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Mission 2017 – Meet Vincent

Vincent Murithi, Matanya's Hope University student, expresses his joy for the gift of clothing and education.

Vincent Murithi, Matanya’s Hope University student, expresses his joy for the gift of clothing and education.

Landing in Kenya was bitter sweet. I missed my family and I knew all too well that leaving the USA meant leaving the comforts of my high speed internet. It meant headaches – such as an hour and a half to open ONE email successfully.
But, that is the technical side of mission and technicalities are far from the heart of what this mission is all about.

We are about giving the gift of hope to some of the most precious people who might otherwise never have had the chance to go to school beyond 8th grade.

3 days into the mission, our vehicle transcended from Nairobi’s tarmac to the dusty dirt and rock roads of Nanyuki. Henry and Vincent had been busy offloading the donations throughout the night and our rented home was ready for occupation.

None of this could have happened without the tireless dedication of one young man who balanced his pending exams with the leadership of Matanya’s Hope in Kenya. Thank you Patrick for emulating the heart of giving service beyond self.

As the mission begins, I have the honor to spend our beginning days with a current University Economics student, Vincent Murithi. Sometimes, when I only have my own vantage point to reflect upon, I can’t see the fullness of the impact that Matanya’s Hope has on those we reach out to.

This morning, Vincent shared: “It has been an incredible journey as I sit here and reflect way back, 10 years ago. I am overwhelmed regarding what Matanya’s Hope has done unto my life. It has been a long way coming and I am grateful for this opportunity. I am scheduled to graduate next year and I want to appeal to other Matanya’s Hope students to take this opportunity that you are given and to utilize it well, knowing that one day someone else will look upon them. It is about giving back to society. You can only do that when we have a clear plan or vision of what you want to do – of where you want to see yourself in coming years. It keeps you on track. At this age, we should stop dreaming and start working on those dreams. It is a way to becoming responsible and dependable.
I have a plan, in 3 or 4 years to come, to sponsor kids throughout their school life, throughout their education, just as Matanya’s Hope has done for me. It is quite fulfilling experience when you can give back to others in need. I can never forget where I came from.

To everyone who is a sponsor, I want to thank you for what you are doing. I promise you, your gift of hope will not go in vain. To each sponsor and mission participant who I met, thank you for being a part of my life. Jonah, Quincy, Ariel, Ann…. the list is endless. You have all impacted my life and helped me to believe in my dreams.
To my sponsor, Brogan, thank you so much for being my brother and my dear friend. You have walked by my side since I was 12 years old. No words can possibly express all I feel.

Today, I received gifts of clothing and shoes from Matanya’s Hope. I humbly thank each of you who made these much needed items possible.”
Vincent Murithi

DSC01180 resized for blog

Joyce “A Story of Hope”

I can just now look back to that day when I first met with Michelle with a smile on my face. This day changed my life.

July 2008:
I first saw her in my old school “Chuma Primary School”, where she and Mr. Mugo came to interview the top performing, humble pupils. I was very glad when I was chosen among the six pupils to be interviewed. I was wearing a green, tattered dress which was no longer the school uniform, but it was all I had. My toes peeped out of the shoes but none of this killed my determination or ambitions. I followed my mother’s advice to believe that “God will always have a way.”

These were the shoes I wore before Matanya's Hope.

These were the shoes I wore before Matanya’s Hope.

LIFE:
Most of the time, my mother falls sick and is unable to work, but when able, she works at a neighbor’s farm to provide food on our table. We don’t have our own home. We reside in a place owned by a good Samaritan who left his house when he moved to Nairobi. I hope I will be able to build a house for my mother.
My sister and I must wake up very early to arrive in school on time. We walk a kilometer from home to school every day. We are often hungry and have only tattered clothes. When I shared some of these problems with Matanya’s Hope, Michelle bought me a full school uniform and decided to look for a sponsor for me. I really thank her for this.

2009:
Michelle told me that I got a sponsor and I would now be able to go to a new school where I would board and would have plenty of food and water. There was a lot of competition compared to my first school, where I was always the top student. Although the students were far ahead of me, the boarding school environment gave me much more time to read. I no longer had to walk to school every day and I could attend extra studies until 11 P.M.

