveled and a security fence has to be installed. The funds raised with this summer’s Matching Challenge will build a classroom for next year’s seventh graders. The administration expects the enrollment to increase each year, so additional classrooms will need to be built.

The Lord has something to say: smiling children at Miruya Primary school
Preschoolers and kindergarteners and their teacher at Miruya Primary School

The EC Board of Directors and I are excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for us to help the children at this school, with an eye toward building a successful partnership and eventual self-sustainability.

If you would like to contribute to this effort, or to any of our programs serving orphaned and vulnerable children, please click here to make a secure online donation. Feel free to send us an email at everyoneschildren@gmail.com to learn more about our programs. We’d love to hear from you!

As always, asante sana – thank you very much for your interest in and support for what we do for the orphaned and vulnerable children in our world. You are making the difference that brings the change for them!

Blessings,

Ruth

Value Added Moment

I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Kenya with Tracy Guion of Waitsfield, VT. It was a whirlwind of activity, beginning with one “value added moment” that I continue to unpack in my mind over and over again.

Tracy & Ruth at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi - a value added moment
Tracy & Ruth at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi

Harwood Students Making Change

Tracy Guion works for Project Harmony in Waitsfield, VT, implementing an exchange program for students in the USA and several eastern bloc countries.  Last May she helped to restart EC’s Messages of Mercy writing program between students at Harwood Union Middle School (HUMS) in Duxbury, VT and William Aludo’s Mentorship students in Kenya.  William is EC’s Program Coordinator and has been running camps for orphaned and vulnerable students for the past two years. 

The response to the writing program has been tremendous, especially on the part of three HUMS girls who decided that they wanted to do more.  They had learned that students in Kenya will be sent home if they can’t pay their fee of $36 per term, so they formed a group called “Harwood Students Making Change” and spent their summer vacation reaching out to family, friends, and area businesses in VT, raising funds to help orphaned Kenyan secondary students with their school fees.  By the end of the summer they had raised over $2,000, enough to send 12 students to school for one year.  They also made a short video introducing themselves and letting their new African friends know that they had raised these funds (see below).

A Meeting

We had arrived at our hotel in Nairobi at midnight and then spent the following day traveling six hours by car to Rongo. Needless to say, Tracy and I were whipped. But we had an important meeting to attend, which was to meet with the Mentorship Camp students at William Aludo’s home.

mentorship students with Tracy & Ruth in Rongo experiencing a value added  moment
Mentorship campers with Tracy & Ruth in Rongo

Nine students met us that evening, three of whom were students that EC currently supports. It began raining not long after we arrived, and the house had a tin roof, so the sound was deafening.  Despite the storm we managed to share a meal and learn about each other. 

Connecting Students

Tracy was in her element.  She sat right in the middle of the students and began asking them about their lives – what they liked to eat, how far they had to walk to get to school, and so on.  Then she asked them to tell her what they had learned from their pen pals in America.  The answers were interesting and revealing.  Martin said, “I learned that there is not much difference between we and them.”  Gordon said, “It gave me a chance to explore America”, and Brayton said, “I learned that most Americans only have two children.”

When Josephine mentioned that her pen pal was Arianna, Tracy pulled out her cell phone and showed the group the video that three Harwood Union Middle School students had made, explaining that they had spent their summer vacations raising enough money for 12 students to go to school next year.  The children watching were amazed, and responded by saying, “Thank you for what you have given me”, and, “I really thank you for what you did for me, especially for motivating me.”  But it was Gordon’s response that floored me.  After thanking the three girls he said, “I would also like to raise funds and share it with the orphans so they can also go to school.” 

a value added moment - Tracy showing the video to the students in Rongo
Tracy showing the video to the students in Rongo

I was stunned.  In all the years that I have been coming to Kenya, very few people have ever suggested that they might want to look for ways to raise funds to help students in their country.

Value Added Moment

When I first began Messages of Mercy in 2007, my goal was twofold.  I wanted the Kenyan children who had lost their parents to know that they were special and someone across the world was thinking of them.  I also wanted children in the USA to tap into their compassionate selves and understand that there were children on the other side of the world who had the same dreams and aspirations.  Over the years I have seen these goals be achieved over and over again.  But sitting in William Aludo’s house in the middle of a thunderstorm and hearing this student express his desire to partner with students in America to raise funds for his fellow Kenyan students was a first, and something that I definitely saw as a “value added moment”. 

Bishop Donovan students enjoying a value added moment with tracy & Ruth
A visit with EC sponsored Bishop Donovan Secondary students

Another Visit

Later in the week, we scheduled a meeting with 13 EC sponsored students at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Nakuru, six hours away from Rongo.  Over 100 students showed up for our meeting that day, but once again Tracy was in her element, holding their attention with stories about her life and the lives of students she knew in the USA. She also told them about the students who had raised funds to help their fellow students in Kenya, using quotes like “Be the change you wish to see in the world” to describe what these girls had achieved.

Mentorship students at BEDSS having a "value added" moment as tehy watch the video make by the HUMS girls
BEDSS Mentorship students watching the video made by the HUMS girls

Afterward Tracy showed the video that the three Harwood students had made to students we support. They too were amazed, having no idea that this was taking place on their behalf.  She asked them how this made them feel, and they responded with words like “Special”, “Loved”, Encouraged to study” and of course, “Happy!” Then she asked them what they had learned from their pen pals. One student said, “God can use anyone to help others.” Another said, “No matter where you come from, no matter your race, someone somewhere is thinking of you”. Tracy replied by saying, “I have been thinking of you 13 students since I first heard of you last March!” Once again, a value added moment was tucked away in my head and heart, showing me that the Messages of Mercy writing program had far exceeded my expectations.

