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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
have been providing scholarships in Kenya for orphaned high school students since 2012. On average, 14 students per year have had an opportunity to receive an education through EC’s Student Scholarship Program.
These students come from a variety of backgrounds, but the common denominator for all of them is that they have lost either one or both parents. The reasons for their losses vary. “According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2016, the top leading causes of death were pneumonia, followed by malaria, cancer, HIV/AIDS, anemia, heart disease and lastly tuberculosis in that order…” Road accidents are another more sudden and unanticipated cause of death in Kenya.
No matter how it happens, the impact is universally the same for everyone coping with the loss of a parent. For adults, there is often great sorrow, confusion and a feeling of powerlessness. Children who lose one or both parents experience those same feelings. They are also forced to confront challenges that they are usually unprepared to face, mostly dealing with basic survival and completing their education.
The Cost of Education
In Kenya, most orphans are placed in the care of family members who often lack the resources to help them complete their education. Orphaned children are frequently sent home from school if they are unable to pay school fees or fulfill uniform requirements. However, in 2018, the Kenyan government made it possible for students to attend high school free of charge. This unprecedented move made it more affordable for children to complete their education. Nevertheless, there are some fees that the government does not pay.
Currently Kenyan students pay $108 per year out of pocket to attend secondary school. For many of us this cost would not be considered an issue. But $36 per term is prohibitive for these orphaned children and their adoptive families. The cost of their required uniform is between $50 – $75, another expense that they are typically unable to pay.
Five students recently submitted scholarship applications to EC for the 2019 school year. Their stories are heart rending. I’ve shared some of their requests below so our readers can see the situations they face:
Joseph – 17; no parents
My school fee is paid by my brother with a lot of challenges because he has no job. My parents passed in 2003. The challenges that I face are all about school fees and some of school uniforms.
Carolyne – 15; no parents
I am an orphan living with my grandmother and my younger sister. My grandmother is unable to pay both my school fees and for my younger sister. She does not have a suitable job but just runs a small kiosk selling sukumu wiki (cooked kale). I kindly ask for a scholarship from Everyone’s Child, and if you accept God will bless you.
Michael – 14; mother living, father dead
My main aim for applying for a scholarship is as follows: my father passed on year 2005 in a road accident, leaving behind a widow and four siblings. Due to the situation my mother decided to stop renting home and we all shifted to our grandmother’s home. After a year my mum faced a hardship and disappeared and left us under our grandmother’s care. My grandmother is suffering and old. Food and school fees are a big problem to me. I am always in and out of school.
Where you come in
Everyone’s Child relies solely on donations from individuals to help support students like Michael, Carolyne and Joseph. If you are in a position to contribute to their education, please click here to make a secure donation. Feel free to email us at email@example.com for more information on how to provide orphaned students with scholarships.
As always, thank you for making life easier for these children who are relying on Everyone’s Child to help them with challenges that children should not have to face alone.
Sources: Institute of Economic Affairs http://www.ieakenya.or.ke
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.
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!
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:
(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.
Connor and 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.
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.
We have seen some great beginnings for EC in 2019! Our 2018 Annual Appeal more than doubled from last year’s appeal, making us wonder what could be in store for the months ahead. It didn’t take long to find out. Early in January we received a request from Pastor Kishor Senepati, one of our contacts in northern India. He and his wife Mary were asking for help with the children of Orissa, where we provided funds for a well last year.
Although it is in northern India, Orissa is a tropical region, lying just south of the Tropic of Cancer. Temperatures in that region typically range between 80 – 110 degrees F, so even 60 F feels cold. This past month, nighttime temperatures in Orissa have been as low as 40 F, which is much colder than usual. We were told that the children in the village didn’t own any warm clothing, and they were beginning to get sick. Thanks to our generous supporters, in mid January we were able to wire funds for over 200 sweaters for these children. EC also teamed up with Juniper’s Fare Catering of Waterbury, VT to provide funds for a meal. Having something warm to wear is a good reason to celebrate!
