Stories: In Kenya:Transformations
In 2011 and 2012, I traveled with the NGO STARS Children Africa to Miwani, a remote village in western Kenya. STARS, which stands for Students Transforming and Renewing its Society, provides orphans in Kenya with access to a secondary school education and seeks to transform them into leaders in their societies. It fosters a nurturing environment to develop confidence, self-respect and responsibility that inspires them, and positions them to give back to their communities.
Every “STARS” student I met is unique in his or her interests, whether it is law, arts, education, medicine or technology. These young adults see themselves as tomorrow’s leaders and are eager to succeed.
In Kenya, where high school is not free anywhere, it costs $500-700 a year to send a child to school, an impossibility for young people entrenched in poverty. Over the past few decades, the international community has successfully campaigned for governments to offer primary school education at no cost, which Kenya has done. However, without a sponsor to pay high school fees, a student is forced to drop out of school. In Kenya, the orphan population is burgeoning at an alarming rate, especially when parents die of HIV/AIDS, leaving many poor young teenagers without a financial support system.
STARS seeks to break the cycle of poverty and despair and replace it with a reinforcing cycle of hope, renewal and growth. It partners up with local organizations, where the U.S. contingent raises the funds and its local partner, St. Luke’s Ministries, works directly with the students to place them into school and ensure that funds are directly spent on school fees, books and uniforms. Led by Pastor Joshua and his wife Abigael, St. Luke's is located in an hour's drive to the city of Kisumu, nestled among rice paddies and potholed dirt roads, where it runs a school and provides housing for orphans in the surrounding communities.