The Walk for Water was a huge success! More than 40 people from the Waterbury area and Mad River Valley came to show their support for the new Health Center in Lanet, Kenya. The big news was that Chief of Police Francis Kariuki from Lanet was also here to walk! He spoke to attendees beforehand, telling them how grateful he and the villagers in Lanet were for the support of so many here in the USA. The village has grown in the past ten years to hold over 28000 people, so there is a tremendous need for a medical facility. Everyone’s Child partnered with the Waterbury Rotary Club and raised over $1100 at this event! Thank you everyone for you support!!
Join us in Waterbury, VT at 2 PM on June 8th for our 2nd annual Walk 4 Water event! Very often water borne diseases result in life threatening illnesses for children in developing nations. The Kenyan government has approved the building of a medical clinic in Lanet (outside of Nakuru) Kenya. This population in this area exceeds 22,000 so the need for a medical facility is paramount. EC is partnering with the Waterbury, VT Rotary Club, Kids in Kenya, and the Kenyan Ministry of Health to get this job done! Proceeds from the 2014 Walk 4 Water will go to the building fund for this clinic. Come join us for a day of fellowship and fundraising!!
Water has been an issue in Kampi ya moto long before I knew this place existed. Children in this area, usually the orphans – have the daily task of walking the hot and dusty two-mile trek to a river to collect water that is then used for drinking and cooking. I’ve been told that the water is usually boiled before it’s consumed, but the mere fact that the mortality rate in Kampi ya moto is 50% or higher leads me to believe that boiling it alone doesn’t remove the incidence of water borne illnesses.
I walk to this river with the children every time that I visit Kampi. In a word, it’s disgusting. The water is brown, and the shore is filled with mud-pocked holes made by the hooves of the cows and other animals that share this water hole with members of the village.
For the past several years we have tried in vain to have a borehole dug but were met with obstacles at every turn. From the purchasing of the land to the geological studies (yes, that’s plural – the first one was lost along the way!) that had to be conducted, to the unfortunate circumstance of hiring a company who claimed to be Living Waters International but made off with our hard won funds instead, it has been an uphill climb since we’ve started this process. In June 2013, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) – our partners in this project, hired a company that drilled down 215 meters before experiencing “high borehole collapse”. At that point it was determined that the well was dry. After some research and deliberation a rain harvesting system was set up as an alternative, and today the children are able to get clean drinking water from a spigot outside their school!! This is a HUGE change for these kids!
(This article will be printed in local papers soon, which is why it sounds like someone else wrote it…)
Autumn Benjamin from Waitsfield, VT has wanted to travel to Africa since she was five years old. That was in 1998. That year her preschool teacher, Ruth Young went on a mission trip to Kenya and brought back small wooden animals for each of her preschool children. “Sr. Ruth gave me a little wooden zebra, and ever since then, I’ve wanted to go to Kenya,” says the Harwood Union high school senior. Autumn has been on several mission trips herself, mainly to Jamaica where members of her youth group at the Church of the Crucified One in Moretown conduct an annual Vacation Bible School. They bypass the resort areas and go to Portland, where the hum of air conditioners is replaced by the beat of reggae music, and the sound of crowing roosters is as common as cicadas on a summer’s day in Vermont. Last month Autumn’s wish came true as she boarded a plane to Nairobi on the first day of February break.
Six other women also made the journey to Kenya during the recent February school break. Pam Dow of Moretown, Sara Baker of Montpelier, and Joni Clemons of East Montpelier are all teachers at Moretown Elementary School (MES). Nancy Chase is the program director for several afterschool programs in Williamstown, and Lynn Mason works for Jamieson Insurance in Waterbury and is the incoming president of the Waterbury Rotary Club. Ruth Young of Moretown led the tour for Everyone’s Child, Inc. (EC); she is the director of this organization that currently fundraises to builds schools, dig wells and feed close to 500 orphaned students a day in Kenya. Young’s pastor, Rev. William Stewart met them in Kenya where he was conducting church business with sister churches.
