Determined

Posted May 14, 2010 by 8 Comments

After being in Kager for just 2 weeks, I’ve already seen what a challenge quality education is for this village.  I’ve also seen how this tightly-knit community is working together to overcome those problems, especially as they came together to establish their first ever secondary school.

Now for a closer look at what life is like as student in Kager, and to realize the impact of Jubilee Village Project’s work here, I’d like to introduce you to two of my new friends who are determined to complete their education.

Iris having fun at home before going back to school to begin her second trimester.

Iris came bounding into my room the day I arrived, slid into the space next to where I was seated on the bed, and started asking questions – it was clear she wanted to get to know me, and that she was a big fan of JVP.  It was just one of several conversations we had that week.

3rd graders at the primary school Mary attended before high school.

Turns out Iris is one of 3 students who is attending a regional high school because of a JVP scholarship.  Before Kager opened God Kado Secondary School, the only available option for her was a private school in a town over an hour’s walk away.  Besides being inconvenient, the isolated road isn’t safe for vulnerable young girls.

But in Iris’s case, the biggest deterrent to pursuing further education, and a chance at a paying job, was lack of tuition money.  Primary education in Kenya is free (after paying for required school uniforms and textbooks) but secondary school isn’t.  With an elderly and sick father, her family wasn’t able to keep the four oldest boys in high school, even though their grades and ambitions were high.

So you can imagine how life-changing the JVP scholarship was for Iris.  Because she earned the highest national exam score out of all the 8th grade students in Kager, Iris is now attending a nearby girls’ boarding school – free of charge and free to pursue her dreams.  Her goal is both simple and ground-breaking: to be one of the only girls in Kager to graduate from secondary school, and to study law at a national university.  The door is now wide open!

Mary looking very “smart” (aka “proper” in Kenyan terms) in her secondary school uniform.

Just this week I made another friend named Mary.  Mary is one of the pioneering first-year students at Kager’s own God Kado Secondary School.  She is one of six kids, and the first girl to make it past 8th grade.  Her brothers managed to walk to the distant private school, but her older sister never made it.

When I talked with Mary on her morning break from classes, she told me that paying school fees is also a problem for her family since her mother is the only parent in the home.  If God Kado hadn’t opened the year after she finished primary school, she would probably have waited a few years at home to see whether or not their family and friends could pull together the necessary money for her to go somewhere else.

Thankfully, Mary’s not waiting at home.  In fact, she’s hardly there.  School lasts from 7am until 5pm, which is when she begins her 45 minute walk home to the other side of the village.  After dinner, she begins homework as long as there is kerosene in the house for the lamp.  If they don’t have 10 shillings (13 U.S. cents) for the fuel that night, she’ll get up extra early to finish the assignment before school.

That is what I call dedication.  For both Iris and Mary, the chance to stay in school is the ultimate gift, and they aren’t taking it for granted!

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Next Steps
    • Do your homework by flashlight to see what the evening routine is like for students in Kager.
    • Pray for Iris and Mary on a daily basis during their second trimester (lasting from May until the end of July).
    • Consider partnering with God Kado Secondary School by supporting JVP's work there. Contact ned.jubilee@gmail.com if you are interested.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Jessica Shewan is a journalist with World Next Door. She graduated in 2009 from The University of Evansville with a bachelor's degree in History. She loves making new international friends and is passionate about seeing the global church pursue justice and peace!

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Comments

  1. Amy Sorrells said... 

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    May 14th, 2010 at 10:08 am  

    Thanks, Jess, for this important and beautiful reminder of what not to take for granted . . . and who to bend my knees in prayer for today.

  2. Jo Nading said... 

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    May 14th, 2010 at 12:42 pm  

    I am so loving that you are back in Kenya. Your writing makes everything feel so very close to home. I wish kids in the US valued education as much as these kiddos. We do take education for granted here – and our children complain so much. Thank you for all of your sharing – can’t wait to read what’s next.

  3. Ned said... 

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    May 14th, 2010 at 10:28 pm  

    Jess — another great story. To see real pics of real kids with real stories makes it so much more REAL. We are praying for you and count it a blessing you are the first JVP intern. I got the solar lanterns ordered today and their should be 20 more on the way with Erica. Would love to hear a story about one of the Honor Roll kids and how the solar lanterns they earned are helping them in their schoolwork.

  4. Jessica Shewan said... 

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    May 15th, 2010 at 4:46 am  

    Yes! I met a student named Nasser who received one of the solar lanterns as a reward for his high grades last trimester. He told me he uses it every night for homework. This small tool has a direct influence on his life, grades, and family finances…no more buying kerosene!

  5. Michelle said... 

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    May 15th, 2010 at 11:01 am  

    Jess – this actually Dad writing. I’m sitting at the home computer on Saturady morning. Thanks for another great story. What a challenge these kids and there parents are to me – a challenge to live simply and generously, and to appreciate all that we have. What precious people. May hundreds more find the Lord through the minstry of JVP.
    I am so proud of you. I trust you can sense the Lord’s pleasure in you as well. You are a blessing.
    With much much love, Dad

  6. Megan C said... 

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    May 15th, 2010 at 12:17 pm  

    wow jess thanking for sharing. It is such an honor to in a small way get to experience this trip with you! This article definitly hit close to home. Realizing how blessed we are to live in America and all that I take for granted. Also the realization of all the things I only do half way… Hearing what it takes for these studetns and these girls especially just to get a basic education and how much the cherish it…. definitly makes me think about things in my own life. Praying for the impact you are having on this village by being there and sharing their story. Love ya dear and be safe!!

  7. Tony said... 

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    May 15th, 2010 at 5:41 pm  

    Jess, thanks for your great writing and sharing. I would love to see us capture the story of one of the honor roll children who received a solar lantern – how has the secondary school impacted them, how is the solar lantern impacting their studies, how is the school and lantern impacting their family? keep up the great work. In His Love – Tony

  8. Jim.M said... 

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    May 17th, 2010 at 8:21 am  

    Jess, Hope all is well with you.

    These children you have written about in this article, are determined against all odds to learn. Erwin McManus reminds us that God created us with an “intrinsic need to become”. When you choose to become, you become an enemy of the status quo. To “become” is to change, and to bring change. When we stop believing in progress we then become the enemy of hope. (All from “Soul Cravings” Erwin McManus).

    These children are following that God given, internal drive to “become”, JVP, is no doubt God’s loving hand in this, and you are there to reveal it to us. Thank You!

    I will pray today that God will provide a partner for JVP to continue their support for these children.

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