2010:
I sat for my KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) and I was admitted to one of the top high schools in the Central Province of Kenya. Matanya’s Hope was always there to encourage me. They gave each and every student moral support and when Michelle came to Kenya, she always spent time with me at my school. Her visits encouraged me to work hard. I set my goal on being a blessing to my family and on motivating my new Matanya’s Hope family.
My sponsor, Patsy, gave me financial support by paying my school fees, but she also encouraged me with her frequent letters, cards and gifts. I treasure them to this day! I could not forget to pray for my sponsor, Michelle and the Matanya’s Hope Board of Directors in Kenya. Mr. and Mrs. Mugo encouraged me to work hard and to remain humble before God.

Here I am working hard in class during my first year in boarding school.

Here I am working hard in class during my first year in boarding school.

In school, I was elected as the class student leader as well as the agricultural representative. This brought me close to the teachers who were of great help to me academically. They encouraged me to work hard and finally, in high school, I saw myself getting closer to my goals.

2014 to Present:
This is the year that I sat for my KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education). I scored a strong B which qualified me for University. Patsy and Matanya’s Hope gave me the encouragement and support I needed to make my dreams valid. It is hard to believe that a hungry little girl with barely a piece of cloth to cover her body can get this far! May God bless all of you. Truly, Matanya’s Hope is the light in a dark tunnel for me and for every other student they support in Kenya and in Tanzania.

Yours lovingly,

Joyce Wanjiku Ndirangu

blue spray - arms in air

Glenbrook North High School Global Citizen’s Club: COLOUR RUSH 5K

On May, 21 2016, Glenbrook North High School’s Global Citizen’s Club, a club that raises money for an international charity each school semester, hosted a “Colour Rush 5k” to raise money for Matanya’s Hope.

spraying pink

Students and their families jogged through the 5k course in the back fields of the high school as they were sprinkled, splattered, and stuffed with handfuls of vibrant colored powder. Despite the challenge of the run, each flying burst of color kept the mood of the race energetic, even when the participants were a few miles in. Smiles decorated the faces of each panted runner as they dodged, embraced and ran through the powder. Runners raised their arms like they were finishing a marathon as volunteers smattered powder all over them, tye-dyeing the runners’ white shirts. Pop-music and shouts of excitement followed while a light breeze cooled off the runners and the heat of the day. It carried extra powder particles, making the waves and whirls of its path visible.

Lindsey and friends show off their new color after running the 5 K to benefit Matanya's Hope

Lindsey and friends show off their new color after running the 5 K to benefit Matanya’s Hope

To and girls

Students came out of the course resembling something closer to a smurf or Shrek than themselves; powder color coating adorned their faces and clothes! As runners took photographs, grabbed a banana to eat, and socialized after the race, their camaraderie seemed to idealize the meaning that the different colors were meant to represent.

All different types of people came together and cultivated new friendships built on the common goal of supporting Matanya’s Hope, just as the different colors came together and created their own masterpiece.

Sponsor Lindsey Masterman and friend from Glenbrook North after running the 5K

Sponsor Lindsey Masterman and friend from Glenbrook North after running the 5K

-Lindsey

IMG_8712 Mary Wanjiru at school

A Day With Mary

The day was hot and dry. Our mission team spent the night with a Kenyan family near the base of Mount Kenya (Kenya’s largest mountain). The roosters and cows announced the rising sun, jolting us from our peaceful slumber. Suitcases had been packed the night before and were settled by the door. It was time to go.

The outdoor air was brisk; we each carried a bag and headed towards Matanya Primary school.

The children who attend Matanya Primary come from deeply impoverished families. Some are orphaned. Most are barefooted; their clothing bares the telltale signs of a difficult life. It is not uncommon for some of these children to go as long as 4 days without food. Mary, having already gone through her primary years, joined us. “I want them to feel encouraged to work hard and to never stop believing that they can make it” she said. “Hope and hard work can see them through to brighter days.”

