Kenya Library Update

IMG_5919As you may know, I have been sending and taking books to Kenya for nine years now with the idea to start libraries in local communities. The idea to do this came years ago IMG_5920when I attended a book launch for my publisher in Kenya at the Serena Hotel. A cabinet level officer for education was at the event and made a simple request: "Our people are bored. Help us start libraries." I thought this suggestion was unusual for two reasons.

First, I had heard Kenyans were not that fond of reading. I had heard the derogatory but somewhat humorous saying that, "If you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book." Second, everyone else who was there that night was from IMG_5922Kenya. I was the only outsider, and I assumed if the Kenyans present were interested in libraries, they had had their whole lives to do something about their absence.

I decided to experiment and bring in some books during my subsequent visits, and the IMG_5923
interest in getting and reading them was intense among my friends. Then I started bringing suitcases of books when i came or brought others with me. Then we heard that people were shipping containers to Kenya with all kinds of supplies, and I hitched a ride, so to speak, in some of their containers to get even more books over. Finally, I started to fill and ship containers with nothing but books, used computers, and schools supplies to distribute to our partners.

IMG_5924During my last visit, I asked to go visit some of our libraries started by Pastor Peter Kihungi. We have two other libraries outside of Nairobi, but there are four IMG_5925started by Pastor Peter and these are the ones I am reporting on in this update. The first and biggest is in the village of Banana, about a 45-minute ride from Nairobi. There we have built a building to house our largest collection, and we now are equipped with Wifi so the youth can use the computers to access information online. The pictures of this library are pictured above (click on picture to enlarge it).

IMG_5941The second library is at the Kawaida Primary School close to Banana. This is a government school that is relatively new and shows progress every time I visit. The IMG_5942government built the school, but the community must supply and outfit it, so we gave some money for shelves a few years ago. As you can see in the pictures, the shelves are not sturdy enough and have sagged under the weight of the books. You can also see the use the books have had. Frederick, the headmaster, has asked for more books and another investment in shelves, which he promised would be built to handle a heavier load the next time.

IMG_5954The third library is in the village of Kikuyu, where there is an Anglican training IMG_5957center used for all types of educational endeavors. The day I visited there was a cooking school going on, and there are Bible classes and many other vocational offerings made available to the people. This library, like our other libraries, needs help with shelves, tables, and chairs. Many of the books they have cannot be put out permanently, so they are stored in boxes and brought out for special occasions.

IMG_5959The fourth library is located where Pastor Peter is currently pastoring at Christ the King Anglican Church in Ruaka, a growing area due to the recent opening of Two Rivers Mall, the largest mall in Africa, or so I am told. The church recently designated funds to build their own storage cabinets that lock, a significant investment IMG_5960that indicates they recognize the value of what they have for the youth of their community. They also established a nursery room with some of the books for the younger children, using a Disney theme, which is quite common in Kenya.

The need for our libraries is for shelving and library furniture. If you care to contribute, you can use my website to do so, or you can send a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221. If you know anyone or any organization that funds library projects, I know our libraries are worthy investments, and the resources will be put to good use with accountability for the results. If you have donated books over the years, thank you. I am not in the position right now to receive more books, but when I am, I will make the announcement. Right now, if you can help us care for the books we have sent by building shelves and tables, please give generously. Thank you and God bless you!


Still Need Your Help

After I posted last week that I needed money for my upcoming trip to Kenya. a generous donor called to IMG_8749 say they would match every dollar you give up to $3,000. What a blessing that is! The deadline to give is next Sunday night, May 19, because I depart the next day. You can give through my Facebook link if we are friends there, or you can give through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. 

What we raise from this campaign will empower me to conduct leadership training like I did in 2016 and 2018 (the church's leadership team is pictured here) and also support our other partners in the good work they are doing. It enables me to cover all my expenses as I go and that is a great relief. As I write, I have received $1,186 so if we are going to reach the $3,000 goal, I need your help. Please give today and make the investment to double your blessing through this matching grant. Thank you and God bless you!


