2014 Double Your Dollars Campaign: Sponsor a Student for $500 per year

A generous EFAC sponsor has donated 6 four-year matches giving you the opportunity to sponsor, communicate and mentor a student for only $500 per year.

We have 14 bright but impoverished students in Form 1 of high school that need sponsors in order to complete their high school education. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, 10 million children in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of school every year. That is a staggering statistic. 

While we know can't help all of them, we know we can guarantee that 6 more deserving students will complete high school with your support and the 2014 Double your Dollars campaign. 

Simon Peter with his grandparents and cousin

Simon Peter with his grandparents and cousin

Simon Peter is one of our unsponsored Form 1 students. Simon Peter lives with his grandparents, aunt and young cousin Jimmy in Nyeri. His father abandoned the family before Simon was born and Simon's mother was unable to care for him so his grandparents have raised him but were unable to raise the fees to send him to secondary school.

But, thanks to EFAC, Simon has started his first year of high school at top-rated St. Marys Boys School but needs a sponsor to help him complete his education.

Simon's favorite subject is Geography and he loves to play basketball. In September, he attended the EFAC Mentor Workshop at ANU -- his first time to travel to Nairobi (95 miles from Nyeri) -- and he loved seeing the buildings, like Parliament, which he had previously only seen as pictures in books.

Jimmy takes a selfie

Jimmy takes a selfie

To read more about Simon Peter and the other Form One students, click here. Unsponsored students are indicated by a red "Needs Funds" on their photo. 

To sponsor a student for $500/year, go to our Donate page and under "Scholarship Details" tell us that would like to participate in the matching gift campaign and what gender you would like to support -- or if you would like to support a specific student, like Simon Peter, this is a good place to let us know as well.


Small NGOs Are the Core of Systemic Change

by Nancy Van Sciver, founder and executive director of Education For All Children

You planted a seed in a desperate heart where there was no hope before.” Education For All Children (EFAC) graduate, Samuel Amwai wroteto me in a recent letter. When I first met Samuel, he was a street boy in Kenya. He applied for funding to attend secondary school through Education For All Children (EFAC), a Kenyan nonprofit organization (NGO) I co-founded in 2008. I’m proud to say, Samuel is another one of our success stories. He is now a local university student studying business.

Transforming a child’s life comes from the support of the community, local NGOs and donors, but the real impact is seeing the systemic change that can start with just one student. Not only is Samuel a university student, he is also using his education and experience to mentor other street boys. He wants younger boys to know that there is more opportunity out there for them, and they don’t have to live on the streets.

I’ve seen Samuel’s success every step of the way. As one of his advocates, I’ve been rewarded with one-on-one feedback, but I’m just one individual and EFAC is just a small NGO. I’ve struggled with a question that is all too common: Can small NGOs operating in developing countries really make a global impact if their reach stops at a few hundred beneficiaries?  

My simple answer is YES. I believe that Education For All Children and similar grassroots organizations can create systemic change because of their unique understanding of the culture and communities in the countries where they work. Having local management creates trust in the NGO and their deep roots in the community ensure sustainability. EFAC has a local board and team on the ground that executes and designs the programs, ensuring that our programs are reinforced throughout the community. This intimate understanding of the local community is something that larger bureaucratic organizations have trouble duplicating.

Now that we know we CAN make a global impact, the question becomes HOW do small NGOs make a significant impact? Larger NGOs can measure their impact in the 1,000+ people they reach with their services. Smaller NGOs can’t compete using the same metrics.

Educate. Employ. Elevate.

Educate. Employ. Elevate.

At EFAC, we’ve come to understand that even a few hundred students can create systemic change. We invest a lot of time and resources into our students. Our eight-year program provides scholarships from ninth grade through university. We also partner with 7 high schools and provide a robust and innovative year-round mentoring program for secondary and post-secondary students. The price tag of our hands-on approach and success rates is only $83 a month per student- a small cost for the opportunities gained!

EFAC is in its sixth year of operation and has seen two classes of high school graduates, a total of 96 graduates with 97% enrolled in higher education. Read more about EFAC’s secondary school graduates and their success.

Besides measuring graduation rates and enrolment in university, I measure our success in how students give back to their communities, by starting girls’ empowerment programs, mentoring younger students and actively participating in the EFAC community service program. Two recent EFAC associated initiatives exemplify the kind of systemic change we create beyond the classroom.

Samwel Mwiko, an EFAC university student, founded Eagle Mentorship Group. Two other EFAC graduates helped Samwel organize a workshop with the mission of, Ensuring the youth make informed choices.  The workshop had more than 75 youths in attendance. Samwel and his classmates are taking the skills they’ve learned into their communities to insure that other youths have the same opportunity for success that they had with EFAC.