The primary purpose of the trip was to introduce American educators to several schools that have been sponsored and built by members of the Church of the Crucified One (CCO) in Moretown. Young has been traveling to Kenya since 1996 with members of her church to help build what has become a thriving community in the outskirts of Nakuru, approximately 300 km. northwest of Nairobi. She has wanted to bring teachers to Kenya since 2007 when she carried out her doctoral research in the first primary school built by the CCO. That school was completed in 1999, and a second one was built just three years later. The teachers there discovered that the students were unable to concentrate due to lack of proper nutrition, so an orphan-feeding program was started. The program still exists today, now feeding orphaned students daily meals of porridge, rice and beans in three different locations. Those who made the trip this past February had an opportunity to experience the orphan-feeding program first-hand, serving the children who receive these meals each day.
When asked by her 3rd and 4th grade students at MES why she wanted to travel to Kenya, Joni Clemons said that she was always asking them to stretch or go beyond in their thinking when it came to writing. She realized that she too needed to stretch herself and try something new and exciting. Pam Dow had a similar response, saying that she was interested in learning about a different culture and meeting people that she had been connected with through “Messages of Mercy”, the writing program that Young set up between orphaned students in Kenya and students at MES in 2008. Her daughters have been writing letters for several years, so she looked forward to meeting students who have been connected with her children. Students in Victoria Smith’s classroom at Crossett Brook Middle School are also involved in this letter exchange.
Nancy Chase of Williamstown was having a significant birthday this year and wanted to celebrate in a memorable way. Her daughter Kelly Poulin, a speech and language specialist at MES, suggested she join the school tour. She hesitated at first, but at the close of the trip she declared: “Doing this sure beat sitting on a beach somewhere for five days!”
Sara Baker and Lynn Mason both love to travel, so when the opportunity to go to Kenya to visit schools and experience the wildlife opened up they both jumped at the chance to go. Mason was very happy with the tour, saying that the trip was “very well rounded with playtime, touring and visits to the schools”. She also had an opportunity to attend a Rotary Club meeting during the trip, exchanging Rotary flags and the hand of fellowship with fellow Rotarians across the world.
Before leaving Vermont, Baker, a special educator at MES, found a wheelchair and two Convaid strollers to bring for students in need. One recipient was a nine-year old boy with cerebral palsy who was identified by Dr. Beth Ann Maier of Waterbury during a medical clinic conducted by EC in 2010. The family had just moved to Nairobi but on learning that the chair was in Kenya, made the trip to Nakuru to pick it up. An interpreter bridged the communication gap between Baker and the mother as the chair was being given to the boy, but the smile on the mother’s face sent a clear message of gratitude and relief.
In an effort to connect her kindergarten students with children in Kenya, Dow came up with the idea of bringing t-shirts with handprints from MES students. 100 t-shirts were purchased for $1 apiece from the t-shirt factory in Northfield and brought to give to the orphaned children at Kampi ya moto. In exchange, students at Kampi ya moto traced and colored their handprints to send back to MES. These handprints will adorn the hallways and classrooms in Moretown, each one carrying a message of friendship from someone living thousands of miles away.
The trip culminated with a safari in Lake Nakuru Game Park. Everyone was overjoyed at the sighting of a zebra colt and a baby giraffe, along with multitudes of Thompson gazelles, water buffalo, birds and monkeys. On the last day of the trip the travelers visited the Elephant Centre in Nairobi, home to orphaned elephants who otherwise wouldn’t survive in the wild. They also had an opportunity to visit the Karen Blixen Museum, a must see for “Out of Africa” fans.
Everyone’s Child will be visiting schools in Kenya again during the February break in 2013. If you are interested in going, please contact me (Ruth Young) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a note from our pastor who has been in Kenya for the past two weeks. A little background ~ the orphans he refers to are students at Lanet Umoja Primary School. Most of these children have lost their parents due to the HIV/AIDS virus, but instead of becoming available for adoption, they usually wind up living with family members where they are often treated like serfs.
