Category Archives: To Our Sponsors

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Caroline Gakii – A Story of HOPE

It is with great joy and happiness that I write this to you. I am 16 years old but will be turning 17 come November 27. My parents are farmers. they work on other people’s farms in order for us to at least get something to eat.

We don’t have a house of our own but we have rented and we usually pay seven hundred per month. Sometimes when we don’t pay in good time, we are always chased out of the house and accommodated by our neighbors until we get money to pay back. That is when we are allowed to get into the house.

Before I went into a boarding school, I always helped my mother in the farm so that she could get double what she usually gets when she works alone. Sometimes, especially in August, we spend most of our time without eating because there are not enough rains and therefore there is inadequate food.

Before I got a sponsor, Michelle bought me some of the school supplies I required because my parents could not manage.

Before I got a sponsor, Michelle bought me some of the school supplies I required because my parents could not manage.

My parents managed to take me to a boarding school when I was in class five. I will always recall when that day for me to go into a boarding school finally reached. I woke up earlier than usual, prepared the breakfast and went to have a shower. (We use a small basin with river water). Within a twinkle of an eye, we had all finished dressing and taking our breakfast. My parents took the metal box filled with my supplies and we headed to the bus station. As we were traveling, questions started flowing in my mind like a wind. How will life be in boarding school? How will I live without seeing my parents and siblings? Will my parents be getting enough money to pay for my school fees? We reached school by 2:00 pm. I was admitted and my box was carried by other students into the dorm. I could not eat that day because of the happiness that I felt.

I stayed in school for two weeks and I was chased back home because I had not paid all of the school fees. I was happy because I had really missed my parents and siblings. When I reached home, I met my mother sitting outside of the house. When she saw me, she was astonished. She asked “What have you come to do and the schools are not yet closed?” I told her happily “Mum, I have been chased to collect the fees.” Before I had finished the word fees, tears started rolling down her cheeks. I felt pain in my heart and I started crying like a little toddler. What she told me made me wish that the earth would open and swallow me alive. “My daughter, I have nothing right now. You have to stay with me here at home and help me so that you can get money to go back to school.”

I was always being chased from school due to lack of fees.

I was always being chased from school due to lack of fees.

I entered the house, knelt down and started crying to God to deliver us from living a life of poverty. After one week, the money was enough for me to go back to school. Life continued like that. One day I am in school and another day, I am being sent home to collect more fees. It became a monotony. Whenever the director would come to read who is being sent home for fees, I was always the first name to be read because I had always remained with a large amount of money owed. Sometimes, I would be the only person who would be sent home from the whole school! I would cry until my head would start aching. People at home know that I always go home after two or three weeks. Some even manage to ask me where I usually work because I always appear to be home.

My parents could not keep me in boarding school any longer. They decided to take me back into the small rural day school I attended before. It was 2009, in the third term, when my father and I went to clear what we could from the huge balance at school. We were told that they could not give us clearance and we had to wait for the director. When he came, he told us to go. Although Matanya’s Hope was helping some of the needy students at our school, there was not yet a sponsor for me.

This is me, Caroline Gakii, and my father during our interview with Michelle.  This day changed my life.

This is me, Caroline Gakii, and my father during our interview with Michelle. This day changed my life.

I had no option but to take my box and leave the school. I followed behind my father. Michelle had just arrived as we were leaving. She saw us and called us to come back from the long path. Michelle and my father entered a room; I was left outside. I did not know what they were talking about but Michelle soon explained that she would pray hard to find me a sponsor. Tears of joy were rolling down my cheeks. I took my box back into the dorm and went back to class.

When I was in class 8, all of the pupils were asked to pay six thousand shillings for a trip to Mombasa. My parents could not manage to pay for me and no one notified Michelle, so all those who had not paid were chased home for the money. I was one of those who were chased.

My parents said that they could not manage to pay. My mother took me back to school the following day. Director was harsh and would not allow me to go into the classroom without paying for the trip. I was asked to take my box and leave the school. But as I was waiting for my mother to come out of the office, Michelle appeared again. I don’t know how it is that every time I am told to leave with my box, somehow she is there! Michelle saw me with the box beside me and I was crying. She came and asked me what the problem was and I told her that I was not able to pay six thousand for the trip. She went and told the director that Matanya’s Hope will pay those fees. I was allowed to go to class.

I wish you could tell me how your life was when you were in school.

Today I am in high school. Matanya’s Hope has catered for my needs and life has been smooth. I have a wonderful sponsor who has made me to feel like life really will be ok after all!

God bless all of you who help someone in need. I don’t know where I could be without Matanya’s Hope.

Caroline Gakii

DONATE NOW
www.journeytohelpafrica.com
www.matanyashope.org
or send check to:
Matanya’s Hope PO Box 562 Homewood, IL 60430

All donations are tax deductible.

