Category Archives: Success Stories

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.”

IMG_1421

My Name is Shelmith

My name is Shelmith Njeri Karuri.

I vividly recall how difficult my life was before I was enrolled in the Matanya’s Hope Sponsorship program. My dad passed away when I was at a tender age of 9 years old. He left four young children with my mom who is a housewife. She was not able to raise school fees for us. Even getting a simple pair of shoes was hard. Sometimes we had to go without and we walked to school barefooted on many cold, chilly mornings. Most of the time, I was sent away from school due to lack of school fees. When I got to grade 7, I was even more worried. I lost hope of ever joining secondary (High) school. With hopelessness darkening my days, I began to relax academically.

This is me in 2007.  I am front left.  It was a happy moment for me to be in the presence of other Matanya's Hope girls.

This is me in 2007. I am front left. It was a happy moment for me to be in the presence of other Matanya’s Hope girls.

It was during this time that Matanya’s Hope learned of my story. I was enrolled in their program. Because my situation was so desperate, they enrolled me in a boarding school as they began their search for a sponsor. Michelle did everything to ensure me that I was loved and that all would be ok. I had not ever had someone to care about me like this before.

This is me in 2008.  I was enrolled in Slopesview Academy.  I had all I needed to succeed: love, encouragement, school supplies, food.... and a good school.

This is me in 2008. I was enrolled in Slopesview Academy. I had all I needed to succeed: love, encouragement, school supplies, food…. and a good school.

She bought me a pair of shoes and everything else I was in need of. I will never forget that day when I entered Slopesview Academy. It was a great school and my learning was very smooth!

Since then, my life completely changed. The Grad family offered to sponsor me. After primary school, the Grad’s sent me to one of the best high schools. They made sure I got everything and none of the days was I ever sent out of school due to lack of fees! They even came to visit me in school! I could not believe my eyes!

Though the help of Matanya’s Hope, as I write this now, I am a second year student pursuing the course I have always been dreaming of. I attend one of the best Universities in Kenya. I am humbled as I write to tell you that God has blessed me! I am reaching my goals and surely, life is not a hopeless mess. Still under sponsorship, the Grad family has made sure that I get my academic fees and my transport to and from school…and everything else. Matanya’s Hope is REAL. Much thanks to our founder Michelle Stark and our kind sponsors.

My sponsors give me so much inspiration.  They encourage me through letters they write and books they send.

My sponsors give me so much inspiration. They encourage me through letters they write and books they send.

You have All changed the lives of many children. And that is just the beginning. As we marry, our future generations will be educated and will suffer less at the gripping hands of poverty. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for all that you do. I know now that I have a bright future.

God bless Matanya’s Hope.

Shelmith Njeri Karuri

When The Sun Rises I No Longer Cry

MY LIFE
The Misery of Being a House Girl to Hope Through Education

I grew up in a small Kenyan village called Matanya in the outskirts of Nanyuki. The population meets the recurrence of dry spells every other planting season making our livelihood in agricultural activities a continuous trial. To get food was never easy.

Hunger is an endless struggle for so many in Matanya

Hunger is an endless struggle for so many in Matanya

I was the fifth born in a family of seven siblings with four brothers and three sisters. According to our customs, a boy child is believed to be more valuable than a girl child. This is especially true when it comes to education and the disbursement of wealth. The myth behind this is that a girl will be married off and she will leave her family to go and join her in-laws while the boy will remain with his family and give them support. Upon the death of one’s parents, a girl could not inherit a single portion of her parent’s property. I was raised believing that my value as a human being was very much dependent upon this view.

The few families of our village are spread out across the arid land. Harsh climate conditions deter others from moving near. There is no meaningful development in terms of infrastructure and government education is quite poor.

Matanya Primary School 2008

Matanya Primary School 2008

2001 marked my first encounter with the final examination for primary education (Certificate of Primary Education). My parents were struggling to make ends meet. I knew I would be unable to join high school; my parents would be unable to provide the required fees. I understood their predicament with ease. I was only a girl and I was accustomed to this. The bother was not much. Also, my older siblings were already in school and the financial load was heavy for my parents.

With nothing but a class 8 education, I opted to look for a job. At least this way I could release the burden on my parents. The only available job for the semi-illiterates in Kenya is that of house-help in a well-up family. I was lucky to find a position with a neighbor’s family friend in the city and I was welcomed and started working.

This job was a big challenge to me due to my young age. The children in that house were almost my age-mates and yet they did nothing to help themselves. I struggled every day to manage the job to the expectations of my employer. She was unkind and she took me as a slave and started mistreating me. She was a single mother with two daughters.

I used to wake-up at 5.00 am every morning to start my day and if I woke up late my employer would shout at me, “Don’t you have sense? The children have to get ready for school, you lazy wretch!”

She used to shout at me with furry, you would think that she would eat me up right there! I always had to say sorry with humility; I feared that she would beat me-up. The two daughters were thoroughly spoiled, they were big enough to do most of the things by themselves but the mother still demanded everything to be done for them. If I forgot to do something, she would scold me in her daughters’ presence as a way of humiliating me. She referred to me as a useless girl. As a result of this behavior, the girls formed the habit of scolding me bitterly, using dis-respectful language just like their mother.

