Little boy in nursery school (baby class) receives school supplies.  He is as happy as the sun is hot!

Raising Funds and Donations to Help Needy Students of Matanya’s Hope.

Matanya’s Hope Gives a Big Thank You to Hamilton Southeastern High School
WORLD CONNECTION CLUB

Students from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana gather for an International event to benefit the students of Matanya's Hope

Students from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana gather for an International event to benefit the students of Matanya’s Hope

HSE, located in Fishers Indiana, can boast it is home to the World Connection Club. The Club’s leader and mentor teacher, Mrs. Vickie Lazaga promotes cultural sharing and global education to students from all parts of the world. Mrs. Lazaga and her assistant, Elaine Gunderson, meet with students once a month after school. Every meeting provides an opportunity for club members to learn about one student from a different culture. This student highlights the uniqueness of the people, food and customs they hold dear. Participants range from students who have lived abroad to those whose parents are from places outside of the USA. The meetings culminate socially as ceremonial costume, dance and unique food are enjoyed by all. What a wonderful way to learn about the world and promote global awareness!

Students generously donated school supplies, clothes and shoes to Matanya's Hope.

Students generously donated school supplies, clothes and shoes to Matanya’s Hope.

With much thanks to HSE’s Principal Mr. Matt Kegley for his support, each year, the World Connections Club presents an International Night. They feature a talent show from around the world where the students themselves are the talent and showcase their native costumes, song, dance and other unique forms of entertainment. Everything from dances of India and Ireland, to ballads from Mexico fill the stage. The entertainment is wonderful and is followed by a ballroom sized buffet of food from all around the world! Parents and students conclude the evening together as they socialize and feast on these cuisines. So do Michelle and I! It is such a treat!

Hamilton Southeastern High School students serve food from around the world.

Hamilton Southeastern High School students serve food from around the world.

Over the past 5 years, proceeds from HSE”s International Night have been generously donated to Matanya’s Hope. In addition, students have organized annual drives to collect school supplies, shoes and backpacks for our kids in Kenya. These students demonstrate exceptional compassion for others at risk.

I would love to see this program replicated in school environments nationwide. What a wonderful way to promote learning and service. This year HSE raised over $1300.00 to help our mission.

It has been a blessing and an honor to meet with these students and witness the unfolding of their ideas and passions as they develop into life changing action. On behalf of each of our students in Kenya, Matanya’s Hope salutes you World Connections Club.

Ann Thomson, Vice President
Michelle Stark, President
Matanya’s Hope

Hamilton Southeastern High School donations filled our vehicles!  On behalf of every soul you touch through your generousity and love, we humbly say:  thank you!

Hamilton Southeastern High School donations filled our vehicles! On behalf of every soul you touch through your generousity and love, we humbly say: thank you!

Matnaya's Hope founder, Michelle Stark with two children from Matanya Primary School.  Photo taken during Mission 2016

Help Make a Difference

Children become ill after drinking from stagnant pools when that is all the water available.

Children become ill after drinking from stagnant pools when that is all the water available.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
…the difference between starvation and enough to nourish the body
…the difference between an education and being lost in the cycle of poverty
…the difference between a career and considering yourself fortunate to earn .82 cents a day as a common laborer (not even enough for daily food)
…the difference between having a clean water source and water laiden with bacteria and disease
…the difference between sleeping cold and uncovered on a dirt floor and sleeping contented on a bed with a blanket
…the difference between suffering (or even dying) from malaria and having medication and protection from mosquitos
…the difference between being barefooted and having shoes to protect tender feet from the earth’s challenging conditions

This is considered a lucky child with a pair of shoes...

This is considered a lucky child with a pair of shoes…


Your gifts and donations to Matanya’s Hope make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Here, in the western world, our youth have access to free education K – 12. Most are fed at least twice a day and worry more about the BRAND of shoes they have or about acquiring the latest electronic devise.

But, in impoverished areas of Kenya, students walk miles to school and they long for any pair of shoes. An electronic devise is a novelty that few of these children have seen or even heard of.

Here, students know they must attend High School. Most do their homework and await the arrival of their coveted weekends. Many orphaned and impoverished students in Kenya will be unable to pay the fees for high school; for some of these most brilliant minds, schooling stops as early as 9 years old. Weekends are almost ALWAYS reserved for hard labor, with or without food.

