Carson, Amy, and I went with some RVA friends on our next to last day in Kijabe down to a school supported by Kenya Kids Can. Mark Daubenmeier (a physics and computer science teacher at RVA and the director of Kenya Kids Can) drove us. We drove down the crazy bumpy hill once again, down the highway for a bit, then we cut cross country on sort of roads until we arrived at the school.
First some history. You can read about this ministry in the book, A Dream so Big, that we recommended in an earlier blog. Steve Peifer was a missionary at RVA when he was visiting some local Kenyan schools. It was a Thursday, and he realized many of the kids were lying down. When he asked the teacher why they did this. The teacher said it was because it was Thursday. Most of them had run out of food for the week and were too weak to sit and listen to the lesson.
So, Steve began raising money to feed the kids. Today, Kenya Kids Can provides lunches for 29 Kenyan public schools feeding over 16,000 kids. A donation of $17 feeds 13 kids for - get this- for a MONTH!
Steve also began providing computer education for these schools. About 14 of these schools have a computer center. The schools do not have electricity, so the computer center is a renovated shipping crate which uses solar power to power about a dozen computers.
Mark in front of a computer center.
The battery bank.
You might wonder why we are teaching the Microsoft Office suite to starving kids. The idea is to provide a means to jump start this generation out of poverty. India was able to help make an entirely new middle class through computers in one generation. It didn't hurt that Steve was a former Oracle big wig.
Steve won the CNN hero of the year award for starting this ministry.
Steve has since left Kenya and has passed the director position on to Mark.
The head teacher took us into one classroom to introduce us to the kids as being from the land of Donald Trump. Can you believe it? They were in their English lesson, so we helped them by speaking to them in English for a while. I'm pretty good at speaking English.
We asked the kids how far they walked to school. Many walk over an hour.
We discovered that with the lunch program in a school, the student population doubled. The kids are coming to get their one meal a day. Parents are keeping their kids in school to make sure they get fed. The test scores in these schools has also gone up to be the top in the region. The kids can pay attention with full bellies. Education will be important to help these kids get out of their poverty.
The community builds the kitchen and provides cooks and water.
Wood burning stoves.
They sifted corn and beans before cooking them.
Lunch is ready.
They bring their own bowl.
Up at RVA, we were a little protected from the destinations of the drought. It's getting bad. The rainy season hasn't been very rainy. The kids happily ate their one bowl of corn and beans. Some didn't eat too much. When we asked why, they were saving it for their brothers and sisters at home. What's to be done?
So, my friend Mark Daubenmeier runs this ministry. He's a good guy. This is a good ministry. If you would like to sponsor a computer teacher, they cost about $275/month. They have four computer centers ready to go, but no teacher.
If you want to help feed the kids, they could use your help. God somehow keeps providing. But, the cost of food has gone up - about 30% - because of the drought. One supplier just drove to Ethiopia to get more corn for these kids. You know Ethiopia, that place we all heard about with over-abundant food stores. This shows you how bad it is in Kenya. Mark has kept all 29 schools fed so far, but the real question will be how to keep the food purchases up the remainder of the year with the increased costs of food.
So, visit Kenya Kid Can website. Help out if you feel led.
By the way. Mark does not get paid for this. He has raised his own support as a missionary. Africa Inland Mission takes 5% to help run this ministry. They also have one paid Kenyan worker who helps do the day-to-day administration of the ministry. So, that's about a 5.5% overhead. You money WILL go directly to helping these Kenyan kids.
Here is Mark connecting with the kids.
This school visit once again showed me that Amy is a better missionary than I am. She connected immediately to these kids. I tried. Little girls ran from me. I did a magic trick. Wiggled my hair and ears. Finally, I connected a little bit with them. They laughed a lot around me. Was that laughing with me or at me? Either way, we tried to love on them as much as we could. I found taking selfies with them and then showing them the pictures worked well to help us connect with them.
Sometimes, it's just tough what you see in Kenya. We don't have answers. It seems overwhelming. But, there are those like Steve Peifer, Mark Daubenmeier, and others who are standing in the gap and saying, "I can't fix it all, but this kid, this kid I will help."
Please help Kenya Kids Can.