On December 18 we held our Christmas gathering. All of the orphans and their extended family members and guardians gathered at the residence for a shared meal, cake and to celebrate the end of the school year and the Christmas season. We also gave out presents to each of our orphans, and the distribution of food and supplies for the next month took place. This is, along with our annual birthday party, the largest yearly event.
At the conclusion of the day most of the orphans go back to their homesteads and spend part of the Christmas break at the home of their guardians. While some of the orphans have no place to go – and spend this time with our staff – this is the closest our program and our staff have to a rest period.
School/Education/The Coming Year
Of course business continues on many fronts with an emphasis on the educational placements in the coming year. While university and colleges commence in September, the elementary and high schools work on a schedule similar to the calendar year with the new school year beginning in January. This is particularly significant for those who have graduated from Form 8 (grade 8) and have taken their national exams prior to the break. Those results, which determine what schools will offer admission, will be reported shortly.
Generally there are three levels of high school – and three levels of costs – depending on the marks received on the exams. We have maintained a commitment to allow each of our orphans to attend the highest (and most expensive) level of school they qualify for. When the admissions are offered there is a scramble to be admitted to a specific school. By the end of January each child will be accepted and begin his or her high school career. They are given a list of things they need to bring which -an entire kit – which includes a mattress, bedding, towels, clothing, uniforms, books, school supplies, wash basin and all the other things they will need for the school year.
We are, where ever possible, making efforts to have our students placed in schools that are closer to Kikima and to cluster our students in specific schools. With less distance and more students together we are able to establish a stronger relationship with the school while having more ongoing contact with our students. Like with teenagers here, the more support we can offer, the greater their chances of success.
One of our sponsors, April Crabb, made the decision to do what we’ve often talked about – she is spending Christmas in Kenya. Here she is, shortly after arrival with her sponsored child Mbula and her grandfather who is her guardian. Along with visiting with them in their home she took them on an outing to Nairobi before she continued on with her safari.
The following is a list of school donations received during this month. Each school – as with our individual donors – is given a complete account of exactly how we spent the donated money and thank you signs from our orphans. If you go down to the sections below you can actually see how much of this money has already been put to use and been accounted for!
Breslau Public School donated $250 from their “Elf Walk”. An Elf Walk is when families donate items from home they don’t need or want and all items are sold for $1. Kids are able to buy an affordable holiday gift for their family and anything left gets donated to Goodwill. All of the money raised goes to charity.
Immaculata H.S. donated $346.00 – primarily the money was raised by pop corn sales.
St. Mark H.S. donated $400.00
Our Lady of Fatima donated $200.00
Dr. Emily Stowe P.S. donated $547.00
St. John’s-Kilmarnock School had a Week Of Christmas for Creation of Hope and raised $665.00
Ms. Barber’s grade 2 students at Waterford P.S. had a Toy Drive which raised $155.29
Millwood Jr. School under the direction of Glenna and for Alexandria and Kalli made a donation of $100.00
St. Mildred’s Teens for Global Change donated $200.00
Immanuel Christian School donated $134.92
LaSalle Public School donated $2,000 – this is being used once again to support two students – Eric and Faith – as they continue their post-secondary school journey
Carol donated money to support our program for February 18th.
Students at her school also made donations as follows:
Haley and Kacie donated money for a blanket.
Seth and Dayton donated money for a blanket.
Jacob donated money to buy three blankets.
Margot donated money for a day of support.
A student Norah made a donation in honor of her teachers for a day of support.
Marlene and Bryan donated $80.00.
Amanda has made a donation of $16 for a school uniform.
A teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes, Alan donated money for a day of support.
Students at Our Lady of Lourdes – Eden, James, and Brennan donated a total of $32.00.
Julie donated money to provide a day of support to honor her children Ethan, Ella and Claire.
Sharon made her annual generous donation in lieu of Christmas presents (see the thank you signs below).
Chris and Karen made an incredible donation that was designated to help pay for high school fees, 4 days of operating costs, to subsidize the additional costs for a food distribution day and the purchase of ten goats!
One of our sponsors, Kathy Kay, has been coordinating efforts to raise funds to deepen one of the wells at the orphanage. While one well is pumping water every fifteen minutes the other is producing water only once per hour. By deepening this well – which is already 68 feet deep – it will become much more productive. While it is much less expensive overall to deepen a well rather than digging a new one, the cost per foot at that depth is more expensive.
Kathy’s efforts are supported by:
Her home church, St Andrew’s in Huntsville, which donated $400; and
Margaret who donated $230 that will go toward deepening our well; as well as,
George and Diane who donated $200.00 to be used for the same project.
Below is a sign made by Kathy’s granddaughters and friends. The “West Lansing Kids” raised $48.10 for the well digging project that Kathy is fund raising for.
Pam donated $200.00 to be used for educational needs
Samera, Fraidoon, Anakin donated money which has been used for two blankets
Jennifer and Alan made an incredible donation of $2000.00 which is being used for 10 days of support and secondary school education
Peter & Kimberly donated money for Nana and Pappy to provide two days of support for the program.
Marthe donated money to used for 3 days of support.
Louise – who has visited in Kikima – donated $100.00 for the Christmas celebration
Irit donated money for two days of support
Mrs. Hewitt donated money for a day of support
Bob and Linda made a donation to the program in honor of their friend, our sponsor, Sharon
After a presentation the following students made these donations Wyatt $31.00, Trevor $5.00 and T.J. $2.00
Dylan made a donation on behalf of Aurora Grove P.S.
Thank you Signs
This sign was sent to our students by Sharon and her students at Stride Community School
Each month we give out food and supplies to the orphans and impoverished children in the community. This had been up to 2.2 metric tons of supplies. While most of this expense is covered by monthly donations from our sponsors there is always an additional cost as we provide for other members of the extended families as well as needy children who are not formally sponsored. The following donations were used to supplement this distribution.
Days of Support
One of the most valuable and immediate ways to support our program is to donate $100.00 to provide a day of support for our residence. This donation provides food for all the children, routine medical care, the salaries of the night watchman, driver, tutor, cook, matron and caretaker and the utilities for the building.
Below are the ‘parents’ or our program for those days.
Our largest expense had become educational costs. While these include some expenses at the primary level (uniforms, books, parent/teacher association fees) this is mostly the result of tuition fees for high school and post-secondary education.
As discussed earlier in this update, the start of the new school year is January and we have 18 new students entering high school. This expense will be covered by donations but also sponsor donations. In some cases the existing sponsor has simply decided to increase their monthly donation to cover this expense. With many, however, the expense increase is well beyond what we would request from an individual sponsor. Therefore, with their knowledge and agreement, we have added an educational sponsor to pay the costs. We have been blessed with a large number of people coming forward to become educational sponsors.
As the marks and school assignments are just being released we are now going through the process of pairing educational sponsors and students. Once they are paired they will exchange photographs and letters. In the coming month all of our educational sponsors will receive a letter and update on their child.
In addition to the regular Christmas and birthday presents that each child receives there are times when sponsors either send a parcel or money to purchase additional items. We try our best to send each sponsor a picture showing their child with the items sent or purchased. Here is a sampling of pictures.
Many of our sponsors received personal Christmas greetings that were taken at our Christmas party. We have received so many email responses telling us that receiving this picture this was one of the highlights of our sponsors’ Christmas season. Below are a few of those pictures.
We have been blessed this year with the continued growth and success of our orphans and the incredibly generous support of our sponsors.
As we close this year we offer our great thanks and our hopes that 2016 brings all of you wonderful blessings!
Eric and Anita