Encouraged by hope, a story from KenyaToday we bring a very special report from Lucy Amatikide Murunga, part of World Vision Kenya’s Communications team. Lucy reflects on Women of Vision’s trip to Kenya in August and the encouragement that it gave her. Read more about the trip here.
I have returned from a trip with the Women of Vision, a group of women volunteers in the U.S. dedicated to raising awareness about the work of World Vision and also raise funds on behalf of World Vision to support programs in some of the world’s low income countries like Kenya where poverty and vulnerability to climate change remain the most critical development challenges according to data from the World Bank. It was such an honor to be in the company of some donors in the U.S. committed to the vision of World Vision.
The women had flown thousands of miles away to witness the commissioning of two classrooms, a dormitory and a rescue center in a school in West Pokot, 281 miles from the capital Nairobi in the northwestern part of Kenya.
The people were warm and welcoming as they lined up along the road leading to the venue of the celebrations. Songs, clapping and ululations filled the humid air. The guests joined the host community in dancing all the way to the venue. The heat from the sun was raging from the clear blue skies.
The guest of honor of the day was Margo Day, a donor for World Vision U.S. Women of Vision joined Margo in opening the three facilities. They were thrilled and moved by the facilities that would forever change the lives of the girls of St. Elizabeth School.
One after the other, the facilities were officially opened and it was all smiles, especially for the girls. It was so moving to see the girls’ faces light up as they finally entered their new dormitory, a stark contrast to the old one that was obviously congested. The new facility was like a palace to these girls.
Then there was the rescue center that would house 48 girls rescued from the risk of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). I have witnessed firsthand stories of FGM and how crudely the ‘cut’ is carried out and it is horrifying. Statistics indicate that 3 million girls and women in Africa are at the risk of this unlawful practice and in the West Pokot of Kenya FGM is widely practiced. Such statistics are disturbing; thankfully, education projects such as the one we witnessed in St. Elizabeth are helping accelerate the fight against FGM.
It was incredibly moving to see the girls exude hope: a hope for a better tomorrow and a strong desire to access an education that is often not valued in their community.
Mrs. Caroline Menach, the teacher in charge of St. Elizabeth School, confidently spoke of how their challenges were slowly being narrowed with the interventions of generous donors like Women of Vision and Margo Day through World Vision.
From 31 rescued girls, when St. Elizabeth first started out in 2010 to now hosting more than 240 girls, the school is a safe haven for the girls who have fled from home fearing being married off prematurely or forced to undergo FGM. What a huge relief for these girls, I thought.
One of the girls I spoke to, Nancy Cheptoo, an eighth grader could not hide her joy. “I am very happy because with this dormitory, we will now sleep well and with the classrooms, we will study well,” Nancy remarked looking visibly excited. “For the girl child, education is the power for the future,” she added. The girls promised to excel in their studies. This was even evident in the school motto displayed that said, “Here we eat books and drink knowledge”, undoubtedly a symbol of the girl’s hunger and thirst for an education.
When Margo stood up to address the girls, there was deafening silence. “All I am is a servant of God,” she began. “Whatever you have to bring, if you can bring it with faith and trust in God, miracles can happen.”
I am delighted that Women of Vision had the opportunity to witness the impact of World Vision’s work on the ground. I asked them what that experience meant. “Until you have that personal experience, you have no idea,” shared Joyce Bedrosian of the WOV Orange County, CA chapter. “We read the stories and watch videos but actually seeing it firsthand, is just so different and moving,” she added.
When I asked “What does this then mean to you as a donor and a supporter of World Vision?” The resounding answer I received was, “I feel completely assured. It gives me confidence to go back home and speak confidently about World Vision because I know they are an accountable organization.”
Every individual we met on our trip exuded hope despite the many challenges that still abound. This display of hope was just so touching and encouraging at the same time. Margo and the Women of Vision have returned to the U.S. and they are sharing what they witnessed. Back here in Nairobi, I am blessed by this hope.