A Matanya’s Hope Student Shares A Plea For Others

I don't know how my story will end but it will never read....I gave up

Matanya’s Hope has sponsored me since I was young. You have given me the chance to go to school. Now I am in University, studying agribusiness management, a very good field for our farming country. I am not writing to you today about me.

I have had something in my heart, a burden, that is two years old now. I felt I should mention it to you.

I have a classmate who opened up to me about his life. He has faced hard times since he can remember and he is thinking of dropping out of school because he can’t see himself finishing the line with all of the struggles. We are taking the same course. Since my first year, I have been encouraging him.

He would sometimes come to school without a single items of shopping (soap, toothpaste, pens, pencils, notebooks, socks…), no fees to pay the tuition, not even clothes or shoes. He mostly attends classes with slippers. I would assist him with pens and share my copies of handout notes we get from lecturers which I printed with the money you provide.

The young man goes without food and when he gets it, it is really a miracle. Since the second year, second semester, he has never gone home during school breaks. He can’t because fees for transport are really a problem for him. I remember him telling me last year, “Lisper, if you see that I am doing this exam, God is great”. He said this because he had a fee balance that the parents could not afford. the father struggled and managed to send half of it. Then he approached the Dean of Students with a written letter to request to do the exams. He promised to pay the balance after the exam.

I asked him if he managed to pay it and he said that his father sold some trees and sent the fees after. Now we are in a new semester. the student got permission (a kibarua) to distribute mandazi (Kenyan donuts) from a small food kiosk which other kiosk owners use for a quick bite. He hoped that he would at least get food for supper. He did this with our without classes and he would rush quickly to class for every lecture.

This  is me, Lisper Muthoni.  Thank you Matanya's Hope for making it possible for me to go to school.  I can not imagine the harshness of life without education.

This is me, Lisper Muthoni. Thank you Matanya’s Hope for making it possible for me to go to school. I can not imagine the harshness of life without education.

The amazing thing is that no one is bright like him in class.

One day, the lecturer wanted to hear everyone shout what he or she would want to be in the future. I heard him saying “a researcher”. the lecturer talked about it. What pained me is that the guy was struggling to get food through getting permission to sell mandazi when I was doing my end of semester exams. I heard others saying that he can’t do the exam. the reason is because of the same fees he owes for this term. The parents have nothing more to sell. They can not manage to get food money for him and at the same time money to pay fees.

Since it has been a routine for him to have almost impossible balances due, the Dean refused to admit him to school this term. He told him “you either drop out of school or pay the fees.” The student was so stressed during exam time and after the exams I called him. I wanted to know what happened but he was in tears. He told me that he has been praying to get the fees but now he sees that he can’t make life through education but only away from education.

I encouraged him. I know you don’t know this person. You have never seen him either.

I wanted to open up this issue to you last year, but it was hard to do it. You know I am a quiet girl. I did not know how you would take it. But let me tell you, I don’t know why I feel bad about this. Every time I pray, I tell God to help that friend. We have given nothing to God yet we are getting our fees paid. It is God who provides.

This student is seeing that his dreams will be shattered by all means. I went home and I left him in school saying he can’t go home because he has no fare. And if he goes home, he will be frustrated to return without money for the old and new fees. He remains in the empty hostels with no shopping and no food. Fare to come back is still a problem. Still, he can study for the semester, but he can not do exams without clearing his fees. I really feel like God is calling me to see and feel deeply for what this guy is passing through.

I humbly approach you for your help. Everything is God who give. We are helping kids. This thing is serious. I have observed it for long. I have taken time to ask questions and want to know more. I at times wish I would have money to lend a hand. He comes from a very poor village called Kuria, bordering Tanzania.

The story of this student touched my heart. His name is Meremo Samwel Nyangi. He is in his 3rd year like me, taking Bsc (agribusiness management). the terms left are only 3 plus the one we finished on Friday though he has not paid for it and he has not done the exams for it.

Since my first year I have been encouraging him.  He would sometimes come to school without shopping, no fees, even clothes and shoes.

Since my first year I have been encouraging him. He would sometimes come to school without shopping, no fees, even clothes and shoes.

His fees for this new term are 14,350 ($145.00).
He also needs food for 5,000 a month times 4 months ($50 x 4 = $200)
and transport: 5,000 ($50)

I am a student who has been helped.
Now I pray you hear my request for this boy Samwel.

Thank you.
Lisper Muthoni

a persons most useful asset is love

Thank You – from Patrick – a Matanya’s Hope Student

Dear sponsors, donors and friends of Matanya`s Hope,

My name is Patrick. I know this might not be the first blog entry some of you are reading from me – I have written several, but this one is distinctive in that it reveals insights I could only gather after spending time serving with Matanya’s Hope. It is SPECIAL to me and I invite you to read and share with a friend. This would mean a lot to me.

