Tag: Kenya

May 29 2012

Sponsorship helps families afford school, part 1

Because education is so effective in helping families build a path out of poverty, the Hope for a Family program places a high priority on the education benefit.

Children and youth who are of school age are eligible for CFCA sponsorship as long as they are in school.

Rachel, CFCA sponsored child in Kenya, with her new school uniform

Rachel, sponsored as a child through CFCA, has a new school uniform provided by money saved from her sponsorship account.

Parents in the CFCA program accept this requirement and work hard to keep their children in school. They are committed to helping their children reach their educational goals.

“Many parents of sponsored children didn’t have the opportunity to complete their own education,” said Dan Pearson, CFCA director of international programs. “They want their kids to have more choices and better opportunities that come with a more complete education.”

However, the greatest barrier to education for families in the CFCA program is the cost. That includes direct costs, such as tuition, books and supplies.

It also includes the hidden cost of lost family income when a teenager continues in school instead of working full time.

The families CFCA serves live on very narrow margins. Costs such as bus fare or uniforms can have a very large impact on their lives.

“Sponsorship widens those margins and gives families a little more breathing space, which allows them to keep their kids in school longer,” Pearson said.

During the next few weeks, we’ll present several examples of how sponsorship empowers families to support their children’s education. Today we take a closer look at Kenya. Read more

May 7 2012

Sponsored aging friend creates beauty with beadwork

By Regina Mburu, Unbound communications liaison in Kenya

Beadwork by Unbound sponsored aging friend in Kenya

Leah, 72, sponsored through CFCA in Kenya, has learned how to make beautiful jewelry from wastepaper. She also weaves baskets for a living.

At 72 years old, Leah is loving life enough to learn two whole new trades.

Leah has been sponsored through the Unbound program in Kenya since 2003. Recently she has taken up basket weaving and making jewelry out of recycled wastepaper.

“This work keeps me so busy that I forget any problems I might be having,” she says. “You know when you are busy, you don’t fall sick.”

It wasn’t always this easy for Leah. She has seven children, three of whom have passed away, and 18 grandchildren.

Leah’s husband died in 1977, leaving her to take care of the seven children.

At that time Leah worked as a hospital cleaner, and her earnings were not enough to provide for her family.

“My neighbors saw my plight, and they introduced me to the Unbound Hope for a Family program,” Leah said. Read more

Apr 24 2012

Family steps toward economic self-sufficiency in Kenya

By Regina Mburu, CFCA communications liaison in Nairobi, Kenya

The mooing of cows, clucking of chickens and cooing of doves welcome you to this special home, which lies just a few miles from the equator near Nanyuki, Kenya.

Mwai family in Kenya

Elizabeth and Dominic are urban slum farmers in Kenya. Two of their children are sponsored through CFCA.

As Dominic feeds the cows, his wife, Elizabeth, is busy making sure the chickens have enough to eat.

However, it was not always like this.

Dominic and Elizabeth, who live in a slum area, were struggling to provide for their five children. As a cook, Dominic was hardly earning enough to sustain his family’s needs, and Elizabeth was a housewife.

“We used to live in a one-room house,” Elizabeth said. “Food was hard to come by, not to mention taking our children to school. Life was unbearable; our neighbors were avoiding us because of our many problems. We felt like outcasts.”

In 2002, their life changed when their sons John and Martin were sponsored through the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

The two boys could now go to school as sponsorship covered their tuition fees and school supplies. The family also got nutritional benefits such as rice from the sponsorship program.

With some burdens lifted off their shoulders, the family decided to save some money and start a poultry business. Their passion for animal husbandry could now be put in practice. Read more

Apr 11 2012

Backgrounder on birth certificates for sponsored children

Birth certificates in Kenya

Millicent worked hard to acquire birth certificates for her children Robert, left, and Ben, right, both sponsored through Unbound.

What’s in a name? Depending on where you live, it can mean a whole lot of difference, especially when it comes to government documents such as birth certificates.

Many sponsored children, aging friends and their family members in our Kisumu, Meru and Nairobi projects in Kenya do not have birth certificates.

The reasons for this vary. Sometimes parents cannot afford to deliver their children in hospitals.

Because there’s no one to notify the government when births occur at home, many of these children end up without a birth certificate.

A birth certificate is a copy of an official government document that proves you exist. It gives you an identity and validates your importance to society.

It can be difficult, if not impossible, for those without birth certificates to gain formal employment, open bank accounts and own property.

Unbound has undertaken an initiative to help families obtain official birth certificates. Through this initiative, we’re taking steps to empower them to take control of their futures and create a positive self-identity.

Read more about how Kenyans are obtaining birth certificates despite tremendous obstacles.

Apr 5 2012

Couple visit sponsored friend in Kenya, connect across cultures

Fred and Scheryn Pratt have sponsored nine children over the years with CFCA. One of them, Newton, is pursuing an education in art with the help of CFCA and the Pratts, who contribute to his art school fees in addition to sponsorship.

Here is an excerpt of a conversation our correspondent Natasha Sims recently had with Scheryn about their sponsorship experience.

CFCA mission awareness trip - Newton and Scheryn Pratt

Newton and Scheryn Pratt on a 2010 mission awareness trip to Kenya. The Pratts have sponsored Newton for six years

I heard you got to visit Newton’s home and school. What was that like?

It was very eye opening. He goes to the Buru Buru Art Institute, and it’s a college.