In 2005, as I traveled and met the children of rural Kenya, my perception of “the rights of a child” was overwhelmingly challenged. I met 4 students in a dilapidated classroom. Dirt floors… no electricity… no running water… and bare feet surrounded me. These children were orphaned, malnourished and each one believed they would never walk through the doors to study at any high school.

Children waiting outside of a classroom at Matanya Primary School

Children waiting outside of a classroom at Matanya Primary School

Before I left Kenya, each one of these 4 students were sponsored by 4 of the families on tour with us. They became the first four Matanya’s Hope students (before we ever even had a name). Matanya’s Hope grew from this first act of love through the ongoing gift of Hope being planted in each of these four lives. And though I celebrated these students, I could not erase the faces of the 250+ barefooted children I saw who also deserved the same chance.

The four original students who once had no hope for furthering their academic minds, have now grown. Two are working adults and two are finishing degrees; one in education and the other in food science. Imagine the joy in having a teacher who understands the plight of hunger and abject poverty; what an encouragement she will be!

From a start of 4, Matanya’s Hope now sponsors 250 +- students ranging from nursery to university. We have students studying pharmacology, nursing, education, engineering, accounting, law and more……..We have a plethora of graduates who work in the following areas: teaching, tourism, procurement, chefs, banks, aeronautical engineering, accounting and so much more. Together we are making a difference.

IF EVER YOU FELT COMPELLED TO GIVE, NOW IS THE TIME.
CHILDREN ARE IN NEED OF YOUR HELP.

Soon we will travel back to Kenya for Mission 2017 and again we are going to meet the faces of starvation, malnourishment and hopelessness. Funds are needed to place water tanks in drought stricken villages, schools, homes, medical clinics and orphanages. Medical supplies are needed in the remote clinics (where even an aspirin is often hard to come by).

We are going to see heartbreaking hunger and torn and ragged clothing. We are going to see feet without shoes and students without pencils. We are going to find children who sleep on dirt floors without a single blanket.

Funds are needed now for shipping of over 4000 pounds of donations and supplies so generously provided by you, our donors. Thank you! We need funds to continue our porridge program that feeds over 1000 students (in three different schools) a daily cup of freshly prepared hot, nutritious porridge. For many this cup of porridge is all these hungry children receive daily. HOPE is YOU. It is in all of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please listen to the song ‘Do Something’ by Mathew West and be the Hope these students and families need. ….

HOPE HAS A NAME. It’s YOU! Life is better for so many children and families, because you care!

Please help us continue this noble work.

Michelle Stark
Founder, Matanya’s Hope

Matnaya's Hope founder, Michelle Stark with two children from Matanya Primary School.  Photo taken during Mission 2016

Matnaya’s Hope founder, Michelle Stark with two children from Matanya Primary School. Photo taken during Mission 2016

Ambrose 2007 Nanyuki Kenya
"Where you are today is a monumental part of your story...and in some years to come...it will all make sense."

AMBROSE – Journey of Hope

The Power of Hope Through Education – Ambrose’s Story

Ambrose Lanuko portrait in Nanyuki

I vividly remember the 2007 July day – hot and dry, without much breeze, but with a communal buzz of passersby and a heavy scent of lingering exhaust fumes. The people of this small Kenyan town did not have much access to modern transportation – especially that with clean emissions. Most of them were farmers and either walked or paid public vehicles to carry them. Anything motorized usually sputtered smoke and tossed fumes as an unavoidable torture to the human senses.

During this time of year, the people of Sub-Saharan Africa were experiencing drought. Community members were gathered in town for small business, waiting for the rains to come and the time to re-launch their new farming season.

I waited outside of the market. I don’t know why, but on this day, I did not want to go in. I stood on the makeshift sidewalk, observing… waiting… lost in my own world. A young boy of approximately 9 years old approached me. Though he stood on the opposite edge of the street, his eyes gently locked with mine and his unspoken story whispered straight to my heart.

Ambrose was steadfast. He engaged with my camera lens, in a friendly showcase of playful martial arts moves. His attention shifted from the lens to my eyes and back to the lens again. Dialect was not needed to speak the language between us.

Ambrose on the streets of Nanyuki during our first meeting.

Ambrose on the streets of Nanyuki during our first meeting.

