Category Archives: Matanya’s Hope



Annitah and her Sintoyei, sponsored by the same couple, now call themselves "sisters".

Annitah and her Sintoyei, sponsored by the same couple, now call themselves “sisters”.

I see her hurrying as she walks past me. her head is newly shaven. She wears a clean uniform and has toothbrush in hand.
Her round cheeks let me know she is called Annitah. Even in the darkness of early morning, I know her well.

My heart swells with a love and joy uncountable in this physical life. In my mind, I also see last year’s pictures where Annitah wore rags. I feel the pain again as I recall watching her bend over a basin of river water, scrubbing dishes and washing floors by hand. I smile briefly as I recall her standing closely to her cucu (grandmother) working on the shamba (farm) to help her earn a coin for school – for food – for life.

Annitah during last year's mission.  Today she is sponsored and has the hope of a life blessed by education.

Annitah during last year’s mission. Today she is sponsored and has the hope of a life blessed by education.

I feel overjoyed. Our little girl is sponsored. Today she is in uniform. She is going to school.

The house bustles with energy. More than 20 Matanya’s Hope children scurry about washing, packing and getting ready to go to their perspective boarding schools facilities. The holiday is over. Those with long hair are carefully braided. Many shades of brown skin glow from the newly applied oil. Names are shouted into the morning air. Quincy. Naishorwua. Lanto. Jennifer. Pendo. Christine, Felister. Nasieku. Lilian. Nashula. Naini. Resui. Sintoyei. Wewe (“You”). The names are more than 20 in one house!

Taiyana holding a new set of markers for school.

Taiyana holding a new set of markers for school.

Let me be honest here. How many of us would give up our personal privacy to allow more than 20 children from different families – different cultures – different backgrounds and personalities to stay with us – to promote their education – to help them study and to develop a family? Most of these 20 are teens. If you have even one child of your own, you know, raising another soul is not easy. I don’t know how well I myself could do this. But I see it here. the 20+ students who live here during breaks range in age from 10-22. They come from all directions of Kenya and Tanzania (a neighboring country). I recall the day we traveled 17.5 hours to find Pendo and Witness in 2009 in Arusha Tanzania – and all we knew was their town and Witness’ name. God is SO good!

Moreen holding toothbrush and toothpaste, some of the many items donated to her for school.

Moreen holding toothbrush and toothpaste, some of the many items donated to her for school.

Last night I watched another procedure as Mrs. Mugo divided school supplies among the students. Bars of soap for washing clothes. Bars of soap for bathing. Colgate. Toothbrushes. Shoe polish. Toilette paper. Pens, pencils, erasers…supplies overflowed. You make them possible. Thank you Matanya’s hope for every contribution to these children’s lives. There are no adequate words to say what you are doing for these kids. You are hope to their souls. Let them grow, God, to become Your next servants to lift this nation.

Jeff Wambugu proudly displays his two new uniforms sweaters!  He is ready to go back to school.

Jeff Wambugu proudly displays his two new uniforms sweaters! He is ready to go back to school.

For all that I see, for all the joys, for all the triumphs over the challenges we face in every direction, thank you.

I don’t know how to express to you, our donors and sponsors, the magnitude of your gifts of love, education and even life support that you are giving to these souls.

I pray for strength as we continue together. Let us touch these lives to forever change the world for the better. Amen

Resui holds her new bookbag!.  What a great gift!

Resui holds her new bookbag!. What a great gift!




The zeal to give back to the society is never a task for all. But for those who set out this summer, the experience has been life-changing, creating memories of the smiles and good times that the Journey to Africa gave to us. This big journey has been more fulfilling than taking a vacation.
In our minds, we knew that it was not going to be easy – especially for the long journeys that awaited ahead. But with bold hearts, dedicated souls and unwavering spirits, we set out. Two of the greatest comrades for the Journey set their feet in Africa and Kenya to be specific on June 3, 2014. It was Lilian Muthoni Gatheca and Kelsey Spencer. They knew that what had to be done required a determined heart. With beaming faces they looked ready.


To Kelsey, arriving at VICTORY was a long awaited dream that had finally come true. After 6 hours of driving and sightseeing through Kenya’s eastern countryside, we set our feet in Meru. We arrived late in the evening. We were as we were greeted with a warm welcome from the host family and of course, our greatest surprise was to also be able to meet the lovely VA kids. Lilan, Kelsey and I had to see the kids and share warm hugs together. What a welcome!