EFAC Graduates Become EFAC Mentors.

EFAC Graduates Become EFAC Mentors.

Recently our Kenyan team, headquartered at African Nazarene University (ANU), sent six EFAC/ANU team members to assist a partner secondary school. The school was having a major issue with students’ indiscipline. Our team engaged the students in focus group discussions on strategic issues and possible solutions to the problems. Working collaboratively with the school’s administration and faculty, progress has been made along with a follow-up training for the peer counselors. Although this is not part of our formal program, our grassroots structure allows us to help the schools we work with to ensure a better education for the students.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” At EFAC, we are making our global impact one student at a time. The growth is not linear, but exponential as the students and staff gives back to their communities creating positive systemic change.

Voice from the Field - Mona Kyle - A Day in the Life...

Mona Kyle, is a volunteer from California who is volunteering with EFAC in Kenya for three months. Mona is living and working at the Vanessa Grant Girls School (VGGS) in Rongai, Kenya, a partner school of EFAC. EFAC students attend secondary school at VGGS. Read Mona's description of a a day in the life of a VGGS student.

The bell that is run to single all of the day's events at VGGS.

The bell that is run to single all of the day's events at VGGS.

A typical day for students at Vanessa Grant is long and demanding.  Prior to this term, the girls were required to be up and out of bed at 4:00 am in order to report for “preps,” or individual study in assigned classrooms until the 5:00 am bell beckoned them to return to their dorms for showers and to tidy up their personal spaces.  However, this term the new principal, Nancy Mwaniki, has made the 4:00 - 5:00 am “preps” time optional (only for those students who really feel the need to get in an extra hour of studying, primarily Form 4s), so the first bell is now rung at 5:00 am, providing a half hour for them to get cleaned up and report to their dormitory common rooms for devotions.  (It should be noted that there is no warm water in the dorms, so showers tend to be quick and efficient.  I was assured by Nancy’s daughter, Joyce, a university student in Njoro, that cold showers are not uncommon in Kenyan secondary schools.)  It is the responsibility of the prefects to make sure everyone arrives at devotions by 5:30 am.  Devotions are supervised by the Christian Union members, and these daily gatherings begin with silent prayer, followed by the reading of a Bible verse and its interpretation, and conclude with a final prayer led by a CU member.  At 6:00 am the bell is rung for breakfast in the dining hall, and the girls return to their dorms at 6:30 am for “chores,” i.e., cleaning their rooms and bathrooms.

Classes begin promptly at 7:00 am.  Most classes are 40 minutes long, but Math, English and Kiswahili are expected to meet 7 or 8 times each week, which often requires double sessions, or at least one 80 minute period for these subjects each week.  After three class periods, there is a short break at 9:00 am.  On Monday and Friday, this break is actually an assembly of all the students and faculty which includes a formal raising of the flag, singing the national anthem, and announcements from students and the TODs (Teachers on Duty) addressing such issues as tardiness and excessive noise during “preps.”  The assembly usually ends with some inspirational words from the Deputy Principal, stressing the need to aim high and work hard.   On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the 9:00 break is dedicated to leadership and house meetings.  Classes resume at 9:30 am, and continue until the official Tea Break at 11:10 am.  Tea, or more accurately “chai,” a very sweet, warm drink of tea, milk and sugar brewed together, is served in the dining hall with “mandazi,” a semisweet, deep-fried, triangular doughnut.  There are two more class sessions before the girls break for lunch at 1:10. That’s a total of seven lessons before lunch.

By comparison, the afternoons seem a little more “relaxed.”  There are two more class sessions, beginning at 2:00 pm and ending at 3:20 pm.  The girls are then responsible for cleaning the classrooms and the staff areas.  Everyone is expected to participate in sports from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Monday and Friday.  Sports include football (soccer), basketball, netball (which is similar to basketball but the ball can only be advanced toward the goal by passing), and volleyball.  It is during this time period those students who are interested can join me in one of the dorm common rooms for Yoga.  On Tuesday and Thursday various clubs (music, drama, etc.) and religious societies (CU and CCD) meet from 4:00 to 5:00 pm, with remedial subject sessions from 5:00 to 6:00 pm.  I am teaching Remedial English to Form 1 students in this time frame.  In an attempt to improve the students’ math skills, the principal, who was a mathematician before coming to VGGS last year, has instituted “Math Contests” on Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 – 6:00 pm.  The first hour of this period is devoted to mastering a particular math concept, and then comprehension is tested during the second hour.  Although the students seem to believe that the “test” is the important part of this exercise, Nancy explained to me that she really added the “Math Contests” to the curriculum in
order to get the girls excited about spending additional time each week studying math.

