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2014

December 2014

Help David Finish High School

EFAC High School Students at the 2014 Mentor Workshop

EFAC High School Students at the 2014 Mentor Workshop

All of us at EFAC wanted to say thank you to our supporters for a a wonderful 2014!

We are very pleased to tell you that our recent campaign to secure Emma's junior and senior years of high school was a success, and Emma will graduate with her class in 2017.

Thank you.

We are also pleased to tell you that 150 of the 151 EFAC students in high school are fully funded through secondary school.

That's great news. Thank you.

David William

David William

We have only one more student who needs funding so we can guarantee that he, too, will be able to graduate with his class.

During the campaign for Emma, a supporter pledged $500 toward David's tuition -- which means we just need to raise $500 more to guarantee that he can return to St. Mary's Boys School in January.

When David was young, his mother abandoned the family and left David and his siblings in the care of his elderly grandmother. While David’s father works as a peasant farmer to help support his children, he cannot afford high school fees for David or his siblings  -- but he is very supportive of David's accomplishments in school.

In 8th grade, David graduated second in a class of 107 students, securing a spot at top rated St. Mary’s Boys School where he is very happy and doing well academically. Outside of the classroom, he loves singing and writing songs.

In a recent letter, David wrote: "I owe you a huge magnitude of gratitude. Actually my words can’t explain it. What a kind heart you have! I understand that it is no joke sponsoring me and trying to help me reach my dreams."

To help David reach his dreams, please consider an end of the year tax-deductible gift.

DONATE NOW -- the minimum donation is only $10 and 100% goes toward helping David complete his high school education.

Happy New Year!


Education Can Be Fun Puzzle Solution by Walker Royce

Just a few short blog posts ago, we had a wonderful puzzle and promised the answer. You can refresh your memory reading the post here.

Here was the original puzzle:

The poem below has four special attributes with a unifying theme. Can you see the theme?

English shining linens in eggshell sheen.
“Negligees, leggings, high heels,” he sings.
Giggling, she senses illness in his singleness.
Lessening his lies is senile.
Is she seeing his sinning signs?
She sighs. He is selling silliness.
His highness is senseless in English!

Here is the answer! The poem has 4 interesting characteristics around the theme: Enjoy English
1) It starts with the word English, 
2) It ends with the word English, 
3) The first word of each line spells out English
4) Every word in the poem uses only the 7 letters: E-N-G-L-I-S-H

We hope you enjoyed this illustration of how education can be fun! Wishing you all a Happy New Year!


Help Emma Finish High School

Emma with the EFAC secondary students

Emma with the EFAC secondary students

Good news. Thanks to donors like you, every female EFAC scholar is funded through high school -- except for one student -- Emma. Our goal, this holiday season, it to guarantee that Emma will graduate with her class. 

Emma is a bright, motivated teenager from Kenya where high school is not free. Her mother was able to raise the fees for Emma's first year of high school but cannot afford to send her back. 

We need to raise $1000 by December 31 so she can continue her education at Naivasha Girls School.

“We are 3 in our family. My brother is the first born. He dropped out of school when he was in class eight [eighth grade]. Now he does not have any job. I am the second born and the first one to join secondary school in our family. My mother is a single mother. She reached class seven. She has a small garden in which she grow kales and sells them to get money for our food and paying the rent of the house and the garden. All these challenges do not make me lose hope in life. I believe I can do all things…”

Knowing Emma, we have no doubt she will do whatever she sets her mind to.  

After high school, Emma dreams of becoming a banker and "helping other needy children find and get an education." 

Let's make her dreams come true.
 

How can you help? 

  1. READ MORE about why it is still so critical to invest in educating girls.
  2. DONATE NOW - the minimum donation is only $10 and 100% goes toward helping Emma complete her educational journey.

Consider making a difference in her life today. Thanks!


Repairing Friendship in the Context of Conflict

Blog post by Peter King'ori, a member of EFAC's Kenyan Team. 

People have unique ways of resolving conflicts. Educators always teach the students that fighting and violence do not resolve conflicts. They advocate for healthy ways of anger management and above all embracing reconciliation and forgiveness.

Problem solving skills tend to be one of the key competencies that employers are looking while hiring. Education for All Children has been giving eminence to topics that empower students with the 21st century skills during annual workshops.  Students are taught to resolve conflicts amicably with their peers, schoolmates, workmates, siblings, parents, teachers and the community at large.

Recently, Diana, an EFAC student at Naivasha Girls High School narrated how she reconciled with her friend. Diana’s friend had requested her accompany to a hockey game. Instead, she refused and opted to remain behind and revise for her exams. Afterwards, her friend started saying false things to her schoolmates. She became angry with her and instead of fighting back she opted to write the below poem while controlling her anger. She later recited it to her friend as she sought for reconciliation who initially busted in laughter but later she asked for forgiveness. After all, we are all human.

Human, Too

By Diana, EFAC student, Naivasha Girls High School

As I watch you drawn in the comfort
Of hands alien to me
And a lot too familiar with you
Still, I’ll smile when you smile at me
And give a nod when you wave at me
All the same, the pain and fury gorge deep
Like the winds, reaping off my trust for you.

