Dear friend and supporter of eduKenya,
13 ½ years ago I stepped into the unknown of the Mathare Slum. It was intimidating first walking in, as I had been told stories as to why I should avoid such a place. As I exited public transportation and began walking back towards the Believers Centre Mathare Church I was greeted with inquisitive and skeptical stares. I smiled occasionally, but mostly kept my gaze straight ahead as we drew closer to the church. The fears and intimidation quickly melted away as I walked through the church’s rickety gate and was greeted by 25 children’s loud voices and smiles. One in particular stood out, as I sensed a small body wrapped around my leg. As I looked down, a beautiful smile came beaming up at me. That was the first time I met my dear friend Faith. Faith was featured at the beginning of last year as we promoted our classroom sponsorship program, so it is only appropriate that I end 2019 and begin 2020 mentioning her.
Faith had the opportunity to experience transformation as a student at eduKenya’s Mawewa School and Chelezo High School. She certainly had her share of challenges and heartache throughout those 13 years, but she understood ultimate hope and persevered. Faith was empowered through a robust education, that not only tapped into her academic knowledge, but provided an opportunity to develop her character.
As I walked into the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, where our very first high school graduation ceremony was held a month ago, I saw a familiar face walk in. It was Faith’s mother Immaculate, who had been fighting cancer for the last two years. Immaculate had such an infectious smile. We entered into the beautifully decorated auditorium, and I experienced a celebration of transformation that in my lifetime has been unmatched. I watched as 20 remarkable young men and women displayed their gifts, abilities, depth of faith and character. I watched Faith graduate that day.
One of the challenges of this work, is that the results of individual lives are not in our hands. We don’t get to determine who will be successful, or who will sacrifice of themselves for others. We have been given the privileged role of providing opportunity and laying a foundation that will propel these young men and women forward to transform society.
It was the greatest privilege of my life to speak at graduation. The student speaker, Diana, spoke often of looking for the opportunity behind every challenge. This was something they learned often on their climb up Mt Kenya, which was the final part of the Senior Leadership program. Each day we all have a choice to view each challenge that we face as an opportunity or an obstacle. By investing in the lives of our students and their families, you are helping them see the opportunity of growing up in Mathare, not just the insurmountable object. Thank you for being a part of this eduKenya movement, for seeing the value in educating, empowering and transforming a community. We look back at 2019 and can see what looked like insurmountable obstacles, but came out on the other side stronger and more committed to this cause.
As we look to 2020, we see the opportunities ahead. Some of our graduates are interning with us. Others are looking at next steps for their education, and still others at job opportunities. Thank you to all of you for helping turn the insurmountable into an opportunity for transformation.