For many students, an education is something that happens to them; for Abel, an education is a treasure worth sacrificing for every day.
As an elementary student, Abel stayed at school all week, studying by a small light at night and sleeping on his desk.
He was the last of 10 children born to a pair of peasant farmers who, although illiterate themselves, valued education. They could not begin to pay for him to attend high school, but through great sacrifice, hard work, and the help of a Kenya Keys sponsor, Abel graduated from high school and was accepted to Karatina University.
Abel’s challenges continued at university. When the Covid-19 pandemic erupted, the school sent students home.
Abel returned to his family’s village - a place with limited electricity and virtually no internet. Then his university reopened… with online classes only. Abel knew he had to leave his village.
Kenya Keys staffer Clemence said Abel arrived in Taru with little more than the clothes on his back. She convinced a local landlord to rent Abel a room at a fraction of the price, and Kenya Keys Director Joseph told Abel he could use a computer at headquarters to access his classes.
Determined and diligent, Abel was waiting every day when staff arrived to open the building. He sat in front of the computer all morning, attending class, and returned to his rented room to study.
This fall, Abel received a university diploma. In October, he started his first job, teaching high school.
Abel knows education is the key to a better future, and with the help of Kenya Keys sponsors and staff, not even a global pandemic could conquer this young man’s determination to overcome poverty and create a brighter future for himself and for his community. Kenya Keys is proud of Abel Tsuma’s determination and success. With you, we are proud and grateful to have played a part in unlocking this fine young man’s potential, and look forward to assisting many, many more determined and diligent students, together.
To say Kadii knows about overcoming challenges would be an understatement. In the brutally dry and impoverished area of southeast Kenya, everyone who survives knows about overcoming challenges, but they usually have feet to stand on. Kadii was born with a genetic deformity that twisted her lower legs and rendered them useless. Even as an infant, her indomitable spirit found a way; she taught herself to walk on her knees. It was a fitting beginning for a determined child.
Because of her physical disability, Kadii was placed in the Ndohivyo Special Needs School among children with developmental disabilities, but Kadii learned quickly. She was bright and capable of typical intellectual development, and her schoolwork was far above average. The Headmistress of Ndohivyo knew her school was not the place for this child and contacted Joseph Mwengea of Kenya Keys to see if together they could get her transferred into a mainstream school. In sixth grade, Kadii was finally able to transfer to St. Jude’s boarding school in Voi, Kenya, a transition with its own set of challenges.
Kadii navigated these new challenges with the same resilience and infectious smile with which she had faced the others. Three years later, despite a slow start to her education, Kadii had the highest standardized test score in science of all prospective high school students in the entire region. Now a sponsored Kenya Keys student, Kadii’s surprising success brought attention to her situation. In addition to her Kenya Keys sponsors, Bill and Peggy, who cover extra expenses, Equity Bank paid Kadii’s tuition to the prestigious Asumbi Girls high school. They provided another miracle as well, a wheelchair. After a lifetime of poverty, hardship, and misunderstanding endured painfully on calloused knees, Kadii was literally sitting pretty, an irresistible smile on her face as she rolled to class.
Kadii was in her final year of high school and preparing for the national exam when the Pandemic struck. Asumbi Girls School sent their students home. For Kadii, that meant waiting, often hungry, in her family’s one-room mud hut, shared with her many siblings and several chickens. She did not know that wait would be almost a year. No one knew what would come, and some tried to persuade students that school would never begin again, that their hope for a better life was foolish. The uncertainty was one of the hardest challenges. Once again, Kadii endured, smiled, and looked toward the future with hope. When schools did reopen and seniors were able to take that all-important national exam, Kadii had the top score among all the Kenya Keys girls.
University acceptance letters were just released, and Kadii has been accepted to Moi University. In a region where literacy is a luxury, this bright and determined girl has overcome incredible economic, social, and physical challenges to graduate with top honors. Now she hopes to turn her skills toward helping others as a high school teacher, paying forward the opportunity given to her. In writing to her sponsors, Kadii said, “Thank you for the tireless support you have given me. I have completed my secondary education and got a grade that can take me to the university.” Kenya Keys is so grateful to be a part of helping Kadii unlock her extraordinary potential. To Bill and Peggy, Equity Bank, and all our supporters and donors, we thank you for believing in the miracles we watch happen everyday - the miracle of brave and bright Kenyan students building better lives.