Kelsey and Lilian arrive in Kenya

Kelsey and Lilian arrive in Kenya

To Kelsey, I can only imagine how it must have been a surprise to see the new life in Africa and to experience the evening preps in our Kenyan setting. From the dusty classrooms and with jumbled sitting arrangements came the most beautiful smiles. Having done her homework well, Kelsey did manage to say ” Jambo” meaning” Hi” and the smiling VA kids were shocked to see a “mzungu” Who knows Swahili.
Our first night was general introduction and Kelsey and Lilian all looked forward to the next day – when they would be able to spread their love to the kids. Luckily enough, the following day was the Agricultural Exhibition Show. The show is always a great avenue for the many regions to show case their agricultural produce and all other achievements. It’s always right for the primary and high school students to attend such shows and learn a couple of things and VA students were not an exception. This was a great avenue for Kelsey and Lilian to learn with the VA kids. Walking all around the showground was eye-catching especially to many in that place who saw Kelsey! As a white person in a Kenyan academic setting, the children indeed found her a fascinating person to watch! After a couple of 4-wheeled motorcycle rides and a merry-go-round ride, we were all set to end the day. Kelsey and Lilian decided to use the school bus to ride with the kids and this was so welcome from all! It was a chance for Kelsey to experience the boarding and trip effects that many Kenyans find themselves longing for but may never have the means to experience.
Kelsey surrounded by the children at the MERU AGRICULTURAL SHOW

Kelsey surrounded by the children at the MERU AGRICULTURAL SHOW

Each day at VICTORY was a new challenge and excitement to look forward to; each one holding a different project for Kelsey. Amongst her most favorite of experiences was milking Kenyan cows; she had to wake up with Mama Diana at 5am to go milking. Once done, they had to carry the many liters of milk in a silver pail to market. What an exciting moment that was!

Picking tea at Mama Lisper’s home was also an existing experience; needless to say the sugarcane eating at a neighbor’s was a sweet and welcome treat! Kelsey did experience what it means to eat sugarcane with bare teeth. Am sure she’d say, that required strong jaws.

Kelsey and Lilian pick tea with Peter Muthomi (Matanya's Hope student) and Mama Lisper in Meru

Kelsey and Lilian pick tea with Peter Muthomi (Matanya’s Hope student) and Mama Lisper in Meru

At VA we had a great program and, for Kelsey and Lilian, being part of the teaching staff was amazing. While I taught class 8 math, Kelsey and Lilian taught 6th, 7th, & 8th grade students Christian Religious Education (CRE). The kids always looked forward to our lessons and we also looked forward to teaching them.

The evenings had different programs ranging from storytelling, movies and and personal life stories from the three of us. Since boyhood, my life had unfathomable challenges and this year, I took time to express to the students that despite all of the hardships I faced, I have reasons to move on and to embrace life. The Glow family sent Lilian with a movie by the title FROZEN and this movie made us laugh all through. The snowman, Olaf, in the movie left our ribs aching from laughter. What great moments!

Michelle Stark, Founder of Matanya’s Hope, and Faith Watson joined us on June 12. Now, the biggest task of unpacking 65 fifty pound (72 kilo) duffle bags had to be done. The Mission team comprised of Michelle, Lilian, Kelsey, Faith, Michael and I worked so hard and by the end of 14th of June 2014, all the gifts and donations were well sorted. Over 100 blankets, 40 book bags, bibles, soccer balls, shoes, clothes, coats, thousands of toothbrushes, pens, pencils and so much more were ready to be distributed to those in need. What a great job Matanya’s Hope does! 9 years and yet Michelle pushes on to assure that the African child will have a reason to smile and hope of a better future. There is no better way of saving the world than through SAVING ONE CHILD AT A TIME.

Attending a church service at VICTORY is indeed one incredible life experience. The kids lead the service, full of life and joy singing and sharing of the word of God. It is humbling. We enjoyed songs and choruses, which left many of us still singing – and feeling so grateful for this great and merciful God of ours. Victory Academy was a great place to get to know Kenya and the hearts of Kenyan students.

Sweet Anita reads from her new bible donated by Todd and Cindy Stone

Sweet Anita reads from her new bible donated by Todd and Cindy Stone

None of us wanted to leave Meru but Nanyuki was waiting. So much more was waiting only hours away!


Finally, we set out for Nanyuki. Travel was another treat as we circled the perimeter of the famous 5199M high Mt. Kenya. The climate went from lush green carpets of tea and banana to a desert like carpet of dust and brush within 3 hours; we arrived in Nanyuki. We traveled an additional 20km into the interior of Nanyuki, arriving at a place called Matanya, where Mr. And Mrs Mugo embraced us. In their humble home, all were welcomed and the first part of the night program became a cherished, traditional footbath. Their hearts were cozy and Mrs Mugo made us the first dinner. Soon, Nanyuki became another home.

Our first stop the next morning was Irura Primary School – an impoverished rural day school where Mrs Mugo is a teacher. Much thanks to donations from Mother and Daughter team: Stephanie Kazuba and Lucyna Czuba, we participated in serving the kid’s porridge. These pupils are able to enjoy a cup of nutritious and hot porridge between 10-11am every day. The majority of these students come from such disadvantaged backgrounds that even one meal a day becomes an impossibility.