All the students have three month-long school vacations during the growing and harvesting seasons to help in the family garden. If a child is orphaned, they go home to a life of labor and hunger. They usually receive whatever is leftover in their home – whether it’s food, clothing or a place to sleep. The teachers at Lanet Umoja Primary School established “Everyone’s Child” in 2006 to help orphaned students who were going to be away from school for a month by collecting clothing, food and incidentals for these kids. The end of the term is carried out with a day they now call “Everyone’s Child” where [many] speeches are made and the orphaned children are given packages to bring home.
Here is what our pastor, Fr. Paul Stewart had to say about this term’s closing ceremonies:
“We have been traveling all around Kenya, and it is becoming apparent to me that the focus for “Everyone’s Child” is these orphans. Nowhere do they get the care that they receive here in Lanet. At the school closing ceremonies today members of the church brought bags of food for them to take home on holiday, and a collection was also taken for “Everyone’s Child” to take care of the needs of these kids. Parents, teachers and students contributed to the cause. After the long, drawn out hours of closing ceremonies the orphans were treated to a full meal at the church. They sat on the stage in the backyard where the church is being built, and we all spent time talking with them. Bless the Lord, nothing feels better than helping these children feel they are loved.”
This past year has been an exciting one for Everyone’s Child, Inc. We started the year with several goals and managed to achieve some very important objectives.
In the beginning of 2010 the Board of Directors decided that our first priority was to continue caring for the 600 students in Kenya who benefit daily from the Orphan Feeding Program. Throughout the year we were able to sustain this program by raising between $600 and $700 each month. In addition, EC made donations to earthquake victims in Haiti, students in Jamaica, and the building of a secondary school in Kenya.
Our second priority this year has been to work toward the completion of a borehole in Kampi ya moto, Kenya. Ruth presented the need for potable drinking water at Rotary Clubs in the USA and in Kenya. A sponsor from the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia expressed an interest in contributing funds, and Rotary Clubs in Nakuru, Kenya and Hagerstown, MD are currently considering a matching grant to raise funds to complete this project. Ruth’s presentations were aided by a new DVD produced by Micah Dudash at Many Mountains Studios in Vermont. Micah and his wife Kelly also spent many hours designing a logo and a creating a brand package for EC.
Several fundraisers were held throughout the year, allowing EC to raise $25,000. Dinners were held, coffee breaks were sponsored at rest areas on I-89 (Vermont’s interstate highway), coin banks were placed strategically around the region, computers were donated to students and schools, and several table presentations were made at the University of Vermont. Juniper’s Fare Café, a restaurant in Waterbury, Vermont, began donating a portion of their daily proceeds to EC, giving their clients an opportunity to have a “meal with a mission”.
This past year more students from the USA and Kenya became involved in the “Messages of Mercy” writing program, sending expressive letters to each other across the world. A middle school language teacher in central Vermont confirmed that the best writing she had ever seen from her students came from this writing program.
Some American students also became involved in fundraising efforts. Two elementary school sisters invited family and friends over one wintry evening to learn about EC. They baked up a storm and raised over $200 for the Orphan Feeding Program.
Another middle school student decided that she could save pennies in a jar. Within a year’s time she had saved $50, which she donated to EC.
The stories don’t end there. Toward the end of the year, a Vermont high school senior came up with an innovative fundraising idea. He called it “Walk 4 Water”; an event that simulated the journey of a Kenyan child for their daily provision of water. Thirty people walked for a total of two miles on a rainy Saturday morning with buckets and water carriers, filling their containers at a nearby river, and raising over $700 and a lot of awareness about the plight of African children who have no choice but to use contaminated water every day.
Of all of our accomplishments, the one that we are the happiest about is that all of these funds are now tax-deductible, as our 501(c)(3) status was granted in September of this year!
2010 ended with EC’s second annual Kenyan medical clinics. American doctors and nurses worked alongside clinicians from the Kenyan Ministry of Health, diagnosing and treating over 1200 patients within a four-day span. At the close of the clinics it was clear that the greatest value of these clinics was the AIDS screening, education and worm medications that the ministry provided. Additionally, some important connections were made with provincial administrators who want to see clinics built in areas where residents have few opportunities for prenatal care and immunizations.
