When it's winter here in the States, it's summer in Kenya, so right now the children are on summer/Christmas break. They go back to school during the first two weeks of the new year and that means their school fees are due at the start of the new term. Here in the States, 'private' school with paid tuition is a luxury for some, unaccessible to most. As flawed as some of our public school systems are, there are free books and no uniform requirements - so everyone pretty much can attend a school if they choose. That is not the case in Kenya.
Grade and middle schools in Kenya are free, but the children must buy their books and purchase uniforms - and so many cannot attend. What's more, the teachers barely get paid, so there is tremendous turnover and sometimes untrained teachers are educating the children. That is why many parents try to send their children away from home to better boarding schools, and those children may be only six or seven years old! That is a foreign concept to most of us in the West who have access to neighborhoold schools, even private ones, sometimes within walking distance of our homes.
Why am I telling you this? It's because we have chosen to sponsor some of our orphans to 'go away to school.' This is not a luxury; we see it as a necessity if they are to have an equal opportunity later in life with those who have had access to a better education. These children have great potential but it will not be developed in the public schools and eventually they will drop out of the system and have to live on the streets, since they have no family.
I received this update from Alice yesterday, outlining her needs for the five children we sponsor from Each One Touch One Orphanage:
Dear Dr. John,
It's my hope that you are well. I am left with four children to have no where to go for the holidays, and we are all well.
I did send a request for fees, books and shopping for the kids under your sponsorship. I wish to call back that mail for it is overstated. I realised that the fee being asked for in the school report form seemed to be high, so I opened up communication and a visit to the school and have been given fresh figures.
What we need for the five children is Kenya Shillings 170,831.00. Attached you will find the revised lists.
These fees translate to about $2,000, which I will wire over to Alice before the end of 2014. I can only do this, however, if you help me help the children and Alice. Attached you can see two of our children (Phyllis and Elizabeth) in their school uniforms - for which you helped pay. I am asking that you remember them and the other children at Christmas with a generous year-end gift. (If you would like the cost lists that Alice mentioned above, I will be glad to send them to you upon request.) You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. On behalf of Alice, the children and the Lord, I thank you for being true to what is in James 1:27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Merry Christmas!