Porridge is made from freshly ground sorghum, amaranth, millet, finger millet and maize and cooked over an open fire.  Approximately 200 students are fed every day at this school.

Porridge is made from freshly ground sorghum, amaranth, millet, finger millet and maize and cooked over an open fire. Approximately 200 students are fed every day at this school.

This year, we were blessed to be able to unveil one of the greatest additions to The Porridge Program: MICONUTRIENTS. Matanya’s Hope has partnered with Hidden Hunger Global in an effort to bring optimal nutrition to the children we serve. It was a miracle witnessing these children, dressed in torn and tattered uniforms, some barefooted – others in shoes – taking porridge, which would now truly feed their minds and bodies.

The pupils staged a school presentation and their singing was out of this world. These young and humble pupils had voices! Awesome voices.,.

Life in Nanyuki wouldn’t have been a complete experience without a visit to Slopesview Academy, a boarding school where over 15 Matanya’s Hope students from various localities in Kenya gather to learn. We had a great time distributing gifts and sharing motivation and stories with students. The school choir sang, their royal blue uniforms blowing gently as they swayed to and fro.

A visit to Ol Pejeta Animal Conservancy marked the perfect end our stay at Nanyuki. Our team celebrated the sight of chimpanzees, rhinos, elephants, lions and more! Michelle even got a kiss from Baraka, the area’s favored black rhino.

This is Baraka.  He is blind but quite a charmer.

This is Baraka. He is blind but quite a charmer.

The first phase of mission 2014 was culminated with a visit to Lilian’ s home where we met her grandma (Cucu – pronounced sho sho) and the rest of her family. We traveled to a local primary school where Lilian spent the early years of her education and blessed the children with pencils and pencil cases from THE KINDNESS CONNECTION as well as toothbrushes from SUNSTAR. From this humble beginning, Lilian has so much to tell but all that is envisaged in her forever-bright smile.

Students from a rural primary school in Karatina receive pencil cases and pencils from  The Kindness Connection via Matanya's Hope

Students from a rural primary school in Karatina receive pencil cases and pencils from The Kindness Connection via Matanya’s Hope

It was a time to say goodbye to Kelsey and a Faith but the memories of their 2 plus weeks here will be cherished for a long time.

Now, Matanya’s Hope has entered the phase of MISSION PROPER. Our schedules go day and night as we interview students, pass out donations and travel through the country bringing love and blessings along the way.
Keep it posted here for more updates.
Douglas Wanja and Michelle Stark

We are on our way – Bags Ready to GO!

photo 1

Many thanks to my Journey Family and Friends who helped make the transport of almost 70 fifty pound bags from my living room to a truck possible. Hats off to Nicholas, Pastor Dave, Caleb, Joshua, and Aaron for their endurance and incredible strength. Randle and Alex, you guys and Pastor Dave helped us “bring it home!” And continued praises and thanks to my mom and son, Ann, Shana, Tina, Jeannette, Debbie, Ali and Leslie and Howard who helped turn this mission to a reality.

To all of you who stepped forward – thank you for your hearts and vision! Two months ago we were $16,000 shy of making this mission a reality. Today – we seek $225 to seal the deal… We could not have done this alone!

Stay tuned… pics and videos to come from Kenya!
God bless you all!


photo 2

photo 4 (1)


At last we have set a date for our first ever Matanya’s Hope golf outing! We are pleased to tell all friends of Matanya’s Hope that on Monday, September 22, 2014 at Ruffled Feathers Golf Club in Lemont, Illinois we will be golfing with a shotgun start at 8 am. More information is available at

All are welcome to register at this link and join us for a lovely day. Hole sponsorships are being taken. All proceeds from the event will benefit the life saving work that we do here at Matanya’s Hope. This will be far more than just another golf outing. Hope to see you there!

Matanya Save The Date 1


Matanya’s Hope Reaches Out to Severely Impoverished

julia wan bed

“This is my bed. Uneven 2 X 4’s force their jagged edges into me. I stuff my shredded clothing into the cracks, hoping I might find comfort for the night. My two sisters and brother all sleep with me in here. It is all we have.”

Each year, Matanya’s Hope sets out on mission to bring encouragement, love and material support to extremely impoverished and orphaned children and their communities in Kenya, East Africa.
We distribute:

  • school supplies to children who do not have so much as a pencil to call their own
  • blankets and mattresses to children who sleep on dirt floors, or simply huddle together for warmth
  • shoes to people of all ages who walk miles barefooted, because there is no choice
  • medical supplies to remote medical clinics who may not have a single bandage to offer
  • porridge to hungry children who can go up to 4 days without a single meal
  • motivation and counseling to hundreds of children throughout the mission
  • clothes to the naked and needy
  • and this year we will be distributing micronutrients to 1000 malnourished children – helping them to maximize their potential physically, emotionally and academically through medically balanced nutrition

Simply putjoyces brother
Your donations CHANGE and SAVE lives

Skip your coffee JUST THIS ONCE
Do it for a kid in need.


