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Progress or Excellence? - A Letter from the Directors


Progress or Excellence? - A Letter from the Directors

One of the inherent dangers of exclusively working in poverty-stricken areas with materially challenged people is we can sometimes only measure success by the standard of how far we have come, instead of overall excellence. It is easy to allow progress to be the final goal and as long as we are moving forward we can become complacent about the level of progress and the future rate of growth in a particular community. That is the place where New Hope Initiative finds itself now in one of our largest projects, the Kibera New Hope Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya. The progress in this institution has been amazing. We replaced most of the dilapidated buildings, the student population has grown dramatically, we instituted a daily feeding program, the staff has been enlarged, and we have seen a 400% increase in the number of our students who annually pass the secondary school entrance exam. The blessings in Kibera are astounding and we are continually thankful for what we have achieved together with our passionate partners.


However, the future in Kibera is not without its challenges. Will we settle merely for dramatic progress? Or are we going to continue to strive for even greater excellence? You can easily excuse complacency by saying, "it is a slum school and we can only do so much," but we are convicted and convinced that our ultimate goal must be more than progress and nothing short of excellence. We are in the process of evaluating our educational ministry in Kibera. We should have no less expectations for Kibera, because it is a slum school, than we would for any other educational institution in the world.

The past successes have been amazing, but we cannot grow complacent. There is still plenty of room for progress at Kibera New Hope Primary School. The classrooms are too crowded, staff/student ratios are too large, the new facilities deteriorate too rapidly, and 40% of our students per year do not pass the critical secondary school entrance exam.

Our goal is not progress only. We are driven for the sake of the children of Kibera to see New Hope Primary School become a model school. We ask that you would pray with us, and offer any advice or expertise that you might have in this coming challenge. Change is never easy. We desire to change the cultural mindset of an entire community and we are absolutely convinced that we can and will achieve the goals we have set. We will not settle for the subtle trap of being satisfied with progress. We are committed to strive for nothing less than absolute excellence.



Baby Bren

We attempt to be well organized in our work with New Hope Initiative. We make plans, develop strategy, and implement programs that are all designed to further our mission. However, often our greatest blessings come from the unexpected and unplanned  "projects" that God puts in our path. Such is the story of Baby Bren.  baby BrenThese past 30 months have not been without challenges, baby Bren has a number of developmental issues, almost certainly linked to the circumstances of her conception and birth. But thankfully at every phase she has been able to overcome every obstacle in her path. Bren has become a favorite of our NHI staff and a favorite among many of our teams and volunteers over the years. Today Bren is a thriving, active little girl with a loving personality and a heart-melting smile. At NHI we are thankful for all the strategic projects we are involved in, yet we are equally thankful for the unplanned projects that God places in our path. It is a good reminder for all of us in life and ministry to not become so focused on our strategy that we miss the individual opportunities to love others, like Baby Bren.Thirty months ago, like a modern day Moses, Bren was left in a basket on the steps of our New Hope Kibera Center in Nairobi, Kenya. There was no indication of her age, background, or family. Although our ministry in Kibera is focused on children and youth, we had no immediate program to care for a new born. As we struggled to find an answer to this unexpected need, one of the ladies in our work, aptly named Grace, willingly, immediately, and sacrificially, volunteered to take Bren in. While New Hope Initiative is providing monetary and emotional support for Grace, the degree of sacrifice on her part has been immense. Grace is older with grown children and lives a subsistence-level life in one of the world’s most infamous slums. Yet she has lovingly and consistently poured herself into the life of Baby Bren.


A New Hope In Kibera

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