Monday, November 4, 2013

Light, Hope, and Opportunity

And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”  Genesis 1:3-4

Dear Friends,

Do you remember the last time the power went out in a region of our country, perhaps even in your own neighborhood, for an extended period of time?  Do you remember the feelings of frustration and helplessness that followed?  The truth is that in our country, as painful as these experiences are to us, we know that the electrical grid will be repaired and life can begin to move forward once again.

In places like Kinyago-Dandora, there is little of hope of moving forward.  In fact, worldwide, one in five people live in darkness after the sun goes down.  In our KDS community, where more than 950,000 people reside, 100% of our families are without electricity. 

Let me portray the reality of living in Kinyago-Dandora:  When you leave the comfort of Nairobi’s city center and drive into Eastlands, you will immediately notice a change in the landscape. Continue eastward, and it now becomes obvious that you have entered into hopelessness and despair.  There are two main roads that pass through this area of Kinyago-Dandora.  Along these routes are just a handful of electrical poles with unreliable street lamps.  If you are one of the few fortunate enough to have a shanty close to one of these power poles, you may claim to have electricity because you live in the shadow of the light or have managed to jerry rig bootleg power. 

However, just a short distance off these roads people live in shanties or huts made of sticks, plastic, iron sheets…even cardboard.  The small homes are piled together into a vast sea of destitution.  There is no clean water.  Families walk long distances with containers called jerry cans to fetch water from a city pipe.  The water is not free so people often need to choose between having water or food for the day.  There is no sanitation. Sewage flows freely through drainage ditches between walking paths and homes.  Garbage from the massive city garbage dump is strewn everywhere including the nearby river.  The most crippling condition of all is to sit in twelve hours of darkness every day with your only source of light coming from toxic kerosene lanterns, fire pits and candles. 

Light is not only critical but liberating.  Without it, families struggle to perform the most basic activities such as cooking, studying, reading and working after dark.  It has been proven that light has the biggest impact on raising living standards, promoting economic and educational opportunities and improving health for the poor.

This is why Kenya Children’s Fund has partnered with Watts of Love to provide proven sustainable, safe and reliable solar lighting to the Kinyago-Dandora School (KDS) community in 2014.  Because electricity is so unreliable at our schools, we will also use them in our classrooms and offices.

Our goal is to provide every student’s family with a solar lantern that even on the lowest setting will light up an entire room for 130 hours without a recharge.  With your help, we can provide light to our families for only $30 per kit which includes the lantern and solar charger. 

Would you please prayerfully consider giving a year end gift to help us ship 1,000 solar light kits to Kenya in the New Year?  This important project will give our students, families and staff a safer environment and more time to read and study.  It will also allow breadwinners more hours of the day to be productive. Households will save money since they will not need to spend their few schillings on kerosene, candles or firewood.  Please see the enclosed fact sheet and response form.

During this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, what better way to celebrate our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Light of the World, then with the gift of light to those who sit in darkness? 

We are so grateful for your prayers and financial support.  Each year we are able to do more to lift up this impoverished community, and we could not do it without you.  Together, we are making a difference by bringing His light and hope to His precious little ones.  Asante Sana!

For His Glory, and Our Joy!

President and CEO 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

This is my first week back in Kenya after six months.  It is always a blessing for me to be at the Kinyago-Dandora Schools (KDS) where it is evident that God is at work.  At the secondary school we hosted a seminar for the teachers on lesson planning.  Sandra Putnam, a retired professor from Northwestern College (Roseville), lovingly gave of her time, expertise and experience to the entire teaching staff at KDS. 

During the seminar, I noticed a new teacher and soon realized it was Kelvin, one of our most recent college graduates.  Kelvin earned a degree in Statistics and Science from the University of Nairobi.  How exciting to see him back at KDS, not as a student this time, but now as part of our faculty.

Kelvin was beaming.  He is so proud to be giving back to the community.  This has been has been his dream from an early age and one he shared with his friend, Bernard Sewe, who passed away on Easter Sunday in 2003.  Bernard was leading a group of Boy Scouts on an excursion to Fourteen Falls.  He slipped and fell into the turbulent waters and drowned.  His last letter to his sponsor expressed the desire to go to college, return to the community and make a difference.  In honor of Bernard and in keeping with the mission of Kenya Children’s Fund, Kelvin is fulfilling their dream.  See more of Kelvin in our latest video on the KCF homepage:

The Alumni Association is strong and our graduates are working hard to impact their impoverished community.  It is their desire, their vision and their calling from God.  What an amazing group of young men and women.  And what an amazing way to begin the New Year!  To God be the Glory!

