At Jitegemee Children's Program, we are celebrating wildly and wanted to share some good news with all of you: Last week, Jacinta graduated from the University of Kabianga with a Bachelor of Science degree with First Class Honors - the highest grade achievable, and the highest grade EVER achieved by one of Jitegemee's university students! Congratulations Jacinta!
Jacinta comes from a very poor family in Machakos, Kenya, and has been raised by her mother. Her father is a drunkard and has not provided any support to the family. Jacinta has received educational and other support from Jitegemee since 2009, and is the first in her family to go to and graduate from university. We are so proud of Jacinta, and all our students who are working hard to achieve their dreams.
At this time of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share Jacinta's message of gratitude:
"Joining Jitegemee is the greatest miracle ever in my life. Born into a poor family, my dreams seemed to be shut. Through primary, secondary school and university, Jitegemee has given me all-round support - socially, morally, financially and academically. I have now graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Human Resource Management), scoring a first class honours. I intend to secure a job, raise capital and start a business, after which I would enroll for a Master's degree. This will enable me to gain knowledge, skills and experience to start a HR consultancy firm - my all time dream.
'Thank you so much to Jitegemee and all our donors, I lack words to express my gratitude. God bless you!"
As always, we are deeply grateful for your support. Please look out for our Giving Tuesday appeal after Thanksgiving, and please help us continue supporting bright, deserving young people like Jacinta achieve their dreams.
Dear Friends of Jitegemee,
I recently returned from the most heartwarming and inspiring month spent with our children and team at Jitegemee's Education Center in Machakos, Kenya, and had to share some of our progress with all of you! Every time I see the children and their parents, they say "Please say thank you, asante sana, to our donors in the USA." So I pass on their thanks and greetings. Without your ongoing support, none of this work would be possible.
At this time of year in Machakos, the air is filled with hope - the "long rains" come and the crops start growing. Our students and team have been cultivating our compound so that we were ready for this year's rains: above is a photo of our Vocational students working the soil so our newly laid grass for our soccer pitch and playground will grow. We also have a vegetable garden that's now bursting with tomatoes, onions, and sukumawiki (local type of kale) - all of which make great additions to the daily lunch we serve our students.
But even more important than the food we are growing and feeding our children, is the education we are providing to an ever-growing number of needy students. In May, we were thrilled that 39 new students joined our Vocational Program! 2019 marks our FIFTEENTH year of rehabilitating some of the neediest children in Machakos. These are children who may be on the streets, have dropped out of the formal education system, or who may have never had access to any form of education. They spend 6-8 months with us, learning critical lifeskills. After that, they select a trade they'd like to pursue and are attached to a community mentor who trains them for a year in that trade. We are so happy that Vocational Class 15 has joined the Jitegemee family and are working towards a brighter future for themselves and their families!
In addition to this inspiring new Vocational class, we have so much coming up over the next few months - our high school and college students will participate in a one-day Career Festival; all our students and parents will get a physical check up as part of our Annual Health Day; and we have three weeks of school break in August, during which all our students will join us for sports, extra learning, mentorship and games! These weeks are precious as we not only get to see and hear the laughter of all our students who are usually away at school, but we get to catch up on all the progress they've made during the year.
Until next time, thank you, asante sana, and bless you for your ongoing support of Jitegemee students!
- Verity and the whole Jitegemee family
2019 started on a high note for Jitegemee with some outstanding news from our primary and secondary school graduates:
We are so proud of all of our graduates who are working so hard to break through the barriers they face as a result of poverty.
Here are some words of gratitude from some of our university students for your generosity:
From Jacinta who is studying Human Resource Management: "Being in Jitegemee has given me a new story, since life before then wasn't easy. I was at the verge of dropping out of school when I miraculously joined Jitegemee. I lack words to express my joy and appreciation. I have a million and one words to say, but I will summarize them in saying: THANK YOU"
From Harrison who is studying Business Administration and Information Technology: "My life had lost control and a dark life came into view. Joining Jitegemee just changed everything...I sincerely appreciate your good will and for your heart shining on my future, and for giving me a ray of hope. Thank you very much."
From Peter who is studying Information Communications Technology: "Before I joined Jitegemee life was so hard and I almost dropped out of school after my parents split up. There are lots of things that Jitegemee has done for me. Jitegemee has changed many lives in Machakos County, and it is because of you - our donors - that we have hope for a bright tomorrow. You give us many reasons to smile. It is not easy for someone to give out money to people they haven' tmet, but you are always supporting us. Thank you so so much."