When my Kenyan partner came out of the store, I was eager to tell him about my new friend. He urged me rather boldly to “let this go”…”Kenyan street children are liars”, he said with such an absolute unshakable conviction that it felt cold and shook me. “He will deceive you.” With that, his intentions were clearly laid out: I was expected to follow him to the vehicle and go home.
But I couldn’t. I could not get this sweet, little boy adorned in a torn and faded pink jacket out of my mind. I couldn’t let go of the innocent play we shared – and of the overwhelming love I felt filling my heart – I felt as if an angel stood there with me and brought this boy and I together.

“I can’t leave him”, I said.
I could see the irritation in my partner’s eyes. “I have to learn more.”, I persisted.

With a grudge powered resistance, my partner began to converse with Ambrose, “the street boy”. His first question was going to prove me so wrong… maybe the second…

We were soon in the car, myself, my partner AND AMBROSE – traveling into rough territory where we would check out if “this street boy” was telling the truth. (I had no reason to doubt him).

Our vehicle bumped through the town’s rocky terrain and splashed through whatever stagnant puddles remained along the way. The path was so narrow that at many turns, we brushed up against tall, twig like cacti. They scraped the sides of our car featuring unmistakable screeching as the auto paint was unapologetically scratched from the car.

As we rocked down the last leg of the pitted earth road, a cluster of dirt floored shanties revealed themselves. Several people stood outside watching the unusual sight of a car rolling through their alley ways. I was told to be guarded as I exited the car. Women and children stood still, captivated by our appearance. I looked into each person’s empty eyes and a sense of their desperation became mine. My heart broke for these people – even more so, it broke for my new friend.

“Here is where I live” he said. (translated for me). “I live with my crippled grandfather.” I peeked through the large gaps of 11 X 11 room, walled with deteriorating wood planks. The sunlight streamed through, highlighting the glittering flying dust and a dirt floor. Nothing else. This was Ambrose’s home. “My grandfather is crippled…” he paused. “He goes to town to beg. I care for him. I cook and I wash his laundry.”

“What do you want Ambrose? Do you have a dream for yourself?” I asked.
He leaned against the wooden planks and looked up into my eyes. “I want to become a doctor” he answered. I could hardly see. Tears were at their capacity; any more and they would spill down my cheeks!

We returned to town with Ambrose and took him to the store to purchase much needed food. I visited with him daily (for the time that I was in the area). We purchased a bed for himself and his grandfather and soon, we had a sponsor! Ambrose got his wish; he went to school.

Today, this precious child is a young man. He is in his final years of education, studying with every ounce of passion and drive in him to become a teacher. Yes, his career choice changed. Ambrose said it best: “I want to reach the youth who face challenges much like what I faced in my young life. You saved me. I want to save them.”

Ambrose during his internship - student teaching.

Ambrose during his internship – student teaching.

Ambrose’s story beautifully captures the essence of how gaining access to love and education can change a life and a community. The act of love, of listening and caring – and the gift of education empowered him to unlock the treasure trove of hope.

Literacy is more to our children than simply teaching them how to read; it opens up a new way of living. It provides a path to hope and dreams – to God’s plan for them – that otherwise may not ever be realized.

The seeds of HOPE are planted in the fertile soil of education and a loving support system. We use simple, personal ways, like playing with the children, feeding the hungry, putting shoes on the barefooted and clothing those who are dressed in threadbare material to demonstrate love for soul, here and now. Our prayer is that no child shall ever be forgotten.

Healing IS possible. It starts with a vision. It is followed by prayer and action. And… it culminates with renewed life … more than we could ever have imagined.

Your support makes a big difference!

A MESSAGE FROM AMBROSE:
“I know that I am the way I am because of God Matanya’s Hope and my sponsor, Isabel.

I could not imagine that I could reach this far. As a child, I did not know the importance of education and also being closer to God. Right now, I feel blessed and I pray that my story will be used to help the people who have lost their faith an hope in life.”
Ambrose Lanoko 2017

Ambrose 2007 Nanyuki Kenya "Where you are today is a monumental part of your story...and in some years to come...it will all make sense."

Ambrose 2007 Nanyuki Kenya
“Where you are today is a monumental part of your story…and in some years to come…it will all make sense.”

Ambrose 2007 Nanyuki Kenya
"Where you are today is a monumental part of your story...and in some years to come...it will all make sense."