For His Precious Little Ones,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God Has Made Everything Beautiful in His Time

Dear Friends,

This morning, I was deeply touched by the Scripture, “He has made everything beautiful in His time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  How appropriate for the ministry the Lord has put into our hands.  It has been said by global teaching experts that secondary education is the key to breaking the cycle of acute poverty in developing countries.  But we acknowledge that it is Christian education that will bring positive changes to Africa and beyond.  An African educator, and good friend of mine, Dr. Stephen Talitwala, has said repeatedly, “You can take a thief and educate him… but what is the result?  A smarter thief.”

Why?  Because we understand that it is Godly principles and Christ-centered leaders that ultimately impact their communities.  Your ongoing partnership is important as this has been our commitment and it is long term, no doubt.  However, today we can see the fruit of our labors through our KDS graduates, many who have earned college degrees.  Others have gone on to start their own businesses but all are significantly influencing the world around them. 

In 2013, we will welcome another nursery class into our program.  These precious little ones will learn from a very young age that education is a gift.  What they become is their gift to God (based on a quote by Eleanor Powell).

Indeed, we are committed to providing a wholistic Christian education to the children of Kinyago-Dandora.  Together, with God’s help, we are making a difference.  And God has promised to make everything beautiful in His time.

May God richly bless you in the New Year as you have richly blessed this ministry.

For His Precious Little Ones,
Ginger Palm

Friday, October 5, 2012

Prayer is the Beginning of So Many Good and Important Things...

I am not the adventurous type. I enjoy wearing grooves in my life so that I can comfortably travel familiar terrain without incident. I love ritual and tradition.

I spent the first half (OK maybe, two-thirds) of my life as a perfectionistic over-achiever. And then I got married. To an artist. And then I had kids. And then I just couldn't be that person anymore. Something had to change.

God had given me eyes to see and ears to hear how this life with this man could take shape; however, my head still tried to intervene. He’s an artist. Who will support the children? He’s terrible with money. We’ll be in financial ruin. Where will we live? What will we drive? What will my parents think?

And, oh, isn’t there something about having children that bubbles up all that stuff that needs to be dealt with? There’s just something about those little lives nestled up to ours that sends us clinging to our heavenly Father for dear life.

During this time, I was forced to give up everything I was doing beyond the most basic self-care for me, caring for the baby, and making it to and from work in once piece. I could no longer look to my accomplishments for my self worth. God taught me about being vs. doing. He taught me that I was enough, and that I didn't have to prove myself to Him.

What does this have to do with prayer, or Kenya Children's Fund, you might ask? As I left everything else behind, the only thing I gave myself permission to pursue with abandon was God, and a relationship with him that grew in those quiet "being" moments through prayer.

That season brought out “stuff” that I needed to confront. And it has changed who I am today. It is still difficult for me to discern what types of things to take on, and it is important for me to feel like I am investing myself in areas where God is at work and where there will be value in me joining Him.

Kenya Children's Fund is one of those places where I see God at work, and where He has, for some reason, asked me to join Him. I don't always get to see the full picture or know the full story, but I see enough important connections to step out of my comfort zone and do the things He asks of me, which is sometimes "just" to be there or "just" to pray--small things that become laden with import at God's initiative.

Prayer is the beginning of so many good and important things that happen. We can't jump in and do without first seeking God in prayer. We follow Jesus' example of how he prayed for his followers before his death, how he shared honestly in prayer with his Father, how his prayer to see God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven is also our prayer.

The children of Dandora are God's children. He intends to take care of them. But He intends for us to join him in sharing His love with them through our imperfection, our tears, our prayers. Won't you join me in praying for God's precious ones in Dandora?