Two years ago, Michelle Stark visited me at school – I was still in High school. She asked me to describe MH in three words and I said, `MH is Hope’. Honestly, I meant it…….and I still do! But if someone asked me the question again today, I would have a totally different answer. To me today, MH is ‘DOING LIFE TOGETHER’. It is being a blessing to other peoples` lives – making the world a better place to live in, not just for ourselves, but for others. It is being sensitive enough and courageous enough to raise awareness so that we can become blessings to those same others that so many in this world close their eyes to – turn their backs on – ignore – and let rot in their own hunger, homelessness and hopelessness. Matanya’s Hope is different and I am different because of Matanya’s Hope.

This photo of me was taken a few years ago.  I was a high school student sponsored by Matanya's Hope.  Without this support, I can not imagine where my life might be today.

This photo of me was taken a few years ago. I was a high school student sponsored by Matanya’s Hope. Without this support, I can not imagine where my life might be today.

I spent my December holiday (I am now a first year economics student at TUK – Technical University of Nairobi) delivering donations….food stuffs, chickens, blankets, clothes and mattresses to needy families in Kenya. It was tiring. That I won’t lie, but as days went by, I got to like the idea of giving people a reason to smile. It was amazing to see a person’s eyes sparkle for one of the few times in their lives they may have felt relief, loved or valued by others. I can’t even describe how amazing it was to watch the recipients of MH gifts receive something even more than the gift itself; love. Its awesome. I want to do this over and over again – as far as God wants me to.

Cucu (Grandmother to Matanay's Hope student Jackline Gachohie) takes care of her 8 orphaned grandchildren. When Matanya's Hope donated 2 mattresses to her several years ago, she gave them to her grandchildren while she continued to sleep on the floor.  Your donations helped us bring the blessing of a new mattress to cucu this Christmas.

Cucu (Grandmother to Matanay’s Hope student Jackline Gachohie) takes care of her 8 orphaned grandchildren. When Matanya’s Hope donated 2 mattresses to her several years ago, she gave them to her grandchildren while she continued to sleep on the floor. Your donations helped us bring the blessing of a new mattress to cucu this Christmas.

There are so many scriptural references to God instructing us to love one another. Isaiah 58:7 is a perfect example. He instructs us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked…to help those in need. At times, we feel like we don’t have a lot to give out. This is when we think of life in terms of material possessions. But material possessions do not define life. There is more to the human experience than just material possessions………. Someone somewhere is dying for love….all they need is someone who can smile, laugh, hug or even pray with them. Be that person. Be that blessing. Be that miracle. If someone is hungry, share what you have. That’s what I have learned. One day it could be me – or my mother – or my child. I can’t even imagine the hurt I would feel if I watched people turn their backs on my own family. But each time we turn our own backs, we are shunning someone’s child, someone’s parent, someones sister or brother…and in some ways, even ourselves. And each time we help, we are helping to heal the world.

I want to thank all of those who donated toward the Matanya’s Hope Christmas outreach. To those who donated to the chicken project, the mattress project, the blanket project and the food project, thank you for standing with us! I can`t mention all of you by name – you are so many………Michelle Stark – MY ANGEL, The entire MH family, The accounting firm: CJBS LLC, Kelly and Dave Golding, Kaitlin and Bill Bell……gosh, I want to mention every one. Thank you so much for being a blessing – a miracle.

8 orphaned children live with their one widowed grandmother.  Food has been a constant issue in their lives, but today, Matanya's Hope donors make more than a Christmas meal possible!  Thank you to Kelly and Dave Golding who made this food possible as a Christmas gift honoring their daughter Jackline!

8 orphaned children live with their one widowed grandmother. Food has been a constant issue in their lives, but today, Matanya’s Hope donors make more than a Christmas meal possible! Thank you to Kelly and Dave Golding who made this food possible as a Christmas gift honoring their daughter Jackline!

Thank you for making love happen.

Patrick Muriuki Wambui
Matanya’s Hope

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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

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ANNITAH

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!

Michelle

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A Message from Me, Patrick

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.

Patrick

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SPONSOR, I LOVE YOU

Matanya's Hope found me when I had nothing to eat and gave me food.  I was in tattered clothes and they bought for me uniforms and shoes and gave me a blanket for warmth.  Surely you restored my dignity and hope.

Matanya’s Hope found me when I had nothing to eat and gave me food. I was in tattered clothes and they bought for me uniforms and shoes and gave me a blanket for warmth. Surely you restored my dignity and hope.

SPONSOR, I LOVE YOU

I cannot really explain my love to you.
You have made my dream real.
As I read your encouraging cards
I keep on moving towards my goal.

Your gifts I treasure them most.
I cannot stop looking at your photos.
You have shown me love
when I was desperate.

When I had nothing to hold to
you came my way.
I tell you thank you
for you have taken me as your child.

A mum to me you have been.
A role model your children are.
When I feel weak
I still remember that you are working hard.

I am so happy!  Thank you!

I am so happy! Thank you!


“Work smart!”
Our teachers tell us
and that is what I am doing
never to shame you.

I love you.
Joyce Wanjiku Ndiritu