It’s very nice with a lawn and grounds and nice buildings, and we toured the school. And that was just like a typical college, but small ñ not big like in the U.S.

Well, his home is in a very poor slum. It is one small room for three people: his older brother, his mother and himself.

It’s crowded in the sense that there’s so little space and there’s very little furniture.

When I say one room, I mean 12×12 or 8×8, so it’s small. It’s on the third floor of an apartment building.

There was one light bulb hanging from the ceiling, but the power had been turned off so they had no electricity. The neighborhood is full of trash ñ you know, nothing growing, just mud and dirt. Read more of Scheryn’s interview

Mar 27 2012

How a Kenyan chief used Twitter to tackle community crime

We were delighted to see this recent CNN article about a Kenyan chief using the social network Twitter to thwart a robbery!

cell phoneOnce the chief in the town of Lanet Umoja discovered that thieves were breaking into a neighbor’s house, he sent a tweet that local residents picked up through a free text messaging service.

Once residents surrounded the house, the would-be thieves fled.

Not only does this story show the power of a unified community, but it also demonstrates the reach of social media and cell phones in Kenya. The use of cell phones in that country has increased dramatically since 2000.

Janet Tinsley, CFCA project director for Kenya, said that cell phones have revolutionized the way that people connect there.

Even though landline telephones were historically too expensive for most families, cell phones have become more available as the government loosened controls on the telephone industry.

“A new, basic cell phone still costs around $100 in Kenya, far out of the reach of most of the population,” Janet said. “However, there are very vibrant used and black market cell phone markets operating in nearly every corner of the country. Read more

Mar 23 2012

Dominican Republic trip shows positive, sustainable change

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.

We really had an “early-morning CFCA flight” out of Kansas City.

Twenty-eight students and faculty from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., boarded our same flight for Atlanta.

From Atlanta, Cristina and I went to a mission awareness trip to the Dominican Republic, and they are en route to a CFCA mission awareness trip to El Salvador.

Godspeed, dear friends. Thanks for keeping CFCA on the move!

At CFCA, we favor a culture of learning and listening.

Here are a few things I have heard this week in the Dominican Republic.

Sponsored youth Monica to her Puerto Rican sponsors, Beridiana and Rafael: “It has been many years. You are much more than sponsors. You are like my parents, and I love you.” (These sponsors have been with CFCA for 23 years.)

Sponsor: “Something I learned on the mission awareness trip (MAT) to Chile. Please keep in mind the elderly. Chile was my first MAT, but I’ll be going on many more trips with CFCA.” Read more

Mar 9 2012

Inspiring stories from sponsored children, youth in Kenya

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.

What a joy to be back in Africa!

It’s so very encouraging to see the spirit of CFCA growing in this area. In particular, I would like to express my gratitude for the support and solidarity of our African sisters and brothers before, during and after Walk2gether.

(Please note: All photo credits in this report go to Regina Mburu, CFCA’s communications center liaison in Nairobi, Kenya.)

CFCA scholars

CFCA scholars in Kenya are dynamic, generous and very creative.

Listen to this poetic testimony of CFCA scholar Stephanie, this dynamic young woman from “up country.”

Stephanie has finished her secondary studies and is registered to continue her education, studying psychology at the University of Nairobi. Read more

Feb 2 2012

Wisdom of the Ages: James, 74, from Kenya

CFCA sponsored aging friend, James, in Kenya

James, 74, sponsored through CFCA in Kenya.

James, 74, has been sponsored for 10 years through CFCA in Nairobi, Kenya. He has seven children and enjoys exercise, especially bike riding. Sponsorship has given James a new lease on life.

What is your secret for long life?

I have always strived hard to maintain my health. I avoided taking alcohol frequently and I stayed off cigarettes.

As a young man, I was very active in exercising and I believe it has contributed to my long life. Being keen on the type of food that I eat has also added me some years.

What advice do you have for young people?

There is a saying that goes, “An empty mind is the devil’s workshop.” I would urge the youth to keep themselves busy with constructive work. They should strive to earn an honest living.

What is the most important thing your mother taught you? Read more

Jan 26 2012

Sponsor meets Kenyan child – ‘what being human is all about’

By Laura Seyfang, CFCA sponsor

As a longtime CFCA sponsor, I had often read the invitations to join a trip to visit my sponsored child.

CFCA sponsor Laura Seyfang and her sponsored friend, Sophia, in Kenya

CFCA sponsor Laura Seyfang and her sponsored friend, Sophia.

While I felt committed to the CFCA mission and loved sharing letters with my two sponsored children, one in the Philippines and one in Kenya, I never felt able to justify the time and expense of such a trip.

This past December I was able to make it happen when I combined a Habitat for Humanity Global Village Trip with a visit to my CFCA sponsored child in Kenya.

I wasn’t sure CFCA would embrace my visit since it wasn’t one of their trips, but was very happy to receive overwhelming support to make this personal connection happen.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-denominational Christian organization whose goal is to provide decent affordable housing for all. This organization provides opportunities for volunteers to help build houses in nearly 50 countries around the globe.

During my trip to Kenya with 20 other volunteers, we were able to work on constructing four houses for families in an internal displaced persons camp, where they had been living in tents for almost four years.

It was a lot of hard work, but the results were extremely rewarding.

At the conclusion of the Habitat Build, I hired a driver who took me to Meru in northeastern Kenya, where my sponsored child, Sophia, lived. Read more