Posts Tagged ‘Heritage Academy’

Sunday Spotlight: Sara Sakwa

Written by Village Project Africa. Posted in Children, Education, Health, Sponsorship, Stories, Women's Community

Today’s spotlight is on Sara Sakwa.

Sara Sakwa is a special member of our staff at Heritage. After her husband died several years ago, Sara found herself challenged. Her husband’s family made her life difficult, and providing for her children was hard when she was only able to find casual labor work. But all that began to change, she says, when she met Davis, the director, and he invited her to join the sewing group at Grace House. She kept going to the group more for the fellowship and support than the sewing. She found such comfort and hope in the women she met there. If it weren’t for this group, Sara is convinced that she would not be alive. They encouraged her to keep pressing forward, even in the face of difficulty. The group also helped bring her closer to God. Without God, she says her life would have been unbearable.

Not long after she joined our women’s group, she found a job at Heritage Academy as a cook, and she’s been with us since.

She said that since she joined the Heritage staff, her life has improved greatly. She feels at ease, and many of her problems have disappeared. She has a new home, which gives her a sense of security for the future.

Her five children all attend Heritage, and sponsorship means the challenge of providing for her children’s education has been alleviated. As she speaks about sponsorship, Sara gets emotional. She said that sponsorship means everything to her because it means her children will have more opportunity in life. She says she’d like to see her children work hard, be good, open doors for themselves, and have the courage to walk through those doors. She hopes for a brighter future for each of them.

Sara is so grateful for Village Project Africa and the opportunities the programs have provided for her and her children. She’s grateful for the support and love she’s received from Davis, Margaret, and so many others on staff at Heritage. But, most of all, she’s grateful to God for all He’s done in her life. She hopes God will continue to be with her as she walks into the next chapters of her life, whatever they may be.

Staff Spotlight: Nashon

Written by Village Project Africa. Posted in Education

Today’s spotlight is on one of our group of amazing teachers: Nashon.

Nashon

 

Nashon (pronounced like nation) started out as a student at Heritage Teacher’s College, an experience he says was a really good one. He said he felt like the certificate program really helped prepare him for the classroom, and he was grateful to be sponsored to complete the program. He officially joined the staff at Heritage in 2012.

Before coming to Heritage, Nashon taught grades 4 through 8 in the local public schools. In the public schools, he said he struggled with a lack of material and time to teach the kids in his classroom. At Heritage, Nashon is pleased to have more material and more time to teach his students. Because his eighth graders all live on campus, he can do remediation and further learning opportunities in the evening, meaning he can bring his students’ performance levels even further up. He says that his greatest challenge at Heritage is engaging students and getting them interested in math. But he seems to be overcoming that challenge with many of his students. He has an easy way of connecting with the kids, and many say he is one of their favorite teachers at the school. Nashon says he feels such pride when he sees some of his students out in the shops with their parents applying some of the principles they’ve learned in his classroom. He hopes that what starts in his classroom benefits his students beyond the classroom, not just in the shops, but on their exams and future efforts in high school and university. When we asked if there was anything he needed to help achieve this, he said he’d like more implements and manipulatives to use in the classroom to help students further understand mathematics principles.

Nashon in the classroom

In addition to being an excellent math teacher, Nashon is also an excellent spiritual leader in our school. He was raised in a Christian home, one of seven kids, and he became more involved in faith exploration when he was in high school. As he’s gotten older, serving the Lord has become one of his greatest joys. He exudes this joy, and students often come to him with faith-related questions. He’s glad to advise them, and his greatest piece of advice is always: “Above all… trust upon the Lord.”

Nashon hopes to continue to improve himself and further his education. His goal is to earn his bachelor’s degree somewhere in Kenya. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Nashon would come back to Heritage to teach, but he’d be open to teaching anywhere in the world.

We’re so fortunate to have Nashon’s dedication and enthusiasm for our kids as part of our community. It’s teachers like Nashon that make our school the success that it is!

Project 5+2: Blessing Many

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Stories, Village Project Africa

Guest blogger Audrey Armstrong shares her experience distributing 5+2 bags assembled and shipped by Church at the Crossing last year as a special partnership with VPA.

Have you ever wondered how the people (especially the children) on the hillside that day reacted when Jesus blessed the lunch of loaves and fishes and started passing them out to the thousands?  The Bible doesn’t go into detail, but I have the feeling I experienced it this past summer.

It happened at the end of that school day back in July.  We had barely recovered from the eReader celebration and were measuring feet for a “new shoe” project coming up.

   “When out on the lawn there arose such a shout, 
     We sprang from our tables to see what it was about!”

 Delivery of gifts to AfricaNo, it wasn’t Christmas, and it wasn’t Santa Claus.  It was better than that.  A huge open truck filled with brown, slightly travel-worn boxes was pulling into the gates of the school.  From every corner came shouting, waving, leaping students.  They surrounded the truck and escorted it across the playground and to the door of the multi-purpose building.  The queen herself couldn’t have had a more enthusiastic procession.  How did they know?  Who told them it was the long awaited 5+2 backpacks arriving in that truck?  By the time we got to the building, the students had crowded inside and were celebrating with cheers, screams, dances, claps, and hugs.  I can’t even describe the excitement and joy on those faces.  And the noise—oh my goodness!

It took our team a whole day to sort and organize the bags.  We had to be sure every student at Heritage Academy had their bag with their name on it.  The letters inside were personal, and it was important to us that we matched them up correctly.  We said lots of prayers, hoping we could distribute the bags and not leave any child without one.  We had a few extra empty bags and a bit of “stuff.”  God really multiplied it so we had enough for every child and every adult connected with the school.  And all the time we worked, small faces were peering into the windows of our workspace, trying to control their anticipation.