Elaine Powell Hooker, KCF Prayer Coordinator

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Faith, Hope and Love

This is a story of a young girl, Ruth, (not her real name) with a strong will and determination to make it in life even with the difficulties she faces every day.   Ruth is a student at KDS living with AIDS—her parents died from the disease.   One of Kenya’s many children whose life has been devastated by AIDS, Ruth is blessed because she has an aunt and uncle that care for her and have taken her into their home.   

Ruth explains that they cannot eat supper most nights because her uncle does not have a permanent job.  Yet that does not bring her joy down.  Ruth broke down in tears when she explained how the disease has changed her life.  Most kids her own age will not play with her because they think she will infect them. She has no friends apart from those at KDS since they love her like a sister.

Ruth talked about how KDS is the better side of life and says that if KDS wasn't there she does not know where she would be today.  In her own words, “KDS is like the brother, mother, sister, father and friend I never had.”  She continued on saying, “I thank Mum Ginger, Mum Jane, the sponsors and the KDS family for loving me when everybody else despised me”.

Ruth and her family certainly live in extreme poverty.   The day we visited they didn’t have a meal for lunch but Ruth’s aunt was so happy to welcome us into their home.  They offered water as a sign of hospitality.

Despite all of her heartbreak and impoverishment, Ruth manages a beautiful smile. When asked how she can be happy with all of the problems in her life, she said “Our God brought us into the world to be happy and to love each other.   Why should I worry when the Lord is in control?”  

Ruth emphasized that with humility and a kind heart…"life is possible and good".

May we take to heart the lessons we can learn from Ruth and so many others whom the Lord has put on our path to teach us.  Let us put into practice humility, love and kindness trusting in God’s goodness for our lives.  

He has showed you, O man, what is good.   And what does the Lord  require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.   Micah 6:8  NIV

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Joy on the Journey

When the Spirit leads, only those who hear His voice can truly follow. We have prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear, and through His veritable grace and mercy He has answered our call.  We pray you will partner along side of us as we engage in a cross-cultural adventure that honors the beauty and sanctity of the Gospel while answering the call of the Great Commission. God has woven a dynamic, sustaining friendship between three sisters in Christ, united by His love and the love for His children at KDS. Follow along our journey of Kenya Children's Fund with Jane Njuguna, Kenyan Managing Partner, Ginger Palm, CEO and President, and Jennifer Serafin, Educational Consultant and mentee of Ginger Palm.  His holy Word tells us, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecc. 4: 9, 12

We believe the Spirit is leading us to communicate what we are learning from the people and events that God is using to influence and transform our lives through this blog.  Our ministry, Kenya Children’s Fund, supports the Kinyago-Dandora Schools (KDS) in the heart of the slums of Kinyago-Dandora.  It is so dear to us that we consider it not only a home, but sacred ground as we witness the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord has blessed the last 25 years richly, and He continues to grow us.  As we engage with the community, we want to share our passion with you so that you will be inspired as well.  

While we will post on a monthly basis, there may be times where we post more often as the Spirit leads.  And occasionally, we will invite others to share from their faith journey and experiences as we are encouraged by what is important to them.   The Lord has put some very special men and women on our paths to challenge and teach us.  There is so much joy in the “iron sharpening” process that builds and edifies the Body of Christ.

Some of the most precious words will be written through the eyes of our own KDS children.  They have such profound lessons for all of us!  He is leading us on an exquisite journey, and we invite you to join us! 

For His Precious Ones,
Ginger, Jane and Jennifer

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shaking the Dust off of our Feet!

In Mark 6 Jesus sends out his disciples with instructions to bring the Good News wherever the Holy Spirit led them. They were instructed to “shake the dust off their feet” wherever they were not received (6:11). Today we follow the Lord’s direction and are bringing the Gospel to the people of Kinyago-Dandora as our mission statement clearly states. So many of the people, including our KDS families, are struggling with real issues of acute poverty.

The photos are one family’s home – mother, father, and their three children who are enrolled in our primary school. We are helping this family and others living in deplorable conditions to find more suitable housing, and they are so very grateful to the Lord.. And shaking the dust off our feet? We do shake off the ashes of injustice and exploitation that keep so many bound. Even in such despairing conditions, the light of Jesus Christ shines brightly bringing hope to these people. Thank you for supporting us as we minister in His name.

For His Precious Ones,

Ginger, Jane, and Jennifer