2011 presents new goals and objectives. We need to continue caring for the students who rely on us for their daily provision of food. We are still waiting to dig and complete the well digging project in Kampi ya moto. We want to construct an orphanage and a medical clinic in Lanet Umoja, and we also want to raise funds to complete the building of a secondary school just outside of Nakuru. In other parts of the world, our hope is to continue supporting students in Jamaica, who struggle to receive an education in one of the poorer parts of the island. We also hope to conduct medical clinics in India where we have connections with people who run an orphanage for school-aged boys and girls. We would also like to continue our contributions to schoolchildren in Haiti.
We at Everyone’s Child realize that none of these accomplishments from this past year could have happened without the support of our donors, and for that we want to express our deepest appreciation. Their contributions have helped to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of school children in developing nations. We are all changing a generation through education, one student at a time.
This past September, I had the opportunity to return to Africa with a group of missionaries who were visiting the mission house in Kenya. My goal was to be able to thank and spend time with the people who had done so much to help me complete my dissertation. During our stay the students at Lanet Umoja Primary School held an assembly for all of us as we were representing the sponsors of their school. For several hours all the classes skillfully performed songs and dances. During the program a group of twelve students read a short piece they had written. These students represented the orphans who attend Lanet Umoja, and all of them had benefited from a program started by the teachers the previous year called “Everyone’s Child”. This program is described below:
Kenya has a large orphan population, mainly because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has ravaged the continent of Africa for the past several decades. Orphaned children often live with relatives and commonly have to do without, especially if the family is large or funds are scarce. With this in mind, in 2006 the teachers decided to have a day called “Everyone’s Child” where they would ask families to donate goods for the students who had been orphaned. Families in the area responded positively, bringing clothing, food, money, and whatever else they could to provide for the needs of these children. The program left a lasting impression on me, enough so that I gave the title of “Everyone’s Child” to my dissertation. The orphans, for their part, were extremely grateful, and read the following piece during the assembly expressing their gratitude both for the program as well as the sponsors of Lanet Umoja Primary School:
TO YOU WE BELONG
Read by the orphans at Lanet Umoja Primary School on 9/19/08
Death! Death! A cruel and merciless visitor.
At first we lost our dear Dad.
Life was difficult with a single parent, yet you were not satisfied,
You came back and robbed us of our mothers, our only breadwinner and hope in life.
Desperate, we were left wondering, “TO WHOM DO WE BELONG?”
Today our worries are gone, since in every desert of calamity
God provides an Oasis of Hope. We owe a lot of thanks to our dear teachers and Lanet Umoja parents who sat under the leadership of Father Thomas and thought of us.
A club was initiated in the name of “EVERYONE’S CHILD”
Yes, for to EVERYONE we belonged.
The late Bishop Eddie had us in his heart.
He loved us; he cared for us, for to him we belonged.
May the Lord Jesus rest his soul in peace.
To the Community of the Crucified One
To you we belong.
Sr. Catenna (Kateri) to you we belong.
God is wonderful and merciful for the year 2007 God sent Sr. Ruth
Our plight she felt, and needful she did. Meal on the table she put
For to Sr. Ruth we belong.
EVERYONE’S CHILD has a special message to special people:
FATHER PAUL: To you, Father Paul we belong, who, just like Bishop Eddie, let
EVERYONE’S CHILD enjoy your love.
TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE CRUCIFIED ONE:
Remember Bishop Eddie laid a firm foundation of EVERYONE’S CHILD
The rest is left on you
Will you build on that foundation?
Or will you let it crumble?
But to you we belong.
TO EVERYBODY – CCO, PARENTS, TEACHERS:
Here in school we have enjoyed your love
Our worries are “What if we leave this school?”
WILL THE REST OF THE WORLD BE CARING?
Orphans as we are, we need your shoulder to lean on forever, for to you we belong.
WE ARE “EVERYONE’S CHILD.”