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Education + Community


Education + Community


penda-blog 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


Diane meet Irene - Irene meet Diane


Diane meet Irene - Irene meet Diane


One of our precious young ladies from Penda Project is Irene Misena. She was a part of our very first class of Penda students that entered secondary school four years ago. Irene excelled both as a student and as a leader and now is the primary leader of the children's Sunday School at New Hope Church. Irene recently began a new phase of her life as she enrolled at Nairobi Aviation University in their hotel management program. We are excited that she is among our first class of university/college-level students and are expecting great things from Irene.


In July we had a very heartfelt reunion as Diane Peters from Sagemont Church in Houston was privileged to be with us in Africa and to meet Irene for the first time. Diane has been Irene's sponsor for the past three years and it was an emotional meeting as each party got to meet the other for the first time. These are moving relationships for both parties and we love the close bond that develops between our young people and their sponsors. You may never get to be like Diane and meet your student personally, but please be assured that our Penda students love and appreciate each of their sponsors and realize the vital role they play.





Meet Samson

From trouble with algebra and the typical pressures of high school, to financial and family issues, there aren’t many struggles that face the students of the Kibera Penda Project that Samson Mugendi, the 28-year-old Director of the Penda Project, can’t relate to. The oldest of five children, Samson, was born, raised, educated and still lives in Kibera so he knows all too well what challenges these students face on a day-to-day basis. I recently had a chance to sit down with Samson in Kibera and talk more about his life and his role with the Penda Project. TJ: What is your role as the Penda Project Director?

Samson: One of my main roles is to check on the 77 students that are currently sponsored. What I mean by that is I make sure they attend all of their classes and beyond always attending I make sure they are doing well within those classes both academically and in terms of discipline. Secondly, when they are done with exams at the end of each term, I collect all of their grades and send updates back to Kyle & Kelsey Baird and the sponsors in the United States. My other main job is to serve as the Student Pastor and teach them the word of God.This mainly takes place on Sundays when they attend the youth service at Kibera Bible Baptist Church.

TJ: One of the core aspects to the Penda Project is accountability, how do you try to provide this for the students?

Samson: As I said before this is one of the main responsibilities I have and the students need someone to consistently check on them. This is one of the reasons I am employed full time so that I can be there at any point the students may need me. In addition to attending class, all Penda students must attend study hall after school and this one of the times that I can check in and make sure all is going well with them.

TJ: What are some of the biggest challenges the Penda students are facing?

Samson: One of the biggest challenges is the environment they come from and are currently still living in. In Kibera, a lot of students drop out because they can’t pay school fees after primary school or they don’t qualify to attend. The Penda students are blessed to have their school fees covered but not all of them have qualified to attend boarding school which means they travel to and from Kibera each day to attend classes. When they go home, many people their age have already dropped out and the opportunity to get involved in bad activities like drugs are prevalent. Our boarding students are away for most of the year but still come home between breaks in terms and face these same situations. Also pregnancy is another huge challenge they face - especially the girls who are in day school and in some cases the pregnancy is against their will.

But no matter what challenges they have we always tell them that we want to have students who are committed to working hard and overcoming any hardships.

TJ: What has being the Penda Project Director meant to you?

Samson: It has changed my life. I never imagined I would be where I am now and I believe that God is using me to do great things in Kibera. The Samson I used to know four years ago is so different now because God is working in my life. My prayer is that God will continue to use me to reach many people in Kibera — from the Penda students to my neighbors and my fellow youths.

TJ: What are your goals for the future?

Samson: Right now I am working on my theological degree at Tena Bible Baptist School. I have finished my first year and I have two years left. Once I am finished I want to continue to serve the Lord in Kibera working with New Hope Initiative and using all that God has given me through my time as the Penda Project Director to continue to serve the youth of Kibera. I want to do all I can to make sure they achieve something with their education and most importantly serve God in whatever job they have.

By T.J. Walter - New Hope Initiative Board Member



Kibera Penda Project

Since starting Kibera Penda Project in 2008, we have seen incredible growth in the desire, motivation and hope of the students living in Kibera. We are now partnering with sponsors to send 76 students to government day-school and 37 students to boarding school. This year 31 out of the 53 students from New Hope Primary School passed their Class 8 national exams - the school's highest percentage ever and we are anticipating that this number will grow even more! We are grateful that most of our sponsors from previous years are continuing their commitment, allowing these children to continue their education. Kibera Penda ProjectKibera Penda Project will have their first student, Gladys Atieno, graduate high school this spring and we are committed to sponsoring her at a university this fall. In addition, we are sponsoring two New Hope Primary School staff members to continue their university education.

This year we are also focusing on ways to help those who do not pass their Class 8 national exams. New Hope Initiative placed three of the girls at Seed of Hope, a girl's vocational training center that emphasizes education and teaches job skills necessary for their future success.

We place high expectations on our students in Kibera Penda Project, and we want our students committed to their future. Our goal is to give them the necessary resources, allowing them to work hard and escape the poverty cycle. We realize that not every student will succeed in this program, but we have seen a drastic change in the motivation and determination of these students. They understand the opportunity they have been given, and they do not take it for granted. However, we still have a few students who need sponsors for high school. If you are interested in helping give hope through education, please visit our website at

By Ava Baird