An Update from Donna
Kenya Youth Sponsorship/Ekwanda Youth Self-Help Group is about to enroll its tenth group of students in January 2012. Its hard to imagine that weve been in existence that long! In 2011, we had some good accomplishments and a large challenge. Read on
The highlight of our year has to be the trip several of us made to Ekwanda in September. I must say it was the best trip of all for me. It was really wonderful and exciting to see four of our sponsors, Tim and Liesel Reilly, Nancy Rouset and Jane Phillips meet their students after many years of love and support shared between them. I will never forget the squeals of joy when Nancy met Nancy and Everlynes big, beautiful smile when she was with Tim and Liesel. Charles enjoyed every minute of his time with Jane sitting around chatting one afternoon in Nairobi.
We brought solar reading lights to our students to help them with their studies at night since none of them have electricity in their homes and paraffin for their lanterns is very expensive and not environmentally friendly.
Another highlight of the year is the increased communication between students and sponsors. Our Communications Program, based in Ekwanda, is very capably run by one of our graduates, Alfred Angweru. It brings us great satisfaction knowing that many students and sponsors are developing strong relationships across so many thousands of miles.
Another positive of the year is that our Kenyan counterpart, Ekwanda Youth Self-Help Group, is working toward becoming greater contributors to the program and their students futures. They looked at several projects which will help them raise funds and determined that raising rabbits is the best option. They are currently researching how to be trained to do so effectively and will move forward in 2012.
The biggest challenge we have faced for many years has been with Ekwanda Secondary School, which is the community school where the vast majority of our students have attended and where we wanted them to succeed; in the Village of Ekwanda. After years of working with the administrations at both the primary and secondary schools and lobbying for improvement we continued to see a decline in performance of both staff and students. We, therefore, have made the difficult decision to move most of our students to three other secondary schools. Many of you have already heard from your students about their transfer to another school. We are extremely hopeful that this will bring positive results in 2012 and in the future.
The other change we made is to draw our new incoming students from three primary schools in the area rather just Ekwanda Primary School. We feel this will increase the quality of the students coming into the program and provide better prepared students for success in secondary school and life in general.
I hope you all have a Joyous and Wonderful Holiday Season!
A KYS update from Donna
This is the heading on a multitude of e-mails we receive from our college students in Kenya each week and it brings us great joy. We had a good 2010 beginning with ten new students in the Class of 2010, our eighth group to join us. Heather, her friend Chelsea Goodwin, and I had the pleasure of meeting them when we were in Ekwanda in January 6 to 12. We had a wonderful trip and it was so good to see our friends and colleagues, including past and present students, again.
Several of the students began a chicken project by collecting a chicken from each of the students (they made it to 22), built a coop and had plans to raise the chicken and sell them for a good profit to help sustain our program. All went well until about half of the chickens died from a disease and they determined it wise to sell the other chickens while they were ahead. The idea was admirable and we were very proud of this self-directed project by the students. We also visited fields of napier grass that the parents had planted for sale in rented fields as a group. The formation of a strong support group among students and families as a result of our program has been wonderful to see. They not only share planting grass, they help each other with weddings and funerals and provide general support.
We visited the new computer and science labs that were completed since our last visit two years ago and were the result of our financial help. Computer training is now part of the curriculum and were so pleased to see this. The new dining room and kitchen, also built with our help, were not yet complete, unfortunately. Does anyone want to go with us to Ekwanda to finish them??? Were working on our next visit which we hope will be in 2011. Please join us!
We currently have approximately ten students in college, plus several who finished this year and last and 25 students currently in the program. Six of those will graduate in December and we hope to add ten more students for the academic year beginning January 2011. The job market is very, very difficult in Kenya and we wish them all the very best in finding meaningful employment.
We will continue to work toward improving both communication and academic success. We hope to improve communication between students and sponsors by purchasing modems for the computer lab to more easily enable our students to write to their sponsors. We will also be asking some of our former students to tutor those students who need some additional help in raising their grades. We have expanded our Board of Directors when Liesel Reilly (a long-time sponsor), who is full of fresh ideas and energy, joined our current Board of Bill Graf, Richard Finney, Marilyn Gildersleeve, Heather and Donna Mullins.
Were looking forward to a great 2011 with Kenya Youth Sponsorship/Ekwanda Self-Help Group and so much appreciate all of the support so many of you provide us!
2009 UPDATE FROM EKWANDA
As we come to the end of the year we wish to thank God for having guided us through the entire year without major hitches. We equally thank all those very generous sponsors who have always been ready to sacrifice financially for the course of this group. However, the year has been more eventful than any other year we have ever had.