Tell me I was never the best
And I will dare to accept
Scream at me you wanted more of my time
Look, sure I won’t throw a dime
If staying away was my only crime
Then tame my minutes to their prime
I’ll be there, so let go of the lime.

As the winds ferry the laughter
And the piece of you that goes with it
Freely you give, freely you receive
Just as it always was with me
Is it a miracle what I feel?

Looking on, I don’t know anymore
Where to focus my eyes when you are around
You told me, so I believed
Then you won’t sum me up when I perceive
The filth in those arms that encircle you
And feel the warmth that I imagine you do.

I’m perverse, I won’t refute
But too bad I couldn’t stay mute
Hear the sad melody of my lute
For with it comes my muse
This doesn’t feel the same, but more of a loot
I don’t know if I will listen, when you fall back
Too much I took in, too much I supposed.

Alright, I will tell it to the world
That I’m jealous when you are held by your
A game of pretense yet at the end it will rip you
Saying you love, yet it’s contrasted down to your toe
Tell me what else to do, except for a wounded sigh and broken ‘oh’
I’m human too, did you know.


Education Can Be Fun by Walker Royce

There are so many ways to make learning fun. Plenty of good stuff is available to teach people who are motivated to learn, but how can we increase their motivation? People who really enjoy a topic are much more motivated to educate themselves.

Take language for example. English is a complex human creation, and it is as quirky as those of us who speak it. We expect certain structural attributes: symmetry, regularity, consistency, and logical construction of words and phrases. In general, our language delivers well on these features, but occasionally, or even quite frequently, quirks surface. A whirlwind tour through some counterintuitive usages illustrates this point.

A slim chance and a fat chance mean the same thing. A wise man and a wise guy are very different. Unto means the same as to in most usages. Quite a few means quite manyPineapples have nothing to do with pines or apples. A house can burn up or burn down with the same outcome. Filling in forms and filling out forms produce the same results. We have noses that run and feet that smell. We fire employees who hardly work and praise them if they work hardFolk and folks are both plural and mean the same thing.  Nonword is a word. Furious means full of fury and joyous means full of joy, but gorgeous does not mean full of gorge. A man with hair sounds much hairier than one with hairs. Why can’t people be chalant, plussed, combobulated, or gruntled?  Why can we remember things when we never membered them to begin with? And finally, observe that stifle is an anagram of itself.

These peculiarities might confuse some people, but to me they represent the spectrum of opportunities for surprise and wonder that make English so powerful, puzzling, humorous, and entertaining. It is a remarkably beautiful language.

We can also enjoy English with a puzzle that employs some simple poetic license. The poem below has four special attributes with a unifying theme. Can you see the theme?

English shining linens in eggshell sheen.
“Negligees, leggings, high heels,” he sings.
Giggling, she senses illness in his singleness.
Lessening his lies is senile.
Is she seeing his sinning signs?
She sighs. He is selling silliness.
His highness is senseless in English!

It is a remarkably beautiful language.

(Answer in our next blog post.)

In this short blog, my sole purpose was to point out some opportunities in making a dull topic like language more entertaining to learn. Enjoying a topic motivates us to stay interested even when the lessons are not that much fun. What they don't teach enough of in school is how to enjoy a topic. We mentors, parents and coaches can help reinforce the fun in learning. 

Walker Royce is the Chief Software Economist at IBM and the author of three books. Walker and his family are also EFAC sponsors. 

November 2014

Gaining Wisdom from a Mentor

Blog post by Peter King'ori, a member of EFAC's Kenyan Team.

The traditional African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” depicts the expected collaboration in all levels of life while nurturing children. Research has shown us that children who are connected with numerous caring adults tend to do well in life. They are armed with resilience that enables them to step up and respond positively to life challenges.

As the students mature, they need connections with caring adults who ask them: What are your ideals? How is your self- esteem? Do you value yourself? What is your dream career? How often do you evaluate your journey of moral and academic excellence? These kinds of questions provide a road map for life.

Esther Wagaki sharing a word of advice to Valentine     Ngigi, an EFAC Scholar at Vanessa Grant Girls School.

Esther Wagaki sharing a word of advice to Valentine Ngigi, an EFAC Scholar at Vanessa Grant Girls School.

Education for all Children (EFAC) continues to incorporate mentoring in its program with the aim of empowering the students with survival and life skills which are essential for their success in life, higher education, career growth and community development. The mentors guide the students to make wise career choices as well as build their character throughout their moral and academic life. Students continue to share how mentorship has impacted their life. Recently Pauline Sinyok, an EFAC student at Kenyatta University said, "I would really wish to thank Africa Nazarene University and my mentor for the guidance that they gave us, it has really helped me to stand by my principles and focus on my studies and I'm really hoping that I will achieve my goals." Brian Okoth, a scholar at Multimedia University acknowledged that “I am so grateful to EFAC. I was totally lost but EFAC mentored me. Now I am a role model to the young ones.”

