The following letter was written by a sponsored child in CFCA’s Nairobi, Kenya project. She writes about her life experiences, and about how sponsorship allowed her to go to school and change the direction of her life. We hope you’ll take a minute to read her touching words.
My name is Sylvia. I was born on 8th December 1989 in a family of six, two brothers and two sisters. I am from the Maasai community, a pastoralist community in Kenya. Maasai tribe is a very unique community in Kenya. This tribe has preserved its culture and some of the things we do are outdated. There is high preference of early marriages, female genital mutilation, use of traditional dressing, lives in Manyatta (traditional houses), moranism (where young people are trained in the forest to be courageous), less value of education and traditional drinking of raw cowsí blood.
Despite being born in the Maasai community – a tribe which migrates due to its pastoral practices in search of pasture, my dad took me to school at a tender age of 5, which was very rare. At that time, girls of my age were being taught how to manage their own homes. My dad was not educated but he wanted all his children to be educated. He had a vision and he knew education would empower his children. Schooling was exciting but not all that fun because my school was a bit far from home and at times the weather was not conducive for schooling because our place is semi-arid.
One Saturday morning, my dad woke me up so as not to be late for school. Pupils in higher class level (6-8) were expected to go to school on Saturdays but only for six hours. After classes that day we started heading home. A big crowd had formed near our homestead. What is it? What is happening? Many questions lingered in my mind.
When we approached our house, people gave us stares. In the crowd women were crying and men grieving also. My Aunt came and ushered me in to the house, while my brothers were taken by some men. My mother was in the house crying and some women were there comforting her. When she saw me, she burst in tears. She held me and made me sit beside her. ìGod is the one who takes away, Silvia your father Ö.has passed away,î she cried. No! it canít be. How can this be, my dad woke me up this morning and was fine. I could not imagine. My dad was a gentleman; he wanted the best for his family. He allowed my sister and I to go to school, something that was rare in our community.
My elder sister passed away while in grade 11 and the second-born sister did not go far with her education. She got married at an early age as is the custom of our community. When my father passed away, I was in grade six and we all knew that nothing was going to be easy. My mother was not working. She was a housewife and she had to provide for her family. Our cattle, goats and sheep were sold to pay for our school fees.
I sat for my national primary school examination in the year 2002. I passed very well and got myself a place in a mission school in our district. At this time my brothers were also in high school. My mother used to do bead work to earn an income. She also tried a business in green grocery at the local market and also sold tea in the market. During school holidays we used to concentrate on the bead work to help our mother raise some money. My brothers could not stand the frustration of being in and out of school due to lack of school fees, and they eventually dropped out of school while in high school.
I got enrolled in a Catholic secondary school for my higher education. Apart from regular education, we were taught how to achieve our career goals, how to trust in God and how to pray. I can remember once when I was sent home for school fees and ended up staying for a whole month at home. At this time I helped my mother in selling tea around the market. My mother also taught me how to bead, how to make bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The proceeds from our products helped me to pay for some of my school fees. In my books, I did not know people of good faith, genuine friends, people with golden hearts, people who would assist selfishly. Now I have come across them. They are CFCA sponsors.
I got sponsored in October 2004 and it was like the time of Moses when manna fell from heaven. Assistance came to me while I needed it most, just at the right time. I think of it as a tree in the middle of a desert, the only place for shelter to hide myself from the scorching sun, or a mango tree with fruits for the hungry. Bravo! CFCA brought a smile to me when I could not smile.
When I got sponsored, the CFCA project helped me to pay for my school fee balance. I was not sent home again for fees, and therefore I had happy times in school like other students from well-to-do families.
I sat for my secondary school examination towards the end of year 2006. For a good part of year 2007, I worked with my mother in bead work. I am so happy that when CFCA sponsors visited Kenya on a mission awareness trip in September 2007, we were invited to sell the beads and other products to the sponsors. This extra income is a big boost to my motherís income.
I am currently in college, where I am taking an advanced diploma course in community development. I will learn sociology, gender issues, human growth and development, criminology, crisis management, micro-finance, entrepreneurship, project management and logistics. This is a one-and-a-half year course.
My goal in life is to have a degree in community development. When I get employed, I will start a project on girlsí empowerment. I will educate girls on the importance of schooling and rescue Maasai girls who are forcefully married at tender age. I will also offer free counseling classes for drug addicts and help in rehabilitation of women who have been physically and emotionally abused by their husbands. I would want to bring light to our people. I also want to be a role model to our Maasai girls, to show them that they can also make it in life. If one of their own has made it in life, why not them?
My special appreciation goes to the CFCA program and to my sponsor Melinda, who has stood by me through both difficult and good times. In spite of the financial support I have received, I have also received a lot of moral support through letters she wrote to me while in school, and this played a role in my life.
It is a challenge to have girls of my age (older teens) get willing sponsors due to the high cost of education. You may not know what change your contribution brings to a needy childís life, especially the older teens. Whatever little you contribute counts a lot in this personís life. I have a testimony that whatever sponsor Melinda has contributed over the years is the cause of this smile I have today. Put a smile on a teenís face today by sponsoring one!