Kenya Self-Help Project 
Strategic Partnerships in Education & Community Development
January 2010
In This Issue
In Their Own Words
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Nine confident young men and women took center stage at our 2nd annual Education Day last month.  Our first group of scholarship students completed high school in December.  They stood "like lions" before the gathering of families and local dignitaries, feeling proud and respected.   Invictus. 

Their journey has been filled with challenges and heartache.  During their high school years, four in this group lost a parent.  Three became complete orphans.  One became head of family to five younger siblings.  And to their immense credit and honor, ALL finished their education. 

They will tell you In Their Own Words they could have not have climbed the mountain without the support and encouragement of their KSHP sponsors at their side.

For these young adults, a KSHP scholarship opened a prison door and lifted the weight of despair.  While poverty still pervades their lives, these young adults no longer see its limitations as their future. School success has strengthened their self-esteem and revealed choices. They now look ahead with optimism. 

We can never fully convey the value of your support.  For sure, you are changing lives - many, many lives.  Your influence does not stop with Winnie or Isaac or Millicent alone.  These are the first pebbles cast into the water - and the ripples of your giving will extend from them beyond our seeing.  

However, in their own words, the young men and women who benefited from your support do see and fully grasp the impact of your giving.

Our warm thanks to you all.

Kathleen H. Dodge
Executive Director
 ownwordsIn Their Own Words . . . .
                                               Excerpts from student letters

 Our graduating seniors
2009 Form 4 students
          Duncan                   Wycliffe                   Isaac               Boniface                 David
       Winnie              Lady Sabato        KSHP Director, Sarah DeKoven             Millicent

Mum, I want you to know you have saved me from the jaws of hyenas.  Here where I live in Kendu Bay, all around me I see my peers with little kids, which are their own on their laps.  Many are wives not out of choice but because they were not as lucky as me to get the chance to further their education.

You have made me into a precious lady because I can now dream of a better future.  You have given me a voice and the ability to make choices.

Five years back all these were mere imaginations.  There was no way I could see myself into high school.  As is common here, completing my elementary school was placing me into a good standing for marriage and for sure this is what most girls here look for immediately after elementary school.

I most sincerely thank you with all my heart. . . and assure you that you have turned me into a lion.  I am a warrior now and I want to take control of my life positively. 
     Winnie Auma

Polly Connell, Underhill, VT

As many people will be celebrating the New Year, for me it will be a celebration of the gift of opportunity you have all given to me over the past four years in high school and to be able to graduate successfully.

I want to say thank you in a special way, for you have stood by me despite many challenges I passed through - especially when my mother passed away when I was in Form II.  This was a really great challenge to me, but all the same your presence and support encouraged me and I was able to continue with life.
     Duncan Odhiambo
     Sponsor: First Unitarian Society, Madison, WI

I want to say that before I came to know you, the only thing that dominated my thinking was how needy I was.  Our (family) poverty was almost over-shadowing my ability to think beyond it.

Accepted into the scholarship program, I quickly came to learn that poverty is everywhere and that need can be so intimidating.  From there onwards, I quickly learnt that I had ability to take control of my life and the situation.

From the time I joined high school, my focus has been very clear that I want to be the best I can be.  You as a family have given me the opportunity over the years.  Those four years have not been easy for you financially, I know.  

The commitment you have made to me has been a great source of encouragement and motivation for me.  I want to assure you that I did my best with the opportunity you extended to me.
     David Ochieng
     Sponsor: David & Sally Griffin, Chevy Chase, MD

It was not easy losing both parents and, as the first born, to assume responsibilities of heading a family while still a student.  At that time we could not even offer the basics of giving a decent burial to my father when he died.  But, because you have been there for me, I have always had strength and courage.  

I know I have not told you that we (the children) stayed with my dead father's body at home for five days because we could not even afford morgue fees, until Kenya Self-Help came to our aid.  I want to thank you for being with me at my darkest hours of need.  I know your aim has been to see a better person in me.  These aims we share, and I hope I will not disappoint.

Five years back I was seeing myself only serving others at very low levels.  But over the years you have given me the opportunity to think and even to dream bigger. You have given me hope and have opened doors to change.
I want to let you know how special and valued you are in my life. 
     Isaac Opar
     Sponsors: Barry &
Heather Woodworth, Essex Junction, VT
                    Bruce & Susan Barniker, New York, NY

Isaac graduated 5th in his class from Oriwo Boys high school.

Thank you for the important role you all play in showing these scholarships students and their families that they are Invictus.

     It matters not how strait the gate,
     How charged with punishments the scroll,
     I am the master of my fate:
     I am the captain of my soul.
              William Ernest Henley

To learn more about sponsoring a Kendu Bay student see KSHP Scholarship Program