Prideluck Kabugane, a student at Moi University once said, “Thank you so much for your kindness. Your kind hearts have kept me going. Above all you are also a source of empowerment and inspiration to me.”  Esther Wagaki, a scholar at Masinde Muliro University and a passionate mentor of EFAC scholars in secondary schools shared that “I have been mentored by the EFAC mentors and this has greatly helped me and many of us to always know what to do and what is required of us.”The annual mentorship workshop has also played a role in shaping the moral compass of the students. Gildah, a form three scholar at Starehe Girls’ Centre who is looking forward to becoming a lawyer explained that, “I learnt on how to manage my time well. Now I equate my free time as an opportunity to achieve an A grade.”

Thank you to each of the EFAC mentors, as we continue to impact one life at a time!


Voice From the Field - Mona Kyle - Final Yoga Class

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. Mona has been teaching Yoga classes during her time there, read Mona's description of their last class together.

Ann Sammy is on the left doing Tree Posture

Ann Sammy is on the left doing Tree Posture

Yesterday I taught my last Yoga class at VGGS.  Although I was a little skeptical when the idea to teach Yoga during my time in Kenya was first suggested, and getting the mats here proved to be more problematic than I anticipated, the entire experience was fantastic.  When we began, very few, if any, of the girls had the slightest idea of what the practice of Yoga involved.  Most of those who had heard the term were under the impression that it was just some type of meditation.  When we started moving (and breathing) into various postures, I think my students were pleasantly surprised to learn that our practice would not only improve their flexibility, but their overall level of fitness.  After a 90 minute class, the girls always embraced our final relaxation, and left for dinner ready to face another three hours of studying. 

Fraziah in Pigeon Posture

Fraziah in Pigeon Posture

I am happy to report that I have found two girls who are willing to take over my classes by forming a Yoga Club in January, and both of these girls happen to be EFAC scholars.  One of the girls is Fraziah. She is a natural, and has challenged me to come up with something new and exciting for each and every class. Unfortunately, Fraziah is a Form 3, so come next September, she will essentially be sequestered as she does her final preparation for the KCSEs.  Therefore, Ann Sammy (Form 1) will be working with Fraziah so she can step in when it is necessary for Fraziah to remove herself from the practice. 

To assist them in their endeavors, I am leaving behind not only the mats, but a book on Yoga, an outline I have prepared describing the basic class I have been teaching, as well as some cleaning supplies to extend the life of the mats.  I am confident that Fraziah and Ann will do an excellent job of keeping Yoga alive and well at VGGS.

The final class doing Camel Posture

The final class doing Camel Posture

Namaste.


Voice From the Field - Mona Kyle - Kivu Retreat

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 recent retreat for students at the Vanessa Grant Girls School. 

On Thursday, November 6th, in order to reward those students who excelled during Term 2, and to provide an incentive for those who need to improve, VGGS took the top three (3) students in each section (there are three sections in each Form – “V,” “G,” and “S”) of Forms 1, 2, and 3 to Kivu Retreat, a hotel in Nakuru with two fantastic swimming pools. Unfortunately, the Form 4 Candidates were still taking the KCSEs.  

The “Most Improved” students in each section and the top three (3) performers of Forms 1, 2, and 3 in the Mathematics Contests were also included.  I am pleased to report that many EFAC scholars made the cut.  In fact, EFAC scholars swept section “G” of Form 1 with Irene Linah coming in first, Rehema Matua second, and Joyner Wambui third.  Irene also qualified for this outing as the “Most Improved,” and with the top Form 1 performance in the Mathematics Contest.  Stacy Murungi was also recognized as the #2 student in section ”S” of Form 1, Abigael Muia was the #1 student in the “V” section of Form 2, Pamela Achieng was the #3 student in the “G” section of Form 2, and Dorcas Mwango was the #1 student in the “V” section of Form 3.  Fraziah Njeri also qualified with the third best performance in the Form 3 Mathematics Contest.  It was quite an impressive showing for EFAC.

After swimming, the girls were also provided lunch, and, judging by their appetites, it was a welcome change from the food served in the dining hall. 


Exam Season: A Transition of School Life to an Adult Citizen

Blog post by Peter King'ori, a member of EFAC's Kenyan Team. 

A wise man once said “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Likewise, the long awaited day October 21, 2014 dawned a hopeful day for the 485,547 candidates of the 2014 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E.). It’s a day that all the candidates across the country sit for their English paper in National Examination.

K.C.S.E. serves as a bridge between high school and college/university life where the students are able to specialize in a few subjects and pursue their careers. It also marks an important transition of the students from childhood to adulthood. The Kenyan education system is structured in a manner that by the time a candidate is ready to sit for his/her K.C.S.E. they are already or about to turn 18 years old. In Kenya an 18 years old person is eligible to apply for an identity card which acts as legal document in defining a person transition from childhood to adulthood. 

EFAC team with form four students at Stahrehe Girls School.