I Need Your Help - Again

I am heading over to Kenya in two weeks to conduct some leadership training and to connect with our IMG-20190419-WA0004partners. My first visit will be to Bomet where I will conduct two more leadership two-day seminars, which will make my fifth and sixth seminars in the area. We usually have around 100 to 150 at each so that means we are approaching 1,000 leaders trained in the times I have been there. I am raising $3,000 for those events, which include a video projector, seminar notes, and books. You can give through my website for donations or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. You can also give through my Facebook page.

IMG_20170828_113411In the last several weeks, I have sent money for our little Mary, who is in her second year of secondary school, so she is not so little any more. Pastor Francis reports that she is doing well and her performance bodes well for her chances of going on to university. I also sent money for the Upako teachers, who attended a professional seminar over the Easter break. We are blessed to have teachers who serve the Dr. Stanko Academy on a full-time basis.

Pastor Peter wrote to announce that he opened his seventh area library recently. IMG_3483 Here is his report:

We are well on course to empower Kenya through Education and now we have our seventh library in Ruaka. It's a combination of kids' exclusive library, movie room, and larger library. Thanks for being a faithful partner along with all our supporters. May God bless you in abundance.

Pastor Peter

I sent $300 toward our library expenses.

IMG-20190501-WA0004Then we got this report from Belver concerning the WEEP Project that provides sanitary supplies for young women in various schools. April was the first month that PurposeQuest began supporting WEEP with $650 per month:

We successfully managed to distribute sanitary towels to 534 students in the month of April 2019. Thank you for stepping in, in such a time and may your cup never run dry. God bless! Kindly find some of the girls pictures and receipts attached. Belver
 
There were other requests and expenses that we met in April. I need your help not only for the monthly expenses but for my trip that commences on May 20. Thank You, Lord, for your faithful provision and thank you for your generous support. I look forward to hearing from you in the next two weeks.

Exciting News: Merger between PurposeQuest and WEEP

In 2015, my son, John III, visited Kenya and heard that many young ladies missed a week of school 52487901_10219188894017049_6532024947974340608_nevery month because they lacked the necessary sanitary products to accommodate their monthly needs. He found this situation unacceptable, so he began his own nonprofit organization named the Women's Equal Education Project (WEEP). He engaged a team of ladies in Kenya to assist and began sending money every month so the supplies could be purchased. The ladies then went into certain schools, conducted a training session (I include pictures of John III in the class as the WEEP team trains), the young ladies registered to receive product every month, and then they could be assured of their sanitary supplies. The result: young women were properly using appropriate sanitary products and could attend school every month without interruption. What a blessing.

The program started in St. Theresa Secondary School with 100 girls, no small beginning, and today services almost 300 young ladies every month in that school. In addition, the program has expanded to include the following schools with the number of young ladies registered following:

  • Riruta Satellite Secondary School - 60
  • Riruta Israel Primary School - 50
  • Kids Empowerment Primary School - 36
  • Bethany Primary School - 70
  • Zeal Covenant Primary School - 22
  • Light Christian Primary School - 38
52487905_10219195743988294_8696288148436549632_nThat's a total of 570 women every month who are provided their sanitary products, and 352 women have "graduated" from the program.  All this takes place for a cost of $650 every month.
 
After prayer and discussion, we felt it best if we merged WEEP's operation into my nonprofit, PurposeQuest International, so we could assure the team in Kenya that resources would continue to be available and that the program can and will grow as PurposeQuest's donors embrace this important project.
 
Therefore, as of April 1, 2019, PurposeQuest will officially become the ministry source for WEEP's ministry team in Kenya. 
 
I have agreed to send the team two $325 payments every month to continue their important work. Will 52638808_10219188894257055_6718129716315815936_n you help? You can make a contribution toward WEEP's work through the PurposeQuest website (just mark WEEP in the memo) or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. My thanks to John Stanko III and his team in Kenya for their vision and commitment to this ministry. It is touching hundreds of lives and making the difference between academic success and failure for many women. I am trusting the Lord and the PurposeQuest donors to help continue building on the foundation that has been established.
 
Over the years, schools have asked me many times to provide sanitary products and I have been able to help sporadically. This merger will allow me to help our partners more consistently. I am delighted to do what I can to assist the young women of Kenya, and I hope you share my enthusiasm and will support this program with your prayers and finances. Thank you and God bless you!