A Message from Ambrose

The Power of Hope Through Education – Ambrose’s Story

Ambrose Lanuko portrait in Nanyuki

I vividly remember the 2007 July day – hot and dry, without much breeze, but with a communal buzz of passersby and a heavy scent of lingering exhaust fumes. The people of this small Kenyan town did not have much access to modern transportation – especially that with clean emissions. Most of them were farmers and either walked or paid public vehicles to carry them. Anything motorized usually sputtered smoke and tossed fumes as an unavoidable torture to the human senses.

During this time of year, the people of Sub-Saharan Africa were experiencing drought. Community members were gathered in town for small business, waiting for the rains to come and the time to re-launch their new farming season.

I waited outside of the market. I don’t know why, but on this day, I did not want to go in. I stood on the makeshift sidewalk, observing… waiting… lost in my own world. A young boy of approximately 9 years old approached me. Though he stood on the opposite edge of the street, his eyes gently locked with mine and his unspoken story whispered straight to my heart.

Ambrose was steadfast. He engaged with my camera lens, in a friendly showcase of playful martial arts moves. His attention shifted from the lens to my eyes and back to the lens again. Dialect was not needed to speak the language between us.

Ambrose on the streets of Nanyuki during our first meeting.

Ambrose on the streets of Nanyuki during our first meeting.

When my Kenyan partner came out of the store, I was eager to tell him about my new friend. He urged me rather boldly to “let this go”…”Kenyan street children are liars”, he said with such an absolute unshakable conviction that it felt cold and shook me. “He will deceive you.” With that, his intentions were clearly laid out: I was expected to follow him to the vehicle and go home.
But I couldn’t. I could not get this sweet, little boy adorned in a torn and faded pink jacket out of my mind. I couldn’t let go of the innocent play we shared – and of the overwhelming love I felt filling my heart – I felt as if an angel stood there with me and brought this boy and I together.

“I can’t leave him”, I said.
I could see the irritation in my partner’s eyes. “I have to learn more.”, I persisted.

With a grudge powered resistance, my partner began to converse with Ambrose, “the street boy”. His first question was going to prove me so wrong… maybe the second…

We were soon in the car, myself, my partner AND AMBROSE – traveling into rough territory where we would check out if “this street boy” was telling the truth. (I had no reason to doubt him).

Our vehicle bumped through the town’s rocky terrain and splashed through whatever stagnant puddles remained along the way. The path was so narrow that at many turns, we brushed up against tall, twig like cacti. They scraped the sides of our car featuring unmistakable screeching as the auto paint was unapologetically scratched from the car.

As we rocked down the last leg of the pitted earth road, a cluster of dirt floored shanties revealed themselves. Several people stood outside watching the unusual sight of a car rolling through their alley ways. I was told to be guarded as I exited the car. Women and children stood still, captivated by our appearance. I looked into each person’s empty eyes and a sense of their desperation became mine. My heart broke for these people – even more so, it broke for my new friend.

“Here is where I live” he said. (translated for me). “I live with my crippled grandfather.” I peeked through the large gaps of 11 X 11 room, walled with deteriorating wood planks. The sunlight streamed through, highlighting the glittering flying dust and a dirt floor. Nothing else. This was Ambrose’s home. “My grandfather is crippled…” he paused. “He goes to town to beg. I care for him. I cook and I wash his laundry.”

“What do you want Ambrose? Do you have a dream for yourself?” I asked.
He leaned against the wooden planks and looked up into my eyes. “I want to become a doctor” he answered. I could hardly see. Tears were at their capacity; any more and they would spill down my cheeks!

We returned to town with Ambrose and took him to the store to purchase much needed food. I visited with him daily (for the time that I was in the area). We purchased a bed for himself and his grandfather and soon, we had a sponsor! Ambrose got his wish; he went to school.

Today, this precious child is a young man. He is in his final years of education, studying with every ounce of passion and drive in him to become a teacher. Yes, his career choice changed. Ambrose said it best: “I want to reach the youth who face challenges much like what I faced in my young life. You saved me. I want to save them.”

Ambrose during his internship - student teaching.

Ambrose during his internship – student teaching.

Ambrose’s story beautifully captures the essence of how gaining access to love and education can change a life and a community. The act of love, of listening and caring – and the gift of education empowered him to unlock the treasure trove of hope.

Literacy is more to our children than simply teaching them how to read; it opens up a new way of living. It provides a path to hope and dreams – to God’s plan for them – that otherwise may not ever be realized.