EFAC team with form four students at Stahrehe Girls School.

As the clock ticks on, Kenyans wish the candidates good luck and God’s blessing in their exam. Among them include the President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya who in a co-jointly signed card for the candidates articulated that, “This must be an exciting time for you. We encourage you to overcome your anxiety and write the exams with a calm, steady hand...This is therefore to wish you good health, confidence and success in all your papers.”

Among the 485,547 candidates, EFAC is glad to have sponsored 48 scholars. Prior to the exam period, the EFAC team participated in the prayers day in the respective school of each scholar to give them encouragement and moral support. The prayers day brought together the parents, friends, siblings and relatives who made their way to their daughters/sons schools to wish them the best and pray for them as they prepare to sit for their final exams. The prayers day is usually a solemn assembly where the entire school fraternity joins in unison to dedicate their candidates to God. This is because the success of one student means the success of the entire school. This is enshrined in the African spirit of “Ubuntu” where the joy or success of a person is attributed as the joy or success of the entire society.

EFAC team together with the EFAC scholars at Rongai Agri-Tech Boys High school during the prayers day for the form four candidates

EFAC team together with the EFAC scholars at Rongai Agri-Tech Boys High school during the prayers day for the form four candidates

As Berger pointed out that the “success of students largely depends on school culture, home culture and community culture,” EFAC appreciates the parents, siblings, friends and relatives of EFAC scholars who came in large numbers during prayers day to support their candidate. We also appreciate the support of the teachers in nurturing the dreams, character formation and talents of the candidates. Our sincere appreciation to all sponsors for their moral and financial support to these candidates. Together as a family we join our hands to wish the EFAC Class of 2015 ‘Best Wishes, good health, success and God’s blessings in their National Exam.’


Voice from the Field - Mona Kyle – Rongai Boys School Prayer Day

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 Prayer Day at Rongai Boys School.

Prayer Day at Rongai Boys’ School was held in early October.  Since this is a Christian Brothers School, there was quite a bit more emphasis on prayer than on entertainment.  The program consisted primarily of a Mass, which was held in the dining hall.  It was a treat to hear the powerful voices of the Rongai Boys’ choir singing throughout the service. 

After the Mass, the congregation of students, family and friends was addressed by the Headmaster, Bro. James Thiongo. Bro. James commended the candidates on their ability to work together, and assured them that as a result of their teamwork he is certain that this class will do particularly well on the upcoming exams.  

The Head boy, Ismael Ngei, an EFAC scholar, was the next speaker.  Ismael gave a very moving speech in which he noted that these candidates were essentially in the same position in 2010 as they are in now because they were preparing to take their KCPEs (Kenya’s 8th grade exam).  At that time, they were only boys, but in the past four years they have become men, and Ismael believes they have, in fact, become men of substance.  He credits their progress to putting God first, and respecting not only their parents and teachers, but also themselves.  He thanked the parents for their love and support throughout primary and secondary school, and the teachers for their assistance and persistence in imparting the knowledge necessary to complete the syllabus before the end of the term.  Ismael also acknowledged his gratitude to the faculty for their advice and guidance over the past four years.  Finally, Ismael expressed his appreciation to his fellow candidates for exhibiting character, discipline, focus, and cooperation.

Before the students were dismissed, the mother of one of the Form 4 boys spoke on behalf of all of the candidates’ families.  She stated that because much is expected of their sons, all of the families need to pray for their success.  She thanked the teachers for their support and guidance, and for imparting the knowledge necessary for their sons to be successful not only on the KCSEs, but in life.  She concluded by asking the candidates to take care of themselves, to ask God for assistance, and to remember that they are brothers and need to work together.

After the service all of the students were permitted to spend the afternoon with their families.  The EFAC scholars were gathered in the library by Carol Ngetich, Samwel Mwiko and George Mwangi.  When asked to share their impressions of the Mentorship Workshop, almost every student commented on the significance of something said either by the Principal of Alliance Boys’ School or by Johnson Mwakazi, and each stressed the importance of time management in handling their busy schedules.  Samwel, is not only a Rongai Boys' graduate, but was also a mentor at the workshop in August, and it was obvious the boys could relate to him as they listened attentively to his words of wisdom.  George Mwangi, who had been a teacher at Rongai Boys’ School and is now an EFAC mentor, advised the boys to soften their hearts so they can be molded, and stressed the importance of giving back to their society. 

October 2014

The Long Arm of Education

by Rod Van Sciver, founder of Education For All Children

Rod Van Sciver with EFAC students

Rod Van Sciver with EFAC students


After my friend Joe graduated from Yale in 1966, he went in the Peace Corp where he was assigned to teach school on a small South Pacific island in Palau, Micronesia. He arrived with his duffel of cloths to find a small hut with a dirt floor which was to be his classroom and six young children who spoke no English.

Joe said he was never very good with languages so if he and the kids were going to communicate, it was going to be in English. So the first day, they started learning to communicate.

As time went by, the kids learned Joe’s language. Having no book, Joe made up his curriculum on the fly. He talked about history and geography. They lay on the beach and counted the stars. He played math games in the dirt.