Supper is served in the dining hall from 6:00 to 6:30 pm.  As with all other meals, the girls are assigned to a table which seats 10 – 12 for the entire year, and the student who is acting as “table girl” brings the food from the kitchen to the table and serves everyone seated there.  Each girl is responsible for bringing her own cup, plate and utensils to meals, and washing and storing them after they have eaten.

After supper, the students return to their assigned classrooms for “Recap” where they quickly review the subjects they have studied during the day and discuss their homework assignments.  Again, for those girls who are having trouble with particular subjects, remedial sessions may be scheduled with teachers from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.  If no remedials  have been scheduled, the students all have “preps” from 7:00 until 9:00 pm.  At 9:00 pm everyone is expected to watch the news on the televisions in the dorm common rooms.  (This is the only time the televisions are turned on, except for three hours for entertainment on Saturday.)  Form 1 and Form 2 girls remain in their dorms after the news and get ready for bed.  However, Form 3 and Form 4 students are served hot chocolate for a little extra energy so they can do an additional hour of “preps” before lights out at 10:30 pm.

VGGS Form 4 Students

VGGS Form 4 Students

The weekend schedule provides little relief.  Devotions are still at 5:30 am on Saturday with breakfast at 6:00.  After breakfast there is a half hour of “preps”, and then two class sessions from 7:00 am to 9:00 am.  There is a ten minute break, and two more classes from 9:10 until 11:10.  The tea break with “chai” and “mandazi,” is followed by a General Discussion period from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.  During the discussion period the girls are encouraged to identify concepts and/or issues they are having trouble with and seek help from their classmates.  Lunch is served at 1:10 pm, with a general cleaning period until 3:00 pm.  The students are not only responsible for cleaning their dormitories, but also the classrooms and offices.  Those who finish their designated cleaning assignments early are free to do their personal laundry.  There are no washing machines at VGGS (in fact, washing machines seem to be quite a luxury throughout Kenya), so the girls wash all of their clothes by hand in buckets and hang them on the line to dry.  The only real free time the students have is on Saturday afternoon between 3:00 and 6:00 pm.  At that time, the girls are permitted to watch television in the common rooms, primarily movies and music videos, and they often simply let go and dance!  Many students choose to practice their music during this time, so it is not uncommon to hear the new marching band practicing enthusiastically. The time allotted for supper on Saturdays and Sundays is the hour between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.  “Preps” resume after supper until 9:00 pm, followed by the news, with lights out at either 9:30 or 10:30, depending on whether the students are in Forms 1 and 2 or Forms 3 and 4, respectively.

Sunday begins relatively late with breakfast at 6:30 am, followed by an hour of cleaning.  The mandatory church service begins at 8:00 am and goes until 11:00.  Once again, tea is served at 11:10 am, followed by an hour and a half of Bible study.  Between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm, the girls meet in groups of twenty to discuss the Word of God until they break for lunch.  Recognizing how demanding the VGGS schedule can be and the need for the students to be at their best, the new principal has instituted a three hour rest period from 2:00 until 5:00 pm on Sundays.  The girls are actually expected to lay down on their beds and sleep, “so they don’t sleep in class.”  They then have an hour for “grooming,” at which time they can take care of their hair and do whatever mending, etc. may need to be done.  Dinner is at its usual time, and even the Sabbath winds down with “preps” and the news. 

Just writing this schedule down exhausts me, but the VGGS students all seem to accept it as a necessary way of life in order for them to achieve their goals.  All of these girls have big dreams and understand that hard work and discipline are important components of success.

EFAC Education Award from Ministry of Education - Maasai Mara, Kenya

Blog below written by Nelson Kirrokor. Nelson is tremendous contact of EFAC who works to coordinate between the Kenyan Board and the partner schools in the southern part of Kenya. 

I would like to congratulate EFAC for their recent award from the Ministry of Education, Mara Division. 

I have been an EFAC supporter since the year 2009 when I had an opportunity to meet the co-founders Nancy and Rod Van Sciver, as my guests at the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Since then I have supported EFAC in coordinatingbetween the schools and Kenyan board on the southern part of Kenya to make sure the right students get an opportunity to apply for the scholarship. When Rod and Nancy first shared the idea,I thought it was difficult and would require a lot of time and arrangement but thanks to both boards, the US and Kenyan board, for the efforts and dedication they put in place to make this a reality shorter than I expected. I know this has caused them a lot of time and resources but they may not be able to understand how much is the positive impact thisbringsback to our societies. We are so proud of EFAC scholars already and have a lot of confidence that they will change our society for a better future.