A barefooted child stood outside of the classrooms with a metal rod and a piece of rusted steel clutched between his fingers. THIS was the school bell. The rod hit the steel, sending an urgent rhythm through the air; children poured from their dirt floored classrooms.

PORRIDGE TIME! Every year, Matanya’s Hope raises money to feed children from 3 rural, impoverished primary schools. This cup of hot porridge is often the only nourishment a child may have for the entire day. This year, Jonah, a Brown University student raised funds to feed the 250 children from Matanya Primary a nutritious meal of porridge every day of school.

Mission  participants embrace the opportunity to serve porridge to the children.

Mission participants embrace the opportunity to serve porridge to the children.

After Mary and the rest of the Matanya’s Hope team served porridge to the children, we met with those most needy. Bare footed children lined up outside of the dark stone hallway where we spread out donations of shoes, clothing, blankets, school supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, nutrition bars and more. Children in torn and tattered clothes waited with anticipation for a pair of trousers, a shirt, underwear, or a jacket. Many needed book bags, blankets… pencils, pens… soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The need was great. Mary understood this better than anyone! Just years before, in 2007, she too, had nothing. Her parents’ home was burned and her family lost everything. Broken and desperate, they came to live with an uncle in Matanya. Within weeks, he abused them and forced them out.

Minutes passed into hours and an exhaustion spread throughout our team. Water (a very precious commodity) and a bite of Ellen’s Quest bars helped us press on. Donations came to a bitter sweet end. A few new soccer balls flew from feet to heads to air. Cameras clicked. We played with the kids and could not have asked for a better day!

Later that night, I sat cross legged on my bed preparing to listen to Mary’s story. I could not help but notice that she was dressed well. Her hair framed her youthful face in plump, fresh braids revealing the majesty of the setting sun reflected on her high cheek bones. The nice looking tablet she was using was nearby.
Mary sat on the floor against the wall. Her knees were drawn up to her chest.

I knew I would hear Mary’s story, but I was prepared to confirm my inclination that she was ok. That perhaps she needed little help outside of school fees for college. Mary spoke; I filled with shame as her story unfolded. I cried with her as she spoke about being displaced, losing every thing and being emotionally abused.

MARY’S STORY:
“It was back in the year 2008 when life gave me a hard blow that until today I have not been able to let go of it in my mind. We had just celebrated the Christmas festivities with my grandparents and we were on our way back home when chaos broke out in our country along tribal lines. We were informed that our home town was very unsafe and hence my uncle offered us shelter. We hoped that all would be well soon. After two weeks of continued violence, we received terrible news that our belongings had been looted and our home was burnt down to ashes. This was the most painful time of my life.

We remained at my uncles place for two more weeks; he felt that we were a burden to him. My uncle’s became rude and really abused us. We had to move. My dad tirelessly looked for a job; he was without a single coin but he found a small, single room nearby. His only choice was to now go daily to search for employment on people’s farms, where he would work from sun up to sun down for less than $1 a day. Through God’s mercy, he later found a better job at a hardware shop. The lady owning the hardware place offered me and my younger brother school uniforms and stationaries and we joined school.

By that time, we had been out of school for more than half of a term and this meant that we were so much behind in terms of our studies. I felt so discouraged, as if I would never make my dreams of being a lawyer true due to the situation back at home.

My mother had been adversely affected by the turn of events and would often suffer from asthma attacks. She depended entirely on inhalers and other prescribed medicine. When she could, she would work as a casual laborer at the same farms my father worked on – from sun up to sun down – and would bring home $1 a day.

Life was very painful. I remember sometimes, especially before my dad got the job, we would miss meals. We slept hungry, on a very thin layer of foam with a very thin blanket. We would anxiously wait for the day to dawn because the place was so cold.

"I hope one day I will achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer and I will sponsor a child, like Matanya's Hope sponsored me."

“I hope one day I will achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer and I will sponsor a child, like Matanya’s Hope sponsored me.”

