My name is Festus Muendo and I am the headmaster of Kibera New Hope School and Jesus Christ is my personal savior. New Hope School is situated in the slum of Kibera with a total enrollment of 617 pupils and is funded and supported by New Hope Initiative. I'll provide a brief history of the school and share the impact of New Hope Initiative. Kibera School began in the year 2002 and received financial support from Oxfam International. Unfortunately, they pulled out after some time due to misappropriation of funds. Upon Oxfam International’s departure, the school's enrollment fell below 200 and there was little hope for its survival. The school was desperate as there were only two teachers left, almost bringing the school to a standstill! In the midst of these trying circumstances, Pastor Simon called together the remaining pupils and teachers and prayed that God would open new doors. Although the situation was bleak, we still trusted that God would provide.
Less than two weeks later, Sandy Baird, now the Director for New Hope Initiative, visited Kibera. He visited during a layover for a flight that would eventually take him to Uganda. Sandy assumed he was going to see some animals or engage in some other tourist activity. Thank God, Sandy’s guide directed him and his team to Kibera as the main attraction! Little did we know that God intended to use Sandy's family and friends from the United States to give Kibera School new hope.
When Sandy first visited, the pupils who had completed grade 8 never moved on to secondary school. Due to poverty, many of these former students turned to crime, drug abuse, and other acts of immorality. Even young girls, of the age of 13, would engage in prostitution and early marriage as a means to receive money! In 2007, when Sandy visited with his wife Karen (our dear mum), Kelsey, Ava and Kyle Baird, we explained the difficulties that our students faced and they were touched. Kyle was so moved that he developed the Penda Project to provide scholarships for pupils who qualified for secondary education. This new program accompanied a wave of new improvements. Along with the Penda Project, we also started a feeding program for the school. As a result of these new developments, the population of the school increased dramatically.
The buildings were still in poor condition, but God provided once again and we were able to build twelve well-equipped, modern classrooms and twelve modern toilets for the children. Now, if you walk in Kibera, it looks like a university! New Hope Initiative brought hope to the hopeless in Kibera! Today, the school has 617 pupils who now have access to a quality primary education. New Hope Initiative and Penda Project provide/assist with school fees, provide stationery, school uniforms and supplies that the children need. Karen Baird has also been a real mother to us in Kibera, by helping with medical support and personal care items for students that were not available in the past.
New Hope Initiative’s work in our school and community inspired us to change the name from Kibera School to Kibera New Hope Center. Breaking the cycle of poverty is our new hope for the boys and girls in Kibera. I know this first hand since Penda Project is making my dreams come true by sponsoring my university education.
I would like to thank the Bairds as well as our good friends and churches for supporting us in Kibera, Kenya. Your work in Jesus Christ is not in vain! Thanks, and may God bless you all!
By Festus Muendo