Reaching Across the World: An Unforgettable Experience
It happened when we made our annual school visit to a school called Egu. Egu is a very, very poor area where families can almost never afford to send their children to secondary school. No matter how smart, no matter how motivated, these children languish in lives hopelessly devoid of education. The eighth graders at this school even sleep in their classroom at night, on hard wooden desks, hoping to take advantage of a light that is provided for them to study by. They are willing to pay this price in hopes of passing the rigorous national exam that will qualify them for one of our scholarships.
In the last couple of years we’ve been able to take six students into our program. The parents of these students had decided to assemble for a surprise visit to thank us. One had walked as far as 5 miles to be there. There they were, all lined up in a row, dressed in the best they owned, their faces reflecting their lives of hardship. Their spokesman said how grateful they were that their children, the first ever in their families, were able to achieve their dreams of becoming educated. As the tears welled up in my eyes, I pictured the American parents that were the sponsors of these people’s children. Many of them I had met personally. I suddenly felt the power, the reality of their reaching across the world to share the gift of opportunity with these humble parents in Kenya. It was something I will never forget. It will infuse me with the energy I need to continue to be an ambassador for their children.
Over and over, I have seen the blessed results of the scholarship program. As I see the graduates of the program come back and volunteer in the community and act as role models, I am reminded that the scholarship program is the true backbone of what we do here. It’s great to build schools and floors, but to build people is the most rewarding thing imaginable.
One other thing: The scholars’ parents gave us a large, black goat to thank us. A goat is the most valuable gift anyone can give in this culture. So we are now the proud owners of a goat. We are having a party Wednesday night to welcome some arriving team members. We paid a man 200 shillings ($2.80) to walk the goat 16 miles to where the dinner is. He was thrilled to have this chance to earn the money. He will deliver the goat, then walk 16 miles home. Our host was pleased to hear that the goat would arrive in time to be made into stew for our dinner. Such is life in the bush.