Back in school, I worked tirelessly and was able to catch up with my studies. I was blessed with massive support from the teachers who made me see the need to work even harder so I could raise my family out of the state of poverty. After I changed my attitude, I saw my background state as my greatest inspiration to work extra hard. God did make way for me out of nowhere. I met Matanya’s Hope and I got sponsored for my studies.

Being sponsored by Matanya’s Hope is what changed my life and made me believe that nothing is impossible with God.

I took this blessed chance to do my best; every moment I knew that I was the hope for my family. I pray that I may never let my family or Matanya’s Hope down. One day, I hope they will all be proud of me after achieving my dreams of becoming a lawyer.”

Mary’s facade melted away as we continued to speak.
“Is it difficult for your parents to provide food?”, I asked.
“Yes”. Tears followed.
She buried her face in her arms.
Are your parents educated, I asked.
“No.”
So, you will be the first?
“Yes, I am their hope.”
I was still confused about something. “Your tablet is nice”, I told Mary.
“That was a prize I was given in high school for having an A”, she shared. “I had nothing. Not a phone or any way to research. This has really blessed me.”
What do you want for your future, I asked Mary.
“I want to be the voice for the poor. That is why I want to become a lawyer. I will be able to help.”

Mary cherishes every moment  of her education.  "I want to succeed and help my family out of poverty. I want to sponsor a child as Matanya's Hope has sponsored me."

Mary cherishes every moment of her education. “I want to succeed and help my family out of poverty. I want to sponsor a child as Matanya’s Hope has sponsored me.”

Sponsorship has given Mary a promise of hope as she continues her education. It goes far beyond any financial commitment or gift; it offers our children a chance to dream again.

Hope through education.
Mary is now settled in university, officially admitted into the school of law. “I just want to do something to give back to my society” Mary told me. “I want to be able to sponsor a child in need, the way I was sponsored by Matanya’s Hope. And I really want to help the oppressed by becoming a lawyer who cares about the people, someone who can be the voice of those who are not otherwise heard.”

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

Listen Closely to Their Heartbeats

All children have a longing to be loved and accepted by someone. But what happens to the orphaned or forgotten child? Where will they find sweetness? Who will help them build a bridge to their future?

Millions of children are forced to live on the streets. But, ONE BY ONE, we can reach these children with a gift of hope – together.

DONATE TODAY

Wangechi can now attend school thanks to her sponsor, Barbara.

Wangechi can now attend school thanks to her sponsor, Barbara.

Living on the streets is rough. The younger children get beaten by the older ones. Hunger plagues them every day and often they will do anything for a morsel of food. Like our need for food, love also nourishes the human spirit. A lack of love is like starving the soul physically, emotionally and developmentally. On behalf of these children, we come to you for hope.

Jackline Wairimu in class  at one of Kenya's Medical Training Colleges.  Thanks to the gift of hope through sponsorship, Jackline is studying to become a nurse.

Jackline Wairimu in class at one of Kenya’s Medical Training Colleges. Thanks to the gift of hope through sponsorship, Jackline is studying to become a nurse.

Matanya’s Hope’s Jackline Wairimu writes: “Your gift changed everything for me. I thank God for bringing you into my life. I don’t know how life could have been if it were not for Matanya’s Hope. At one point, I almost dropped out of school but, at that moment, Matanya’s Hope rescued me. I have been through my primary and secondary education and now I am in College studying to become a nurse! I really thank God and my sponsors for the blessing. Together, you brought my smile back.
LOVE.

Every child needs to feel as if they belong to someone.
Will you hear their cry?
Will you listen for their heartbeat?
Will you help just one of these children re-write their story to a story of hope?

DONATE TODAY
Help Matanya’s Hope reach children in need.

Naishorwua Poster

Help Me Go To School


Yes! I Want to Help Naishorwua!

At the end of each day, I take some time to reflect. Today is one of those days.
It’s 46 minutes passed midnight. I should be asleep, but the story of a little girl named Naishorwua is weighing heavily on my heart.

I must share her story.

I ask this: please share this post.

Naishorwua after receiving shoes from MH donations.

Naishorwua after receiving shoes from MH donations.