A Change of Heart
Witnessing a change of heart is a reason to celebrate also. Two weeks after wiring the funds we discovered that the money had not yet been received in India. This meant that the children still didn’t have their much needed sweaters. Pastor Kishor told me that shop owners don’t usually let their goods out on credit. I believe in the power of prayer, and immediately began to pray for a change in this shopkeeper’s heart. A day later, I received a text telling me that this man had agreed to allow the sweaters to be purchased on credit! Now my prayer is that he and his business will be greatly blessed.
Making Life Easier
In the coming year EC will continue to feed and provide education for orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya. We are also excited to be branching out into new areas. It is a blessing to make life easier for vulnerable children, no matter where they live.
To our faithful donors, we want to thank you for these great beginnings. Your partnership makes this work possible. If you would like to begin this new year by joining us in our efforts, please click here to make a secure donation today. Or feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
The end of the year is here and EC’s annual appeal has been sent out far and wide. So far the response has been tremendous! Our goal is to raise $25,000 by the end of 2018. As of this writing, our supporters have contributed over $14,000 in the space of one month. We are well on our way to meeting our goal!
A Year of Growth
I am amazed when I look back at all that has happened in 2018. This has been an expanding year for Everyone’s Child. With your help we have provided over 500 children with a daily meal in five different locations, given an education to 15 orphaned secondary students, and sponsored a Mentorship Program for orphaned and vulnerable teens. Together we also built Kateri’s Kitchen and dug a well for an impoverished village in northern India.
This year we saw the establishment of the EC Kenya Board of Directors, and welcomed Jedidah Kuria – a graduate of our sponsorship program to our Kenya staff. We received a grant from CBN allowing us to pay teachers at Miruya Primary School in western Kenya. Those of you who follow this monthly blog have seen the photos and read the stories. Hopefully you’ve felt the hope and love that emanates from each posting.
It takes a lot of effort to build something – whether that “thing” is a physical building, a program, or a relationship. EC’s Board of Directors and I spend a lot of time planning, praying about and discussing the direction for this non-profit. I believe that the same can be said for those of you who support what we do. Your contributions are not something we take lightly, so it is with great heart and much gratitude that I offer my thanks to you in this season. We understand that there are many organizations doing wonderful things for children all over this world, which makes your support that much more meaningful to us.
During this season of giving
I am writing to ask you to please continue working alongside us as we serve the orphans and vulnerable children who are counting on us for their education and their future. If you have not already given, you can learn how to make your contribution by visiting 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.
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!
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.
As always, Asante Sana (thank you very much) for supporting Everyone’s Child. Your efforts truly are helping to change a generation through education.
This past June I wrote about a donation that came from a relative of mine who was checking things off a bucket list. The item was “I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink”. Without even knowing it, this relative was quenching the thirst of many children.
A Board Decision
At about the same time, the EC Board of Directors had decided to provide a hand pump to a ministry serving children in Orissa, which is in northern India. This ministry has been faced with tremendous persecution, making it very difficult to support these children. They had asked us for help with a hand pump, nutritional care and educational supplies, so our first effort was to provide them with a hand pump and repair their bore well. Our hope was that the pump and repaired well would prevent the sickness and disease they have all been dealing with from drinking dirty river water.
Checking things off our list
My relative’s bucket list inspired others to give, and as a result, I am overwhelmingly excited to report that this item can now be checked off our list too. In mid-June the funds were sent to India, and a month later I received an email and a video from India, showing that the water pump is now in place. The video is below, followed by the portions of the email:
“Hallelujah thank you Lord Jesus Christ for this water facilities to these children and families. Lord we bless Everyone’s Child for bringing blessings to these vulnerable children we serve in Orissa.”