We had a conference call with the Board of Directors of Kenya Youth Sponsorship and Ekwanda Youth Self-Help Group where we shared for quite a while the issues related to the program. The call led to us widening the scope of the program as far as further education is concerned.
Julius was the first to go to college at the beginning of the year. He is taking a diploma in mass communication. Violet is still continuing with the teacher training college and will be completing the training in August 2010.
Although we have reduced the number of students that we sponsor at the high school level we have made a remarkable step in the follow-up of the students who have gone through high school. All the students who are at home have had the opportunity of getting basic computer training at Maseno. By the end of this year we hope that all those who enrolled will have graduated from the computer college.
Back at Ekwanda Secondary School, the best performing students have always come from the Ekwanda Youth Self-Help Group. This is a very good motivation to everyone. Most students in the program are very well behaved and the school has always used them as the prefects (student leaders).
None of the students dropped out in the course of this year. All students are in school up to now. Humphrey and Lillian Sherry were the only students in boarding schools but they have also successfully gone through the cycle. Humphrey has always been the most promising student in his school despite the burden of so many social problems.
Later in the year Gerishom Okoba joined the Kenya Polythechnic to study for a certificate course in medical records and information technology. He was followed by Nickson Ateku who is studying for a diploma in tourism management and Nancy Adhiambo who was admitted at Kenyatta University for a diploma course in nutrition. Jane Ayoti is taking a course that will lead her to a social worker and a farmer. Judith Amondi is about to complete her attachment (internship) in the related area of computer studies. Loice Nyangasi is still going on with her studies in a private teacher training college along with Stanley Otieno who continues to study at Kenyatta University. Collins Okoko is studying for a B.S. in Media and communication studies in Islamabad, Pakistan. In October, Kevin Shisekanna, who was one of our founder students, joined a government teacher training college. This is a two year course.
We have frequently been meeting the parents of the sponsored student and have formed a forum to meet and sharing matters related to the progress of the students. They have equally come up with a self help sub-group to help them be involved in programs that can help them realize a little economic progress.
We thank you all so much and welcome you to our beautiful land of Ekwanda all those who can be able to come.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
Ekwanda Youth Self-Help Group President
First graduate from our program, Phellah Adhiambo, graduates from teacher training college
Twelve students graduate in 2008 for a total of 30 to-date with many working toward further training and education. 20 students currently enrolled in secondary school.
College Update: Stanley Otieno attends Kenyatta University, Violet Ongoche attends Meru Teachers College, Judith Amondi attends Methodist University in Meru , Julius Adoyo to begin Kenya College of Communications Technology, Faith Nziwa and Roselyne Adwari to attend primary school education training, Gerishom Okoba and Loice Nyangasi hoping to attend college soon.
Kenya Youth Sponsorship formed a 501(c)(3).
Kenya Airways donated ten computers to begin a computer lab at Ekwanda Secondary School.
Established academic standards are increasing grades throughout the program.
Families of students have formed a strong bond and provide support for each other in times of need.
January 2008 violence in Kenya caused major tragedies and disruptions to schools and communities throughout the country. Ekwanda was spared mostly, but Maseno, 3 kms away was not. Caused cancellation of trip to Kenya by Heather and Donna Mullins.
First graduate from our program, Phellah Adhiambo, in second year of a government teacher training college
Six students graduate in 2007 for a total of 16 to-date with many working toward further training and education. Thirty-eight students currently enrolled in secondary school.
Stanley Otieno, 2006 graduate, gets direct admission to public university paid for by the government
Three graduates are working at the primary school as they wait to join college.
By paying fees in one lump sum, we have enabled school to build five classrooms and a kitchen/dining block.
Established academic standards are increasing grades throughout the program.
Finney/Rutherford family working on bringing their student, Judith Amondi, to Colorado for a year or two.
Wind-up lights by which to study were a great hit when delivered in June 2007 by John and Donna Mullins
John and Donna visited Ekwanda in summer of 2007. Heather and Donna Mullins and Justin Smith will return in January 2008 to establish a computer lab. Ten computers generously donated by Kenya Airways.
First graduate from our program, Phellah Adhiambo, attends teachers college.
Seven students graduated in 2006 (five in previous years).
Ten of our students ranked in top ten of class.
Best overall student in form 1 Julius Munala
Best overall student in form 2 Stephen Odhiambo
Best overall student in form 3 Joseph Angweru
2nd best overall student in form 4 Stanley OKome
Cleanest student in the school Winnie Nahida
Most disciplined student in the school Judith Amondi
Most responsible school prefect Caroline Angweru
Established academic standards for all incoming students.
Johnson Onyino, our coordinator in Ekwanda, attends Kenyatta University for a BA in Special Education
Sent our first wind-up light to study by as a model for a program to supply sustainable, safe and efficient lighting to our students and others in the village.