Rosalyn Richardson was with Rinda Hayes on that very first trip to Kenya in 2005. Like Rinda, she was shocked, amazed, and humbled by what she saw and especially by the people she met. In her words, this trip enriched her life and changed her forever. When it was time to leave, Ros felt a powerful and lingering desire to do more to help the eager students she met. When Rinda Hayes and Joseph Mwengea established the sponsorship program, Ros eagerly became a sponsor.
Ros describes her experience sponsoring, and eventually meeting, Sophia:
It’s quite incredible, for a little more than a $1 a day I was able to sponsor Sophia Rai so she could finish her secondary education. After her graduation, she spent a year doing volunteer work in the community, and then she went on to college. It was a thrill to receive her letters and photos each year, to see the progress this beautiful young woman was making. She graduated from college in 2013.
In June of 2014, I traveled to Kenya for the second time. So much had changed in the nine years since my first visit! It was overwhelming to see new libraries, kids on the streets reading books, dormitories built, to name just a few. While there I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with a remarkable and enterprising group of women in Bahawkenu. Through an interpreter, our group of American women learned about the lives of these women by asking them questions and listening to their heartfelt responses.
One beautiful woman stood to describe what makes her happy. Her answer is shared by mothers around the world: “for our children to gain an education and to be successful.” The woman’s name was Mlon Rai, mama to Sophia. It was so fun to meet her, I felt an immediate connection. Just like me, she wanted the very best for her children, she was a determined advocate for them. This mama was so proud of her daughter, Sophia, a college graduate.
A week or so later, I got to meet Sophia. Mlon had sent word to Sophia that I was visiting. She traveled several hours from Mombasa (a distance of approximately 60 miles) simply to say thank you. There are no words to describe how amazing it was to meet Sophia and her mama in person. Their courage, strength, and determination in facing the many challenges in their daily lives truly inspires me. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about them. I pray that life is good, that they have enough to eat, that they have enough water, that they are not sick. I love my friends in Kenya and I long to go back.