This year, the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Education recognized EFAC as a foundation that is transforming life through education in Mara Division in the Southern most part of Kenya. I was so excited to receive the certificate on behalf of EFAC. I am so proud and happy to be an EFAC supporter. May God bless you all for the great work. We love you and always stand with you.
Kinds regards, Nelson Kirrokor from Maasai Mara -Kenya

EFAC Volunteer Shares Details of a Student Home Visit, Initial Impressions of two EFAC Partner Schools and More!

Mona Kyle, is a volunteer from California who is volunteering with EFAC in Kenya for three months. Mona is living and working at the Vanessa Grant Girls School (VGGS) in Rongai, Kenya, a partner school of EFAC. EFAC students attend secondary school at VGGS. Read Mona's first impressions of her first week in Rongai.

"I have been at VGGS for four days now, having arrived on September 4th after visiting another EFAC partner school, St. Mary’s Boy’s School, in Nyeri.  St. Mary’s was incredibly warm and welcoming, and Brother Peter couldn't have been more hospitable.  While we were there, I visited the home of one of the EFAC scholars, Simon Peter.  Simon Peter lives with his grandparents, a 26 year old aunt, and his young cousin, Jimmy.  We were greeted warmly and taken to their sitting room where we were first offered some delicious fingerling bananas, and then tea.  It was necessary for Simon Peter to translate for us when we spoke with his family. What struck me most about this visit is how proud Simon Peter’s grandparents are of their grandson, and how much love there is in their home. Driving back to St. Mary’s we discovered that when Simon Peter attended the Mentorship Workshop at ANU, it had been his first visit to Nairobi (which is less than 200 km away). When I asked him what he thought about the city, expecting his first impression to be similar to mine, i.e., very busy, noisy, and crowded, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed that he thought it was great.  He went on to explain that he found Nairobi to be very interesting because he had been able to view various sights and buildings, like Parliament, which he had previously only seen as pictures in books.  His explanation reminded me of the first time I traveled with my son to Rome and he became very excited when he actually saw the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon, historical sites he had only seen in photos before our trip. Being exposed to new things through travel, no matter the distance, is universally exciting.

Simon Peter's Home

Simon Peter's Home

After arriving at VGGS, I settled in with Nancy Mwaniki, the principal of the school.  The following morning we walked down the road to Rongai Boy’s School, another EFAC partner school.  Even though the students had just returned from their August break, they were already embroiled in exams, which they referred to as “Openers.”  After meeting with the EFAC scholars, we were given a very lively tour of the campus by two Form 4s, Antony Kinywa and Ismael Ngei. They were quick to point out the real name of the school is “Rongai Agricultural and Technical Secondary School,” and proceeded to show us why.  They took us to the fish pond where they farm tilapia; the workshop where they repair furniture and machinery; the granary and the  kitchen; and, of course, the livestock pens with pigs, goats, cows, chickens, rabbits, and turkeys, and the “shambas,” or fields where they grow kale, spinach, carrots, beets, and potatoes.  Although the Form 4 students are excused from agricultural chores in order to prepare for the KCSEs, the lower forms are responsible for taking care of the animals, collecting the eggs, milking the cows, slaughtering the pigs and goats, and tending and harvesting the crops, which, in turn, provide most of the food consumed by the students. A truly amazing system.

Mona was welcomed by the Students

Mona was welcomed by the Students

Yesterday I taught my first Yoga class here at VGGS.  I was initially upset because I had shipped 25 yoga mats to Kenya about a month ago, but only half of them had cleared customs by the time I left Nairobi. Since I only have a dozen mats, the Deputy Principal, Josphat, selected twelve girls to participate in the initial class.  We unrolled the mats in the common room of one of the dorms, and I began their introduction to Yoga.  When I asked some of the girls at the Workshop whether they had heard of Yoga, they either had not, or they had the impression it was simply a form of meditation.  The girls here at VGGS did not seem to have any preconceived ideas about Yoga, or, at least, they did not care to voice them.  I explained to the class that Yoga comes from a 5,000 year old Indian tradition, and that Hatha Yoga, the form of yoga I will be teaching, comes from Sanskrit words which mean “to join” or “to yoke” the body to the mind “through determined effort.”  I further explained that I would be teaching them physical postures and breathing techniques to help them find this union and create harmony between the mind and body in order to achieve emotional balance, which should leave them better equipped to deal with the demands of being students here at VGGS.  As we began to move into some of the basic postures, other curious girls joined the class without mats, and a few even jumped up on the tables that had been pushed to the side to make room for the class, so they could participate as well.  I had a wonderful time sharing something I love with such a receptive group, and the girls seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.  After class I spoke with Josphat to see if I could offer several Yoga classes during the week so that more girls could participate, and I think he is going to try to fit this into their schedule. 