In Samson’s remote village in rural Kenya, illiteracy is common and poverty is the norm. His mother died when he was in second grade. His father remarried, but his stepmother was unkind, vowed that no school fees would be paid by his father, and kicked him out of the house. Samson moved in with his aunt. For a time, all seemed well. Samson said of that time, “Life was simple”. Then everything changed.
Just before high school, all Kenyan students take a standardized test that determines where they will be accepted to secondary school. Samson’s score was one of the highest in the whole region. Instead of being cause for celebration, Samson’s exceptional success seemed to infuriate his adopted family. In Samson’s words:
At that dreadful day, my aunt warned me with terror that she was going to drop me. I didn’t know if she was jealous or not but I just remained quiet…Those days seemed not to be good to me. My aunt decided to give me a tough labor but I still remained quiet. Sometimes I would even receive a thorough beating from her husband.
Just at that time, Kenya Keys was responding to the increased need in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic by increasing the number of students sponsored in 2021, and Samson was the among the first chosen. He was matched with a sponsor who was eager to support this patient, polite, and disciplined boy. “Thank you for the support which you gave me,” Samson wrote to his sponsor. “May God bless you and the work of your hands.”
With the help of Kenya Keys staff and his sponsor, Samson is now attending Ngoto Boys, a boarding school, and is working toward his goal of becoming a medical doctor.
In a year filled with so much bad news, Christine’s college graduation in nursing shines as a bright reminder of why we do this work. Eight years ago, Christine had just finished primary school and her high scores on the national exam won her a spot at a prestigious national girls school on the other side of Kenya, but there was no way she could attend. Her parents were peasant farmers, only slightly literate themselves, and she was one of seven children they struggled to keep fed. Money for school tuition was simply out of the question. Joseph, the Kenya Keys Director in Kenya, recognized her intelligence and discipline, as well as her extreme need, and offered her a Kenya Keys sponsorship to pay for her high school tuition.
Even with that miracle, all did not go well at school. Far from home, Christine felt isolated, out of place, and persecuted by girls who looked down on her as a poor girl from the bush. Her grades suffered, and she sunk into a depression. Joseph was keeping an eye on her, and arranged for her to transfer to a high school closer to home. With peers who understood her life experiences, including other Kenya Keys sponsored students, Christine thrived. Soon, she was a high school graduate, the first in her family, and headed to college.
Challenges continued - worries about her family on the edge of survival, finding money for the bare essentials as well as housing and supplies for college - but at each step, Kenya Keys staff was there. They were at her graduation, too. Clemence, the Kenya Keys staff member who helps girls with the kinds of challenges Christine faced, said she felt like she graduated that day, as well.
The success of each of our students is a team effort. Christine’s sponsors, Ken and Patty, stayed with her for eight years, paying high school, then college tuition as they followed the progress of this girl they came to love. Joseph and Clemence were boots on the ground, handling events as they developed, standing next to Christine in her challenges. U.S. staff coordinated the efforts of U.S. supporters and Kenyan staff. Every sponsor and donor to Kenya Keys was part of lifting Christine to where success was within arm’s reach. To Christine, Joseph, Clemence, Ken, Patty, and each of you… Congratulations!
Abel exemplifies the determination our Kenya Keys students demonstrate in the face of incredible challenges. He was born into a dry, infertile area of rural Kenya where poverty is the rule and illiteracy is common. He was the youngest of 10 children born to hard working, but poor peasant farmers. Although his own parents could not read, Abel was so determined to get an education that he was willing to stay at school all week, studying by a small light at night and sleeping on his desk. A Kenya Keys sponsor paid his high school tuition to allow this remarkable boy to stay in school. Through great sacrifice, hard work, and the help of Kenya Keys, Abel graduated from high school and was accepted to Karatina University.
The global pandemic is presenting another set of almost insurmountable obstacles which Kenya Keys is assisting Abel to overcome. When the government shut down the universities, Abel returned to his village. Months later, his university restarted, this time online. In a community with limited electricity, scarce technology, and virtually no internet access, Abel knew he could not stay at home. With little more than the clothes on his back, Abel moved near the Kenya Keys headquarters in Taru. A Kenya Keys staffer, Clemence, convinced a local landlord to rent Abel a room at a fraction of the price, and the Kenya Keys Director, Joseph, arranged to have him use a computer at headquarters to access his classes.
Every morning, Abel is waiting when the staff arrive to open the Kenya Keys headquarters. He attends online classes and returns to his rented room to study. Abel knows education is the key to a better future, and with the help of Kenya Keys sponsors and staff, not even a global pandemic can conquer this young man’s determination to overcome poverty and create a brighter future for himself and for Kenya.
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