The seeds of HOPE are planted in the fertile soil of education and a loving support system. We use simple, personal ways, like playing with the children, feeding the hungry, putting shoes on the barefooted and clothing those who are dressed in threadbare material to demonstrate love for soul, here and now. Our prayer is that no child shall ever be forgotten.

Healing IS possible. It starts with a vision. It is followed by prayer and action. And… it culminates with renewed life … more than we could ever have imagined.

Your support makes a big difference!

A MESSAGE FROM AMBROSE:
“I know that I am the way I am because of God Matanya’s Hope and my sponsor, Isabel.

I could not imagine that I could reach this far. As a child, I did not know the importance of education and also being closer to God. Right now, I feel blessed and I pray that my story will be used to help the people who have lost their faith an hope in life.”
Ambrose Lanoko 2017

Ambrose 2007 Nanyuki Kenya "Where you are today is a monumental part of your story...and in some years to come...it will all make sense."

Ambrose 2007 Nanyuki Kenya
“Where you are today is a monumental part of your story…and in some years to come…it will all make sense.”

The road towards success does not require that I have the best clothes, but asks only that I have a steadfast dedication towards my dreams.  Thank you Matanya's Hope for believing in me.

Matanya’s Hope: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

Children become ill after drinking from stagnant pools when that is all the water available.

Children become ill after drinking from stagnant pools when that is all the water available.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
…the difference between starvation and enough to nourish the body
…the difference between an education and being lost in the cycle of poverty
…the difference between a career and considering yourself fortunate to earn .82 cents a day as a common laborer (not even enough for daily food)
…the difference between having a clean water source and water laiden with bacteria and disease
…the difference between sleeping cold and uncovered on a dirt floor and sleeping contented on a bed with a blanket
…the difference between suffering (or even dying) from malaria and having medication and protection from mosquitos
…the difference between being barefooted and having shoes to protect tender feet from the earth’s challenging conditions

This is considered a lucky child with a pair of shoes...

This is considered a lucky child with a pair of shoes…


Your gifts and donations to Matanya’s Hope make a huge difference in a child’s life.

Here, in the western world, our youth have access to free education K – 12. Most are fed at least twice a day and worry more about the BRAND of shoes they have or about acquiring the latest electronic devise.

But, in impoverished areas of Kenya, students walk miles to school and they long for any pair of shoes. An electronic devise is a novelty that few of these children have seen or even heard of.

Here, students know they must attend High School. Most do their homework and await the arrival of their coveted weekends. Many orphaned and impoverished students in Kenya will be unable to pay the fees for high school; for some of these most brilliant minds, schooling stops as early as 9 years old. Weekends are almost ALWAYS reserved for hard labor, with or without food.

In 2005, as I traveled and met the children of rural Kenya, my perception of “the rights of a child” was overwhelmingly challenged. I met 4 students in a dilapidated classroom. Dirt floors… no electricity… no running water… and bare feet surrounded me. These children were orphaned, malnourished and each one believed they would never walk through the doors to study at any high school.

Children waiting outside of a classroom at Matanya Primary School

Children waiting outside of a classroom at Matanya Primary School

Before I left Kenya, each one of these 4 students were sponsored by 4 of the families on tour with us. They became the first four Matanya’s Hope students (before we ever even had a name). Matanya’s Hope grew from this first act of love through the ongoing gift of Hope being planted in each of these four lives. And though I celebrated these students, I could not erase the faces of the 250+ barefooted children I saw who also deserved the same chance.

The four original students who once had no hope for furthering their academic minds, have now grown. Two are working adults and two are finishing degrees; one in education and the other in food science. Imagine the joy in having a teacher who understands the plight of hunger and abject poverty; what an encouragement she will be!

From a start of 4, Matanya’s Hope now sponsors 250 +- students ranging from nursery to university. We have students studying pharmacology, nursing, education, engineering, accounting, law and more……..We have a plethora of graduates who work in the following areas: teaching, tourism, procurement, chefs, banks, aeronautical engineering, accounting and so much more. Together we are making a difference.

IF EVER YOU FELT COMPELLED TO GIVE, NOW IS THE TIME.
CHILDREN ARE IN NEED OF YOUR HELP.

