Tag Archives: orphan

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.

“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.
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.”

Sean Martin is overjoyed to receive clothing and school supplies during mission.

Look Who Just Got Sponsored!

You may already be a part of miraculous stories in your life, or maybe you are eager to be a part of the miracles unfolding right here at Matanya’s Hope. To every sponsor, prayer warrior and donor, thank you for helping us give love and hope to thousands of children in need. This story is about Sean Martin, a boy who touched founder Michelle Stark’s heart the moment she met him.

Stark tells us, “My entire being ached when I heard Sean’s story from the Director of his school.” Desperate to get her grandchildren educated, Sean’s jobless grandmother walked barefooted and hungry to a “local” primary school. The trek was monumental, demanding this elderly woman to sustain a long climb up the steep, rocky mountain roads until she reached the school gates. There, she told the director that she had no money but would bring some soon. She explained, “Sean has just been orphaned and his cousin Valerie is orphaned as well”. The director took the two children in, but months passed and the promissory fees were not paid. The children’s grandmother was unable to manage the bill. Sean and Valerie were to be sent home… Their hope for education faded. That is when I met them.

Sean smiled but I could see the pain beneath his sweet face. He needed the absolute basic necessities in life: food,shelter and love. When his mother never returned from a recent outing, Sean’s only hope was his jobless grandmother who took him into her 11 X 11 rented room. She did all she could already to support 7 orphaned grandchildren. Sean Martin now made 8.

Sean Martin, pictured after spending a day with Matanya's Hope Mission Team

Sean Martin, pictured after spending a day with Matanya’s Hope Mission Team

Stark recalls, “When I was a child, I rode my bicycle all day and played with my friends.” Sean Martin prays for a meal to eat and an education to carry him throughout his lifetime. He promised his grandmother, “One day, Grandmother, I will be educated and I will get a good job and build you a house.” He held the crayons we gave him and drew a picture of this house of his dreams.

So what does it take to help a child like Sean? It takes action and understanding that not every child has been given a chance to experience life like our children. When bad things happen to these kids, there is no way out… unless we help them. Stark says, “When I see a child finally get sponsored, when they begin to understand that their life matters and that other people care about them – when I see that, it is like experiencing a sunrise in my soul!”

This is Sean with other Matanya's Hope students at school.  Founder, Michelle Stark is pictured in the back row.

This is Sean with other Matanya’s Hope students at school. Founder, Michelle Stark is pictured in the back row.

To Sean’s sponsor. Thank you! You have changed the world for this beautiful boy!

To sponsor a child in need, please contact Matanya’s Hope: 708-822-HOPE (4673) or email us at: [email protected]

Donations are needed to help us continue the programs which reach children like Sean.

Matanya’s Hope
PO Box 562
Homewood, IL 60430

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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 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

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.

The road towards success does not require that I have the best clothes, but asks only that I have a steadfast dedication towards my dreams.  Thank you Matanya's Hope for believing in me.


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.

…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.


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