After two years, he returned to the US, having had an enriching experience but wonder if his two years on the small island had been a throw away.

When Joe turned 65, his son James said, “I want to go to Palau with you. I want to meet your students.” Joe thought it was a wonderful idea. What they found speaks to the power of education.

All of his students still lived on the island. They, their children and grandchildren all spoke flawless unaccented English. One of his students owned a successful fish export business. Another served on the Micronesia Fishing Commission that negotiated the licensing and revenue sharing model for tuna caught by foreign fishing fleets in Micronesian waters which turns out to be half of all the tuna caught in the Pacific and a major source of income for the islands.

Joe said his most shocking moment came when a small child asked him, in perfect English, “Are you the Joseph that my grandmother talks about?”

No Joe, you didn’t throw those years away. In fact, what you gave those six children will continue to reverberate well beyond our years. 


Voice from the Field - Mona Kyle – VGGS Prayer Day

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 Prayer Day at VGGS.

Earlier this month was the 3rd Annual Prayer Day at VGGS.  Unlike many secondary schools in Kenya that have an Open House, a family Visitation Day, and a Prayer Day, in an attempt to reduce costs and disruption to the academic schedule, Nancy Mwaniki has decided to combine all three events into one, with the emphasis on mentally, emotionally, and spiritually preparing the Form 4 scholars for their upcoming KCSE ordeal.  In essence, Prayer Day acknowledges that VGGS has done its part to prepare the candidates for the examinations and enter into the next phase of their lives, requests the candidates’ parents and guardians to pray for their success, and culminates in the act of placing the candidates in the hands of God. The day began with the raising of the flag before an assembly of the entire student body, faculty, and VGGS trustees, and the blessing of the classrooms in which the candidates will be taking the KCSEs by one of the trustees, Lyndon Bowring.  This was followed by a procession to the field by the students, faculty, trustees, and, of course, the candidates, where they were greeted by their parents, families and friends.

The program began with entertainment and presentations from the candidates together with the other students.  This included singing and dancing by various groups, as well as the VGGS choir.  Gogar Primary School also participated in the program with a couple of skits and several musical offerings.  The sermon was delivered by Lyndon Bowring who focused on the VGGS Ethos that “truth, integrity and humility are central to everyday living following the examples set by Christ,” and its motto, “Education Today for Leadership Tomorrow.”  Mr. Bowring concluded by saying that every day is today, and every day we are alive we should continue to learn since that is what being a disciple truly means.

 “The Charging of the Candidates” was done by trustee, Johnny Onslow.  He presented each candidate with her own Bible and read the following charge to the VGGS candidates:  “I charge you never to forget the great benefits that you have received in this place, and in time to come according to your means, to do all that you can to enable others to enjoy the same advantage; and remember that you carry with you, wherever you go, the good name of Vanessa Grant Girls’ School.  May God Almighty bless you in your ways and keep you in the knowledge of his love now and forever.”  

The principal advised the candidates that in order to create a meaningful legacy they will need to surround themselves with good people who have similar interests and moral character, recognize and continue to develop their abilities, and avoid compromising their personal integrity.  The deputy principal thanked the parents, and the faculty and staff for all the support and encouragement they have shown the candidates during their entire time at VGGS.  There was a final surprise presentation by the candidates themselves in which they sang a “Song of Thanksgiving,” individually acknowledging and showing their gratitude to the trustees, administration, faculty and staff.  It was a very sweet song, and everyone was genuinely moved by the sentiment.  The closing prayer was delivered by one of the parents.

After the program the students spent the afternoon with their visiting families. Their families brought home cooked meals which they were able to enjoy as picnics.  Some of these picnics were pretty elaborate affairs.  It was nice to see that those students who did not have any family visiting were often invited to join those who did.  A couple of girls even invited me to join their family for chapati and mukimo, my favorite Kenyan dishes.


Voice from the Field - Mona Kyle – KCSE Testing

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 Kenya’s KCSE exams, something all of EFAC’s Form 4 students are currently taking.

The significance of the KCSEs in the Kenyan education system tends to be a little overwhelming, not only to the candidates, but even to the casual observer. The KCSEs are currently being administered on every secondary school campus across Kenya, and I am witnessing the effects of the exams at VGGS first hand.

KCSE stands for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, and is taken by all Form 4 students at the completion of their secondary education. KCSE candidates are tested on a minimum of seven subjects.  For grading purposes, the candidates must take all three compulsory subjects (English, Kiswahili and mathematics), at least two sciences (biology, physics and/or chemistry), one humanities (history and government, geography or Christian religious education), and at least one practical or technical subject (home science, art and design, agriculture, computer studies or business studies).  The grading of the examination is as follows: A (80% and above), A- (75-79), B+ (70-74), B (65-69), B- (60-65), C+ (55-59), C (50-54), C- (45-49), D+ (40-44), D (35-39), D- (30-34), E (0-29).  