One Final Thank You

Here is one final thank you from our year-end efforts to help our orphans, this time with their school IMG_20181207_174227_544fees. Here is a note from our friend and caregiver Alice (along with a picture of four of our orphans while on Christmas break at home with Alice):

Dear John,

A quick one to thank you very much on behalf of the children for school fees received.
 
A total of Kshs 278,229 was received in the following batches: 69,601 × 3 and 69,426.
 
Do pass our sincere appreciation to all those who have come together to see these children in school.
 
May the hands that have opened to give receive plenty of blessings.
 
Warm regards.
 
Alice
 
The children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. I need you to join the ranks of the faithful supporters that make possible how we bless these children. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

A New Year for Our Orphans

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good ones and that you found time to relax and enjoy God's IMG_20190103_095225goodness at this time of year. Now it is time to resume our normal rhythm and routine of life, and the same is true for the orphans we help care for in Kenya. I will be going over with a group of 21 people in February and will show them firsthand what we are doing there, but here is a report from Alice, who tends for the children (who are becoming young adults) at Each One Touch One Orphanage (the picture is of Phyllis and Gladwell as they head off to school this term). The reason the children look so good is because of Alice's tender care, and we shudder to think where the children would be without her:

Dear brother John,

We wish to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy New Year.
 
We want to thank you for being there for us when we needed someone to uplift us. You have provided for us with a smile. You have striven to make our lives better and easier than you found us. You have wisely used the talents God gave to you to ensure that EOTOO children have eaten, are well clothed  and attend better schools in the hope of giving them a better tomorrow. The lives of our children turned around for the better when you showed up in their lives. Those that have matured through your care have seen Nuru now working as a sales lady, Tobias is ready to join a technical college this year to do a course in electrical engineering. Gaudencia has just completed her fourth form and the majority of the other children are in high school. It was the will of God that this change in the children come through you. It is not a mean feat and yet John, you still have a smile on your face
 
We take this opportunity together with the EOTOO children to wish you and your family God given health, love, peace and tranquility in the new year and and in all the days to come. We do extent the same wishes for our many friends whom we have met through you and wish all of them God's blessings.
 
This message comes to you from Alice,  the EOTOO team and all the children with lots of love.  With specific love from Phyllis, Gladwell, Elizabeth, Deborah and Obed who are here with me waiting to start a new term in their various schools on the 3rd of Jan.
 
I sent over money for school fees for the children mentioned above, as well as a gift for their Christmas celebration. The problem is that the children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. While my name is mentioned above, I have always made it known that I cannot do and have not done alone what Alice describes above. I have had the help of many faithful givers, but I need you to join their ranks. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

An Orphan's Christmas Party

As you know, I was able to send money to our partners in Kenya to help the orphans and children IMG_20181220_165214celebrate Christmas. In Kenya, it is not a time for massive decorations and trees surrounded with gifts. It is a time when the children receive some new clothes, shoes, and some Christmas treats. Here is a report with some pictures from one of our partners reporting on how they used some of their money:

Dr. J, 

We are too excited that we could not wait for 25th to celebrate Christmas. Our Christmas has come earlier and we are already praising and praying. A lot of thanks from the teachers and the children. At least a new outfit and new shoes as the tradition is here during Christmas. The clothes goes beyond the Christmas festivities thus we will remember for a long time. The nice food prepared for the children by their teachers led by Madam Lilian tastes yummy for real. 
 
IMG-20181224-WA0018Now the children sent a very big thank you to you and every hand involved in making them happy and cared for. We got clothes, shoes and food and we are very grateful to you and team for the continued support. I really know what this means to us and the children. They feel good even better than others with their parents around. It is my prayer that you continue doing this for the orphans every year as you used to do. 
 
Tell your friends to continue praying and supporting these little orphans for the heaven rejoices when they are cared for.  Your son John Stanko has made sure that needy teenage girls who are going to school receive IMG-20181224-WA0013sanitary towels and health care every month. In this project he supports over 500 in Kenya through WEEP-Upako managed by Belver. May God give him strength and resources to help more. I also want to thank you for for supporting the orphans education by providing fees and teachers support. 
 
We wish you a merry Christmas and prosperous new year 2019. Looking forward to setting our eyes on you in February. We have 3 orphans who passed very well and needs help with school fees. 
 
