Thoughts from a sponsored student
My name is Patrick Muriuki. I graduated from high school last year and will be joining University in September (just a few weeks from now). In the Kenyan system, we have one year out before joining university. I feel honored to write this blog entry. I have spent the last six weeks with Michelle and other mission team members; I’ve been working as a volunteer to assist Matanya’s Hope reach the students, as they did for so many years to reach out to me.
In these six weeks, I have learned lessons that I feel need to be shared with students and sponsors. I should begin by saying that I never thought that volunteering with Matanya’s Hope would be such a difficult and demanding task. Please don’t get me wrong. It’s been one of the best things I have ever done, but it’s not easy.
I know that many students who are sponsored and probably some sponsors too,do not understand the struggle and sacrifices that Michelle encounters in the mission and in Matanya’s Hope in general. It involves traveling from school to school, giving students school supplies, sitting and talking to students who at times are not able to open up emotionally, thus requiring a lot more love and encouragement. Talking of this, I will give you a good example, Michelle and I recently traveled with two students. We went to a Bata Shop to buy school shoes for a girl in need and while we were there, we asked one of the students if he needed school shoes. The answer was “no”. He said, “I have a pair.”. The same occurred when we were at the bookstore purchasing revision (review) books for another student. We left the Bata shop. It was getting quite dark. We were hungry & exhausted to the bone; to say we were ready to go back home for a meal and rest is an understatement. We piled into our car for the long, bumpy, dusty ride home. The noise makes it hard to hear much but a barely audible voice seemed to be coming from behind Michelle. The same student who said he did not need shoes was whispering, “Michelle, I need shoes.” I think Michelle’s eyes got as big as her face! “Shoes?” she asked. “But we were in the Bata shop. What happened that you did not tell me 2 hours ago when I asked you?” “Mine are torn”, he said, “and they can not be repaired.” I just looked at Michelle and prayed: “Lord, I wish I had half her patience.” She is indeed so patient.
We spent 3 of the first weeks following up on student medical issues, booking appointments with doctors, waiting in long lines, and bearing all of the pressure because we knew there was the mission work ahead of us. When the day finally came and we could start issuing students with clothing, shoes, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, and school supplies, we were more than ready for the task.
The work is tiring and anyone who does it will know, no words can fully cover the absolute exhaustion demanded by the hours and hands on labor required to serve well. We begin working as a team at 8 am (that is not to mention the earlier work we do prior…each on our own whether it is accounting, film, agenda, etc.). By 9:00 PM, we are still at it and sometimes this is also time for the first meal we are taking since breakfast.
It is amazing that Michelle travels all of the way from the USA to come and work this much, especially after spending 4 months packing and labeling every donation that comes to Kenya. That comes to thousands of pounds of donated goods which many sponsors are kind enough to give. I have come to know Michelle is one rare woman to find. She is an angel to so many souls.
When I mentioned how overwhelmed I was the day we had to unpack 17 boxes of donated goods and organize the items completely to make distribution easy for the students, Michelle explained to me that Matanya’s Hope is driven by transparency. “That is why I label each item”, she told me. “It helps me to communicate to the donors where their heart felt donations have gone. It’s unbearably time consuming, but it is a sure way to help the donors feel connected to this project and feel some of that same joy we feel here.” I can report first hand how many donations I have received over the years from Matanya’s Hope donors who so freely give to help us and how grateful I am. Thank you.
If I tell you the truth, I feel guilty that all through, I never realized this pain, hard work and pressure that Michelle goes through. It’s only by serving that I know it first hand, and it is my hearts desire to give back. Maybe I, too, can become a voice for the students following in my footsteps.
To all of the sponsored students, please get it from me, what you get from Matanya’s Hope means that someone somewhere sacrificed their resources, time and some even chose to bear pain for your sake. They are not asking for your “thank you” but they are praying for you and praying that their donation will help to somehow bring you comfort or even further you in life. But it is me who is saying; don’t take it lightly. No one in this world is entitled. Every gift you receive comes from hard work, hours of dedication, lost sleep and a lot of love. Use all wisely. Become the great men and women of this nation’s upcoming generation.
To all of the sponsors: you helped make this happen. I can assure you that every single sponsorship and donation is appreciated. It is amazing to me how you love these kids, inspire them and above all, how you are so loved by them – from across the globe! This world really is small. It is one thing I will always look forward to year after year.
I can’t consider this complete without saying a word to my sponsors Tom and Karen. You are a blessing to my life. You have shaped me, shaped my future and my destiny. You have taken me from hopelessness…not ever knowing if I would see the inside of a high school and you have sponsored me throughout. You have blessed me with education. You really shined the light in my life. Now that I am to join University, I can only pray that God will keep us together. I look forward to joining the team of sponsors one day when I, too, shall sponsor kids and shine the light in their lives as you have done in mine.
I love you.