Soon we will travel back to Kenya for Mission 2017 and again we are going to meet the faces of starvation, malnourishment and hopelessness. Funds are needed to place water tanks in drought stricken villages, schools, homes, medical clinics and orphanages. Medical supplies are needed in the remote clinics (where even an aspirin is often hard to come by).

We are going to see heartbreaking hunger and torn and ragged clothing. We are going to see feet without shoes and students without pencils. We are going to find children who sleep on dirt floors without a single blanket.

Funds are needed now for shipping of over 4000 pounds of donations and supplies so generously provided by you, our donors. Thank you! We need funds to continue our porridge program that feeds over 1000 students (in three different schools) a daily cup of freshly prepared hot, nutritious porridge. For many this cup of porridge is all these hungry children receive daily. HOPE is YOU. It is in all of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please listen to the song ‘Do Something’ by Mathew West and be the Hope these students and families need. ….

HOPE HAS A NAME. It’s YOU! Life is better for so many children and families, because you care!

Please help us continue this noble work.

Michelle Stark
Founder, Matanya’s Hope

Matnaya's Hope founder, Michelle Stark with two children from Matanya Primary School.  Photo taken during Mission 2016

Matnaya’s Hope founder, Michelle Stark with two children from Matanya Primary School. Photo taken during Mission 2016

Julia and LindseyIMG_1702

A Message from Lindsey

Hello, my name is Lindsey; I’m a Junior in high school. Last summer, my family decided to join Matanya’s Hope during the mission trip to be of service however we could. Our family has sponsored Theresa, a girl in Matanya, for many years.

This is me in the center of pure  bliss at Matanya Primary School.

This is me in the center of pure bliss at Matanya Primary School.

This trip moved me and compelled me to bring the joy of helping Matanya’s Hope home. I know first-hand the exhilaration of hearing news about how each one of these students is thriving, or in my case sister, from halfway around the world.

Since I’ve been home I haven’t been able to keep my mouth shut about the mission work and the drastic impact it had on my perception of the world. The dramatically different, and oftentimes tragic, way of life which I was immersed in contrasted with the overall quality of character I experienced in the people. The raw humanity I faced around every corner on this trip birthed a powerful hope inside of me – because now I KNOW that what we do and what we say indeed DOES make a difference.

Little boy in nursery school (baby class) receives school supplies.  He is as happy as the sun is hot!

Little boy in nursery school (baby class) receives school supplies. He is as happy as the sun is hot!

On our first day, (my birthday) we went to Kibera, one of the largest urban slums in all of Africa, whose existence (until very recently) the Kenyan government denied, allowing the leaders to deny these poverty-stricken areas of humanitarian aid. Even with peppermint oil-scented handkerchiefs pressed over our noses, the foul stench of human feces was pungent and grotesquely unmistakable. We were lead through the streets, lined with trash fires and beat-up storefronts which held everything from flip phones to unrefrigerated, raw meat swarmed with flies.

Upon arriving at Raila Primary, the first school we were donating clothing, shoes, school supplies (and more) to, we were welcomed by severely impoverished children singing songs and sharing very strong messages via poetry. Many were barefooted and dirty. They spoke longingly of their dreams to become journalists and teachers, as well as their literal sleeping dreams from which they beg their mothers not to wake them. The speeches exhibited the darkness that children in Kibera face – when a girl of maybe 10, warned girls and women to be cautious. “The men have lost control”, she said. “Fathers have turned against daughters, even animals are unsafe.” They sang the national anthem, and small high voices rose with pride, drowning out the ruckus of car horns, shouts, and the hustling of people walking on the tier of roads above the slum.

Young boy at Jamii children's center (orphanage) cooks beans and maize.  Well wishers make the food possible.

Young boy at Jamii children’s center (orphanage) cooks beans and maize. Well wishers make the food possible.

After our welcome, we were given a tour of the school. Narrow outdoor alleyways were noisy and cramped with dilapidated classrooms holding as many as 120 students each on either side. The odor of urine from the waste-filled, doorless pit latrines added to an almost unbearable, stifling effect. Still, the claustrophobia I experienced paled in comparison to that of the children packed like sardines in their classrooms, in a room the size of an average middle class American child’s bedroom. Perhaps the paint was fresh a decade ago, but now, it was grim and peeling. Chunks of the plaster walls were missing. Window frames were void of panes in some and complete with shards of glass in others. The ceiling, now filled with gaping holes, showed evidence of a missing barrier between roof and sky.