Julia Wangari recvng mat blnkt pillw etc


Matanya’s Hope – Our Mission

Matanya’s Hope started in 2005 by educating 4 destitute Kenyan children who would never have been able to continue school beyond 8th grade. Today we educate more than 250 orphaned, hungry, deeply impoverished children from nursery school through university on a continual year to year basis while at the same time providing communities with life sustaining opportunities such as clean drinking water, food programs, medical supplies, reforestation and more. These communities would never have experienced life beyond abject poverty however, today, Matanya’s Hope delivers the message of HOPE.


Ambrose Lanuko portrait in Nanyuki

May 12, 2014

Dear Friends,

We really need your help! Our life saving mission to Kenya is just weeks away, and we face a terrible crises. We currently have a shortfall of $12,700, which is desperately needed to insure the success of our mission. Your help can make a difference! Please take a moment to support us by sending your tax deductible check to the address below or by using pay-pal via our website: or blog: Help make it possible for our work to continue. We are desperate at this time and every minute counts. For those of you who have already contributed, thank you! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. For those who have not acted thus far, please take a moment to consider how valuable your contribution is to the lives of these beautiful children, and act accordingly. Your contribution – no matter how large or how small, is critical to our success. Every dollar counts.

To get an in-depth look at the work of Matanya’s Hope, please look at our website: and our blog: See what your dollars do and mean to these children.

Thank you so much for your considerations and help.

Michelle Stark,
Founder/President, Matanya’s Hope
a 501 C-3 recognized charity
Matanya’s Hope PO Box 562 Homewood, IL 60430

A Peek into our First Years

In 2005, I ventured into a world that most people only dream of. I traveled to Africa. Every sunrise greeted me with a breathtaking view of Kenya’s wildlife crossing the earthen plains. But what was about to happen next changed my life forever.

I met poverty.

I met children who faced days without food and children who faced life without parents.

…and I met hope. Hope within my own heart. I had to help.

Matanya’s Hope was born.

Within two years, we were providing mattresses, blankets, shoes, food and most of all HOPE through education to Kenya’s forgotten children.

Today, through sponsorships from people like you, most of the children who you will see in this video have graduated high school. Many are in their last year of college or university. HOW MUCH YOUR DONATIONS CAN DO TO CHANGE A LIFE!

I thank God for giving me this mighty direction and for being the source of hope and help to the children of Kenya.

DONATE TODAY and help us continue this work.
(The DONATE button is on the upper right corner of this page)

To sponsor a child, contact Matanya’s Hope +1 708 822 HOPE (4673)
or reply to this post and we will get back to you.


Preparing for Mission to Kenya

Michelle KENYA 1

PO Box 562
(708) 822-HOPE (4673)
Homewood, IL 60430


May 3, 2014

Dear Friend of Matanya’s Hope,

I am writing to personally thank you, as a friend of Matanya’s Hope, for your past support. It is gifts like yours that allow us to continue to work with and bless some of the world’s neediest children. Your gifts have helped to take their minds off of the hunger, thirst and homelessness they often experience.

You’ve helped us to provide food, clothing, school supplies, shoes, blankets, bibles, medical supplies and MOST OF ALL – HOPE. Through your donations, we now have students graduating university, working and supporting their own families – and sending their siblings and neighbors to school! School children, who once had no vision of a future, are now thriving. All in all, when we combine every dollar donated to help Matanya’s Hope serve these children, we have nothing short of a miracle! Thank you!

Spending June through August every year in the heart of impoverished Africa has taught me so much about what is most important in this world. Loving life – nurturing all that we can that is good – harvesting every moment – learning and sharing our blessings with those in need: these are the things that I have found matter most. While our next outfit or pair of shoes can be fun, they don’t even remotely save the world. ONE CHILD AT A TIME, we can continue our journey together, making this world a better, safer place for the orphaned and impoverished. Let’s join hands and be the voice for their tomorrow!

I humbly request your help as we prepare for mission. Please stand by our side. Sponsor a child $125/month or $1500 annually or help us get a bag to Kenya $250. Whatever you can give, we thank you with all of our hearts! Our mission depends on your donations. We will not quit. Children are depending on us.

Please take a moment and share this letter with your family and friends.

You can donate in two ways:
Go to our DONATE button on this site and click to make a secure Pay Pal donation to Matanya’s Hope

If you prefer writing a check:
Matanya’s Hope PO Box 562 Homewood, IL 60430 USA

All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE. Matanya’s Hope is a registered 501C3 organization.

Very truly yours,

Michelle Stark
Founder & President
Matanya’s Hope