They used to tell me, “Lydia, you are our servant and you must do as you are told”. My employer rationed every morsel of food I cooked for the family and she ordered that when food was ready, she was the one to serve. The share I used to get was very little. Actually, it was even too little to sustain me, despite the fact that I had worked the whole day tirelessly! Her daughters were served heaping portions at every meal. I used to cry almost every day when I retire to bed. The only time I was happy was on Sunday mornings. She would allow me to take some hours off so that I could attend Sunday service in the nearby church. When I was in the church, I could forget her and the girls and this gave me consolation. It was as if I was living in another world when I remembered life back home with my family.

After 5 years as a house girl, I decided to go back to school.

After 5 years as a house girl, I decided to go back to school.

After 5 years, I reached a point where I could not take it anymore. I was determined to pursue my education. I requested to go home and visit my family and from that time, I did not go back to resume my job.

I decided to go back to school. Although most of my age-mates were married, I realized that with education I could accomplish my life-time dream. I was driven to succeed, to get a good job and to be able to help my family and other children like me. I want to encourage those who continue to be employed and mistreated in this menace of child labour in the name of house-helps in our country.

Since so many years passed, I was not allowed to join high school, so in 2007, with the introduction of free primary school education, I decided to go back to primary school. When I told my parents, they were surprised and thought I was not serious; they kind of resented the idea. I was forced to approach a neighbour and family friend to intervene for me, who managed to convince them. They both agreed and I went back to primary school where I repeated class seven. I had to utilize my savings from the house help job to buy school uniforms, books and other items that were required to facilitate my admission.

I worked very hard and my performance impressed both my teachers and family. When I sat again for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2008, I managed an impressive score. My parents economic position did not change and they were very worried about my joining secondary school. I was too. Little did I know that God had a plan for my future.

Michelle and Matanya's Hope built a home for a very needy girl in our village.

Michelle and Matanya’s Hope built a home for a very needy girl in our village.

One day as I was sharing my problem with one of my school mates, she gave me information that there was an organization called Matanya’s Hope assisting the needy children from my area. I knew Mr. Mugo walked a long distance with my mum to his place. When we met, I told him my problems. He gave me a day to meet with Michelle Stark, the founder of the organization. It was not possible to meet Michelle on the day of our initial visit as she was very busy at a construction site, building a home for a needy girl in our village. We waited until late when the work was over.

Finally I managed to meet Michelle whom I shared my problems with and what I had gone through in my life. Michelle promised me to try to assist me and true to her words she found my angel Debbie, my sponsor, who sent me to high school and now college.

This is me when I first met Michelle. I was old enough to be married, but instead I was finishing 8th grade.

This is me when I first met Michelle. I was old enough to be married, but instead I was finishing 8th grade.

When the sun rises, I no longer cry (as I used to when everyone was going to school except me). I became the first person in my family to attend high school and I attained a B-. This was good performance by any standards! After this, I didn’t want to stay in the village and get married-off like most of my classmates but I wanted to become a nurse, my life time dream! With the kind generosity of my sponsors, I am now in medical college doing nursing. If it were not for them, I probably would have been married off. This is what our Kenyan girls face every day. Education is the key to success. It is hope and it empowerment. It is not free. Even in school, one must work hard and study well. They must know why they are there and never forget the oppression that awaits them on the other side of this opportunity.

If I were to say one thing to Michelle, founder of Matanya’s Hope, to Debbie and friends (all my sponsors), it is that you have given me a new lease on life. Thank you for choosing me when there are so many you could have chosen. I promise you that I will not ever let you down in my academic pursuance. The sky will forever be the limit of my reach.

To all the young girls who might be experiencing what I went through, I have this to say to you; “However long the night becomes, the day is sure to come”.

Me today.  I am happy to be in nursing school!

Me today. I am happy to be in nursing school!

God bless you Matanya’s Hope and my dear sponsors.
LYDIA WANJIKU WAHOME

HOPE FOR JOHN – His amazing journey to success

This is John Otinga. Several years ago, John was routinely sent home from high school, unable to pay fees, dejected and in tears. He knew he would be hungry at home for there was no food. Desperate to return to high school, he would sneak back and hide in the dorms until his mum could provide a few coins to allow him back to class for a few more days. This cycle continued until Matanya’s Hope discovered John. We sent him to college where he studied culinary arts. John studied with all of his heart.

Interviews uncovered amazing talent and promise in this young man. Out of hundreds of applicants, John was selected to work for a large hotel in The UAE. He continues to display a great work ethic and a heart filled with thanksgiving. This once dejected boy celebrates his promotion to management level at one of the world’s top hotel chains today!

THIS IS WHAT YOUR SUPPORT DOES FOR MATANYA’S HOPE.

Please follow us on our blog: www.journeytohelpafrica.com and our website: www.matanyashope.org
Donations are much needed and can be made securely through PAY PAL by pushing the donate button on the side of the page.
John Otinga CHEFEvery donation counts.

Thank you!
Michelle Stark
Founder & President, Matanya’s Hope