We later organized the kids into two separate lines where they would wait to receive a cookie and a pencil, clothes, shoes, toothbrush & toothpaste, school supplies, blankets and more. I was working with my father in the cookie and pencil department. Most of the children, we soon realized, would go through the line twice and receive double the cookies and pencils, which created a fair distribution problem when serving over 800 children. We informed the principal of this situation and once we all gathered again in the outside grounds for assembly, she instructed the children, with great authority, to pass up all the extra pencils. “If you have many, others have none,” she said. To my surprise, a murmur ran through the crowd and pencils began flowing to the front, flying out of hidden pockets and into the hand of the principal to be evenly circulated. I wish you could all experience this impact of raw honesty and respect from the young people at Raila Primary, in the middle of one of the world’s largest slums! It encompasses the immeasurable character that many of the students possess, despite the lack of good example displayed in their world. This learned respect and comradery puts them on a track to help their country flip the norm of corruption, and will help create a society fueled by honesty and hard work, one that pushes the invisible, of which there are so many of in Kibera, out of the darkness and into the light to be encouraged, educated, and accounted for.

The children play with Julia's hair.  They are fascinated by the different texture.

The children play with Julia’s hair. They are fascinated by the different texture.

At Raila Primary and other schools throughout Kenya, I was bombarded with questions from curious voices. “Do you eat “Omena fish?” was a constant. Initially confused, I was later told that it’s an old myth that Omena fish have eyes like the sea, and turn your eyes blue if you eat them. Yes, I have blue eyes but I don’t eat Omena fish. My hair was braided by countless hands, all eager to feel my long locks. It was a culture shock to be asked what tribe I was in, as I come from such an ethnically homogenous area like Northbrook. Overall, this incredible experience made my birthday one that I will never forget! I experienced beauty and love in a place where I would never have expected to find it – but where it changed my life forever.

Another over the top experience for me was meeting Theresa, the 17-year-old-girl that my family sponsors. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a day with her, pulling her from studying for exams, something that she seemed pretty happy about. Apparently the chance to escape the monotony of studying is universally celebrated by teenagers worldwide. We showed Theresa photos of our family at ice hockey games, my school’s homecoming and at Thanksgiving dinner. We smiled, laughed and compared stories. Michelle, Matanya’s Hope founder told my family many times about Theresa’s home but nothing could prepare us for when we visited the one room dirt floor shack. It was carpeted with fleas visible a foot high and walled by rickety boards that were nearly eaten through by maggots. There was a small cot that Theresa and her mother shared which was permanently soggy, moldy, and bug-infested due to the rainfall that poured onto it through the nearly shredded plastic bag roof.

My dad playing soccer (football) here with kids at one of the orphanages we visited.  My eyes teared as I wondered if Theresa had ever played anything with her father.

My dad playing soccer (football) here with kids at one of the orphanages we visited. My eyes teared as I wondered if Theresa had ever played anything with her father.

Theresa regaled us with stories of Mrs. Mugo, both our hostess and Theresa’s old teacher. She warned us to watch our fingers later that night when Mrs. Mugo would be teaching us to make the traditional African flatbread called Chapati. She joked, “You might get whacked with a ruler if you do poorly!”

Our trip together took us for milkshakes and more giggles. Theresa had to sit through my dad’s business models (as all Masterman children must) and she pretended like the rest of us to be interested. Theresa was officially a part of our family. Our day ended idyllically with a game of catch: a father daughter luxury that, with a choked throat, I realized Theresa had probably never experienced. After sending Theresa back to school with a few gifts, I wished my new sister realized how many she had given me.

My mom and Wangechi.  It is just so easy to love these kids!

My mom and Wangechi. It is just so easy to love these kids!

I am so glad that you are sponsoring a child(ren). It is my hope that you will also experience the love, joy, emotional and academic gifts that Matanya’s Hope cultivates, first hand. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about my experience with Matanya’s Hope.

Lindsey

Gifts to Your Sponsored Student(s)

More than 32 boxes currently await shipment to communities in need in Kenya

More than 32 boxes currently await shipment to communities in need in Kenya

Our Bags are packed and ready to go…… (Think John Denver song)
We still have room in a large shipping box for those who are sending gifts for their sponsored child.