Pastor Francis 
 
The problem is that these children need to eat and their shoes will wear out. I need your help to help them not just at Christmas but all year round. Please make a donation toward their needs Donate to the Orphans' Fund or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and Happy New Year from my household to yours.

Thank You and Merry Christmas from the Orphans

Thanks to you, I was able to raise more than $3,000 for the Give a Kid a Christmas Campaign. I sent the money over right away and here are two thank yous I received, with a promise of pictures after IMG_20181221_121719_0Christmas. This one is from Pastor David (pictured right):

Brother Stanko - on behalf of all our lovely children, my family and the staff, I have to say thank you. Surely for the last two days I had missed words of thanking God and you for serving together here in Kenya. Though far away you and your friends have become a big blessing by supporting us in our ministry here at Kenduiwo Children's Home. We received your double blessings.

I am writing from Mulot open air market biggest here in our county of Bomet where I took my wife Sarah, matron, and two other ladies to confidently do shopping for our kids. Surely our God does not leave his people to be ashamed.

Once again thank you. Let me continue waiting for them here in the vehicle since I am not good in shopping as they are. God bless you - Pastor David

The second one is from Pastor Francis:

Dr J - Thank you so much for the Christmas gift. We are shopping for new outfits for the orphans and they will shine like the rest of the children in this community on the Christmas day and beyond. We are very grateful. Will report back after Christmas - Pastor Francis

I appreciate your support and help to provide a holiday celebration for the children. I love what Pastor David wrote: "Surely our God does not leave his people to be ashamed."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Stanko household and from all our orphans in Kenya.


A Thanksgiving Gift for the Orphans

My heart is burdened for the 100 plus orphans we have a relationship with in Kenya. This week in America, we will consume more food than many of those children will see all month. What's more, the Stanko family welcomed a new addition this week, a brand new baby boy named Benjamin. Today, I sent an offering of thanks to the Lord in honor of my grandson, and I invite you to join me.
 
Here is the response Pastor David sent me from his smartphone (here are two pictures of my most recent visit to the orphanage last August):
 
Brother Stanko,
 
Thanks a lot for standing with us as a family. It has always been answered prayers even before IMG_3663we make that prayer. Of late we have been hesitant releasing some of the very vulnerable children to stay with their guardians during such school break as usual. The outcome of this has been negative.one girl got pregnant during last  April  break when staying her grandmother. Right now we have more than ten children of such status staying with us in our house when the rest left, so your donations was on time for us to use in taking care of them. May God always bless you.
 
I was on the way to share with you some of the prayer needs we have as a family.
 
IMG_3660We currently have a need for building better and spacious house due to my added responsibilities  as an area director apart from the above  cited issue.part of my duties is to host  church visitors  and  missionary we have adopted as an area. Also many church and  community meetings are often held here, some old granny visit their children and at times spend the night here. The list can be long even better washrooms are also a need.
 
My plan is to do it in phases. The estimate cost is 1.2m khs ($12,000US) to completion. My strength is the tractor we have for local transport and now we have few kids hence can save part of our family small income to purchase the wall blocks and sand.
 
Pray for us for this dream to be a reality.
 
Pastor David
Director
 
Every penny you give will be forwarded to our partners in Kenya, who desperately need our help to feed the children. You can give your Thanksgiving offering through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

The Rest of the Beds

If you remember, last August you helped me raise money to help get orphans off the ground and into IMG_20180926_130207some beds. We purchased the bed frames but have been unable to purchase all the mattresses, since money given through Facebook takes 60-75 days to be processed and sent. I was able to send money last week and here is the report from Pastor Francis:

Dr. J,
 
We bought 18 mattresses today so we need 8 more plus blankets and bed sheets. The children are very happy and excited. Thank you very much for the support. The children will soon be from the floor onto the beds. God bless you and all who stretched out their hands and made it a reality -  Pastor Francis.
 

As soon as the rest of the money arrives, we will take care of IMG_20180926_141703those other mattresses and blankets. Thank  you for helping to make this possible, but keep in mind that the children have ongoing needs. Please contribute today toward their health and welfare by giving through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and God bless you for your compassion toward these children.