“When the water gushed out of the pump … we saw joyful tears in the eyes of the children and families. Truly the Lord is great. See the children how they are very very happy and grateful to you and to the Lord. They prayed. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for this wonderful water facilities you provided to bless these children and families. These children were thirsty and starving and were suffering without water but you met the needs thank you Lord for giving us provisions to serve these tribal children in Orissa. Amen.”
Connecting others to the need
I recently visited the bank where funds for the water pump were transferred to India. The teller who had helped with the transaction was there, so I had an opportunity to share the video and texts with him. He was visibly moved, and then asked me if I would be able to share the video and text with him.
His reason was simple. His children recently had friends over for the evening, and when all the soda pop, bottled water and juice was gone, they found that their only option for quenching their thirst was to drink water from the tap. “I want to show them this,” he said, “because I told them that there was plenty of good drinking water right there at the sink. I said that the local Water Authority had deemed it safe to drink, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to drink it. They need to see what other people deal with when it comes to having clean drinking water.”
Quenching the thirst
Looking back, it seems that many of my blogs have been about water. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Water is one of the most needed elements in our world – for people, plants, animals – in fact, for all living things. And yet, potable water makes up a very small fraction of all the water on the earth. According to National Geographic*, “While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.”
We all have thirst. Quenching that thirst is a driving force in life. For so many of us, having potable water is a non-issue. However, for every one for whom it is a non-issue, there are at least three who struggle with access to clean drinking water. The numbers are overwhelming. 844 million people on the earth today lack sanitary water**.
Everyone’s Child is committed to providing clean drinking water for any of the schools we help to build. Beyond that, we will do all we can to make clean water available to children in developing nations.
I am grateful for the privilege of partnering with so many of you to take care of this and many other needs in our world, especially when children are involved.
Please click here if you would like to support our programs in Kenya and India. Your tax-deductible gift will help with educating, feeding and quenching the thirst of children we serve in these countries.
As always, thank you and bless you for seeing, understanding and responding to the need. I pray that your hearts and buckets will be full to overflowing time and time again.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
If you are in a position to contribute to Kateri’s Kitchen, pleaseclick 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!
Providing for needs is constant in life. We have basic needs that deal with our survival as humans: water, food, and shelter. Then there are less-essential needs, such as designer jeans, computers and dirt bikes. What you have been blessed with in life defines your perspective on your own personal sense of needs and provision for those needs.
A relative of mine recently decided to give a recurring donation to Everyone’s Child. I asked where the donation should be directed, and received the most amazing response, copied below:
“My goal was to donate enough to bring water to a school in a year…I went online to learn more and saw the need for water. It was something on my bucket list that has not been fulfilled. Here is my bucket list:
I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
I was in awe of my relatives’ ability to use Matthew 25:35-40 to identify a selfless list of objectives for life. These objectives were all about providing for needs. I wrote the following reply:
“Yours is a more than worthy bucket list. Thank you for sharing it with me. As to your dream of bringing water to a school in a year’s time, we are always on the lookout for that need. After walking to that muddy river in Kampi Ya Moto, Kenya it has become my personal quest.”
I was thirsty
I went on to say that the EC Board of Directors had just recently decided to provide a hand pump to a ministry in northern India. I mentioned that this ministry is providing for the needs of 85 children, but they have been faced with tremendous persecution, making it very difficult to support these children. They had asked us for help with a hand pump, nutritional care and educational supplies, so our first effort was to provide them with a hand pump and repair their bore well. This pump and repaired well will hopefully prevent the sickness and disease they have all been dealing with from drinking dirty river water.
I ended my email by saying how glad I was to be able to participate in this bucket list, made only more meaningful by the fact that I was proud to be related to this special person.
Providing for Needs
Providing for needs includes the act of caring for and about others. Sometimes that act is a prayer, other times it involves an action or a financial gift. Here at Everyone’s Child we appreciate contributions of all kinds.
Love is the defining expression in my relative’s bucket list. Please click here to give to someone who will greatly appreciate your gift of love.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.