I know that many of you will see Naishorwua’s photo and her story.
Someone out there will read it and they will feel touched to change Naishorwua’s life through her dream of education.

SPONSORSHIP:
Sponsorship positively changes lives and sometimes even saves them. Naishorwua comes from a small village in the Maasai Mara. The girl child in many Maasai villages is often sold into marriage by the time she is 9 years old. Naishorwua represents hundreds if not thousands of girl children just like her. Reaching them is critical. Many who go unsponsored are subjected to female genital cutting and forced early marriage. One at a time, we are making the difference these children hope for. By sponsoring Naishorwua, you are advocating her choice for education.

I just got word from Naishorwua’s father that on March 24, their house burned down completely. The family has no place to live and no belongings to their name. This is a critical time. Sponsoring Naishorwua means more now than ever!

Sponsorship motivates the child sponsored, their family members and the community at large.
Please: reply to this post for more information on sponsorship.

Naishorwua, front row center, lighter blue jacket and other Matanya's Hope students.  That is me in back.  Members of our Matanya's Hope team: Patrick front center.  Henry Front far right.  MH STUDENTS: Back: Taiyana, Lilian Kirokor, Valerie, Everline, Rose Muthoni  FRONT: Mugo, Sean Martins, Naini Rarin

Naishorwua, front row center, lighter blue jacket and other Matanya’s Hope students. That is me in back. Members of our Matanya’s Hope team: Patrick front center. Henry Front far right. MH STUDENTS: Back: Taiyana, Lilian Kirokor, Valerie, Everline, Rose Muthoni FRONT: Mugo, Sean Martins, Naini Rarin

DONATE
on line at www.journeytohelpafrica.com
or send your tax deductible check to:
PO BOX 562 Homewood, IL 60430
A general gift of any amount is appreciated.

Your tax deductible donation will help us reach many children like Naishorwua.
Your support means the world to us.

BENO wafula Poster

Hope Has a Name – Beno

BENO

One of the great joys in this life is the joy of helping a person in need.
The story of Beno begs us to come close, to open our hearts and to act.

That summer heat was blistering. Nevertheless, Beno Wafula kicked his infant legs and giggled for all the world to hear. Mom, who had just arrived in from the unforgiving sun, really laughed. But that is MY mom. Beno’s mom was just a child herself.

She was a few years older than me. We lived under the same roof; my mom had raised her because without mom’s love and care, she had nowhere else to go.

Beno’s first 3 years were a pure joy. Then, his young mother met a man and everything changed. Beno was abused, neglected and often left hungry. His innocent laughter faded into the pages of history and despair took its place. They moved away and I did not see them for many years.

Little more than a year ago, I met Beno again. He really developed into a beautiful boy! But it did not take me long to take notice of his unspoken misery. Beno had started becoming a nameless statistic and I had to change that!

Pictured here, Beno just learned he would be going to school through the generousity of Matanya's Hope.

Pictured here, Beno just learned he would be going to school through the generousity of Matanya’s Hope.

I thank God for Matanya’s Hope. The founder, Michelle Stark met Beno when he was 13 years old. She could quickly see that the unfolding details of his life revealed a broken-hearted child who wanted nothing more than to be loved and to go to school. Beno slowly revealed how he suffered in the hopeless cycle of despair. Even on the days he went to school, he revealed that he went hungry and did not have a pencil to call his own. Most of all, Beno slowly shared that he was beaten and told that he would never amount to anything; he was called “trash” by the people he should have been able to trust most: his parents.

With your support, the cycle of misery can be broken for Beno.

Today, Beno is back with my mother. Matanya’s Hope sends him to school where he is receiving education, love, nutritious food and counseling. Beno’s self-esteem has improved dramatically. This is such an easy gift! The impact of our love is restoring hope in Beno’s world.

Do you want to do more than just talk about helping a needy child?

Beno's school supplies.  This is the first time he has ever had all he requires for school.

Beno’s school supplies. This is the first time he has ever had all he requires for school.

DO SOMETHING.
SPONSOR A CHILD TODAY.

Every time you give, you make it possible for something amazing to happen for a child in need.

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."

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.”