Far too often we tend to emphasize the differences between those of us who support New Hope Initiative from afar and those we partner with in sub-Saharan Africa. While we recognize a common bond as brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us are separated by an ocean, different cultures, different economic statuses, and in many cases different opportunities. However, my recent experience in Kenya allowed me to truly focus on the similarities, but one in particular stood out.
I had the opportunity to travel with New Hope Primary School Headmaster Festus Muendo to Masinga Boys School, the location of many Penda Project students, including the student I sponsor, Edward. I was able to talk with Edward for the first time and socialize with many of the other students. We talked about our families, hobbies, challenges, and also our dreams. Later on in the conversation Edward expressed extreme gratitude both for Penda Project’s contribution to his education and even questioned where he would be in life without the support. This is when something struck me about the conversation: Edward was very appreciative for something that many of us in the United States take for granted or simply do not realize. Our education and life in general are not things we embark on alone, even if we think we do.
It is easy for us to think that we earn everything in regards to our education, to our jobs, or our lifestyle. However, if we really look deep, we can see how much of a product we are of the community and people around us. Living in Virginia, I did not need a sponsor to attend one of our public schools, but I cannot deny the assistance I received along the way.
As a person who attended public school, I never worried about missing an opportunity to attend high school. The tax money from fellow citizens and my parents contributed to my education. My parents also provided an environment in which I could learn. Truly, I had to bear responsibility and put in effort myself, but the choice to study hard or slack off was a choice I possessed. Having that choice is something I took for granted and probably still do. Every aspect of my life, even the areas where I’d like to take most credit, can be traced back to some help or assistance along the way. In the end, my high school diploma and my college degree are combinations of individual effort with massive contributions from family, friends, and teachers along the way. In this way, many of us have more in common with Penda Project students than we usually imagine.
I obviously do not know where you or anyone reading this is at in life or know your background. However, I believe that most of you can probably relate in some way - realizing that we go through life with the contributions of others, whether that is in the form of money, time, security, stability, prayer, love, or knowledge. As a Penda Project Sponsor you are able to play a role and contribute to not only someone’s education, but also to someone’s ability to pursue his or her dreams. There are many children in the Program that are currently without sponsors and I encourage you to pray and think about sponsoring one of these children. On the Penda Project website you can find a list of all the students. I encourage everyone to check out the page, look at a few of the names, and pick some students to specifically pray for. God blessed me with the opportunity to meet many of these Penda students and I am grateful for you who help make it all possible. Great things are happening in Kenya.
By Mike Holmes