In Kenya, this examination determines admittance to public and private universities.  The passing mark for the 2013 exam was a minimum score of 60% (B-) for males and 58% (C+) for females.  Students who attain a grade C or below have the option to enter a diploma program such as mechanical engineering, clinical medicine, wildlife management and other options that also provide opportunities for employment in the future. Once admitted to a university, a student’s KCSE score also determines what course of study he/she will be permitted to pursue.  For example, in order to study medicine, one would need to have As in the four core subjects of English, mathematics, biology and chemistry.  Similar requirements exist for every other major offered.

Students at VGGS

Students at VGGS

The KCSEs are in full swing.  The process began on Tuesday, October 14th with the Computer Studies written examination, followed by the Computer Practical examination on the 15th.  It should be noted that the security surrounding the test questions is very stringent.  The examination booklets for all of the local secondary schools are delivered to the Rongai Police Station, and then each subject is individually distributed to the schools on the exact day of the examination with an armed guard, who remains on the campus while the test is being given, collects the completed examination papers, and returns with them to the police station for safe keeping.  Similarly, the day before the Chemistry Practical exam was given, it was necessary for Mrs. Mwaniki to go to the police station to pick up the chemicals that would be used for that examination.  There are breaks in the exam schedule (for example, Oct. 20th is a national holiday, i.e., Mashujaa or Heroes’ Day to honor all those who contributed to the struggle for Kenya’s independence), so the last day of the KCSEs is not until November 3rd, when the candidates will sit for the Biology Practical exam.  It has been very quiet on the VGGS campus (even Rongai Boys’ is somewhat subdued) as the lower forms have been very polite and respectful of their older schoolmates, and they contemplate what lies ahead for themselves.

The armed guard who has been on campus at VGGS   since the start of exams, which is standard procedure.

The armed guard who has been on campus at VGGS since the start of exams, which is standard procedure.


Nurturing Talents Beyond Academic Excellence

Blog post by Peter King'ori, a member of EFAC's Kenyan Team. 

On January 2013 in the Standard Newspaper, Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology stated that “top marks alone will not assure excellence.” The Ministry stated that schools in the future will be ranked on the basis of academic excellence and other parameters such as good governance and leadership, talent development and character formation aimed towards nurturing well-rounded students.  This effort stands to be of great importance as the 21st Century employers are not only looking for qualified and competent employees but people who also possess the necessary soft skills to fit in the modern work force. These soft skills include ethics, communication ability, working well with others, problem solving ability, interpersonal skills and positive attitude, among others.

Since then, the ministry has taken significant strides to recognize outstanding schools which are contributing immensely in nurturing well-rounded students during national release of academic results. These government efforts to align education with employer demands requires numerous stakeholders to work collaboratively in order to create collective impact while raising lifelong learners.

EFAC Students Attending the Annual Mentor Workshop

EFAC Students Attending the Annual Mentor Workshop

Education For All Children (EFAC) in collaboration with Africa Nazarene University (ANU) and diverse sponsors from across the globe are in the forefront of transforming lives of the bright disadvantaged students’ from numerous region in Kenya.  EFAC students are provided with the opportunity to attend an annual mentorship workshop. During the workshop, students are empowered with values, life skills, IT skills, leadership skills, competencies and career guidance that positions them to succeed in life and the world of work.

Through these workshops, various scholars have been able to unearth their unique abilities and rise up to fulfill their potential in life. Numerous students have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities in their school student governance; proactive participation in school drama and music festivals, sportsmanship and essay writing contests, among others.

Wycliffe Displaying his Poster at the Segal Family Foundation Annual Meeting

Wycliffe Displaying his Poster at the Segal Family Foundation Annual Meeting

Recently, Wycliffe Nackeel, an EFAC scholar emerged to be the winner in a “Sexual and Reproductive Health Youth Poster Contest” which was organized by Segal Family Foundation. He received a fabulous award during the Segal Family Foundation Annual Meeting held in Arusha, Tanzania. In his acceptance speech, Wycliffe moved the audience as he narrated how EFAC, teachers and mentors have impacted his life thus far. He said “talent is what I have learned to tame.” Wycliffe’s passion for art, drama, and poetry made led his former primary school to win the district drama and music festival. He played a key role in composing the play and teaching it to the pupils and teachers. In his recommendation letter, the head teacher praises him as a scholar with “a great degree of talents in poetry, painting and drama.”  It’s our hope as the EFAC family in collaboration with stakeholders of good will that we will continue to touch and transform lives in Kenya by nurturing students’ talents, character formation and leadership abilities besides simply academic excellence.

September 2014

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.

Thanks!


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! 

August 2014

EFAC Volunteer Travels to Live and Work with Students at VGGS for 3 Months

Education For All Children is excited to introduce you to our newest volunteer – Mona Kyle! Mona is travelling to Kenya on August 25th and will live and volunteer there at an EFAC partner school, the Vanessa Grant Girls School, for 3 months. Mona is from Malibu, California where she has lived for 25 years. Mona is a J.D. and recently went back to school to earn a certificate to teach English as a second language. Mona believes in education, and that education is what is going to help us survive as a people in each and every country across the globe.

