Posts Tagged ‘Lewa children’s home’

As I said earlier, I arrived at Lewa at the end of the summer holiday. On September 3rd, a lot of the children had to make their way back to school.

The majority of the Lewa children go to the Kipkeino school. The school belongs to Lewa and is located just on the other side of the road. It is ranked one of the best schools in the entire country and many of its students come from the region’s elite.

The Kipkeino school

The Kipkeino school

It is a unique opportunity for the Lewa children to be able to study (tuition-free) in a competitive environment, to get the same quality education that children from privileged families receive. That said, they still face tough challenges.

Being an orphan carries a huge social stigma in Kenya. Who your parents are and where you come from are a big part of who you are. Children are often called “son of” or “daughter of.” That means orphans are missing that essential part of their identity.

And as in many other schools around the world, your economic background doesn’t go unnoticed either. Phyllis does what she can to level the playing field. But, in the end, she can only afford the essentials. No fancy shoes, no fashionable jeans, no accessories or jewelry.

So, when we walked the Lewa children to Kipkeino for the beginning of the new semester, and I saw them carrying their belongings in plastic bags, my heart sunk. The other students were taken to school by their parents. And they had all the accessories that give kids their age a social edge: a Hello Kitty toothbrush cup, a Nike sweater, a brassiere!

The Lewa students’ inventory was painstakingly short: the bare minimum, what was required by the school, nothing more. Nisha, Susan and I helped each of them to go through the list, made their beds and kissed them goodbye. Janice, a 10 year old in class 5, had sneaked in a Disney princesses puzzle that she must have taken from the Lewa play room. I don’t think she was allowed to take things from the play room, and really the game was more adapted for a 5-year old than for a girl her age. But when I saw the look on her face, holding this little pink box as if it were the only thing she had ever owned for herself, all I could say was: “This is so nice!” She was holding a small treasure.

I hope we can keep helping Phyllis so that she doesn’t have to worry every single day about how she’s going to feed her children or pay for their medical bills and that one day, Janice can have a Disney princess back pack, or a Hello Kitty toothbrush holder…

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Since I began working for Bread and Water for Africa, I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I chose to take the non-profit route instead of following many of my fellow graduates to jobs in finance, consulting or the stockmarket (not that the stockmarket’s so desireable these days, but you get the picture). 

The first thing that I tell them is that this is the only job that I’ve ever had where I leave the office everyday feeling like I’ve really done something significant to help those less fortunate than myself. Every once and a while, something comes across my desk that proves this theory of mine.  I’d like to share with you one example of a source of my inspiration.

A few weeks ago, we received a package from Phyllis containing thank you letters from some of the children that we help her sponsor with school fees and basic necessities.  One of these letters in particular really moved me…

Thank you letter from Daniel Kimutai 
The letter reads:
Dear sir/madam,
It is with great honour and sheer gratitude that I take this opportunity to thank and appreciate your great devotion, commitment and willingness to enable me to be in school.  Many people wish to get this opportunity to learn but due to various social and economic reasons they can not.  During my previous phases of education, I have never been chased from school due to lack of school fees.  It is sad to see friends dropping out of school then drowning in the sea of drug abuse.  I thank God that I am not a victim.
Thank you for working hand in hand with our loving mother Mrs Phyllis Keino.  Through her, we have learnt the basic principles of Christian living such as respect, hardworking, humility and obedience.  I must assure you that success will be the fruit your labour.  You will be proud of all your sacrifices you have made to me.  When I grow up, I would like to be a lawyer, and my greatest objective in life is to the shining star and a role model to Lewa Childrens Home.  I know that with hard work and a great determination, I will achieve my goal.  Thank you very much and may you be blessed. 
Yours faithful,
Daniel Kimutai
This is just one of the many such letters that I have had the pleasure of reading since I began working here.  I’ll admit, it does make me feel a bit guilty about how much I complained when finals rolled around each year, knowing that I should have been grateful for my educational opportunities.  But knowing that there are organizations like Bread and Water out there to provide these opportunities to children and young adults without the means to achieve them themselves is not only inspiring… it’s reassuring. 
Bread and Water for Africa has renewed my faith in the goodness of people and in the power of determination and hard work.  I’m truly lucky to have the opportunity to see what the work of Bread and Water looks like on the ground.  And to think, Eldoret is just 5 short days away…

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