Aisha and Lindsey packIMG_1706
This is your reminder.
We need these items by the end of January to go out with our shipment. We will take gifts all the way through April but those gifts which arrive after the January deadline must be hand carried and we must ask you contribute a minimum of $25 to help us pay the extra $250 luggage cost of having these fly with us.

Julia and LindseyIMG_1702
Ideas for gifts are age and interest dependent for your student, but here are some general ideas:

backpacks
pens and pencils
washcloth and towels
body soaps
toothbrush and paste
appropriate inspirational and motivational reading books including bibles
A LETTER and PHOTOS (very important)
jacket
stationary
coloring books
toys: soccer ball deflated with pump, frisbee, jump rope……………
Ann IMG_2106

MichelleIMG_2103

A Tribute of Thanks

5.10.11 Photos from Iphone 126

One year ago, I sat on the plane en route to Kenya and wrote the following:
Tribute to my wonderful Mom.

As you read these words, you are beautiful mom. In you I have a guiding spirit and friend. Your unselfish ways cradled me as I spent otherwise sleepless nights preparing for the mission. You drove, shopped, called and endured the onslaught of demands. You never complained but instead, rose to the occasion by tackling the ever changing list of to do’s.

Storms threw umbrellas to the fields and tore branches from trees, all the while, you told me you were not afraid because you want to live life to the fullest.

I did not know how it would be, mom, having you stay with me while I was in the throws of preparing documents and financial reports for hundreds of children. I was afraid I’d disappoint you. But, these past 7 days have been filled with a gift I shall carry with me always. You are my hero… my friend and my treasure.

Thank you dad for sharing your wife with me – for giving her up to make sure that this mission and I have the support I need to trumpet success. Thank you Dad for believing in me – in my dreams and my calling – and for believing in the lives of each child we are helping through Matanya’s Hope. You are my greatest spokesperson!

I missed having you here this year Mom! I missed you every day! But I am so glad that you and Dad are enjoying Israel!
Mom and Dad Israel 2016

To our sponsors:
I thank each one of you for your continued support. Together, we are making this world a better place and that is the magic. Never Stop Believing. If you ever doubt your effect on the child you sponsor, just ask them what life was like before you entered their world. Through your student’s eyes, you are their angel and with your gift of sponsorship, hopelessness gives way to hope more every day!

Together, we are helping pave the way for a better life for some of the world’s orphans and vulnerable children.

I can't wait to serve these precious children porridge and love!

I can’t wait to serve these precious children porridge and love!

To George, thank you for coming through and organizing us, even when I am in Kenya. Shana, thank you for your time helping me navigate through documents and to do’s…and for the laughter we shared. Jeannette, Ann, Bob, Heidi, Xuan, Susan, Christian… thank you! Matanya’s Hope USA is finally a family! You are each so important and valued in my heart! I could write a book on answered prayers! To Adrienne and Cody, thank you from me and Tiger. Without your welcoming arms, this precious life may not have made it. To Carla, thank you for your countless hours of prayer and friendship. I could not do this without my own faith and dependency on God. And to our neighbors, thank you for your kind help during this time of service.

You are all part of what makes this light of hope shine!

Michelle Stark
Founder, Matanya’s Hope

Your donations are still very much needed.
Please donate at the top of this page or send your tax deductible donation to:
Matanya’s Hope
PO Box 562
Homewood, IL 60430

knowledge is like a garden.  If it is not cultivated it can not be harvested   proverb

A Message from Thomas

The road towards success does not require that I have the best clothes, but asks only that I have a steadfast dedication towards my dreams.  Thank you Matanya's Hope for believing in me.

The road towards success does not require that I have the best clothes, but asks only that I have a steadfast dedication towards my dreams. Thank you Matanya’s Hope for believing in me.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness but even the smallest flicker of light will always find a way to shine.
Hate cannot drive out hate but love will encourage the greatest joy.
Your donations have given us hope in life.

Surely I lack words to thank you for your love and for your overwhelming support towards me.
Your kindness has no measure. It comes as a gift from heaven granting us peace which the world can not give.

Thank you, Matanya’s Hope for positively impacting so many from my generation. We were hopeless and now we have hope. Thank you for investing in our education.

Thomas Muriithi

Help our mission continue to reach those in need.
DONATE at the top of this page

or
Send check to: Matanya’s Hope PO Box 562 Homewood, IL 60430

Every dollar makes a difference in the life of a child in need.