In 2018, we also graduated our first class of Street Business School parents - Jitegemee parents who took part in an 8-month training program and are now running their own businesses in poultry rearing, basket weaving, or catering. Supporting our parents and providing economic empowerment opportunities helps our children, their families and the whole Machakos community.
On behalf of our students, their families, and our team, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for so generously contributing to changing the lives of the most destitute children in Machakos, Kenya. Thank you, Asante sana.
Dear Friends of Jitegemee,
This past year, you have helped us make the dreams of children come true. For Ezekiel, who dreamed of going to college and is now studying mechanical engineering at Technical University of Mombasa. For Miriam, who dreamed of finding a job and now works for a major national telecom company. For Agnes, who dreamed of catching a glimpse the world beyond her home town and a few weeks ago visited beautiful Lake Nakuru with other Jitegemee students.
Because of you, this year, 75 needy children in Machakos, Kenya went to primary school with books, shoes, uniforms, and health care. Because of you, 16 youth were able to complete a year of secondary school. Because of you, 26 students went to university, and 86 more participated in a vocational program that will equip them with the skills and social connections they need to gain employment. Because of you, 238 children and parents had annual health check-ups and necessary treatment through our program doctor. For this, we thank you.
We’re thriving, despite challenges
We believe in academic excellence. For the first time ever, all our high school graduates gained admission to excellent public universities, where they are working hard. We also believe in second chances. This year, our vocational program includes two youth who were convicted of minor crimes who were referred by the local probation office. We also piloted a “street business school” program with 50 parents and caregivers, who met once a week to run cooperative businesses in basket-weaving, catering and poultry. Those businesses bolster the finances of the families we work with and foster a stronger connection between parents and their children’s education.
Our team is growing
Our new country director Jennifer Katiwa has exceeded our expectations in her first year as our leader on the ground in Kenya. Jennifer, who previously oversaw a network of schools in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in North Eastern Kenya, brings both extensive experience and skills in the NGO sector as well as a local understanding of the Machakos community. Jennifer leads a local team of 12 teachers, support-staff and social workers, who work hard every day to ensure that vulnerable families have the tools they need to succeed. This year we also welcomed our newest member of the team: a master’s degree student at Brandeis University, Ryan Schwartz, who will be working on monitoring and evaluation and communications.
Grateful for friends on both sides of the ocean
We could not do what we do without you. We’re so grateful to our many friends and supporters, from our Kenyan board members to our international visitors. We’d like to give a special “thank you” to Beverley and David Bell, Nyaradzai Changamire, Shaq Harrigan, Paul Frisoli and Jacqi Mosselson. Thank you to everyone who has donated this year to make this life-changing program possible.
If you find yourself in a position to give in the upcoming holiday season, we’d be so grateful for your support. So far this year we’ve raised more than $160,000. But we need to raise $40,000 before the end of the year, so that next year, we can build on these successes and make even more children’s dreams come true. This holiday season, why not give the gift of education?
Again we say a heartfelt thank you and asante sana, and wish you a happy and blessed holiday season.
Jitegemee means "to sustain yourself" in Swahili. In addition to the educational support, vocational training, feeding and nutrition program, healthcare, and so much more that we provide to our 200 vulnerable children, we also provide empowerment and training to their parents. The longer we do this work, the more we realize how critical it is to include support for our families in addition to the direct support we give to our children. Healthy, happy, sustainable families = healthy, happy, sustainable children.
In line with this, we are excited to let you know that we have started a Street Business School (SBS) initiative at Jitegemee. SBS will provide training and support to our parents as they develop sustainable businesses and cooperatives. Earlier this year, two of our team members went to Street Business School's headquarters in Uganda to train as SBS trainers. In May, 50 of our parents signed up for our first Jitegemee Street Business School class, and on a weekly basis they receive training from our Country Director, Jennifer Katiwa, and her strong team of trainers.
As part of SBS, our parents have been learning basket-making skills, baking&catering, and poultry rearing. In addition to the technical skills, they've been learning soft skills needed to run a sustainable business - such as financial management, communication, marketing, and more.
Our first class will graduate in November and in 2019 we hope to enroll two new SBS classes.
It is thanks to the support we get from friends of Jitegemee all over the world that we are able to provide this kind of training our parents so desperately need to pull themselves and their families out of poverty. Thank you, asante sana - from all of us at Jitegemee.
For more information on what we achieved last year, please check out our 2017 Annual Report.
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