Looking for an opportunity to give back and do something of value at this stage in her life, Mona was in the process of considering the Peace Corps when she had a serendipitous meeting with EFAC Founder, Nancy Van Sciver. As EFAC’s best advocate, Nancy shared the story and needs of EFAC with Mona and invited her to consider traveling to Kenya to find her opportunity to give back. As Mona was already in search of an opportunity like this, this sounded like the perfect commitment. Mona hopes that three months in Kenya will allow her to understand if this type of global volunteerism is something that she can do to make an impact and hopes that this will be the next phase in life for her.

Mona will be living and working at Vanessa Grant Girls School in Rongai, Kenya. She is really looking forward to working with high school age girls. She has heard about how excited these students are to have the opportunity for education and she is excited to see this in person. Additionally, Mona loves spending time with young people and watching how their minds work. She will be tutoring students in all subjects and will specifically be helping students with computer skills and English classes. She may also spend some time working with students at the Rongai Boys School as well.

Mona is an avid yoga enthusiast and sent 25 yoga mats to Kenya in advance of her trip. She hopes to find time to share yoga with those students who are interested at VGGS. Mona hopes to provide them with a peacefulness that she has always found in yoga. EFAC is excited to provide our students with this opportunity.

Mona’s goal for this trip is to immerse herself in the cultural experience of another place, another country in hopes of gaining a larger world view to share with her son, her family and others. EFAC is so excited to have Mona join us in Kenya and we look forward to posting updates from her upcoming travels both here on the blog and on social media!


The Importance of EFAC's Mentor Program in Teaching Communication Skills by Walker Royce

One of the important values of EFAC is the mentoring that sponsors provide to the students. The financial support is a necessary prerequisite, but the wisdom of life experience is a precious resource for guiding their education investments toward a rewarding future. We sponsors need to also act as mentors and help teach the stuff that they don’t teach you in school.

Communicating more effectively tops the list of almost everyone’s self-improvement aspirations, yet it usually gets little emphasis in mainstream curricula. This is also the #1 goal of most business organization’s strategic plans, most family counselor’s advice to partners, and most supervisor recommendations to employees who want to grow their careers.   

Why are students, employees, supervisors, parents, spouses and teachers so laissez-faire in teaching effective communications? One hypothesis is that communicating more effectively is personal and introspective. It requires people to get outside their heads to evaluate what they need to do to improve. It also takes objective critique, and forces us to make judgments about personal style. Such objective self-reflection is rare, limited to the few truly egoless people who can do it well. Finally, the most effective communications are honest, and we all know how hard it is to be honest with ourselves and with others, especially when discussing sensitive topics.  

I was lucky enough to attend excellent public schools and several elite institutions of higher learning (the U.S. Air Force Academy, Cal Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and UCLA). I have worked at companies that are considered standouts at investing in employee education, including TRW, Rational Software Corporation, and IBM. Surprisingly, as I reflect back on my privileged path of education, I can’t recall any courses spending much time on the topic of improving communication. Furthermore, most of my primary sponsors and authority figures didn’t encourage me to care.

We could blame our schools and parents for ineffective teaching, but we students were equally at fault: We were so smart in our teens and twenties that we didn’t listen well to our instructors or parents. My father, who earned a PhD in astronautics from the California Institute of Technology, was an expert in the benchmark of hairy stuff, better known as rocket science. Although he was a gifted writer and communicator, he never emphasized to me the importance that those skills played in every facet of life. Or maybe he did, and I wasn’t listening. My mother, a voracious reader, writer, and lover of crossword puzzles, did emphasize the importance of communicating well in her words and her actions, but my brain was not wired to listen to her as I went through my formative years. That was my loss, because she was right. I was naturally gifted in math ability, so science and math became my self-proclaimed identity. Most of my school clique had no use for the more social skills of English. Our future was certainly some sort of engineering or scientific pursuit. English, literature, writing, speaking, and teamwork exercises were for the social-studiers, not for engineering studs like us. How naïve we were.

There are few growth paths in this world that don’t require strong communications skills. Just look at any profession and you will see that most of the standouts have learned how to communicate more effectively than their peers.

As mentors to EFAC students, our one-on-one communications are a powerful channel to make an impact. Emphasizing the importance of communicating effectively is a gift we can all bring to our students and to their teachers. We can do it in our words, and we can also do it by practicing what we preach in our direct communications with them. We must also make this lesson fun and relevant or it probably won’t be attractive to our youthful students. That next email or letter you send off can make a big difference.  

Walker Royce is the Chief Software Economist at IBM and the author of three books. Walker and his family are also EFAC sponsors. 

July 2014

What is the definition of success?

At a recent dinner conversation, the question was raise about how EFAC students define success. What better way to find out than ask. Our recent graduates have a Facebook group page on which I posted the question, how do you define success?

"It is less about how much you earn than how you use the little you earn to help others."
"Looking back and having no regrets."
"Success is defined by how much you give, not by how much you have."

