My name is Jonah Blumenthal. The last time that I was in Africa was 10 years ago when I traveled with my family to Kenya on vacation. There, we visited Matanya Primary School, an impoverished community elementary school. Today was the first time that I have been back to Matanya. It is not a coincidence that today was also the first time that I have cried in close to a year.
Early this morning we began our day by serving the students of Matanya Primary School their daily allotment of porridge. Many of these children count on their one cup of porridge (made daily from freshly milled amaranth, sorghum, millet, finger millet and maize) to fill them up enough to stay in school. Without their porridge, many students miss school due to hunger. This was not the reason that I wept.
It was only after meeting Nancy Wangui that I began to become emotional. I was handing out shoes for those students in need, when my Aunt Michelle called me over. I nonchalantly walked over to Michelle to find Nancy quite, and afraid. I was introduced to Nancy because we both wish to become Surgeons. Fortunately, Nancy was willing to open up to me and was brave enough to share with me her difficult history. Nancy explained that when she was seven years old, her mother passed away. Thus, she was left with an infant brother and a father. Unfortunately, her father was (and continues to be) a drug addict who physically abused her and forced her to act as a seven-year-old mother to her infant brother. Nancy had only an aunt (who has five kids of her own) to turn to for help. The rest of her family wanted nothing to do with her. Unfortunately, her aunt could not afford the miniscule payment required to keep Nancy in school. She was sent to an orphanage. It closed. Nancy then found her way back to her aunt’s house where she now lives and attends Matanya Primary School. Unfortunately, due to her aunt’s inability to afford her education, Nancy is constantly sent home due to a growing debt owed to the school.
Now that Nancy resides at her aunt’s house, her afternoon routine is no easier. After walking home from school, she must walk three kilometers to fetch water from the river. Each bucket of river water she collects weighs around 20 Kilograms. After making her journey back home, she must find firewood and help prepare food (if there is to be anything to eat). Only then at dusk, may she begin her homework. Nancy then must struggle to see her schoolwork through dim light off of her Aunts most basic cell phone (if it is working that day).
Now, what makes Nancy special is not just that she has and continues to face difficulty, but that she has the second best grades in her school. Through all of her struggles, her forced absenteeism’s due to lack of school fees, her drive to become educated and to better herself has persevered. Now is when she needs help. Nancy needs support, or she will just be kicked out of school. It was at this point that Lillian, Quincy, and myself decided to pull together enough funds to buy her some time as we search for a sponsor.
She is a very bright and determined girl. You can feel it when she speaks. When she says that she will be a surgeon, so that others will not suffer and die like her mother, you know that if given the opportunity, in 12 years she will be Dr. Wangui.
Unfortunately, right now her education will end in November unless someone intervenes. If you have the means, please help keep Nancy in school and support her goals of becoming a Surgeon. Help us tell her that there are people out there who care about her.