Dearest Tumaini donors,
I am writing to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the thoughts and well-wishes you have sent to our sponsored children, as well as your generous donations over the year. Having recently returned from Kenya, I want to provide you with updates on the children as well as share with you details on upcoming initiatives.
The Tumaini Children’s Project currently supports 44 children in primary boarding school and one in high school. They are all doing very well. They have all grown over the year and are healthy and vibrant. They have become much more expressive with enough energy and curiosity to spare!
Being fully aware of their sponsorship by the Tumaini Project, they expressed to me many times how grateful they are to their sponsors for helping them stay in school by paying their boarding fees, as well as providing them food, uniforms, books, and medical care. Many expressed their desire to do well in school as a way to show their sponsors how much their support means to them. They also desperately want to continue on to high school.
One of our boys, Blaise Ochieng, was consistently coming first in his sixth grade class. Recognizing his intellectual capacity, we transferred him from St-Francis to a more competitive school. Now in his seventh grade, he is still coming second in his class and will be writing his exit exams from primary school next year. In Kenya, the mark on your primary school exit exam determines which high school you can be admitted to. I have encouraged him to study hard to achieve the highest mark possible. If Tumaini can raise the funds, I’ve informed him we would try to send him to one of the best high schools in Kenya, which are in Nairobi. Recognizing that attending a high ranking high school is more than he could have ever imagine for himself, he cried when I gave him this news. We not only have the opportunity to give Blaise the hope that comes with knowing someone out there believes in him, but also power in knowing that realizing his dreams for the future is possible.
One of our young girls, Mary Claire Auma, attends Asumbi Girl’s School, a primary school about 2.5 hours from Kisumu (see photo – left below). She is in grade six now and doing very well (see photo – right) . She has asked me if she could join her school’s Girl Scouts. As she would need a uniform, and we’ve not budgeted for this this year, I’m reaching out to our donors. If anyone would like to sponsor her Girl Scouts uniform, I know she would be thrilled!!
I should also note, out of our 42 students enrolled at St. Francis Primary School, most are in need of new school uniforms. We are not in position to fund these with this year’s budget and so again, I turn to you. If anyone would like to sponsor our children’s school uniform, we would greatly appreciate it.
Mary Claire’s sister, Dorothy, is our first child to graduate from primary to high school (see photo – left). We have placed her at Asumbi Girls High School, an excellent school, so she could be near her little sister. The school grounds are beautiful (see photo – right above) and she looks great in her new uniform! As she was excited and nervous to be starting there, I told her many times how proud we all are of her for doing so well on her primary school exit exam and being accepted into such a great high school!
We are currently seeking to bring three more children into the Tumaini group of sponsored children. Two of them, Josephat, 14 years old, and Jackeline Akinyi, 15 years old, are children previously supported by Tumaini. Though we had placed them in school, they were removed and sent back to their villages because of their HIV+ status. Thankfully, we have located them and are going to place them in the same school as Blaise. Having spoken to the school administration, I have been assured that there will be no discrimination based on their status and nurses will be available to administer their medication.
Finally, I am thrilled to announce our 2012 summer project. The Tumaini Children’s Project is running the first EVER (in all of Kenya!) Leadership Camp for Orphan and At-Risk Youth!! It will be a one-week sleep away camp for 50 children ages 10-15 years old held in Kisumu, Kenya. Though some of our sponsored children will be attending, we are also taking referrals from local teachers and community workers who know of an orphan child (especially girls) who might benefit from the camp.
Most of these children have spent their entire lives being told that as HIV+ orphans, they are a burden and will amount to nothing. Many of them have missed critical learning normally imparted by parents regarding healthy bodies, menstruation/puberty, safe relationships, and their rights. Most have never been encouraged or given the confidence to seek success. We hope to change all of this through our camp!
With the help of Kenyan counsellors and guest speakers, we will focus on leadership, self-esteem, goal setting, healthy bodies and relationships, and self-defence and rights. This will be a fantastic and motivating experience for these children, and I know it will positively affect all of their lives. By the end of week, I want the children (especially the girls) to know if they believe in themselves, THEY CAN ACHIEVE!
As you know, these children are either orphans or have a single parent or extended family member unable to care for them. Without Tumaini’s help, these children would be idling in their home villages, begging, sniffing glue, or being exploited. Together, we have given them the best gift possible: a chance to escape poverty!
Thank you for making the Tumaini Children’s Project possible. Thank you for supporting these children and giving them a chance at a better future. Of all the disasters in the world and the battles that are lost, please think of our 45 children and of those coming to our Summer Camp and know that theirs are the battles you help win.
All my love,