Three BEDSS Mentorship boy students
Three mentorship students from Bishop Donovan Secondary School

We ended the meeting by going outside and taking pictures. Tracy also videoed the 13 sponsored students to show to the HUMS girls back home. Two of these are inserted below:

Being the Change

That value added moment was one of several that occurred during our Kenyan adventure, all of which will be written about in the months to come. I left Africa with the hope that EC’s work is reaching Kenya’s youth in a new way, inspiring them to also get involved and be the change that makes the difference for their country.

Next year we expect there will be 25 to 30 orphaned secondary students who will need help with their school fees. If you would like to make a difference in their lives, please click here to learn how you can make a secure donation to Everyone’s Child.

We are grateful for your help, and echo the voices you have heard and seen above: “thank you so much for what you have done for us”.

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

EC’s Annual Appeal

EC’s Annual Appeal

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

A Year of Growth

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

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

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

Your Support

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

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

During this season of giving

I am writing to ask you to please continue working alongside us as we serve the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future. If you have not already given, you can learn how to make your contribution by visiting https://everyoneschild.net/donate-2/.

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

With warmest wishes for a blessed holiday,

Ruth

EC – the year in review

Dear friends,

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.

Sr. Kateri feeding the hungry children in Kenya
Sr. Kateri feeding the EC children in Kampi Ya Moto

EC Scholarships

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.

EC students sitting in a classroom in Kenya
EC scholarship students at Bishop Donovan Secondary School

Partnerships

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.

exciting developments of a new board of directors in Kenya
EC Kenya Board of Directors

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.

EC Children Watching the drill and waiting for water
Watching the drill and waiting for water in Orissa, India

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 https://everyoneschild.net/donate-2/.

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

With warm wishes,

Ruth

Feeding the hungry

A friend of mine has been feeding the hungry for more than a decade.  Dyan Walker, also called Sr. Kateri as she belongs to a Franciscan lay order, has indirectly and directly been providing meals for hungry children in Kenya for many years.

The Message

A couple of weeks ago I asked Sr. Kateri how she happened to get involved with feeding needy children.  She said that it all started in 2007 when she attended a church service where a missionary to Kenya was bringing a message about the work he was doing in that country.  She was deeply affected by his stories of children in an area called Kampi Ya Moto – a name which translates to “Camp of Fire”.  Needless to say, life was challenging in that region.  Kampi Ya Moto is located in sub-Saharan Africa where daily temperatures reach high into the 80’s and 90’s and rainfall is scarce during most of the year.  She learned that HIV/AIDS had claimed the lives of many adults in that area so most of the children were orphaned.  Education was considered a luxury.  A primary school was built in 2003, but prior to that there were no schools near their homes.  Their excitement at finally being able to learn was beyond measure.  However, in spite of their enthusiasm, they were fainting in class due to lack of food.

The Orphan Feeding Program

This missionary was reaching out to the church for help with an Orphan Feeding Program, allowing the children in Kampi Ya Moto to receive a daily meal.

Sr. Kateri was profoundly moved by his stories, so she began to pray for a way to help them.  As a recent widow, her budget was limited, but it occurred to her to put aside $10 a week for the orphans.  She began to do that, and continued to pray for their situation.

Then in May 2007, Sr. Kateri was gifted with the opportunity to travel to Kenya with a  group of missionaries.  The trip had a profound impact on her life.  She vividly remembers the sights and sounds, the incredible wildlife, and most of all, the children.

missionaries in Kenya sitting around a round table
Sr. Kateri, third from the left, with missionaries in Kenya

In her visit to Kampi Ya Moto she had a chance to serve lunch to the school children, an experience that is still fresh in her heart and mind.  She also remembered that “…there was a kitchen there but it was dilapidated and falling apart.”  She returned home and began to tell her friends, co-workers, and anyone else who would listen about these children and their needs.  Before long, there was an outpouring of donations for the Orphan Feeding Program, and the effort began to take on a life of its own.

feeding the hungry children in Kampi
Children in Kampi Ya Moto waiting for their daily meal

Feeding the Hungry

Sr. Kateri’s passion for alleviating the suffering of these orphans in Kenya began to affect people throughout the USA and Canada.  Funds continued to pour in, making it possible to address other needs as well.  The kitchen she had seen during her trip was in need of repairs, and two other schools in Nakuru were asking for help with feeding orphans in their schools.  Fr. Paul Stewart, her pastor of many years, told her: “The money you set aside also inspired others to give, so they were able to repair the kitchen and start the Orphan Feeding Program in two new locations.”  Her prayers and continued concern and care for the orphans also led her to join EC’s Board of Directors, a position she held for several years.

Sr. Kateri feeding the hungry children in Kenya
Sr. Kateri feeding the children in Kampi Ya Moto in 2007 – the kitchen is in the background

Kateri’s Kitchen

Today the kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto is once again in a state of disrepair.  Severe drought and extreme heat have taken their toll on this small tin, wattle and daub building.  This summer, EC is raising $2,100 in order to build a structure that will withstand the climate and provide nutritional meals to these school children.

Kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto for feeding the hungry
The kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto

Upon completion, EC will be dedicating the new kitchen to Sr. Kateri.  A plaque honoring her commitment to feed the children will be placed in this building, and in future kitchens also.  Her legacy of giving to the least of them will continue to impact children for years to come.

Feeding the hungry plaque
The plaque that will be placed in the new kitchen in Kampi Ya Moto

If you are in a position to contribute to Kateri’s Kitchen, please click here to help us continue with our goal of feeding the hungry.  Your gift will make a huge difference for the school children who rely on these meals to get them through the day.

As always, Asante Sana (Thank you very much) for your help!

Blessings,

Ruth