Of the 16 responses, many talked about reaching one's goals. Every single one talked about helping someone else. I find these responses remarkable coming from kids who grew up with less than we can imagine, in many case less than $1 per day.

The other thing I find encouraging about their responses is that their definition of success is achievable. If they wanted to work for Goldman and live in a big house on the hill, they would probably be disappointed. But many will reach success as they define it. When they do, they and Kenya will be better off. Who need one more investment banker anyhow?
 


Samuel Amwai: Planting a Seed in a Desperate Heart

Samuel Amwai’s father died when he was only 2 years old. After moving around with his mom in Nairobi, he ran away from home in search of a better life. He was just 7 years old when he started living on the streets.

“Life in the streets of Nairobi was not good at all, going for days with no food, sleeping in sacks, wearing rags and drug abuse was my new lifestyle,” said Samuel. “The worst part of it was that the police kept chasing us away from the streets, harassing and brutally beating us if they caught any of us, before taking us to juvenile cells. I hated snatching women handbags to make a living. I hated doing this but ironically I could not avoid it.”

Samuel wanted a better life, but he was stuck. He couldn’t go home and he didn’t know how to make an honest living. With limited education and a runaway at 7, he had limited options for a brighter future.

One day Samuel’s luck changed by a chance encounter with a social worker from a children’s home. “I met up with a guy who was a social worker in a children's home. After a chat with him, he was good and kind enough to rescue me from the streets,” said Samuel. After four months on the street, Samuel was happy to to call Nyumba Ya Tumaini children’s home his home. Nyumba Ya Tumaini has remained Samuel’s home for the last ten years.

We met Samuel, when he was just finishing 8th grade. He had been living at Nyumba Ya Tumaini children’s home when he applied to EFAC. Through our program Samuel attended secondary school at the Rongai Boys School for four years, was a leader among his peers, and attended EFAC’s annual workshops.

We are proud of all of his accomplishments, he graduated secondary school in 2014 with a mean grade of A-. This allows him to enter university this year with many choices of programs. He’s also busy with extracurricular activities such as volunteering as a teacher at his former primary school and farming.  Our programs at EFAC are designed to help boys and girls like Samuel find success through education.

EFAC gives students like Samuel a new outlook on life. We are proud to support his education, but more importantly his dreams. “My dream is to help the needy in the society and start up a children’s home for the street boys because they have great potential in them and if given a chance they can be great people! When I was desperate and hopeless in life Nyumba Ya Tumaini and EFAC came into my life and planted a seed in a desperate heart. They are the reason why I don't regret what I went through in past for they have granted me an opportunity to design and shape my future!” said Samuel.

May 2014

Will you become part of the Power of 1?

2013 was an incredible year at EFAC, with nearly 250 exceptional students attending Kenya’s top secondary and post-secondary schools, attending important workshops, and developing connections and learning from their mentors. 

This was all possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors and donors like you. 

We are excited to continue to grow and improve the program in 2014, ensuring growth and even more successes for our students, but in order to do this – we need your help.

EFAC’s continued success is the result of the Power of 1 – the power of single entities working together to break the cycle of poverty through education.

It is:

  • 1 non-profit organization working to make a difference in the lives of students
  • 1 sponsor making a commitment to a student, to change their life immeasurably
  • 1 student seizing an unimaginable opportunity to change their life through education, all while making a real difference to their family, community, and country
  • 1 more sponsor. We are appealing to each current sponsor to recruit just 1 new sponsor in 2014 to share in this journey and change lives 1 at a time.

EFAC is asking you to take another step in this journey with us. We are asking you in 2014 to connect us with 1 potential sponsor.

If each of you can help us find just 1 more person this year to help sponsor a student, we can multiply the number of students that we are helping. 

Think about people you know that might have a similar passion for education and the way it can change the world. 

Tell those people about EFAC, connect them with us and together we can continue to create global change.

Together we can grow the number of sponsors and the number of students. Our goal is to attain sponsors for 50 additional students in 2014. 

Need help? Click here for more information on this campaign or contact Lori Evans, Director of Development, at levans@educationforallchildren.org or 603-930-5587.

Thank you.

February 2014

I recently met a young Kenyan with the last name of Otieno. I know another Kenyan, Mike Otieno, so asked if they were by any chance related. He laughed; Otieno means born at night so that represents probably half the country. So no, he does not know Mike. I said I find your last name thing rather confusing.

Then he said we find your last names confusing as well. George Washington, Denzel Washington, Washington, DC, Washington State. What is the connection?

 I had to admit, I don't have a clue.

January 2014

Unique Valentine's Day Cards Benefit Education For All Children

share the love blast 2014revised.jpg

valentine's special includes:

photo session, an 8x10 print, 15 personalized Valentines,

a beaded bracelet, and a $50 gift card from Somnia

$150 per child, each additional child is only $75

50% of each photo session will benefit EFAC's programs

please call to set up your session today: 603-373-0098

happy valentine's day

visit Alyssa's website