African children receiving giftsThe next morning the bags were distributed class by class, and the children carried them out to the playground.  They sat quietly (almost) in the hot African sun, all 500+ of them, until every child at the school had a bag in their arms. Then Pastor Joseph thanked the friends at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis for this display of thoughtfulness, effort, and love.  He thanked us—the team who just felt blessed to be a witness to the event.  He led the children in a beautiful prayer, thanking God for people on the other side of the world who cared for children and showed that love in such a tangible way.

African woman with Bible

What happened next was just remarkable.  The children started moving.  Some big brothers and sisters found younger siblings.  They gathered together in groups and carefully began to explore their bags, helping each other when needed.  Two memories I have were of a little girl hugging a baby doll and a small boy making a road through the dust as he pushed a little car along. That boy was so caught up with the car that he didn’t even look at the backpack full of treasures sitting there beside him.  The children tried on socks, counted pencils, examined toothpaste and smelled bars of soap.  They played catch with balls, played with trucks and stuffed animals, and jumped rope.  The brightly colored washcloths were a hit too.  We saw them worn on heads like hats and tucked into waistbands.  The adults were also excited.  The lady who received a Bible just shouted and cried as she waved it over her head.  She carefully put it back in her bag and then, two minutes later, she pulled it out and was waving it and praising God again.

 5 + 2!!!  I feel like I was twice blessed.  First, to witness the fun and pride of the families, both children and adults, at Church at the Crossing as they chose a child, carried an empty backpack home, and returned it full.  Usually there was a letter addressed to the child and maybe a picture of themselves and their dog inside the bag.  I have no doubt the bags were also filled with love and prayers.  My second blessing was to be at Heritage Academy when the truck pulled into the schoolyard and those African children knew someone cared about them.  Prayers are important to the children and they need to know we are praying, but when you’re a child, having tangible evidence—with your very own name on it—well, that’s impressive evidence that someone knows you and loves you.

It’s been some months since I was in Africa, but the emotional impact is still alive whenever I remember.  I may forget the facts (it’s an “age thing” with me) but I will not get over the joy.  It makes me smile again right now!  I know what 5+2 means in a whole new way.

Village Project Africa is thankful for all who have participated in this program for the last two years and who are participating again this year! What a blessing each of you are to the children and teachers at Heritage Academy!

 

E-Readers Come to Heritage Academy

Written by admin. Posted in Children, Education, Stories, Village Project Africa

 Guest blogger Audrey Armstrong shares details about the excitement surrounding this summer’s introduction of e-Readers to Heritage Academy.

Hidden ereadersE-Reader Day had finally arrived. The cafeteria was swept, mopped, and decorated.  Chairs had been arranged. Songs and poems had been rehearsed by the students.  Government officials, special guests, community friends, parents, and family members had been invited and were assembling in the hall. Even some guests from Indianapolis were waiting with anticipation as the students and teachers filed in and took their places.  On the table in the front of the room was a huge pile of something, hidden under a cloth.

Children with ereadersThe program started with prayers of praise and thanksgiving followed by welcome songs and speeches from both leaders and students. Finally it was time for the main event!  With loud cheering and clapping the veil was swept aside and e-Readers became visible on the table. Not just a few, but 50—enough for every 6th grader to have one. What followed was truly amazing. First came a demonstration by a few students showing how the e-readers were opened and how they could be read. The remainder of the 6th graders were then handed their e-reader, and with joy and celebration, they moved into the audience demonstrating to their families and neighbors how print appeared on the little screens and more importantly, how they could read their own book. The parents were so overwhelmed with amazement and joy they formed a huge parade and were joined by visitors and students alike. Such clapping and cheering, dancing and hugging!! They all were celebrating the tremendous step forward for Heritage Academy students. The students were proud and excited with anticipation and the parents were amazed at the magic of technology being made available to their children as they continue to master the written word.

Parents with ereadersHow did this all come to be? When a Sunday school class in Indianapolis was presented with the need, they accepted the challenge to help these students get books and raised $10,000 to purchase the readers and provide for the training. What seemed like a large sum was raised quickly when a group of people each gave what they could. Next, VPA partnered with Worldreader to supply the e-readers and program them with text books and other books in both English and Swahili. The Worldreader team came to Heritage Academy, spending a week training first the teachers and then overseeing the training of the students on the use of the technology. (Such an exciting learning curve it proved to be!) The training team completed their work and joined parents and students in celebrating the successful beginning of a new era. The Sunday school class in Indianapolis joined with prayers and anticipation of changed lives and more opportunities for the students of Heritage Academy.

 

Christmas in July–5&2 Bags Arrive!

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Village Project Africa

A huge thank you to the congregation of Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana for collecting and putting together backpacks for all the children in our school again this year. After packing all the bags and shipping them to Kenya, several members of the church were on hand in the village last month to help distribute the bags to the children. Before receiving backpacks through the 5&2 project, many of the children had never had new pencils, crayons, notebooks, or toys. The absolute joy seen and heard when the bags are handed out is priceless. This year, in addition to providing backpacks for the children, Church at the Crossing also put together bags for our teachers and staff filled with school supplies and other useful items. What a special gift to our school! 

And now… on to the happy! 

Joy!This is what joy looks like!

So many boxes, so many bags!

Modeling the new backpacks!

Such excitement when the bags are handed out!

The kids were so excited about the contents of the backpacks.

A new book to read–one of the most requested items!

Damarius loves her new doll…

As does Shanny!

After the kids received their new bags, it was the staff’s turn!

They were so thrilled with the contents of the bags!

 

A big thank you from Village Project Africa to the congregation and staff of Church at the Crossing and our sponsors who helped make this possible!

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