Today was also very special.  I attended the Sunday service.  It started with a number of songs/hymns sung by the girls in both Swahili and English.  The beauty of close to 400 young voices singing so harmoniously was very moving.  After almost 30 minutes of music, the congregation was addressed by Josiah Aeteh, a faculty member, who welcomed them back to school, and then by the Deputy Head, Josphat, who introduced the theme of having a positive attitude, dreaming big, and working hard to achieve those dreams.  A similar theme was addressed by the pastor whose sermon stressed that all things are possible when we turn our lives (and problems) over to God.  He ended with the traditional hymn “How Great Thou Art,” which was beautifully sung in Swahili.  Josphat concluded the service with a prayer in which he asked God, among other things, to look after me so I would not regret my decision to come to VGGS.  I don’t think I could ever regret coming here."

Exciting Updates from our Volunteer, Mona Kyle, on her First Days in Kenya

Mona Kyle, is a volunteer from California who has committed to volunteering with EFAC in Kenya for three months. Mona recently arrived in Kenya, where she spent three days at the secondary student workshop hosted at African Nazarene University (ANU). Mona is now living and working at the Vanessa Grant Girls School (VGGS) in Rongai, Kenya, a partner school of EFAC. EFAC students attend secondary school at VGGS. Read Mona's first impressions of the workshop, the EFAC students, and her initial days in Kenya below.  

EFAC Secondary Students at the ANU Workshop

EFAC Secondary Students at the ANU Workshop

From Mona:

"I was incredibly impressed with how disciplined and respectful the EFAC scholars are.  On the first day of the workshop, these kids, many of whom had spent hours on matutus (small buses) in order to get to ANU, were up and at breakfast by 6:30 am, and after 7:30 devotions and announcements from the mentors, attended lectures and presentations ranging from Building Positive Self Esteem and Peer Pressure to Setting SMART Goals and Effective Time Management until after 6:30 pm when they broke for dinner.  Although the speakers were highly qualified and very engaging, I cannot imagine American teens sitting on hard, molded plastic chairs for that long and still being receptive to the information presented.  The students followed pretty much the same schedule the second day, but there was an additional speaker after dinner, Johnson Mwakazi, a former local newscaster who was very charismatic, and, again, the students gave him their undivided attention.  The final day was a little more relaxed, but students were still up at 6:30, and after breakfast and devotions, listening to various speakers and participating in break-out sessions until the final dinner, which included a very lively talent show and school presentations.  The mentors were all very personable, and did an amazing job keeping the students energized while shepherding them from one activity to another.  EFAC's Kenyan Team and ANU should be commended for organizing this event and lining up such a remarkable group of speakers.

My second observation from my time with students was how important it is to the EFAC scholars to hear from their sponsors.  I can’t count the number of times I was approached by students and asked whether I knew their sponsor.  Unfortunately, since I am from Los Angeles and new to EFAC, I found myself trying to explain to kids with a very limited understanding of American geography, that most of the EFAC sponsors are on the East Coast, and I really did not know anything about them since we had not had an opportunity to meet.  I was able to work with a smaller group of students on the second day of the workshop when I had the Form Three scholars fill out their questionnaires.  At that time, I distributed the letters that had been sent from sponsors via Sheila to the workshop.  It was clear how disappointed students were when they did not hear from their sponsors.  Students who received letters were more than happy to share them with their friends.

Mona's First Yoga Class at VGGS

Mona's First Yoga Class at VGGS

Finally, I will share one of my embarrassing moments. On the second day of the workshop, the students were divided by form into discussion groups in order to talk about some of their school experiences with each other and their mentors.  I was listening to the Form Two students talk about how demanding their school schedules are when I heard a couple of VGGS girls mention RATS.  Since I was on my way to VGGS I was more than a little concerned to hear several VGGS girl indicate that the RATS at their school were adding to their stress.  I assumed the girls were referring to the nasty little rodents we are familiar with in the U.S., and was definitely relieved to learn that RATS are, in fact, a type of “pop quiz.”  In fact, now that I am on the beautiful VGGS campus I can see how ridiculous my fears were, and I have learned that RATs actually stands for Random Assessment Tests."

Thank you Mona! Mona is an experienced yogi and wanted to bring the peace she feels on her mat to the students in Kenya, so she sent 25 mats ahead of her to Kenya. Mona taught her first yoga class to VGGS students on Saturday morning and it looks like it was a full house!